Atanu Dey On India's Development

Hopelessly Disorganized Immensely Selfish Mobs?

What do we want in India? If foreigners want these things, we want them twenty times more. Because…in spite of our boasted ancestry of sages, compared to many other races, I must tell you that we are weak, very weak. First of all is our physical weakness. That physical weakness is the cause of at least one-third of our miseries. We are lazy, we cannot work; we cannot combine, we do not love each other; we are intensely selfish, not three of us can come together without hating each other, without being jealous of each other. That is the state in which we are — hopelessly disorganized mobs, immensely selfish, fighting each other for centuries as to whether a certain mark is to be put on our forehead this way or that way, writing volumes and volumes upon such momentous questions as to whether the look of a man spoils my food or not! This we have been doing for the past few centuries. We cannot expect anything high from a race whose whole brain energy has been occupied in such wonderfully beautiful problems and researches!

And are we not ashamed of ourselves? Ay, sometimes we are; but though we think these things frivolous, we cannot give them up. We speak of many things parrot-like, but never do them; speaking and not doing has become a habit with us. What is the cause of that? Physical weakness. This sort of weak brain is not able to do anything; we must strengthen it.

First of all, our young men must be strong… You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman when your body stands firm upon your feet, and you feel yourselves as men.

I am deliberately leaving the quote above anonymous. Who is this guy who speaks of Indians being weaklings, physically and mentally? This passage was pointed out to me by a visiting friend. (The book is in my library and like scores of others sitting there, I have all sorts of good intentions about reading them but never seem to find the time.)

Gratuitous fault-finding is silly. Looking unflinchingly at reality, on the other hand, is absolutely required if you want to have any hope of solving the problem. This I believe is the first mistake that we make in India. The Mera Bharat Mahan attitude will ensure continued poverty and irrelevancy.

We are an underdeveloped poverty-ridden over-populated nation of over a billion people. Does anyone ever ask the question: Why is India the way it is? No. If we cannot ask this question because the answers may be unpleasant, I don’t see much hope for India. If we do not ask this question and answer it honestly, we may continue to blunder as we have done at least since independence 57 years ago under the flawed policies of the Nehruvian socialism and cargo-cult democracy.

When was the last time you ever heard of a conference where serious people with lots of knowledge and understanding got together to examine that question? Here is a suggestion for the movers and shakers of the great nation of India: commission a series of lectures by accomplished sociologists, economists, historians, philosophers, etc, which will examine the causes of India’s failures and what can be done to fix them. That lecture series can form a good counterpoint to the over-optimistic, rose-colored glasses-wearing, rocket-weilding India-superpower shouting, pyramid-power cult-worshipping, internet-surfing digital village hyping craziness so much in vogue.

PS: So who do you think is the author of the opening extended quote? Fabulous prizes for the correct answer. Please don’t cheat by using google.

  • http://texandesi.blogspot.com Sanjeev Pai

    Looking at the quote from the Gita and the call to increase strength says to me that it is probably written by some member of RSS, maybe L.K.Advani.

    Your point is quite well taken but to me, this passage too is a call to arms, though in the wrong way.

    Before you think I am a supporter of RSS, pleas let me clarify that I am an atheist by thinking and settled in the US. As such, I have no axe to grind, only the betterment of India in mind.

  • Raj W

    Send the prize out – it is Swami Vivekananda!

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Raj, you win :)

    You now are eligible for dinner at a restaurant of your choice anywhere you wish. You arrange your own transportation, however.