Social Reflections

Does the homogenity I see alll around truly exist, or is it simply something I imagine? A paranoid brain working overtime and yet unable to find meaning when meaning exists all around. Usually I tend to believe in the former, after all it is not a happy thing to doubt oneself.

Watching a mass of humanity walk past you on MG road, all looking the same, making the same conversations, wearing the same wonder bras, the same reeboks, it is hard to think otherwise. They seem oblivious to the homogenity though, they have other things in their mind. Their careers, their girlfriends, office politics, Justin Timberlake’s latest, and who knows what else. Or maybe they are aware, but are willing to live with it. Homogenity does not matter, it exists. And so be it.

I think this homogenity has its roots in something else. It is a consequence of a thought process that has ensconced comfortably in our collective consciousness. A thought that is now firmly ingrained into all of us – The need to be something. The overriding necessity to be a success in terms that the world defines. Software engineer, senior software engineer, team lead, project manager, associate vice president, vice president, president, director, CEO. Yes I have done it. I have arrived. But maybe that is not true. Maybe that is a flawed line of reasoning. Not everyone is motivated by that desire. Some just want to work hard, learn more. Party more. Earn more. And in that process if these designations happen, good. So be it. In the end, we are all traders. Just that today more of us trade knowledge not goods. Fair enough.

We have gone too far too soon in our pursuit of knowledge. We have ended up creating a society so specialized, so suffocatingly restrictive that we have come to define ourselves in short pithy phrases. CRM consultant, SAP expert, embedded systems engineer, project manager, Industrial sales executive, Personnel manager. And yet it can safely be said that this very restrictiveness will lead to a realization that life is not about work. Far removed from it. We will stop working beyond 7, start pursuing other interests, some seriously, some not so seriously. There will always be the aggressively ambitious, the ones who like the designations, the ones who want to climb – up, up and away to some imagined final destination. But the majority, they will at some point decide to stop walking. Or at least stop walking fast. One after another, they will relax a little, notice the benches and sit.

The problem then that will arise is in the benches that they choose to sit on. The US by and large has sadly chosen a bench with a parking sign that says “Self indulgence”. It seemed a fair enough bench when the first ones to stop choose it, now it seems obvious that was a wrong bench to park oneself on. We have to choose different benches. We are too small a country, too large a population, too poor a nation and we cannot afford to make the same mistake. We have to consciously choose a different bench. I have though about it, and I believe the bench we choose has to have the word “community” in it. An individualistic economy is good for the economy, terrible for the soul. For better or for worse, my generation is a nuclear family generation. We are used to seeing our desires satisfied, our whims indulged in, and most of us tend to believe it is the natural condition of man to indulge in none but himself. We are a very fortunate generation. In a sense, we are the baby boomers of India. First generation free market capitalists. It is upto us the kind of legacy we wish to leave behind. I believe that legacy should be a legacy with the spirit of the kibbutz and the ashram. We must make the choice to not roll up the windshield when the beggar knocks on it. I wish I had an answer to how to make this happen. I don’t, but a few ideas I have.

Urban India is already beginning to demand more accountability from its politicians, but that is not enough. We need to be accountable ourselves. We must be willing to limit the joy of switching on the TV and watching Friends when we get back from work. Watch we can by all means, but we must also put our heads together in our apartment societies, create plans of action to clean up our neighborhoods, set our roads right, work together with our adjoining and burgeoning slums. We need to educate ourselves on our responsibilities. We have to converse regularly with our governments.

Not every generation has the opportunity of setting a direction. We have been given that opportunity, and we have to take it. We have to choose the right benches to sit on when we step outside our workplaces. Our legacy must not be a legacy of self indulgence.

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Posted on January 15, 2004, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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