Making India proud

“What a great day for India!”

Having just glanced through the front page of the printed newspaper, with its usual dose of an Opposition walkout in Parliament, a Central Minister being questioned for undue favours to a tainted businessperson, rapes, stampede deaths at a religious congregation, and not having a clue to what he was talking about, I pretended I did not hear.

I racked my brains. Wild thoughts were coursing through my mind; Did India move up to the 132nd place in world football rankings, by some stroke of luck? Or did we finally, irrevocably nail some senior politicians for stashing away illegally collected billions in secret Swiss bank accounts? Or was it religious tolerance; did the nation finally find a solution to its internecine religious squabbles?

“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?” In his excitement he had failed to notice my response, or the lack of it.

Affected by his excitement, even wilder thoughts started occurring to me; Did we finally manage to get people to start arriving on time for an appointment? Or did we get people to start respecting the vulnerable sections of society? Or, even more difficult, did we manage to get people to understand the purpose of traffic lights?

It still did not come to me. Not one to flinch in the face of adversity, I held my nerve. I did not give him the satisfaction of knowing that I did not know.

“Apna (Our) Sundar is the new CEO of Google”, he burst out excitedly, not caring whether I was participating in the conversation or not.

Sundar?

The question was, perhaps, visible on my face, because he said, “Yes, don’t you know Sundar?”

I racked my brains yet again. ‘Twas the day for the brains to be racked.

Like in any engaging and meaningful discussion between close friends, he continued without waiting for my response, “Sundar Pichai has been appointed as the new CEO of Google.”

As if on cue, my phone beeped. In one of the WhatsApp groups where I am a member, a college friend had posted, “do you know Sundar’s wife is from my state?”

“Wow!”, “You lucky dog”, “Did not know you were capable of this” and many other congratulatory messages immediately filled the screen of my phone, in recognition of the remarkable achievement of this friend being from the same state as Sundar’s wife; a state with a population of only 73 million. In such a sparsely populated state, obviously everyone would be on first-name terms with everyone else.

“His wife is from my city.” This message, on the same group, came like a thunderclap. Silence enveloped the WhatsApp group. Messages suddenly stopped. There was no way of topping that. Members, perhaps, realised they had been hasty in congratulating the guy who was from the same state as Sundar’s wife.

Now, I am not one to shy away from admitting when I have been bested. Truth be told, in the newspaper I was reading at the start, I had noticed a headline about Sundar’s elevation, but had neither paid any heed to it, nor connected it to being a great day for India. I was ashamed. Yet again.

To make amends, I asked, softly, “Why is it a great day for India?”

“Don’t you get it?”, he started, exasperated with my thickness. He halted, looked around, as if searching for the right phrase, and stammered out, “It is a…great day for India….because…because…it is a… great day…for India”. He got up and walked off, to avoid having to answer other silly questions.

It was a lucid explanation. I fell silent, as I usually do when faced with logic and reason, especially in addition to lucidity.

Between the excitement of the friend who was (or had been) with me, and the messages on this WhatsApp group, I was getting the drift. The enormity of the event was dawning on me. Now all by myself, I slipped into a haze of rose-tinted possibilities, imagining all the reasons why it must be a great day for India.

It must be a great day for India because a person, born and brought up in India, now heads an American corporation. It must also be a great day for India because this corporation, as all corporations do, is trying to become an even bigger and more profitable corporation.

It must be a great day for India because it must mean that shareholders of Google will now sell their shares in Google and donate their wealth to India, paving the way for everlasting success and happiness of all Indians.

It must be a great day for India because Sundar, instead of working for the interest of his employer, who pays his salary, will suddenly start working for India, without pay.

It must be a great day for India because the elevation of Sundar is a validation of our time-tested policy of unwillingness and inability to engage bright minds that require an orderly environment to thrive, leading them to look for, and thrive in, greener pastures overseas.

And let us also spare a thought for America, the country to which the corporation in question belongs?

It must surely be a dark day for them. They continue to provide an environment that makes it a magnet for people from around the world. Not only that, they provide them equal opportunity for success. When will they learn?

It was beginning to make sense.

We deserve credit for Sundar’s success because we have been a party to creating hurdles in his way at each step. That he was able to overcome them and pursue his life, is a credit to us, not to him.

The timing is propitious. The sixty ninth Independence Day looms.

The PM, in his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, is expected to ask the rhetorical question, “Did any Indian become CEO of Google before we came to power?”

To counter the impact of this revelation, it is also learnt that the Opposition is preparing a campaign, the highlight of which will be the statement “Sundar was born when we were in power.”

I am now a prouder Indian.

I made a mental note to check if Sundar, or his wife, or any other close or distant relatives, had ever passed through my town, or state, or intend to. Or if I, or any of my close relatives, had ever travelled to the city, or the state, where Sundar grew up.

 

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32 thoughts on “Making India proud

  1. At least Sundar Pichai is not entirely “disowning” his Indian roots… so we still have a shot. I’m told Bobby Jindal refuses to believe he is Indian-American and has ruled out visiting his ancestral village in Haryana!
    As for the several million people now searching for a link to Mr. Pichai, spare a thought for the poor 2 year-old in the state who is told to attend IIT training from tomorrow so he can join Sundar “Mama” in Google… (or Alphabet…)

  2. It is also a great day for Australia, for were we not also once upon a time both colonies of Britain and have we not, both, cut our apron strings and gone pandering to the USA from whence cometh all goodness and big corporations?

  3. Pita’s grandfather’s second sibling was from my grandfather’s best friend’s niece’s grandmother’s village. So he is ‘Apna’ Sundar.

    Jai Hind!

    Very Malgudi Days-esque tone in your writing here.

    Nice to be back.

  4. I spend quite a bit of time as I read your articles, Ankur, differentiating between truth and humor. I’m not sure I ever get it right, especially as I get distracted by giggling and nodding my head in agreement.

    • You are always too kind Jacqui. To share my own view…I think some parts cause merriment because they stick to the truth unfailingly, stripped of sugar-coating and social correctness, with a bit of poetic exaggeration thrown in.

  5. Haha! I love this. I was chuckling all the way through. My wife is Filipino and Filipinos do something similar to this. When the SF Giants won the world series led by their star pitcher Ted Lincecum, my wife pointed out that he was part Filipino. It was a great day for the Philippines! And so I understand the friend’s belief that it’s a great day for India. I don’t understand how life will change in India either, but at least it seems, the PM will benefit. 🙂

    • Thank you! I can well imagine. It might also be claimed that all the good things such a person does, is because of the one/eighth part that is Filipino. Or Indian. And each time he misses a penalty, or a strike, or whatever, is because of the seven/eighth American part.

  6. Borrowed glory seems a pretty wide spread tendency….or is it a feeling? a trait? It’s what fuels the pleasure of the couch potato watching his sports team, the person who displays photos of himself taken with celebrities, etc. I don’t understand it; I seem to have missed out on that gene. So I think it’s comical, and you, as usual have brilliantly tapped into that funny pot here.

    • Thank you Cynthia. “Borrowed glory” sounds like a neat description of the trait. I can only guess, but it appears to be fuelled by a feeling of inadequacy. It’s actually quite sad 😦

  7. Hahaha…Indians glorify themselves through other people who incidentally belong to their nationality. They want to vicariously live their life, knowing that he’s making the million bucks give or take. Insecurity and complex issues continues to ponder in India. Oh well happy Independence Day. Hilarious post. Loved it.
    PS. – get some new friends…:p

  8. Great day for America too ? Only things getting greater here (besides dysfunction in everything) are the megacorps and megabanks whose increased greatness further impoverishes the working class. The working class here is becoming increasingly disenfranchised politically and economically.

  9. It does seem like the world is increasingly keeling over towards corporations. While in a free market, a business needs to be rewarded (and penalised), one does need to ask if regulators and representatives are not increasingly behaving like promoters of big business.

  10. I don’t think anyone can top your posts – they’re the right mixture of wit, humor, sarcasm, and truth AND they hit the hammer on the head. How do you do it… how do you do it? 🙂 Reading your post, I realize that we take a lot of things at face value. We believe the media and give it more attention than we should. Sometimes, it seems as if only a small percentage of Indians actually think about what they have read and analyze it after acknowledging their own views on the subject. If the media says it’s great, heck, it’s GREAT. If the media says we are doomed, we really feel doomed. And we ultimately base our beliefs on the talks of the oh-so-common experts such as your friend. Your post just reminded me of this, along the lines of which my dad and I were talking, but with respect to the Maggi drama. As for Indian talent, work seems to be under way to retain that talent through better higher education opportunities, but once you set foot on foreign soil, it is difficult to think of coming back. Honestly though, I don’t think the face of the country can change when the countrymen cannot. Don’t you think that’s what drives people away more than anything else?

    • Firstly, honoured by your assessment of my writing efforts. Thank you!
      Your comments and question raise several thoughts…
      Most of us are victims of what is called “herd mentality”, similar to what you call “face value”. If many people are buying Apple phones, I must buy one as well in order “to belong”. Else, I will be a misfit and may be “left out”. Insecurity drives many of our actions. We might even try to hide our non-Apple phones in such company.
      We, individuals, have let control slip away from our hands. We have, in the name of development and choices, forgotten to be individuals. Individuals with some amount of self-respect.
      We cannot sail in two boats. If we are to take advantage of what is called globalisation, we have to be prepared for its side-effects as well. If we value the foreign currency remittances sent by Indians working overseas, how can we stop Indians from working overseas? We cannot increase reservation and expect bright students not to feel disgruntled.
      Eventually, it is all about the choices we make. As individuals, as families, as communities, as states, as a country, and as humanity.

      • I see what you mean. Reservations, the lucrative offer to go abroad, the “herd mentality”… I guess a lot of factors come into play when you look at it from the viewpoint of the masses. And more often than not, the viewpoint of the masses focuses on the benefit of the individual – which isn’t wrong, so to say, but merely overpowering the greater good that could benefit the country if less people fall for it. So yes, it is eventually about the choices we make.
        Thank you for the enlightening comment. Thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue! 🙂

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