Why Indians have a short fuse?
I first noticed the difference in the pranks they telecast on TV. In the western countries, I noticed, when the people are fooled with pranks for TV most take it sportingly and laugh about it. But try doing it to an Indian and see the response. You will only discover irritation, anger, snarl and even abuses.
Clearly, we are not a happy people. A recent survey places India at 122 in the index, even behind China and Pakistan.
There are many reasons for this. Let’s look at our leaders, their speeches, their photographs in the banners. Their index finger is always angrily pointing towards some unknown target. You’ll find them hurling accusations, abuses and threats at whosoever they imagine to be their rivals and even the communities, linguistic groups and castes they dislike. They spew venom, polarise the country and attain power.
This hatred percolates down. It also spreads in all directions.
The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. They are further divided into about 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes. The ‘lowest’ is Shudras and funnily, they too have their sub-castes.
The hostilities between the castes often begins at family level with parents telling their children not to interact with the ‘lower class’.
The conflict begins during the childhood itself.
The child belonging to one community, caste and linguistic group is ‘alerted’ about the ‘lower status’ of the others; teachers, principal and of course the classmates. The ‘others’ are described in derogatory terms.
The hatred increased when India was divided into states on the linguistic basis. It was virtually the return of the feudal system. The old time rulers were replaced by the elected representatives, the MLAs and MPs and the Ministers. The hostility remained the same, warlike. Whether two States fight over the division of river water (Cauvery) or over a city (Mumbai Aamchi) , it is always a warlike situation. The Gujarati has hated the Maharashtrian, the Tamilian has disliked the Hindi speaking visitors, the Bengalis refuse to give directions if asked in Hindi and so on.
The feudal hostilities have survived and have been nurtured.
The guy who lives in a slum, sharing a 10×10 kholi with half a dozen others, sleeping on the uneven floor and struggling hopes for a comfortable life in future. The future may grant him an apartment, a vehicle, some money in the pocket and some more deposited in the bank but he finds that the life around him remains unchanged. The roads continue to have potholes. He cannot escape the clumsily installed speed breakers. He finds himself spending long hours travelling between his home and place of work in sub-human conditions. There is no escape. His frustration increases.
He finds himself burdened with high rate of taxes, bank charges, other liabilities and perceives everyone as trying to grab a part of his hard earned money. He starts noticing the unjust state and unfair society.
The government’s failure to provide the basic amenities isn’t limited to the struggling lower middle class. It is as unfair to the higher middle class. This class pays through their noses for apartments and penthouses worth crores. These amounts include property taxes, road taxes, GST, Income Tax and gets little in return.
You don’t get potable drinking water in India. It has to be filtered by you at your end. You may have sleek expensive cars but, despite collecting taxes, the state fails to provide the roads for you. It was the state that permitted the entry of high end cars and charged the manufacturers crores in fees and bribes to let them start their production but avoided its responsibilities of building the requires infrastructure, the roads and bridges.
Why, even in a city like Mumbai, the fire brigade is not equipped with snorkels that could reach the higher floors of the multi-storey buildings. Even the fire hydrants have disappeared below the hurriedly made roads of inferior quality that require repairs every year! And if the firemen would be lucky to locate a hydrant, it may not have water. The establishment that permitted multi-storey buildings didn’t create the required infrastructure.
This system failure affects everyone.
Every city in India is dirty and the propaganda machinery shifts the blame on the citizens. The truth is that it is the state that has failed in its legal duty to cope with the garbage and sewage. Shirking the responsibility, it is asking the citizens to participate in cleaning the beaches, the roads and the rivers.
If these surroundings don’t frustrate you, nothing will.
The seething anger comes out during the traffic jams. The working person sees the failed infrastructure as a major obstacle in his output. Whether it is a film star or a businessman struck in a traffic jam or a common man on the crowded railway station, everyone is the victim of the system failure.
The housewife waiting for a repairman for her washing machine, dishwasher, TV too finds herself frustrated with the uncertainty.
The middle class is angrier. It sees the state waiving the loans of farmers, and the amounts run into lakhs of crore, year after year and writing off lakhs of crores of the rich borrowers but hounding the middle class for EMIs.
Red tape, corruption (India is number 2 in the index of corruption) and the middlemen makes your life miserable. Whether you want to add a name in the ration card, change the address in a telephone bill, close a connection the formalities in Indian system are time consuming.
An unsaid class war is going on in the streets of India. The babu sitting on his desk is uncooperative. He hates you.
The cop who stops a young man speeding on his expensive bike privately envies and hates him. He is happy to penalise him and happier to accept the bribe from him.
The state of silent war has been going on for years.
It is between the government machinery and the citizens, the poor and the rich, the failures and the successful.
The situation in India has become like what you experience in the crowded train. Those who are in the gravy train don’t want the others to get in and when some get in they develop the same attitude.
India has always been a feudal society and continues to remain divided. Dynasties contribute to the frustration among the common man. The common citizen sees a large board proclaiming ‘No Entry’ whether he wants to enter Bollywood or politics. You can only serve the dynasties, not join them. They are divided into camps and groups whose domain remains under the absolute control of the Big Brother.
Why, even the situation in front of lovers is terrible. Short of space, they are also hounded by the moral brigade. People watch killings and lynching in public places silently but won’t allow you to kiss in public. The obstacles for the lovers are the same – rooted in our hate-based society: caste, community, gotra, class.
An irony that has emerged in the recent years is the behaviour on the Internet.
Instead of the limited, educated population exposed to the newspapers, magazines and books we have hundreds of millions illiterates on the ‘net.
The same paintings of MF Husain and cartoons of Shankar that created mild controversies and became the topics for coffee table debates became ‘shocking’, ‘unacceptable’ and ‘offensive to the sensibilities’ of the people who had never been inside an art gallery or seen a cartoon weekly.
This has increased the conflict further. The war is between the intellectuals and the masses, between the elite and the state machinery that caters to vote banks.
These vote banks are being encouraged and enlarged by the short-sighted and opportunist politicians.
Social networking sites are no more social and happy places. You find yourself abused for simply airing your views by the illiterates and semi-literate trolls who neither understand nuanced statements nor the freedom of expression.
Why, even the well-intentioned Right to Information – RTI – has set the citizens against one another!
The reasons for the frustration and unhappiness of Indians are too many to list and analyse in an article. It would end up being a Mahabharta and talking of epics and mythology one finds that even the Rishis and Munis were not free from anger and frustration. They were prone to lose temper at the drop of a hat and issue a curse. The rulers in India have inherited the same short fuse.