My Mother is an Ugly Woman


In that moment I wondered if there is anyone in the whole world who thinks that his mother is not beautiful. Worse, is there anyone who actually tells the world that his mother is an ugly woman?

My sense of shame in being an Indian in front of foreigners has somewhat changed over time.

When I was younger, I used to be very bothered whenever I saw people begging, pestering a visitor at the traffic intersection and of course, the sight of people defecating in full public view.

These sights do not put me to shame anymore.

I have come to terms with the underlying causes that make my countrymen beg, bother foreigners near touristic places or live in squalor next to heritage sites and five star hotels.

When people do not have a roof above their heads and everyday is a matter of survival for the majority, what use is my shame?

I am deeply aware that every civilization must progress on its own terms, in its own time. There are no short cuts to uplifting more than half of a country with 1.2 billion people into a developed state. I have done my own bit towards that cause, and I will continue to do what I can, but in my lifetime it is very unlikely that there will be no beggars on the street, or that people will stop relieving themselves in public view, or that I will see the vanishing of squalor that co-exists with the sometimes ugly opulence in our cities. So, these days, when I am with a visitor from overseas, I am not ashamed any longer with the sights, smells and sounds of India.

But last week, I held my head in shame–deep shame–and this happened in a small University town in Germany.

I had been invited there to speak at a student event. Along with my wife Susmita, I had arrived the day before, and we were touched by the affection and hospitality of the students and the faculty. During the dinner that night, we had told our student hosts Paul and Leo that if ever they came to India, they must stay at our home so that we could return some of their hospitality. Because our two daughters left home a long time back, we live in Bangalore all by ourselves, and love hosting young people from around the world.

That was the night before.

The next day, when the student event actually began, my talk was preceded by one from an Indian gentleman based in Germany; he runs the German operation of a family-owned Indian conglomerate that is a household name in India. The gentleman has been in Europe for a long time, and has evidently done well for himself.

He started his presentation titled “The Indian Mind”. It was a medley of Internet jokes customized for India, a bunch of PowerPoint slides that frequently spam all of us depicting the greatness of ancient India, and a bunch of cartoons that depicted the so-called “the Indian way”. There was also a short movie that contrasted Germans and Indians based on cultural generalization. Finally, he delivered his own take on what Indians are supposedly like.

The presentation opened with the macabre picture of a skull with a dollar sign stuffed inside it.

The narrative to match this dramatic, if disturbing, image went something like this:

An Indian went to see a banker in Manhattan. He wanted a $100 loan; he was willing to pay any amount of interest, and offered his Porsche as collateral. After taking the loan from the flummoxed banker, he went off to India on a month long vacation. When he came back, he promptly returned the $100 along with the interest of $20 and reclaimed his car. When the banker asked him to explain this puzzling behavior, our man proudly said, “Where else in Manhattan could I park my car for an entire month for all of $20?”

WOW!

The two hundred or so young German students laughed at the joke.

Then came slide after slide on the glory that once was India: Aryabhatta to Charaka, he depicted the story of zero to the fact once upon a time, India had invented chess. He told the audience how we had figured out gravity before Newton did, and the concept of inter-Galactic travel before anyone else.

The audience sat in awe.

Then he switched over to a film clip that sought to contrast the past with the present.

His film clip showed Indian legislators break chairs, throw footwear at each other, and not stopping there, break their microphones to hurl missiles at each other until blood flowed from the injured, and finally some law makers were seen taking cover under their tables.

The German students were now bewildered and I started to feel uncomfortable sitting in their midst. But then I told myself, maybe the truth must be told and this is important knowledge about India that the 200 future leaders must know. And why not? As I gulped down my discomfort, more Internet jokes followed.

One was about corruption and inefficiency.

A man supposedly went to Hell only to find that there were regional options available down there. There was this American Hell that offered a hundred lashes. Next to it, he found the German Hell that offered a choice between an electric chair and fifty lashes. The man moved on to check out the Indian Hell and finally settled for it. Why?

In the Indian Hell, there were power-cuts so the electric chair did not work and the person in charge of lashing sinners simply took his salary and never came to work!

The students laughed some. That was indeed funny!

Then he went on to tell the next Internet joke.

Americans had invited international bids to build a fence around the White House. An American and a German firm that submitted bids had taken careful measurements and then they had quoted $700 and $1200 respectively for the work. Then there was the Indian firm that took no measurements and simply quoted $2700. The bewildered decision-maker called in the Indian bidder and asked him to explain. “How can you quote such a high price when you have not even taken measurements?”, he asked. Our man replied with supreme confidence, “I do not need to take measurements. I will pay you a thousand and take a thousand and we will sub-contract the work to the lowest bidder.”

WOW!

Then our presenter showed a short film contrasting how Germans and Indians thought of the idea of forming a queue – the Germans fell into instant orderliness and formed a single file but Indians pushed around, and broke the line as soon as one was formed. Then he showed a German parking a car, and how an Indian does it, and a few other such things including how Indian bureaucracy and politics differ from that of the Germans.

Everyone in the audience was getting the message.

At this point, he returned from the movie to slides.

With dramatic flourish, he showed a picture of a bucket full of crabs.

“This picture was taken on an Indian beach while I was with a friend from Germany. He was curious to know why the crabs were not escaping the bucket. I said, ‘Let us call the fisherman and ask him’. The fisherman listened to the question and told us, ‘These are Indian crabs. When one tries to get out, the others simply pull him down’. ”

Oh well, never mind if you have heard a dozen variations of the same joke.

Now the attention of the students was beginning to wane a little bit. So, he came to the end of his presentation on India.

He had a slide that said Indians liked to receive (and, thankfully, also give) presents.

And then he went on to hold aloft his magnum opus, a slide that prophetically read:

“Indians do not mean what they say
and do not say what they mean”

It required a story to explain.

So, he narrated how a group of Germans were once called home for dinner by an Indian. The Germans being Germans took the invitation seriously and actually showed up only to find an unprepared host who opened the door in his pajamas. The message was clear. Do not take Indians at face value.

My mind turned to the dinnertime conversation the previous night, and I wondered what Paul and Leo were now thinking about our invitation to come stay with us when they visited Bangalore!

Finally, the man gloriously wound up, saying that despite all this, India was one of the fastest growing economies in which if anyone chose to put in his money, it was bound to fetch a great return.

The audience clapped and then everyone took a fifteen minute break.

¤

I headed to the toilet.

There was a long queue.

Suddenly a young German student in the queue, unaware that I was behind him, did a mock drill of breaking the line to form what he called an “Indian Queue”.

I was the only Indian there, and I had only my countryman to thank for the ignominy.

¤

I had to wait until that afternoon for my talk, and when done with that, we returned to our hotel.

The next day, one of the student organizers came over to drive us to Frankfurt in a rental car so that we could leave for the US from there.

While driving on the Autobahn, unfortunately, the car drove over some object and its two left wheels burst. We pulled over, and, after counting our blessings for what did not happen, called for help. After probably an hour, another student organizer reached us and we switched over to his car. The first student had to stay with the damaged car, waiting for a tow-truck to arrive.

Soon we were on our way.

The entire episode had shaken everybody, but thank God, no one was hurt. Nonetheless, many plans had gone haywire. We were all past our lunch time by the time the second car had arrived. So when we finally reached our hotel in Frankfurt, we invited our young friend to join us for lunch since he too had missed his, and was to now drive all the way back to his University town. When Susmita asked him to park his car and come into the hotel to have lunch with us, he responded spontaneously, and without any malice, “The German way or the Indian?”

We tried to laugh off the repartee, but deep inside I felt hurt where once upon a time, I used to feel shame.

Poor Susmita started convincing him that we really wanted him to have lunch before he drove back, and of course, he joined us, but I wonder how on earth we were to change the newfound knowledge on India that was now deeply imprinted in 199 other young minds because an Indian in a position of authority had so convincingly delivered the message that we do not mean what we say and don’t say what we mean.

¤

I can deal with my poor, uneducated, disheveled countrymen back home, begging at traffic intersections, troubling foreigners, living in squalor and defecating in public view, and behaving in a thousand other unacceptable ways.

But I have difficulty when the educated, the well-to-do, the ones who have everything going for them, mentally defecate, trying to impress the world at the cost of their own country.

After lunch, when the young man was finally on his way and Koblenz was behind us, I thought of the idea of motherland.

The word “Motherland” evoked the image of my mother.

In that moment I wondered if there is anyone in the whole world who thinks that his mother is not beautiful.

Worse, is there anyone who actually tells the world that his mother is an ugly woman?

Comments
Monday November 2nd 2009

Dear Mr. Bagchi,
I also felt on similar lines after reading the article.
We are a nation so insensitive to respect our own land and its citizens and its culture. The educated ones, the more sophisticated behave as if the rest don’t deserve to live in India. When one is in a departmental store or in a shopping mall, these people sigh and behave that they dont below to India. Sadly, as a nation we failed to identify ourselves with what we are.

Regards
Damoo

Sona Says
Monday November 2nd 2009

Dear Mr.Bagchi

You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one! Brilliantly conveyed your thoughts about how some people demean their our own country in an attempt to impress an audience.

This is an eye-opener for people who think it’s ‘cool’ to look down upon their own country. I really hope the German students read this post of yours and some damage can be undone.

(And indeed thank God, Mrs.Bagchi and you escaped unhurt in the accident.)

Regards
Sona

Neeraj Singh Says
Monday November 2nd 2009

I have seen Russell Peters, a UK based comedian performing on TV. Even though the similar kind of jokes forms the core of his performance yet he never does what you mentioned here. He acts like a professional and people laugh at his jokes and then nobody remembers.

But, here I came to know about an Indian who in a position of authority had so convincingly delivered the WRONG message in an unprofessional way to gain some benefits.

In his own words, “Indians do not mean what they say and do not say what they mean” – so, the audience should ignore what he is saying because he may not mean it. But in German way, some of them took it very seriously.

Raji Hari Says
Monday November 2nd 2009

Sir,

A mere porridge served by one’s mother is much tastier than a rich kheer served by their neighbour. Coming from a family where as a child I had everything that I needed but never everything my friends had, I know this statement is true. Thank you for sharing your experiences, for only then do we realise that there still exits an educated rich lot who can do anything to taste the kheer ! The feeling is more than just “shame”.

Mohit Says
Monday November 2nd 2009

After reading this article, I had two emotions. One from the heart and other from the mind. Heart felt bad for what a son is speaking about his mother to other people. But mind said that this person is not truly an Indian, he is a global citizen as he is being raised away from motherland. He gave as is picture of India, glorifying the past as it was and disgracing the present as it is amidst the IT and development. He might have exaggerated a little more though.
He did that purely to let future businessmen, pursuing opportunities in India, know and understand the common Indian and what not to be surprised with.

Meenakshi Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Well, I am not surprised at all. Leave alone patriotism and pride, many of our country men take slandering Indians as their full time job and win accolades for it. “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga is one such horrible attempt. And abroad they make mockery of this by awarding such people great honour. I felt the same way you did when I read “The White Tiger” and watched “Slumdog millionaire”.

When and how are we going to move from being “cribbers” to “solution seekers”..

regards
Meenakshi

    Richa Says
    Friday March 26th 2010

    Its all a matter of perspective and how and when a story should be told.The things Arvind Adiga said in his book,or what the antagonist said here are true , nevertheless saying it aloud to a global audience does not serve any purpose.comparing india’s majectic past to the present is a baseless exercise as a century away from now the era we are living in vl look magestic to ppl then.people do tend to remeber the good and not the bad,

prafull sharma Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Sir, i agree with u 100% that those who have achived some thing in there life and become big they donot pay any respect to our system, he may NIR or indian living in india they just want there benefit and they got all things to run there way not respect the low of land and nither they trat the INdia as there mother.

Siddharth Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Reminds me of a famous Indian saying “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”.

Swati Ray Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

It is very much possible when you have no respect for your ‘mother’ i.e country. Let me tell a story.
One day my 7-year old daughter & myself was travelling with a widely-travelled close relative. He threw a piece of paper out of the car-window. My daughter protested and he told that the paper is bio-degradable and so it is not causing any harm to the environment. My daughter accepted the logic.
-”But what about the cleanliness? Will you do the same thing on a Singapore street?”
-”No way. But here no one is stopping me”- was his answer.
So is it only fear that you need? Don’t you love your motherland?

Radhakrishnan Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Dear Mr. Baghchi,

thanks for writing the article with such a splendid caption which i have heard from my mentor also in the same manner

he also speaks tellingly and with such a strong reactions who boasts of the country in which they work and earn more so belittle the motherland

r radhakrishnan

Sachin Pagey Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Sir, this is very common observation i had when i spent a few years living in SE asia..Indian expatriates take special interest in laughing off over the inadequacies of our country… very happily… not only infront of foreign nationals but also this kind of talk is very common in the parties of expatriate indians…
My experience is whenever i have tried to argue (after listening to such comments..) the usual comment from ppl is … “you should not get so emotional”

Vijay. M Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Dear Subroto,

Thank you for that wonderful post about how some people are trying to tarnish the image our motherland.

Positive awareness of one’s own country is a must and trying to a create a better tomorrow should be of utmost priority for every Indian.

Regards,
Vijay

Andy Says
Tuesday November 3rd 2009

Very nicely written !

Rakesh Edavalath Says
Wednesday November 4th 2009

I totally agree with what you have said in your blog. Once people get educated in India and go outof the country, they start hating the homeland and talk meanly about it. Even if they cannot do anything positive, at least they should refrain from talking negatively.

I belive that India is a great coun”tree” and its “leaves and flowers” are as beautiful as its glorious “roots”

By the way, I had an opportunity to meet MINDTREE people (Shiv et al) at a SAP seminar in Dubai yesterday. In fact I came to know about Mindtree through ” Go Kiss the World”. I am great fan of the book and I had read it in one sitting. I have also recommended it to several of my friends.

Shiv told me that you are coming to Dubai in February. I hope to meet you then.

Rakesh Edavalath

Wednesday November 4th 2009

Beautifully written as always, sir!

Thought it is very hurting, thinking back – isn’t what he said finally all true? I know, I know but we do act like that, on the roads, in offices, in cinema halls, in private places, in public places…..

But I still love my motherland more than all others….and I have resolved not to be like the examples given….

But when I try and be nice on the road, the same brothers and sisters mock me!

Shameful indeed

Manivannan Elumalai Says
Wednesday November 4th 2009

Dear Sir,
I fully understand your feelings. I lived in Germany for three years for Masters Degree in Engineering, and I am currently living in India. I was humbled by their behavior. But instead feeling hurt when someone ridicules our behavior, we should accept the present status of affairs in our country, and try to change it through proper education. Because in my opinion, truth is the truth whether it comes to open or not. Currently our education does teach multiplication and divisions. Using this education people could get jobs and they could multiply their material wealth and divide people on various grounds (education, job profile, material possession). We coined the phrase “Man is a civilized animal” without bothering to get the approval of the fellow animals on this planet. Even if we agree to the above mentioned phrase, We are less of “civilized” and more of “animals” compared to the Germans or Americans etc. We need to revamp our education to teach who we are and how we should treat others in daily life. Our moral education should get rid of the image that whatever it teaches cannot be followed in real life. To achieve this, moral education should include more practical and real life lessons apart from teaching highly idealized Ramayana and Mahabharata. Because the past generations accepted Ramayana and Mahabharata without questioning. But thanks to evolution and the dramatically changed environment of today, current generations do require more logical explanations to accept whatever they are told.

Thanks & Regards,
Manivannan Elumalai

    Prakruthi Mysore Gururaj Says
    Tuesday November 17th 2009

    Hello Manivannan Elumalai,
    I totally agree with your below statement-
    ‘But instead feeling hurt when someone ridicules our behavior, we should accept the present status of affairs in our country, and try to change it through proper education’

    We need to learn from our mistake rather than defending it. Though ours is a very old civilization, our present generation’s so called educated and learned person’s forget to abide by the basic manners & behaviours. Irrespective of where we live we need to be a good citizen and project the best of our background & brought up as this is what creates the impression on our country & parents.
    Regards
    Prakruthi Mysore Gururaj

    Vinod S Says
    Monday June 10th 2013

    I completely agree with your comments. Our eduction sytem is confined to certificate level only. We need complete revamp in our education system where it makes us sensitive to environment, health, behaviour , respect etc. We do not have water, but plenty of water gushing out of sewage flooding on the road, we do not have road to drive & foot paths to walk, but have plenty of potholes which is nothing but deathtrap, we do not have access to fresh vegetables & fruits, but have access to hazardous acids which any guy can use it on a girl to revenge or any maniac can use it for his pleasure by throwing at anyone, we do not people to respect us, but many to rape and still get away due to our weak legal system. Subroto
    is simple man, good at writing books like “go kiss the world” and we have many Subrato Bagchi followers in criticising the people who talk ill about our country. Just by writing books you are doing any good to your country, we need people who are willing to soil their hands, willing to take risk. We all want to do good for our country, but are waiting for others to take the first step and imagining there are crabs which will pull us down. It is said that Indians are very resilient people, one rape, all us talk about it for 2 months until there is another heinous tragedy , then everything is forgotten. Have we ever been assidous in bringing change to the country?

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jacob kutty Says
Thursday November 5th 2009

i have no words to express my gratitude to you for firstly opening my eyes to the truth and secondly, the fact that there are very few people who can see beyond the obviously visible to the human eye. i wish your words could be read by more people.

Chaitra Says
Thursday November 5th 2009

Sir,

Excellent blog….

This blogs speaks for many many situations that we encounter in our corporate lives also here….

I work for a back office in India, and from what i have noticed, Indians working (deputed) to the front offices across the globe, Propagate the worst images and most twisted ideas about india and indian way of working…..

This issue might look harmless, but if we take this picture into account across all MNC’s….it’s a pretty shameful issue.

The damage has been done….and thanks to the reach of these educated and the well-to-do types….much more is on it’s way….

Harsha Says
Thursday November 5th 2009

Dear Subroto,

The only word that can best describe my state of mind – goosebumps!!

Am too numb to react.

Thank you for a thought provoking post.

Mansi Says
Thursday November 5th 2009

That was an amazing story. Living here in US I understand how it must have felt being in that position. It is sad that Indian go ahead and say things which makes it difficult for other people to not only explain it to the foreigners but also completely misleads them about our nation.

    Suraj Says
    Friday July 1st 2011

    despite anybody telling anything we r Proud to be an Indian!!

Dr.asmita phadke Says
Friday November 6th 2009

Article touched my heart.How sad to know that it’s a true story

Friday November 6th 2009

Although I have never travelled abroad, I have heard stories about how Indians behave when they are abroad, all abiding by the custom of that country and the same person when he/she returns doesnt think twice to wind doown the car window to spit on the road.

arun mhatre Says
Friday November 6th 2009

feeling naturally very ashamed while rading and experiencing the tragic conversion of an indian into a mentally defecate N.I.R.
how are we going to ovrecome this state of cultural and historical defection? how and when?
-arun

Pragathish Says
Thursday November 12th 2009

Hello sir,

I have experienced the same once. I was really upset and still feel the pain when one of my friends told a foreigner that most of the Indians are still in 1947. Though it may be true to some extent, he should be at least aware he is also one among them and in one way or other he is also responsible for that or have responsibility to help fellow Indians to come out of that darkness

-Pragathish

eklavya Says
Friday November 13th 2009

Nice article Gardener. Liked it. As I read it, thought it could be a fiction. Later felt, may be it is real. I have a few reservations though!

[Note - I am not expecting my comment to be published. This is only to pass on the message to you]

What is there to feel ashamed of? Aren’t u Sir showing another Indian mentality? The gentleman is the one who should melt with shame – if he has really wronged. This article also exposes a strong feeling of insecurity within us. If it was for an American or a British, probably they would have taken it as a good humor, laughed along with others and forgotten the entire fiasco.

Today IT TSARS like you employ educated young youth (who instead should be addressing the core issues of India, teaching and building roads) for an American MASTER, make them to genuflect before an American client. What of that? Tell me one thing – what bit have you done towards the cause apart from bringing in dollars from west to east, writing few articles, some books and blabbering endlessly? -:). How many people in the world have profited without you or ur galla having received your share?

It is very easy to invoke popular sentiment without actually working. As per the lessons learnt in your books, i too am on my way to become a fat corporate rat. But what i do feel seriously is we indians are hypocrites. We need strong reminders from time to time to jolt our inner being. And when such opportunities come, we need to learn and work instead of infecting others with the feeling of insecurity and fear.

    Sudha Says
    Friday April 9th 2010

    “what bit have you done towards the cause apart from bringing in dollars from west to east, writing few articles, some books and blabbering endlessly? -:)”

    Perhaps, Mr/Ms.Elavya, you are not aware of what happened in the nineties due to the shortage of forex in our nation!

    If YOU could bring those dollars from the West to the East, we will all be oh-so-thankful to you! An economy like Germany or Japan thrives on exports. So what do THEY do?? Bring different currencies to their nation! Funny and convoluted is your logic in analyzing things.

    “How many people in the world have profited without you or ur galla having received your share?”

    Are u a communist? Am I to give up my profits and make aure someone receives it? And HOW EXACTLY do I do that??? Leavbe my profits in new 500 Rupee notes in a suitcase on the main streets of a city? Hoping someone BPL finds it! Man , you are hilarious!

    If you cant find any merit in Mr.Bagchi’s statements, you should attack the argument and not him personally.

    What have you done is a childish way to argue. We expect better from an adult like you!!

Jitender Says
Friday November 13th 2009

Wherever it may be, within country or abroad, its our responsibility not to make our country ashamed by whatever we say or do. When someone do wrong in India a news could title “XYZ did this” but abroad it would be something like “An Indian did this”.

It reminds me of an old story from my school textbooks where because of the book tempering by a foreign student, a library put a board at the main gate of library saying “Anyone from (CountryName) are not allowed”.

Its really shameful that because of some irresponsible person those 200 students got a wrong impression of Indian.

Friday November 13th 2009

Dear Subroto
That was a great story told by you in your inimitable style. Although whatever the other gentleman presented happens to be utter truth, the forum he chose to present it was inappropriate. It looked as if he was bent upon deriding his “mother”. What a pompous fool! I don’t think he will ever realize the harm he had brought about… sadly, there are many like him. These guys are the worst enemies – not poverty or barbaric customs.
However, cheers ………. RC

Venkatavaradhan Viswanathan Says
Friday November 13th 2009

As other members have said, this article touched my heart. Even though, I renounced my Indian citizenship, no one can take out my Indian-ness. Having said that, I look at this incident in another angle. One is so ashamed to see the way the Mother India is in, because of so many corrupted sons who spoilt her image.

I look at India as a mother who needs help from her children to take care of her. She needs to be dressed-up nicely, fed nicely, keep her healthy. She needs sons, her citizens to do that. When the sons are not giving her bath, dressing-up her, not feeding her, not taking care of her, how can one show her beauty?

The sons and daughter, citizens, have to think, how to make her proud? It is not to say that what that German Indian did is right.

India, the mother, is so lovely. The sons do not value that.

Ed Says
Friday November 13th 2009

Dear Sir,

All i wish and hope is that this emotional experience of yours as put here, be read by all those 199 other young minds and also by that one N.I.R.

Ed

Atul Says
Saturday November 14th 2009

An excellent Blog which shook me up as I read it.

If the presenter had provided some “Real” facts in a serious manner, it might have been taken as a presentation of reality. The fact that the presentation was done with jokes interspersed means that the presenter was wanting the audience to laugh with him at the picture of India that he was painting – whether “Real” or “Unreal”.

I tried to understand where my sense of shame was coming from as I read this blog –

- From someone thinking that their mother is ugly (This part I could have dismissed as realism so I don’t criticise this)

- Going and telling the world about it (Maybe again for a person who sees the reality, this part needs to be told, but only if the intent is to do something about it)

- Then laughing about it (This is unacceptable)

- And trying to make others laugh at it too. (Here it becomes unpardonable).

Yes, India has its own set of problems, and those have to acknowledged and be dealt with seriously – but the humour does not capture the essence of those problems, and just gives it an unsavoury flavour. To me, it all does not come as one package – and that is where my sense of shame comes from !!

Basheer Purakkad Says
Saturday November 14th 2009

Dear sir,

Excellent, well written. It is true that there are people when they are blessed with wealth or health or education they forget every thing including their motherland and parents. Those people never success. They may very happy in public views, but they are very unhappy in their daily life. They will return and they must return. here the lesson for us very clear . Jananee janma Bhoomishcha swargadapi gareeyasee. our mother land & our mother is greater and precious than heaven. JAI HIND

Ravi Bhushan Pandey Says
Sunday November 15th 2009

Mr Bagchi,
I am an old fan of your writing and visited your blog just today and found it worth. I don’t have much to say but wanted to share that no one will ofcourse say that his/her mother is ugly. But a fello who has left her mother far behid and long ago and have disconnected all relations with her can say any odd word. Because he has made all these by betrayal only. He has no ethics.

Regards
-Ravi

Rafiq Says
Sunday November 15th 2009

I was feeling very shame about that Indian Guy (I can’t call him like you called “Indian gentleman based in Germany”). I am also living in USA but I never talk like this with my colleagues. I guess we have a lot of people (mostly who settled / working in abroad) like that guy. They should change their mindset to tell about their mother(INDIA).

NS Manikantan Says
Sunday November 15th 2009

Sir, while we all feel bad inside, none of us (including myself) have the guts to change the system here. We are not responsible and accountable for our own actions. In such scenario it is ourselves to blame. Not that Iam justifying the well educated, well to-do NRI at Germany ridiculing the Indian ways……..as Gandhi said “Be the change”….

Sriram Says
Monday November 16th 2009

Rightly said sir. There are our countermen who are really proud expressing about our nation, unfortunately there are these type of countrymen as well. They just want to have an instant popularity among the audience. Similar to the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, it was just taken for global attention. I understand there are problems but it has to be talked inside the nation and not outside. A developed country can take such movies as they can stand up quickly but not a country like India. The image of the country goes to the bottom and to erase this from global peoples mind will take a long long time. So media guys please be careful on what you say about India to the outside world. All of us in IT who work internationally or in offshore projects are really the front ends for our nation so be alert what you talk to the foreign people (if the info from media reaches to million people, words of an individual person reaches to 100s of people).

Every one in this world have some issues in the family which he/she may not talk someone who is outside of the family. Same way the problems with in the country as to be discussed with in and not outside.

I salute you Sir for your nice article.

Thank you.

Ramesh Lakshmipathy Says
Monday November 16th 2009

Right said Mr. Subroto. The so-called elite should stop their mental defecation. We do say some ceremonial words when we meet and leave people. Something like you should come to lunch sometime. That doesn’t count as an invite. Its just a cultural difference.

prashant Says
Monday November 16th 2009

sir

you have an exceptional blog here. some of the articles, simply put, are quite fascinating. This one however touches an issue which is quite sensitive to me personally. While this person in the position of authority has chosen to publicly call his mother an ugly woman, i beg to disagree whether he has actually done so. To my mind he has called the children of that mother ugly. there has to be reason beyond the standard internet jokes for him to say so. I have been in a US graduate school for a number years and I am about to get my PhD. I have come across a bunch of people from different nationalities. I would agree that my number is far less than yours but I would like to believe, that my spectrum is fairly broad. In no other nationality, have I seen regional biases ingrained so deeply as the sons and the daughters of my mother. In a very small research oriented school such as mine, you have a bengali group, a chennai group, a punjabi group, a marathi gang and so forth and while i dont know how the governing dynamics are within a group, I know the intergroup dynamics or people who do not represent a significant geographical majority are treated shabbily at best. It is as if they are invisible. People from two different parts of a mother like say a right arm and a left arm may not talk to each other for weeks or months not unless a clapping is required. And of course backstabbing and back biting like the crabs in the bucket you refer to is galore. With every crop of arriving graduate students, I see the class senior to them eyeing them with envy, belittling them for they are the ones who come here to eat their piece of the ‘American’ pie. Contrast this with students of any nationality and you will see it is not our mother but its delinquent children who choose to abandon it are ugly

Surinder Chopra Says
Tuesday November 17th 2009

Sir,

I would say Kudos to you for taking such a daring step and publishing your article. I am 100% with you for this.

I am a sikh by religion and belive in what you have written above.

Regards,
Surinder.

ram Says
Tuesday November 17th 2009

hi subroto,

Go kiss the world ia s book that meade a diference to the way I want to look at life.

Extremely soory to say that the professional was not up to the mark that you have set for yourself

Anirban Mukerji Says
Wednesday November 18th 2009

Dear Subroto,

I recently finished reading the book, “Go Kiss the World” and found it very inspiring. I have also read the ” High Performance Entrepreneur”.

Just a small suggestion, I could not locate your email id and hence responded through the comments section of your blog

regards

Anirban

kumar.a Says
Wednesday November 18th 2009

I have been working in China for over 2 years now and often I see emails being circulated among the chinese colleagues, regarding the Indian civic conditions including some pictures of slums and potholed roads to the dirt and filt left on the sides of roads and kids picking up the recyclable plastics/metal cans. The average chinese thinks quite low of the Indian cities in comparison with the new chinese ones. And, since I have been around for quite some time, I also get to see some of such emails regarding India and everytime I get to see such email, it is often a muted requirement from my chinese colleagues to comment on it. I would not call it a mandatory requirement to comment but it turns out to be so. So I start with by saying that yes, these slums exists and it is very much a reality just like it exists in any other part of the world US, Europe, China. But those images also reminds me that I should be a professional at work and maintain high degree work ethics and values, so that my chinese colleagues relate to India through me and not the images of India that they see in their emails. In absence of an alternative approach, I hope this approach is reasonable. I would like to request Mr.Bagchi for his comments or guidance on it.

    Kenzi Says
    Monday July 14th 2014

    Great artceli, thank you again for writing.

Ranga Nathan Says
Wednesday November 18th 2009

A profound blog. Let me add another trait of Indians!! Take the story of that Indian who parked his porche in Manhattan for $20: Well, the story is not Indian but an American Jewish. We do take stories of others and change it to Indian; I get so many email forwards of this nature.

Prabhjot Says
Thursday November 19th 2009

Beautifully written !!
Reminds me of the time when I visited an Indian restaurent in Lawrence and was very surprised and ashamed to find the pictures of “poor indian people with shabby dirty clothes on a barren land” all over the place.
I don’t know why i didn’t ask the owner the reason for depicting this kind of a picture of India.

- Prabhjot

Thursday November 19th 2009

Sir, I resolve to do more +ve then -ve for India. How?
Lemme tell u a story of an Indian who was in a remote place in Japan. I’d read this story in my Moral Science book in school.

Long long ago, this Indian man was observing a partial fast on a particular day when he needed to travel by a bus. Before he boarded the bus, he searched through the nearby places for fruits to satiate his stomach.
(Most Indians do not observe a complete fast. They consume small amount of fruits or Tapioca Pearls delicacies called Sabudana khichdi or vada for the fast)
This Indian man could not find fruits anywhere. He returned to the bus and occupied a seat. It was still 15 more minutes for the bus to leave. Being frustrated, he murmured to himself, “How can they call Japan a developed nation, when I can’t even easily get fruits here?”
A Japanese fellow passenger heard him. He got down from the bus and in 10 minutes returned with a basket full of different fruits for the Indian. The Indian was surprised. He asked the Japanese person about the price of the fruits. The Japanese man replied, “Sir, the price of these fruits is that, when you return to your country, you should not ever mention to anyone that you did not easily find fruits at a remote place in Japan! That’s all.”

Jai Hind Says
Thursday November 19th 2009

Simple explanation – English educated Indians. During the British era, they brain washed us en-masse, into making us believe that we are an inferior culture & race and certain other sections, who happily collaborated with them, as the European descendants meant to rule Indians. These collaborators in order to gain the Master’s acceptance had to belittle Indian culture & embrace the western culture. People still carry this tendency of elevating any western cultural idea at the expense of Indian culture. This behaviour can be found in all other former colonies too. The only difference between other colonies & Indians is that we still have our culture intact and the rest dont. I dont worry too much about these kind of brain washed sell outs. India has always produced geniuses like Swami Vivekananda, who have shown the true India to the rest of the world.

    Suraj Says
    Thursday March 25th 2010

    Having been brought up outside of India most of my early childhood, I can not agree to this explanation. Indians have been in servitude through the ages and Brits had nothing to do with it except in the last 200 years. They unified India as we identify with today. Collective establishment of blame to English educated Indians is also not fair. I have seen Indian politians visiting overseas blaming their culture. You will see our govt servants cursing the ‘Indian’ mentality and in the same tone ask for bribes.
    Intelligence and culture are poles apart. We Indians are very smart, intelligent and hard-working. But talking about an ancient past is not culture. We see more ‘culture’ in remote villages today than in our cities. Education or smartness has nothing to do with kindness or respect for the fellow being.
    All in all, it is the individual to be blamed. It depends on you, as the individual, to take the first step for development of the country.
    Being in Bangalore for the last 7 years, I am too used to the traffic jams. Even in those hours I am stuck, you get to glimpse those gentlemen who stop for you, follow lane discipline and avoid incessant honking. Well, can you be like these gentlemen? Can you set the example facing the odds? Can you be a part of the cultural revolution that India really needs?

Subroto - not Bagchi ;-) Says
Saturday November 21st 2009

So true. It is the Indians who revel in putting their country down than the others. I find it incredibly frustrating when I hear people putting India down before others. “Oh its dodgy in India” “It’s very corrupt there” “We dont get this quality in India”. While somethings are true, one has to be mindful about how it is presented. And denigrating your own country is hardly the way to ingratiate yourself with foreigners.

Dr Ajay Says
Monday November 23rd 2009

Dear Mr Subrato Bagchi,

The way India is projected else and within is that of utter shame. Strikingly similar has been my experience with certain people of assumed social hierarchy and it’s unfortunate that what the world cannot see is, the diversity and color of India,her children and her legacy!!

priti Says
Monday November 23rd 2009

Nice thought provocating headline… the best usage of words to slap on indian face who talks or thinks like that about India.

Ajitesh Says
Monday November 23rd 2009

Sad but true…!
At a optimistic note ” We shall Overcome ”

Technology has empowered Indians and has given them a platform to create awareness and influence behavior, this blog itself is one the biggest example. Its Just a matter of time when this country will do away with the so called “Indian Way” of doing things, until then lets keep expressing ourselves and create awareness.

Param Says
Tuesday March 23rd 2010

Beautiful article…..
Reminds me of so many times I have experienced this first hand and wondered why people do that? What point are they trying to make by doing this? Which country doesn’t have problems?

Rekha Says
Tuesday March 23rd 2010

A nicely written article.

We come across such rich People in our day to day life who condemn our Indian system, culture and values by adapting the western motherland.

Being an Indian im really ashamed to read about Indian in German Authority spreading wrong message about our motherland.

I feel we need to cancel the citizenship of there own country.

Anindita Says
Wednesday March 24th 2010

After reading Eklavya’s downpour…i felt smone just read my mind and dumped evrthing here! :) I completely second your thought about us being hypocrites. I’ve been in such situations and have counter argued on the fact that not all Indians are alike!! Why take the crap from anyone and feel ashamed… And we musn’t take this too personally, what the Gentleman said about the country was from his point of view and m not denying it isn’t true, but the portrayal is!! So stop being part of the crib team… instead do some good for the nation…be proud and a responsible citizen!! As they say “Be the Change you want to bring”.
P.s: Thanks for the blog though!! :D Cheers!!

    karthi Says
    Monday June 10th 2013

    Like Like Like

vaishali Says
Wednesday March 24th 2010

•Thanks a lot for writing the luminous article with such a impressive slogan

Arun Sathyan Says
Wednesday March 24th 2010

What ever it may be, one should never forfeit their own country. But people like him do these kind of things just for the sake of gaining some popularity. I can imagine and understand your position at that place. Many people are like that. They must change.

Murlee Says
Thursday March 25th 2010

Hello Subroto,

Nice Blog. I am sure it will have a positive impact on some.

I would much rather feel and stick to the fact that “Beauty lies in the eyes of the Beholder”. I am sure that an average intelligent human being is smart enough to understand that no true son/daughter ever utters anything bad about his/her Mother! And should someone do so, it means that they are obviously not referring to their own or do not belong to that family in anyway.

I am sure that there are Zillions of true Indians who are trying to do their bit to keep their Mother happy. I strongly feel that I am one of them, and will sincerely keep trying hard to get better at being a good Son!

Jai Hind.

NK Says
Thursday March 25th 2010

Glad you shared this experiance with us.

deepak jain Says
Thursday March 25th 2010

i would just like to comment on:
“Indians do not mean what they say
and do not say what they mean” ..this is just a cultural difference and i prefer it over being straight forward .

For eg: giving a proforma invitation does not really mean that u r not invited…it rather means that u r not in the “not required list” either. This culture is very much useful in avoiding hosility with persons who may not belong to our circle of friends but who are neither our enemies. It requires a real sense of nerve and gives a real sense of pleasure in understanding the depth when the same culture is applied in humour, philosophy and various other aspects of society.

Vaibhav Singh Says
Thursday March 25th 2010

Hi Sir,

The person to whom you referred to in this article, actually falls into the category of people who are responsible for this sorry state of our country.

He had no right to portray that kind of picture of our country infront of 200 foreign nationals. For every negative fact which he has given for our country, there are millions of good things which he has left untouched. For example : Our different mix of cultures, our 18 different languages, our unity in diversity and other great things.

Yes, it is correct that our society has many different flaws, but which society does not have these kind of problems. It is totally irresponsible of anyones part to go out of his own spew venom about his own country. This particular action of his may have affected the minds of those Germans in an irreversible manner.

Utkarsh Says
Friday March 26th 2010

Really awesome read … thanks a lot
Indeed, no one will value you if you don’t value yourselves.
And yes, “who actually tells the world that his mother is an ugly woman?”

Blah Says
Saturday March 27th 2010

The jokes may have been over the top, but what factual misrepresentations did he make? The state of politics in India disgusts me – and I consider myself fairly loyal to my motherland. I guess the one problem I have with him is his highlighting only the current deficiencies and none of the achievements (if indeed, that is what he did). To keep a society of over a Billion fairly disorderly people, running outside of chaos and in a democracy is a feat in itself. The current economic progress is another. These are probably more relevant to the students than the Indian miserliness highlighted through his jokes…

Saturday March 27th 2010

Indians enjoy their fundamental rights but forget completely fundamental duties. India will grow because of its freedom, culture and selfishness. I came across a quote “you can takeout Indian from India, but not India from an Indian.” So I am proud to say that I am an INDIAN.

Sunday March 28th 2010

Nice article, and thanks for sharing your experiences and views. From your description I can imagine how impressive the presentation must have felt to those 200 young German students and how they must have prepared an image of India and it’s people in their minds. The analogy of our biological ‘mother’ is perfect.

I’m a teacher by profession and so I’m all for calling a spade as a spade and projecting things exactly as they are. Unfortunately, what some people miss after doing this is conveying WHY the things are that way. People miss out on explaining the reasons, the mindset, the history, the social and economic conditions prevalent in a certain geographical area and the educational backgrounds of the society. Without speaking on these topics there’s no point in just stating the facts about how people in a country behave!

TG Says
Sunday March 28th 2010

Some pretty good observations there..both by Subroto and the person who gave the presentation. I really don’t see where that presentation was going and I have been in similar awkward presentations by much more notable Indians where there is an endless charade of “Indian” jokes. It ALWAYS wins laughs. Russell Peters made a career out of it!! But the point is..a lot of these jokes are based on very real aspects of Indian behavior. Subroto was hurt when the German students made references to the Indian jokes, all of us are. But the next time when one of us has to form a queue at the airport, we will most definitely remember to form a “German” line and not an Indian one. We need more people to bring such behavior to light and make us more conscious of our behavior (preferably when the audience is mostly Indian). Hiding and not discussing these things may be convenient but also in keeping with the disturbing Indian policy of not telling what you mean, the way you mean it.

Tom Says
Monday March 29th 2010

Simply the most honest and thought-provoking bit I have read in a while! Not helping our needy friends is one thing, trying to look ‘smart’ at their expense is another!!

Asmita Says
Monday March 29th 2010

Dear Mr Subrato Bagchi,
it is indeed a very touching, disturbing truth which many of us who have stayed outside India, have at some point encountered.Why blame the poor souls who barely have a square meal a day,no roof above their heads and are susceptible to numerous hazards…healthwise and otherwise too….
Indians abroad fail to realize that they unkowingly carry the onus of portraying their motherland in the 21st century…. every action they take, every word they say is ingrained in the minds of these foreigners…. other fellow Indians have to suffer, and bear the repercussions of the misdeeds of a few ‘indians’….

abhishek Says
Tuesday March 30th 2010

It is not only this gentleman in Germany who talked ill of of motherland but please note that through this blog even Subroto Bagchi is also doing the same. He has narrated the entire incident verbatim and therefore giving free publicity to the presentation of the other person.

M.Shankara Kailasam Says
Tuesday March 30th 2010

Hello Mr. Subroto,

Thank you for sharing this experience. For a first time Globetrotter like myself, it is a wonderful example of how much impact my actions can make in the minds of the World. I believe every Indian travelling abroad must consider himself / herself as a Goodwill Ambassador of our country and work towards bringing pride for our Country.

Rakesh Mehra Says
Tuesday March 30th 2010

First start loving your motherland (unconditionally), Then you will also feel proud of yourself to be INDIAN
“If my mother is an ugly woman” I only see smile on her face and a great love for me in her eyes.

Joy Banerjee Says
Tuesday March 30th 2010

This incident is an indication of the state of things that we have in our country where people are “literate” but not “educated”.
On the brighter side of things I am sure there are many people around us who follow the actual rules and do not allow the people around us to commit any wrong doing, however this percentage is too small and we all need to work towards improving this percentage and I am sure with all such small steps we will soon be able to have a brighter and a better educated country. I salute you for sharing your thoughts and assure you that collectively we all will surely make a difference and bring the change.

shruti Says
Wednesday March 31st 2010

Hi Subroto,
I too feel it was shameful. But If I were at you place I would have stood up then and there and politely disagreed with his presentation by making counter back statements. I agree that our country has few bad things but which nation does not have it.

Samir Says
Wednesday March 31st 2010

I think we should not shirk from what is. The world today is a fish bowl.There is no place to hide unpleasant things and why should we? The presenter has put forth facts not fictional stories. Only if we feel ashamed will we stop soiling all over like a child, learn and grow.

harsha Says
Wednesday March 31st 2010

all the Indians are not this way even if it is truth i cant accept it

BrajMohan Says
Thursday April 1st 2010

Greatly conveyed the message and almost all the points are very true.

The diversity and approach of indian and foreigners is a bit different and this is because the Population and economic conditions. One cant deny the fact that we are a part of ugly women but there should be every effort to take this women to a beauty parlour.

Indian are very tolerant and that is why we are still able to survive…

Akash Says
Sunday April 4th 2010

This needs to reach a wider audience… at least some people would stop putting India to shame..if they do that…

Tuesday April 6th 2010

A true patriot raises not only the Tiranga but also the issues even if they go against some fanatics who try to hide evils and tribulations in the society.

Hypocrites pretend to raise the Tiranga but will fly off to USA to escape the sweltering summer heat. They will get medical treatment for themselves and their families in Europe or, USA lest they die of what they consider are fake medicines & the quack doctors of India.

They will pack their children off to USA to collect a degree from a “riff-raff” university rather than put them in an IIM, IIT or, an Indian University.

They will pretend to hold their head and the Tiranga high during their overseas jaunts when a 150 million or more children back home, do not go to school but beg in the streets & go hungry to bed. They will hold their head high when over 80 % of rural India still does not have potable drinking water and when women have to walk 3-10 km each day to fetch a pot of water.

Its not “Mother” who is ugly. Ugly are her children – the fake patriots and hypocrites who discredit, disgrace, dishonour and shame Mother India. Why ? Because they are holding their head high while sitting & defeacating in their 5 star comfort “seats” while 70 % of India’s women living in abject poverty, have to each day, rush to defeacate or, urinate before dawn or, wait till dusk falls to do just that!

These are the kind of sleep-walkers who will not bat an eyelid but, comfortably turn a blind eye to the sufferings of fellow human beings. Naturally, because, they are selfish, self-centered, intoxicated with their prosperity and engrossed with enriching themselves in their airconditioned comforts.

Subrata Sengupta & Sadasiva Viswanath

Purvin Says
Friday April 9th 2010

My dad me sent the article in an email to which I repliead as following. I am it here as my response to the article.
————————————————————

Its nice to hear that you find “article makes you sit you up and thing”. I am hoping following commentary also makes you sit up and think .

To dive in, first thing, I liked the power point presentation the other Indian gave and which agitates the author. I liked description of the opening slide a skull stuffed with $ sign.

Its like the slum dog millionnaire where the film opens with a young man being tortured with a currnet passing through him. I bet many indians were shocked to see that film and first thing that came to their mind was what others around the world will think. I liked it because it showed what it was and most importantly great shooting at real places with real persons. There’s a scene where the devious elements arrive under pretext of orphange organization to pick helpless kids scavanging on the mounts of refuse. Such visual elements captrued during especially in first half makes the film a real force.

The powerpoint presentation the author described was is in the same spirit. You will think it is pervertness but I don’t think it was or necessarily demeaning Indians.The reason is for you to think at the end. You can jump there but I will suggest you read in between to see my point.

What is the problem in the article and about author’s feeling ? Here’s what I think the problem is – The author does not like the Indian guy presenting the power point presentation because he thinks what foreigners think about Indian after seeing that.. It what it is. Most of them(foreigners) have fairly good idea what it is in India or if they don’t they it will take minutes to understand. In shorter words why should an Indian care on what foreigners think. What’s point in hiding it and being ashamed about it

Its actually also very generic about how an eduacted, well to do inidvidual responds ( non Indians or any others) react to the misery in the world just not India. Shame is a valid drive to get initiated but then I think shame should eventually make way for solution orientedness.

With all dues respect, the author instead of focusing on about what greman students thought, should have then and there asked the Indian guy presneting about his real intentions and what that guy proposed to do about the issues.

On side notes, I also think author didn’t get the whole idea of self-deprecation to engage the audience. I have seen presentations from foreigners presenting to Indian audience where they deprecate their own country/culture to engage an Indian audience. The author calls it defecating mentally. May be its generational or cultural thing but selling ideas through ugliness seems new “in thing” in the western world – from reality shows to commercials filled with burps, farts and poops.

Anyways I see, the whole article raises few important questions about the view point lot of Indians perceive the whole subject of poverty – Shame. Author mentions of shame about poverty in India but where’s the shame. I think its just devastating misery.

The poverty is a problem but greater problem is inequality and one which increases day by day with hypocracy of the so called ashamed well-educated Indians ( I and you being such hypocrats). If you think about it applies on a global level. You must have heard about whole India A and India B but at a higher level its also World A vs. World B.

Example: If some poor folks like migrant labourers put up a shack in front of your appartment. You see this if the first thing that came to your mind was shame, like one which is basically a feeling of something itchy/unpleaseant in your pleasant view, then we have got a problem.

What should instead come to mind is reason, compassion and humanity to feel the misery folks striving agains elements without a proper shelter and then illumination about the action.

That’s why I think shame is ok as long as you begin with but eventually it should translate into a genuine feeling of misery to give you guiding light. If you don’t feel that misery you will never be part of the improvement and will just have more shame to dig yourself in.

I think to sum up my feelings about these I will live with you an abstract reason/experience I felt reading Kurosawa’s description of his childhood’s experience in his autobiography. I took the text from : http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/06/39/red_beard.html.

Read the last para which is as following:

“In an oft-related anecdote, Kurosawa accompanied his brother through the ruins of Tokyo after the great Kanto earthquake of 1923. Turning away from the sight of the dead and dying victims of the quake, Heigo told his younger brother, “If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened. If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of.” (6) In his greatest films, Kurosawa exhorts us all to do the same.”

So in similar sense, as to what Kurosawa’s elder brother advised, there’s no point in looking things in a head down manner. Its more productive about looking into eye, experiencing the power of that and translating it for greater good.

Hope its makes sense.

Srinivas K Menon Says
Tuesday April 13th 2010

The narrative was very touching!

I believe that counter argument and eventual stand taken by numerous individuals is inevitable in the process of growth. If the gentleman in Europe did present it that way, it is his innate thoughts that made him do so after being there long and successful. These interpretations are inevitable. Similar happenings are witnessed in India when their foreign counterparts visit the company and meet or talk informally with their Indian counterparts. There are similar or even more politically incorrect remarks made about everything the foreign counterpart sets his eyes on.

What makes this one incident worse is that this sophisticated Indian chose the venue and audience in so unrighteous manner so that it will cause maximum impact. The motive behind such an act, peripherally seems to be his own insecurity deep inside himself. All those who “defame” India being in Indian soil with a foreign counterpart has this deeply sensed insecurity and lack of self-worth and I believe that it may be the root cause, rather than deep hatred, hurt or ill feeling towards his or her own country and countrymen. But these very people aren’t sensible enough to realize the consequences of such acts even though done unthoughtfully on many occasions.

Arun Says
Wednesday April 14th 2010

clueless coz …. a person in a responsible post behaving in such an immature way…. disgrace for our country to have country men like this who like to show themselves and their country in this way…. I hope as mentioned in one of the comments atleast some germans who attend that speech read this post. I would say the person who gave the speech is not worthy to be called as an INDIAN.

Hariharan V Says
Wednesday April 14th 2010

Dear Subroto ,

I am an indian student based in Germany for the last two years. Previously , I also worked onsite as an engineer in Germany for 6 months. Many among us try to be one among them when we come here. The reasons are subjective. Some find their lifestyle to be cool ,their cities to be neat, buses come on time, public toilets are neat and so on … get carried away and start comparing with India. The problem is our own people are shortsighted, opportunistic and lack the pride of being an Indian. I love the example of “Mother India” that you gave. Infact, inspite of teaching the whole of the population that india is our mother land , it pains me that people go out and talk shit about their own mother.
Regarding the indian way of doing things ,we need to change a lot in our way of doing things back home and abroad. Many of us do things the way we want and call it the indian way.

Leave alone the uneducated people, even the most educated people throw coke cans onto the road. If we treat our own mother like a sweeper , then what respect will our mother have in front of a visitor? Our own people need to realize this.

I would just like to put across a few things which i felt we must do as indians living abroad

1.Realize the truth that irrespective of the country you live in , you represent India.

2.No foreigner is going to come and solve your traffic problem or other similar problems of our country.Discussion about problems is important but only do it with the people who have something to do with it.

3.Each foreigner respects your country only as much as you respect or less.

4.Please mind that the next time you talk shit about your country, you are bringing the self esteem, the pride of another billion people back home.

If you feel my comments make sense, please convey this to all our fellow citizens abroad.

Thanks and best regards

Hariharan V

    Neerja Says
    Tuesday May 4th 2010

    Honestly, it makes me wonder how you the author of this article could be a bystander to all this. You Mr. Bagchi could have:

    a. Put a stop to this nonsense during the presentation itself and share your feelings with the audience instead of taking a cowardly stand

    b. confront the “Indian gentleman based in Germany ” instead of being a coward (notice, you have not even revealed the true identity of this man)

    c. Change your own presentation (and that was the the easy part as your presentation was after) to something that truly depicts India and the Indian people and educate your audience. Talk to them about the biases that we hold and where these have originated from and use this as teachable moment (what a lost opportunity!)

    This is what bothers me personally. Generally speaking, we (of Indian/South Asian background) take in all the nonsense from others even if we don’t agree and choose not to say a word about how we feel when we really should. It is much later when the damage has been done, that we choose to talk and voice our opinions. So in other words, as bystanders we become partners in crime.

    By taking a stand for what you stand for at the right time is something that we need to start doing. Even in my own profession, there are times when I choose to remain silent and these experiences have resulted in a great deal of remorse. And the times when I have actually said how I truly feel by voicing my opinion, not only have I felt good inside, but other’s have respected me more.

    Instaed of taking a stand after the damage is done,let’s collectively stop being so passive as it only encourages people to do more damage. When we start asking critical questions and questioning people’s perspectives, I am sure we can bring out the much needed change that we want to see in this world.

Sandy Says
Thursday April 15th 2010

Knowing this as a true story is really hurting!
A decent way to put your thoughts, just wonderful.

Gayathrie Mangalorkar Says
Sunday April 18th 2010

Respected Sir,

I have just finished reading ‘The Professional’ & ‘Go Kiss The World’. I am all stirred up after the latter, even though i enjoyed reading the former. Having lived in the Kalahandi district of Orissa in a beautiful quaint one horse town called Kesinga – i completely relate to the simplicity and lack of materialism prevalent here. Yes, even in this day and age. I am very proud that you decided to give back to Orissa by setting up a MindTree facility there as well.

Regards
Gayathrie

Vishal bhat Says
Wednesday April 21st 2010

This reminds me of two movies…Namastey london and slumdog millionaire….in Namastey London…Akshay kumar tells the britisher what INDIA is and what is truth about INDIA and its strenghts, culture and how polite we are…and when i see slumdog millionaire..we see how we indians actually go head over heals on a movie that shows india as slum country/mean people like the role played by anil kappor and child abusing hooligans…somehow people chose not to feel agitated by this picturization of india..the movie went on to win oscar…both these movies tell me that INDIA is mix of good and bad..but mocking our shortcomings alone without doing anything about it..i feel is more worse.

Shoeb Ahmed Says
Friday April 23rd 2010

Dear Subroto,
Its ironic on the part of that gentleman to comment about my Mother India in such a way. Its the only country that has faced the test of time very strongly and came victorious every a time. It was the Golden bird once and has contributed immensely, be it literary,medicine,science. Now the west are exploring the thing that are provided by our ancestor to them. Now also when I see my maid doing the domestic chores for the ten houses to bear the expense of her child’s education, feel proud. I believe my country to develop when I see the feeling of gratitude and resposibility in the eyes of her children. I feel proud when they score 1st division between the so called affluent pupil. This love, this respect, this determination to grow victoriously from the adversity happens only in India. If man is the only animal that expect his child back after he leaves the nest, then India is the only country where parents nurture their child till they are the best fit to move out. Yes there is poverty, but every adversity teaches person to gro strong. Thats why India is growing and we Indians are the reason behind it.

Anjali Gangoli Says
Monday May 17th 2010

Dear Sir,
I happened to be accompanying a customer during a client visit and she laughed a bit at the aspirational names of residential complexes advertised on the hoardings along the drive to our office. It was not a deprecating laugh and so I did not take offence. All she said was “it is good that this is what you aspire for isn’t it?” .
A little while later , the driver was trying to weave carefully through the traffic and I apologetically muttered something about the driving habits of Indians to which her response was” but it works !” .
The last couple of times that I was abroad , I was surprised to see the keen interest my foreign colleagues showed in the Indian education system and attributed the success of India in the IT field to that. Their various analyses were also eye openers as I learnt to accept the good in the system as viewed through their eyes.

Whilst it is required that we be completely aware of the numerous ills that afflict the growth and prosperity of our nation, nothing can be gained by airing our dirty linen in front of foreign public.Deeply moved by your article , I also wondered what the speaker hoped to achieve by doing just that.

satwa gunam Says
Tuesday May 18th 2010

It is true. we have to learn to discipline ourself in small things that happen around us, which would actually solve most of the major problems which is not done due to laziness and indifferent attitude.

Further we have attitude to blame others for our own weakness and petty behavious. Favourite punch bag is corruption and politics.

However we doot have the attitude to do the soul searching to see what can i do with the limited resource for the betterment of my society ?????????????

Jeet Hormuz Says
Friday May 28th 2010

Dear RM,
I am still serving in the IAF, and am sure that we never served together. I must tell you that in my 20 years serving in fighter squadrons across the length and breadth of the country, I have never once received or proferred a ‘proforma’ invitation. I am fortunate to have seen a different side of the service and the country that you have. I would beg to differ with your view that ‘we are like this only’. There are many of us who have nothing to be ashamed of, and are proud to be Indian, warts and all.

Ashutosh Says
Sunday May 30th 2010

I am not sure as to how can one reconcile the dilemma of honesty vs the patriotism because as subroto has himself acknowledged that none of the things said by the gentleman can be considered factually incorrect. As for equating the county with one’s mother, this is a highly misquoted analogy since one’s relationship with one’s mother is highly individualized, personalized and one-to-one while one’s relationship with one’s country is essentially a relationship with a billion people (in case of India), a highly inconsiderate and biased system. My mother has taken care of me since i was born, my mother always thinks of my pride before she indulges in something, my mother has my welfare as her top priority. I can go on and on but can anyone say that the same motherhood was shown by “country”, before the patriotic ones started equating country with one’s mother. Hence I don’t think can can really equate the highly melodramatic argument of one’s mother literally to same as that of country.
Yes there are some basic aspect of respect that every countryman owes to his/her country but then it can not be considered in same light as that of his/her very personal relationship.

Debendra Says
Monday April 18th 2011

Sir

….very Nicely written.
I am not surprised to know that this is a real story. Some section of our community called “HNI” find a lot of problems with this motherland and never have a retrospect telling her ugly. they are more like a problem finder than a solution seeker and hence a very irrelevant to social up-liftment.
yes there are some huge problems in our society but screaming those on a public forum would never bring any solution.
We are the people who were once considered to be the most advanced people not only interms of economy and technology but also in every other aspect of mankind. Its time to remember our origin and respond to that. it is never a easy job to make our motherland clean and green but a great team work can even achieve any impossible task. we are not supposed to be guided by somebody else, its time to understand the self responsibility and respond to it more religiously.
Thanks to Mr Bagchi for his beautiful narration

Debi Says
Saturday July 2nd 2011

Dear Subroto,
I would like to Request you to teach etiquette to these literate people.

I wish if you could write a small book on it. Hope it teaches civilization to literate people.

I would like tell you one thing from my own observation. The more educated and powerful the human is , higher is the probability of breaking something. Educated Nations attack Iraq,Pak,Afgan,Egypt etc. Educated people drive Bomber planes.I think we cannot count how many time these people broken rules.

I would love to hear from you. I wish to share more with you.

Thanks

chandan mittal Says
Sunday July 3rd 2011

Is it because of weak national identity that we don’t see ourselves as Indians and responsible Indians first? We do have strong family identity therefore no one will say my mother is ugly, going literally.
Next question is that whether any such identity will ever develop in the wake of globalisation?

N Bhargav Says
Thursday July 21st 2011

Very interesting and thought provocative.
I am going to share with my friends and colleagues.
Thank you for your story.

subhashis Says
Friday August 12th 2011

very aptly narrated. in fact this sentiment has been the selling point of many well to do indians. what they should realize is that they are cursing upon the branch they are sitting on top of.

Arindam Mukherjee Says
Saturday August 13th 2011

I don’t think it’s a question of whether all the mentioned “statistics” about Indian behaviour are factual or apocryphal. It’s a question on the value of self-ridicule. A lot of people from a lot of countries practise ridiculous social behaviour. We are not the only ones. That can never form part of a cultural introduction about a country. Not least when the introduction is by an Indian. More than anything else, his own perspective about his country was perhaps the greatest let down for India’s image, and that of its people.

Krishanu Das Says
Tuesday August 16th 2011

Dear Mr. Bagchi,

It is gruesomely bad for any Indians depicting his own country in such a way. With 20 years of corporate experience, I find people who take this path are the ones who has been thrown out or rejected by this country either way. There are two types .Let me explain it in a better way.

We all like to prosper in our own country (and this is a fact) One of my friend was an average student and could not complete his BSc(Math) in the board exam….he was frustrated and depressed. Instead of trying to pursue further he packed his bag for the US. Today he is a well known Maths professor in US. Just imagine….he deeply hates India from inside as he was not successful and thinks that the Americans had given him his due recognition. He is now an US citizen with US wife having his own house car etc…but at the end of the day he dislikes his peers who had prospered in India and grown much ahead of him.

I also have a friend who left India for accumulating dollars and prosper only to find himself in a position of no return and this inability to return and prosper again in your own country compels you to make such inappropriate remark about your motherland.

Should we not feel sorry for such individuals???

George Paul Says
Thursday October 6th 2011

I have read several of mr Bagchi’s writings. As always it made interesting reading. While admitting that some comments and perceptions about us can be embarrassing, I have the distinct feeling that we as a Nation have a problem laughing at ourselves. I do agree that your fellow speaker obviously lacked direction by blowing hot and cold about the past greatness and the present futility. Most Indians get worked up about any kind of criticism. I have traveled extensively in India and abroad (mostly third world countries in Africa, Asia and central America) as a health volunteer. I think there is something about our ways which make me uncomfortable if not shameful. Spitting, defecating and a general standard of inconsideration and public indiscipline (including an inability to respect other’s feelings when we park haphazardly and break queues). I think inculcating a value system that respects others Should be an important part of our cultural outlook. We seem to only show token respect by touching our elders etc. I am sure the speaker before you must have denigrated our outlook in a manner that was condescending. However I feel that we must introspect on our general deportation and try to correct it too. When you can laugh at yourself, others will be more graceful in accepting the shortfalls. We also learn in the process. I am an Indian health professional who is permanently and happily resident in a small town in India.

Yathish Says
Wednesday November 9th 2011

Really Touching………………

Friday January 27th 2012

Sir,
I don’t feel pity or angry on the person whom you mentioned, because I perceive him as “he is not belonging to this country and he places our honor for his own name”
I saw you in this blog as an INDIAN
Thats really a heart touch instant…

sameer Says
Thursday March 8th 2012

Dear friends, come to think of it, if what that person in Germany was so bad, should it be given so much publicity. When the person was speaking, only a few people in the hall were listening to it. But Mr Subroto Bagchi has ensured that all his blog readers get to know about it. Just to get more publicity for his own Mindtree blog, or may be unwittingly, Mr Bagchi has given more worldwide coverage to what he himself feels should have been kept under the carpet. What is the difference between that person speaking in Germany and Mr Bagchi’s Blog? Aren’t both examples of washing dirty linen in public

gargi Says
Tuesday March 20th 2012

i didn’t realize earlier but now i feel like accepting the view in the comment above. Subroto has advertized the incident much more than that person joking about India could have ever done. One should be careful in what one writes in public.

Deepshikha Sharma Says
Friday April 27th 2012

Catchy title and well narrated blog.
I have never been abroad neither did I interact to any foreigner, but yes I have heard Indians being ashamed in being INDIANS and always comparing with other countries only to conclude that India and Indians are loosers.
I don’t know the image of India in the eyes of other countries but being an Indian, or being the citizen of any nation, I feel it’s our responsibility of the countrymen to let the entire world know what we really are.
Every country has something or the other which can be looked down upon.
Few scenarios mentioned above, though presented in a wrong way, are true. The biggest drawback with us is we feel very comfortable in following others when they do something wrong.
There is nothing to be ashamed of in being an Indian…But yes it takes effort on the part of each one of us in being a RESPONSIBLE INDIAN

இந்தியன் Says
Friday January 11th 2013

Subroto is kidding. I am sure he doesn’t live near a slum nor has he gone to a Government office in India. Civilisation is a state of mind rather than material wealth. When India use to be fully vegetarian civilisation, looking after animals and poor peope and feeling confident about its ways, there was sure civilisation. The”modern” India ill treats women, fosters corruption, teaches western education and talks of culture when there is none. Subroto has probably not travelled in dirty and filthy railway carriages. Oh, yes travels in cars and planes. Subroto grow up man.

  • Pingback: My Mother is an Ugly Woman | Golden Fizz

  • Monday December 16th 2013

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
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    Anyway, just wanted to say great blog!

    Abhishek Tripathy Says
    Monday December 23rd 2013

    Respected Bagchi Sir,

    The point that you made in this post is correct. As long as the Indian diaspora fit into foreign minds through misuse of our cultural ethos, however obnoxious they may be; we will not be a developed country. Physical development complemented with mental development in terms of respect for the motherland will be the sign of our emergence as a first world country.
    Belonging to the same part of India as you do, Balangir; I understand your pain for the poor people of India who have no choice but to survive anyhow. It is our duty to make a difference to their lives. You have done your bit in that regard. Thank you for the pearls of wisdom.

    Sunday February 2nd 2014

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    Prince Kumar Says
    Friday March 7th 2014

    Really it was a great experience reading this blog.Well the heading perplexed me that how anyone can say like that for their mother. It is said that a “little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.You have left your mother a long ago and is not related to her anymore but only to impress Germans or for business means, you a ready to make a fun of her….
    Truely genius and impressive.
    Well i think if you can’t help your country then you have no right to make a fun of it.

      Anita Says
      Monday July 14th 2014

      Yeah I get it already, She’s faniasttc. and she certainly is but could you please post some of the races she’s won or her trophy (& medal) collection. Can you show her some respect for all the training she’s been doing instead of just ooogeling at her? thanks Man, DarrylHarrisburg, PA

    Dipesh Says
    Saturday April 12th 2014

    Recently I came across something similar (may not be same as yours). So I blogged about it –
    http://dipeshmajumdar.com/entries/self-improvement/the-modern-subhash-chandra-bose

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