We educated Indians must stop pointing fingers at others

Recently, I overheard an interesting conversation between two persons. The conversation started with the man commenting on the bad habits of Indians (littering, smoking in public, spitting, urinating and defecating in public, breaking traffic rules, etc., etc.) and proclaiming that he had never seen such things in the 20 years that he’d lived in USA.

The woman replied, “Our people are so disgusting! They’ll never improve! It’s so frustrating!” and continued, “What about the function? Are all preparations done?”

The man replied that everything was under control, and added, “‘Didi’ (elder sister), I was really impressed by your husband’s contacts! Everybody gave us special treatment! Do you know I’m saving a hefty sum on the catering bill because the caterer offered to accept half the payment in cash, which means no tax on that amount!! He said he does this only for special people like Doctor Saab!”

Wow! This man had studied in USA and worked there for over a decade. After waxing eloquent about the lousy habits of Indians, he proudly proclaimed that he had saved money by doing something illegal, which had been facilitated by a highly respected medical practitioner!!! This man and his brother-in-law, both highly educated, did something that they knew was illegal.

We educated Indians are experts at criticizing the visible bad habits of our countrymen, but we ourselves have some really bad habits, which we do nothing about because we think they are invisible.
1. Have I always paid Income Tax in full, declaring all my income?
2. Have I never bought/used smuggled goods?
3. Have I never bribed a policeman or a government servant?
4. Have I never spoken on my cellphone while driving?
5. Have I never engaged child labour?
6. Have I never used official facilities (car, telephone, etc.) for personal use?
7. Have I never used software, books or CDs that are pirated?

I have listed 7 questions, but there are many more. We should ask ourselves these questions. If we can answer YES to all these questions, then, we have the right to criticise others. If not, we must first try to change ourselves for the better before trying to change others.

Many of the people who litter, smoke in public, spit, or urinate and defecate in public do not even realize that they are doing something wrong. In some cases, people urinate and defecate in public because they have no access to toilets.

However, we educated Indians indulge in wrong acts knowing that what we are doing is wrong! Further, we are not constrained by circumstances. For example, the man who paid half the catering bill in cash could easily have afforded to pay the tax on the entire bill.

Let us all remember: “When you point one finger at someone else, three of your own fingers point back to you.”

This post is being shared for Indispire Edition 24.

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34 thoughts on “We educated Indians must stop pointing fingers at others

  1. “If we can answer YES to all these questions, then, we have the right to criticise others” – Bravo! You speak my mind. Tired of annoyed and perpetually cribbing people who will take not a second to point that finger but never get around to looking in the mirror. I think we like to ‘other’ our evils – on the government, the capitalists, the West, the Right Wing so that we can stand behind the cloak of purity and feel good. It’s in fashion, almost. I particularly like how we raise foreign countries to Godhead in comparison least realising how the people are responsible for what the country looks like.
    Sorry for doing this, but you echo me so much. Here, read this when you can: http://www.sakshinanda.com/2013/08/an-open-letter-to-educated-indians.html

    • Each one of us must realise and accept that, while we may not have created most, if not all problems in/with our country, we are partly responsible for keeping the problem alive because we are, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, a perpetrator, participant, beneficiary, victim, or bystander. Since we are partly responsible for these problems being kept alive, we share the responsibility to solve these problems.

      Your post hits the nail on the head!

  2. Very well said, Pro! Totally agree that we fail to look at ourselves before jumping up to criticize others. And the saddest part is that immediately after criticizing others we turn around and do a similarly nasty thing the same instant. We really must own up our mistakes and do what needs to be done, even if it is only at our own individual level, before we start preaching to others.

    • I agree, Beloo. We are humans, so we may not be perfect. Just being aware of our own mistakes, accepting them and sincerely trying to correct ourselves is enough. We can simultaneously preach to others.

  3. Very true. A lot of times we end up being hypocrites. When it comes to complaining, we do it endlessly. But when it comes to getting our work done, we are ready to take the path that we have been complaining about all along. Something to introspect about.

  4. Aptly put, Pro. We are hypocrites of the first order (ofcourse I generalise a little bit…but the ones who aren’t are few in number). Complaining is our birthright and we shall do it – seems to be the motto for most of our fellow Indians. Of course, pointing fingers at others too.

      • I agree. The first step towards the resolution is to ensure that we practice what we preach. Of course, just because I am able to answer yes to all the seven sample questions doesn’t give me the right to judge or point fingers at others. But we can always try and stop a wrong when you see it being done. You may or may not be successful, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. As a recent example, my passport renewal has been stuck at Police verification stage for over two months now. They have the file, but they did shamelessly ask me for money. And when I politely declined, though they didn’t threaten, they asked me to bring more proofs, and now I’ve been in the waiting for weeks to meet with their superior. So much so that I’ve had to complain at the Commissioner’s office. Of course it will eventually move, simply because it cannot be delayed indefinitely, but if I had to travel next month, which I may, the truth is I’ll probably never get it in time because I declined. This might be an extreme example, but is one nevertheless. But we can definitely put our foot down on usage of pirated stuff, smuggled goods, child labour and much more. And that’s a good place to start.

      • I suppose I must also be clear and say that I am not indicating that I am “pure and have played no evil part”. I have I am sure. I doubt anyone can say otherwise. A large part of my being able to say YES to some of those questions is simply because my time in India has been limited as compared to the citizens who have been born and brought up here. To sum it up, I whole heartedly agree with the point of the post – being, we have no right to point fingers at others unless we’re perfect, which we rarely are. But if you do ONE thing perfectly – say taking a stance on no child labour, atleast for that one thing, I suppose you do have the right to influence others to not employ children. Maybe not on ones that we ourselves dont practice. 🙂

      • again not perfect, unless we address the issue. How would you deal with someone asking for money?
        option 1 pay him. option 2 neurtalize him. option 3 offense. We actually are not left with any energy to sortn these options. By the way perfection is relative.

    • Sid, we are humans, so we may not be perfect. Just being aware of our own mistakes, accepting them and sincerely trying to correct ourselves is enough. We can simultaneously preach to others.

  5. Agree with you.
    Hard-hitting questions here. Only a handful of Indians will say YES to ALL the 7 & more such questions…
    We have no right to complain unless we are flawless.

    Valid message-
    “we must first try to change ourselves for the better before trying to change others.”
    We must be the change that we wish to see.
    If everyone follows this, our India will benefit…

  6. Bura jo dekhan main chala, bura na miliya koi… Jo main dekha aapno, mujhse bura na koye’ – The very own, beloved-Kabir’s doha.
    Because of my critical nature, and the habit of speaking it out too, I’m reminded of this often, in my head. And yes, none of us can answer all ‘Yes’. The pirated-books caught me there.

      • It depends a lot on the culture around you when you stepped into the adult world. When I started earning, I stopped buying/reading pirated books but I cn never say that I did not use them ever. But there were many who continued the use and rather ridiculed me for acting like a ‘foreigner’.

      • People do tend to poke fun at people who do the correct thing, especially when one can ‘save money’ as in the case of pirated books.

        I’ve received this ‘foreigner’ comment for various reasons on a number of occasions. One has to understand that only a proud and patriotic Indian will try to change some Indian traits/habits for the better.

  7. Oh boy.. this has brought so many memories .. and little stories that I get to experience every now and then at work ..

    This is a serious thought and you are right we shud stop pointing fingers because at some stage or some scenario I am sure we have all done something illegal or something that is not right .. knowingly or unknowingly

    I am sure i do too.. when I find someone driving without a seat belt and then I let him off because he/she has said sorry.. I should not as they will do it again ..

    the last quote on the post says it all.. three fingers do point at us , I got to be More careful VERY careful

    • That’s a very valid point, Bikram. Any person who is supposed to enforce a rule should enforce the rule as per the prescribed procedure. Letting people get away with deliberate infringements just because they’ve apologised is not kindness, it is not doing your duty. Of course, if a person has broken a rule due to genuine ignorance, the law enforcement officer may use his/her discretion and let the person off with a warning.

  8. In deed such a great response and that fast!
    It is noticed that almost all concede it has something to do with our mindset – “It happens only in India!”
    It is certainly not impossible to usher in the change.In Mumbai’s sea facing Dhote Udyan all users are required and do observe extremely strict discipline by not littering, no spitting or smoking or loud music or, video graphy, no-no to eatables or soft drinks, necessarily uni-direction anti-clock wise walking or jogging, no entry for male adults not accompanying kids in the childrens play area.
    Except for the prominent display board with Do’s and Don’ts at the entrance it is entirely monitored by the users with the security guard at the entrance.
    Only this morning three of us, the founding trustees who are senior citizens now, went over to clean the park of the plastics thrown in by the winds from the sea.
    We expect other users to follow suit soon.It does take time!

  9. How can ‘I’ be wrong? ‘I’ am always supposed to be right? ‘They’ (fellow Indians) are always wrong. ‘I’ am so busy finding fault in ‘them’ that ‘I’ have no time to reflect upon ‘my’ own wrongdoings.

    This. This is our reality. And yes, I am guilty of points 6 and 7.

    What irks me more is the fact that uneducated people make mistakes because they aren’t aware of whether it is a mistake or not. But we, the educated lot, make mistakes knowingly. And still we hold our heads high and point fingers at others. A very apt post with some really powerful questions for us to answer.

  10. First, I am guilty of point 7.
    Second, I don’t point fingers on others ..and Never will..
    Third, I AM samaj /society/India…. Just like others make society for me I am for them so we have only ourselves to blame.. Great questionnaire Pro…I have found a way out for 7 also. Thanks for asking me here… Now I am here to stay 🙂

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