Lessons to learn from Indians

Lessons to learn from Indians Image Credit: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's inaugural speech by Vipul5491 at en.wikipedia [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Usually a good percentage of the e-mails one receives these days are full of jokes, chain letters or spam. There is nothing more irritating than when your good friends do not write two sentences to find out about how you are keeping etc, instead humble themselves to spending hours on end to send funny and uninteresting stories which only take the receiver’s time to delete them or consign them to the spam folder.

But one e-mail that struck me recently sent by my good friend ST was about prolific advice given to Indians by Dr Abdul Kalam, India’s 11th President which I thought was compatible and harmonize with our society.

The content of the email is highly inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience too.

Success stories

Dr Kalam is regarded as the ‘missile man of India’ who strongly advocates an action plan to develop his Motherland into a knowledge-based super power and to a developed nation. Although he firmly believes India as a great nation with so many success stories, yet he is baffled to understand why his fellow countrymen are so disapproving in their attitude and refuse to acknowledge what India has achieved.

Highlighting India as number one in milk production and in remote sensing satellites; being the second largest producer of wheat, rice and ‘millions of such other achievements’ he is certainly baffled by the fact as to why the Indian media is obsessed with projecting only negative reporting - failures, disasters, deaths, sickness and terrorism.

“Why are we so downbeat? Why are we, as a nation, so gripped with foreign consumer products such as TVs, shirts and foreign technology? Why is this fixation on everything imported? Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance”?

He argues. It indeed is an actuality very much applies to our society as well!

He hits hard on those who criticize the Government being inefficient; who whine stating that

“laws are too antiquated; who moan about the municipality not picking up garbage, who fuss about phones not working properly, who say railways are becoming a joke, national airline as the worst in the world or mails never reaching their destination and the country has been fed to the dogs and it is in the absolute pits. You complain...! complain ....!! and complain...!!!” What do you do about it?”. He exclaims.

 “Dr Kalam focuses on the behaviour of some of his fellow countrymen when they travel abroad and states that in Singapore no one dares throws cigarette ends on to the roads or eat inside any stores. In Singapore, he says, you don’t say anything BUT do. In Dubai you wouldn’t dare eat in public during Ramadan, he points out.

Foreign system

“You would not exceed your motor vehicle speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington or tell the traffic cop, Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am.....? I am the son of so and so - take your two bucks and get lost”.

Why don’t you spit Pan (chewed beetle) on the streets of Tokyo? You wouldn’t chuck an empty king coconut shell anywhere other than into the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand! Why do people who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries are unable to be disciplined in their own country and instead start throwing papers and cigarettes ends on the road the moment they touch home ground? If we can be involved and appreciative citizens in an alien country why cannot we be the same at home?”

He poses the six million dollar question.


Touching on politics he says people choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility, sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for them whilst peoples’ contribution is totally negative.

“People expect the government to clean up but are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are they going to stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it into a bin”!

“What does a system consist of? Definitely not ‘You and I’ he states. When it comes to make a positive contribution to the system he says, ‘we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr Clean to come along and work miracles with a majestic magic wand or we flee the country”.

Junk mails

Like lazy cowards hounded by fears then we run to America to bask in their glory and praise the American system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment we decide to take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck we demand to be rescued and brought home by the government”.

“Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country but nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money”, he bemoans.

His appeal has been to forward his email to each Indian for a change instead of sending Jokes or junk mail.  In conforming to Dr. Kalam’s request, here I am sending through this column an edited version of it to our community, because the bulk of Dr Abdul Kalam’s advices can be applied to our Sri Lankan community equally.

The bottom line of Dr Kalam’s message is a repetition of what J F Kennedy pronounced to his countrymen in the past -

Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”.

 Shouldn’t we too emulate same?

Courtesy: Daily News

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