What do you people get out of foolish comparisons like this one?
First of all, let me tell you a fact: Italian architecture is the best in the world. That the tower of Pisa is built on unstable ground but still stands 835 years after it started leaning, is a testimony to this. If there was such a tower in India, chances are that we would just let it fall rather than attempting the herculean task of maintaining it.
But the issue I want to discuss here is not architecture. It is our superiority complex that I want to address. Please note that I don't want to just criticise India or Indians. On the contrary, I am very patriotic; I love my country and strongly feel that this attitude of the people, particularly the youth, is detrimental to our country's development.
I will continue in the same spirit of the image above, and present a few comparisons, from my point of view, between India and Italy. But first let's try to understand where our superiority complex stems from? Let's have some facts.
- India was once home to one of the oldest and one of the most glorious civilisation.
- Several important inventions and discoveries took place there, in that time, like the decimal number system, ayurveda, surgery and so on
- Many eminent people, even from the west, have made eulogies to the Indian civilisation. Examples include Einstein, Mark Twain, Emerson and many more. You can read these quotes here
- India is a confluence of different cultures that have contributed to its diverse art, architecture, music, cuisine etc.
- Indian culture has some great concepts like tolerance which no other culture has
Having stated that, here is my comparison.
India was home to the Indus valley civilisation and Italy to the Roman. Granted, that the vedic civilisation made many important contributions, but so did the Romans. Some of the roads and aqueducts that the Romans built are still in use today, after 2000 years! It is not an exaggeration to say that the roads in India could give you spondylitis.
A point worth noting here is that the Romans were so stupid that they couldn't figure out the best way to count. Yes. It is the Indians who taught the world how to count. But hey, without Ansys or ProE, without even the decimal number system the Romans built this. And many more. Isn't that awesome?
Anyways, coming back to the main point: The Italians don't have delusions of grandeur about being the "descendants" of the Romans and therefore being superior to others. Indian civilisation was great. But they
are not us
are not them! They
existed in the past
and are not around today
Culture and values
We have a deep rooted feeling that western culture is "bad". Why? Some even go so far as to say that the west has no culture at all. And they go on about remembering and preserving our culture. My Italian flatmate knows his Latin; he has a Virgil or a Horace or a Seneca quote for every situation. And how many of you know even one shlok
from the bhagvad gita?
IMHO, we have become hypocrites.Honesty:
India-: How many times has a traffic policeman harassed you into paying a bribe?
Italy-: This happened to my friend. He had one drink too many at a party and ended up in a suburb of Milan. He went to the carabinieri
and they gave him a lift home. I shudder to think what the Indian police would have done in this situation.
Five years ago, "Mera Bharat mahaan, sau me se ninyanve beimaan" was witty. Today it is reality!
India-: IIT-BHU withheld the stipend of all M.Tech students, a sum of 1 lakh INR , for more than a year. Note that this was rightfully
ours; we were entitled
to receive it.
Italy-: The maths dept. at Politecnico di Milano decided that it had excess funds this year and gave 1500 eur to all foreign students. They were not bound
to do this. We (the foreign students) hadn't even asked for assistance. They gave it away, just like that! This was a big culture shock to me.Tolerance:
Italy-: If the Italians have tolerated me for six months now, they are a tolerant lot indeed.
Jokes apart, we always make a public display of how much sb or sth has "offended" us, don't we? We have recently witnessed many instances of freedom of expression being curbed, haven't we? Arts, Music, Architecture, Cuisine:
We have Hindustani and Carnatic. They have the opera. I don't think one could be demonstrated to be superior to the other; both are great in their own way.
Indian cuisine is definitely the best in the world! But, Italian cuisine is not too bad either. With just wheat flour, tomatoes and cheese, the Italians can create magic!
Arts? Italy wins hands down. They have da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Come to architecture, we have beautiful temples. mosques and palaces. They have their cathedrals and castles. A tie again though the Indian ones have not been properly taken care of and do look a bit, shall we say, shabby.
But here lies the difference: the Italians don't boast about it. They don't compare St. Peter's Basilica to the Taj Mahal or the Duomo di Milano to Charminar.
Some other pointsPower:
A UPS is unheard of in Europe. In fact, the European power grid is a UPS!!!
Back in India, even some of the major cities have power cuts for as long as half a day and that too in the summer. Industries have power holidays (the Italians might actually like this idea, they love holidays).Cleanliness:
Italy is clean and green. Just look at this map of Milan and notice how many and how huge the parks are
India is dirty. I don't mean any offense. It's just a plain fact that it is. We don't take the trouble of throwing trash in the bin, do we? Oh I forgot, most places don't have trash bins.
Most Indian metros are so polluted that an hour's drive makes you nauseated. Sometimes I pity the traffic police for this. Whereas in Milan, when you go for a jog in the centre of the city you don't have the excuse that the pollution tired you.Water:
The water supplied by the Comune di Milano
is potable. You can just open your kitchen tap when you feel thirsty. Some even claim that it is better than bottled mineral water. I certainly think so.
In Hyderabad, people are already suffering acute water shortage, and it's not even peak summer. People are at the mercy of the water tanker companies. Sooner rather than later our water is going to dry up and the Tanjavur temple's glory is not going to help. Strikes:
The situation here in Italy is not so good either. In the last six months, there have been at least 50 strikes of the transport services. But they do it differently. They declare that they are going to stop services for a particular period of the day. They then unfailingly resume services at the stated time. They don't burn buses and pelt stones.
BTW, I have actually been in a bus, in Hyderabad, at which stones and bricks were thrown. It was some eight months back, when Hyderabad was in turmoil.Reorganisation:
These people have seen bad days. A couple of years of slowdown. But they are making changes. They have the willingness to change. Reorganisation is the buzzword here. From university departments to shops in the street, everybody is reorganising.
What about us? We have been slaves for more than a couple of centuries and we still have a haughty pride. Zindagi jhand hai fir bhi ghamand hai!
Do you think there is a willingness to change things? I think not. Posts like these which compare India with the world, which heap praises on "Incredible India" DO NOT show a willingness to change. They are symptomatic of a cheap mentality. They betray a blatant effort to cover up for our feelings of inferiority. This is what wikipedia says about superiority complex
Superiority complex is a psychological defense mechanism in which a person's feelings of superiority counter or conceal his or her feelings of inferiority.
And this is just Italy. There is France, Britain, Germany and Switzerland which I haven't had the chance to visit yet. Of course India is a great country. I never said that it isn't. We should be proud of our country. But then again, we must know where to draw the line between pride and vanity. Let's learn to differentiate looking-at-the-sunny-side-of-things and blindness. Helen Keller said "Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows". But I say, stare at the sun too long and you will turn blind!
Anyways, let us take a moment to celebrate the greatness of India.
Do this: Jump up, do an air punch and say "Woooohoooo. Aryabhatta invented zero".
Or, throw a party tonight at a five-star hotel because India never invaded any foreign country in the last 10,000 years.
Or, do a flash mob to pay tribute to Indian dance and music. Gather your friends at a public place and do some Bharatnatyam or Kuchipudi moves.
Or, buy 100 kilos of kalakand
and go around making everybody's muh meetha
and when they ask "Kis khushi mein?
" say "aapko pata nahi? Iron pillar ko dhai hazaar saalon mein jang nahi lagi
Let me do some celebration right here! Three cheers to Kalidas, Bhaskaracharya, Sushruta, Charaka, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Sir C.V Raman and the all the other countless great Indians.
Hip hip hurrah! Hip hip hurrah! Hip hip hurrah!
Now that the celebrations are over, can we please do something that will actually help? Let's resolve not to litter, to save water to save electricity, to plant and take care of trees. These are just a few examples, I'm quite sure that the great Indians can come up with their own ways to make a contribution, no matter how small.
And it is said that Indians respect other cultures. Let's actually practice that, shall we? Let's not make comparisons, let's focus on what we can learn from others and improve rather than on how great we already are.