Being Indian- The Privileges of the Rat Race

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Hand a child a toy and within moments, he will lose interest. Dangle the toy in front of the child without actually allowing him to touch and the toy becomes more desirable to the child. This creates will. The child now thinks, ‘I want that toy’. Now keep that toy far away yet in his range of vision and gradually the child progresses into thinking, ‘I need that toy’ and will cry, bawl, anything in his power to get the toy. India is like the mother who has the toy. The toy is anything you want it to be- a sound education, a potential job offer or a lucrative business idea.

India with its rising millions, India with its limited resources and India with its minimal seats holds a special kind of power that parallels none other. I have heard students lamenting about the roaring competition they have to face during times of admission, I have heard potential employees grappling for jobs and I have seen picnickers vying with each other to find a peaceful spot in the gardens. We have grown up in a veritable Rat Race. With the swelling masses, the lust for competition and the will to reach an end goal faster than others keeps mounting. I believe a Rat Race has much more to offer than it is given credit for.

During my stay in North America, I observed a different light among students, a different attitude altogether. For them the challenges that life throws are not of the fundamental kind, they are not worried about getting a job, there’s plenty and the pay is good. They are not frantic with worry about their ‘career path’ and what subject to major in. The expression ‘Easy Come Easy Go’ best adheres to them. For instance, most of my friends there would nonchalantly ponder over which field to pursue (in their final years of study) or whether they wanted to leap from a technical job to a corporate profession without any worries about the lack of credentials, whereas students in India start preparation even before the year commences. Why such a distinct difference? As students we learn to weigh the pros and cons of our decisions and think ahead of time. We struggle from one threshold to the other.

The need to compete, to be better than others around is quintessentially human. Darwin called it the theory of Evolution and Natural Selection. There will always, always be someone more successful, more intelligent and more powerful than you. There is no dearth of talent here. And because of this unending talent, we strive to stretch our potential in a way that Westerners will never care to do. India instills in us the will to be better than the millions around us. President Obama himself is of the opinion that the growth of India is one of the reasons the U.S needs to stay competitive.

In her 2012 best-selling release- ‘Geek Nation’, Angela Saini describes the tremendous trajectory that Indians are on, producing a medley of doctors, engineers, professors and other professions that will soon make India the next scientific superpower. She is of the opinion that the rest of the world underestimates what hundreds and thousands of committed young scientists and engineers can achieve.

This is because India provides the two things that are the lifeline to any entrepreneur- the Problems and the Opportunities. Of late, people who had chosen to settle abroad are returning to India to seek employment.

The whole charm of being Indian lies in the skills we have acquired, the skill of envisioning a playground while others see rubble. This practice is peculiar only to Indians, commonly termed ‘Jugaad’ in Hindi. This signifies creativity, in solving utterly complicated issues or being able to compound new things from meager resources. ‘Jugaad’ is the reason Indians are connoisseurs, not only of the business arena, but also in technological and scientific fields all over the world.

We might never admit this, but the competition laid down for us since birth by the stereotypical ‘Sharmaji ka beta’ makes us struggle that much harder to score 95% in boards or work that extra mile in our career. So the next time you earn a promotion or receive a compliment on your resourcefulness, thank India for your mettle.

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About author : Sohini Bagchi is a 4th Year Biotechnology student at VIT, Vellore.

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