While it is enshrined in human nature to attempt at justification in order to escape incrimination, what is striking is our inclination to take down with us our entire people.
You’ve been waiting. For a 7pm date. It’s 7:45. He’s been “five minutes away” for 30 minutes now. Oh, there he is! What excuse does he have to offer? Traffic? Or maybe, if he can for once tell the truth, he just forgot?
“Sincere apologies. We’re Indian, after all.”
It is enshrined in human nature to attempt at justification (or worse, humour) in order to escape incrimination. And while excuses may be lame (good ol’ traffic) or downright stupid (“The Russia meeting was over in 20 minutes, nothing good came out of it”), what is striking is our inclination to take down with us our entire people, comprising a population of well over a billion, over two thousand distinct tongues and multitudes of ethnicities.
YOU’RE always in a hurry, yet never on time. YOU voluntarily offered some chai-paani instead of accepting your traffic ticket. It isn’t US, sir, it’s YOU.
Countries formerly considered poor or developing have forever been the target of disparaging attitudes from self-professed world powers. And while most such economies have moved on toward easing the poor White Man’s Burden (India and China being cases well in point), we seem to have owned our cultural stereotypes in place of pushing back against them.
The “Idle Citizen’s Hobby of Blaming the Government” is a phenomenon widespread and well-renowned, most notably for causing unexpected regime changes and surprise electoral upsets. Our home-grown “Ye India hai” takes this to an altogether new level—we blame the Indian mind for faults of the Indian’s mind (get the difference?).
You’re always in a hurry, yet never on time. You decided the wall was a little too clean for your liking, and decided to put a little red-coloured smile on it. You decided the rightmost lane was a fine choice before turning left. You voluntarily offered some chai-paani instead of accepting your traffic ticket. It isn’t us, sir, it’s you. And it is your lead we’ve convinced ourselves we follow, just as you’ve convinced yourself you’re following ours.
The country has moved on from Churchill’s “beastly people with a beastly religion” and Kipling’s “half devil and half child”; our people now converse from a position of power. It is high time, hence, that we stop humouring the world and start educating it.
And the next time someone tells you he was running Indian Time, you know the number of minutes to wait for (hint: we invented it).
Also published on HuffPost India