Now comes a new lament. Indian players in the Indian premier league are being racially abused. And then Air France staff is accused of harassing Indians. So much of racial discrimination targetted against one community? What is it in us Indians which makes the world treat us so?
I was invited as the chief guest to the IMA (Indian Medical Association) for their annual function. My introduction was in superlatives and I was given a lot of respect before being called to address the function. I said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the respect that you have given me but I don’t want it. Please transfer this respect from my account to your patient, your attendants, your driver and your servants. They are starving for respect, for dignity and as long as we don’t give them that we have no right to seek equality for ourselves in the larger world. If 40 crore of Indians are below the poverty line 90 crore of Indians are below the dignity line.” We salute those above us and kick those below. Why are we so feudal?
French sociologist Levi Strauss says that there are two world views, Homo equalus and homo heirarchicus. The first is the western world view which considers everyone as equal. The second is the eastern world view which considers everyone as lower or higher than himself. Levi did his studies of the eastern and the western society in the 20th century. His studies do make a valid observation but do not tell why are we like that? Some may go a bit deeper and say that it is because we were ruled for centuries by foreign masters we became used to this feudal style of living, where we are only capable of vertical relationships and not lateral ones. This is also true but only partially.
The seed of the truth also lies in our relationship with God. We are not a God loving community. If we were God loving how could we behave so badly with those who serve us. The other day in the press club a new management laid down a new rule: No abusing in the club. Some members strongly protested saying that if we don’t abuse the waiters they will get spoilt!
We are a God fearing nation. Rather than rejoicing in the divine light we completely subjugated ourselves to him. The first feudal lord in India was the Lord Himself. It is not his mistake. We and our spiritual gurus defined our relationship like that with him. The spiritual guru had an ulterior motive. He would play deputy-God. So he had an imaginary boss who he had to defer to (which is not difficult) and every one else would in turn defer to him.
This genuflecting approach and the cruel oppression by foreign rulers; both the Mughals and the British did the job. We started genuflecting. The genuflectee becomes used to our genuflection and retorts sharply when we refuse to bow. In fact in the Western world Indian slavish cowaridice is now a joke. Recently Switzerland a nation which is militarily very weak even as compared to India reacted sharply when a German minister compared it to India saying (Sic) “The Swiss are like Indians they won’t do what they are asked unless they are threatened”.
It is the burden of our past as slaves and our spirituality which makes us weak. It is good that the Indian passengers protested and the media also took it up. Behind such protests is a community which is trying to forget its servile past and its desire to register its presence as a self-respecting equal.