Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are Indians bigger Sadists than the rest?

Semester exams are on, I have a tough paper to handle(Financial Management, never understood any Finance anyways), have the Fountainhead on my side(Yes, I still haven’t read it, you can mock me now), and spent the most banal Diwali ever[how? By sitting alone in my room and reading stuff). Nevertheless, I have finally(and hopefully) decided to write down a serious article(seems like ages).

Are Indians more sadistic than others? The answer to this is ‘I don’t know’. I do not have any exposure of any foreign country, and my knowledge is entirely based on whatever stuff which I have[which isn’t much], in spite of having a very meaningful course in this semester- Cross Cultural and Global Management. However, if you ask me,personally, I would be inclined to say yes.

Maybe, some of you will just nod your heads and move on, and some will be appalled and some will disagree ruthlessly. Feel free to accept or disagree with my view points. But I shall try to give some examples.

Let us start from two of the most popular Indian festivals. Diwali to begin with. Celebrated in India since a long long time. Mythological reason is return of Lord Rama from Vanvasya. Originally intended to be a festival of light, and triumph of good over evil. Presently reduced to a festival of noise and debauchery. Of course people love exploding crackers. What’s wrong about it you may ask? It’s a time to celebrate with your friends and family, right? Well, for starters, it exponentially increases the amount of air and sound pollution, affecting lot of people with breathing problems and mostly the elderly, or the very young. And there have been several instances of injuries being caused due to mishandling of fireworks. In certain cases, it even leads to death. Is it justified then, even if few cases of deaths are reported every year, to continue using fireworks? What if I just want to do something meaningful, but am unable to do anything over and above the loud noise, and I risk burning myself by just stepping out of my house.

But I have seen numerous people who take pleasure in sending a rocket flying into a neighbours house or exploding bombs on areas where they know elderly people stay. And surprisingly, many people consider it as normal, acceptable behavior.

Lets come to Holi then, another festival which is celebrated with much gust and pomp. Enjoyed by millions of people. Terrifies millions too. Especially women, who feel a high risk of their modesty being violated. Some of them lock themselves in their rooms, others try to avoid any contact. I have personally seen people turn into actual hooligans on this day, when normal criminal acts become perfectly legal, and even the police decide to become mute spectators. Throwing colors, grease, egg yolk, cow dung, cement, and what not, on others, under the pretext of Holi. Perfectly acceptable- ‘Bura na maano, Holi hai’ (Don’t feel bad, its Holi after all).

This was about festivals. What about organizations and behavior in general. Arent we a collectivist society? Supposed to care and encourage one another. Well, we are, partially. When it comes to taking credit, everyone comes forward to get his or her due of the pie and share. And when it comes to accepting responsibility for failure or defeat, everyone suddenly points a finger at everyone else. I have rarely even seen one Indian owning up his mistake, or accepting the fact that he was wrong. It’s always somebody else who gets the blame. Not just that, we simply enjoy and make merry whenever someone else loses and take exceptional delight in the fact. But when it’s our turn to taste defeat, we simply cannot fathom the fact that others are enjoying it. In India, its power,money and status that is valued more than anything else. You need to dominate and surpass above everyone else to succeed. This feeling is inculcated in us from childhood itself, where we are forced to compete, first in studies, then to get into a good educational institute, then a job, and then fight for position/status.

I could give several other examples. Being an ascribed society, we continue to think of ourselves superior to others, based on factors such as caste, religion, background, hierarchy, status, our educational qualification, etc rather than to compete on merit. As a result, conflicts keep on occurring.

For now, I will go back to Hofstede’s framework and stimulus generalization[MBA terms of course]. I could have written a longer article, but time constraints and pure laziness says otherwise.


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