Be impatient

29th October 2012

Yes. I am reviving It is all a result of a bet and you’ll see this space with a new post from me for the next 12 weeks. I have given a commitment to write something for the next dozen weeks . The nature of the other side of the bet is such that I can only talk about it if it actually happens. A lot of my writing in the last 20 odd months was published here.

All those who know me on Facebook and Twitter would probably also know what I am up to. After graduating from IIM Indore in March 2011, I worked for about 14 months at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Transaction banking division. I was fortunate to land such a job from campus and in hindsight taking up that job was one of the best decisions I took. I was working in a great team in a rapidly growing division. In fact, my last 3 months at work were the best. But something else was brewing so well that I could not sleep at night. I always wanted to have something that I created and owned. People at work place were surprised I quit (much in the same way a lot of people were when I took up a corporate job). KiRa education is the firm I own and we run a reasonably popular website – Lot of positive vibes around this portal and the rapidly increasing interest means you’ll hear more about it in the coming days.

This opening post here is about unbridled optimism and a somewhat deep sense of frustration. This post is about impatience.

I traveled to Punjab and Himachal Pradesh for about 10 days last week. While I won’t say I am widely traveled, I have traveled to about 8 Indian states and had the opportunity to visit 14 different countries over the last 24 months. (I have visited places in 18 Indian states and 15 countries in my entire life). This is sufficient amount of travelling in a time frame of 24 odd months to feel about things in a certain way. I guess it is also recent enough?

Let’s start with the hope part. What amazes me about India is the fact that things work despite countless reasons why they probably shouldn't. In my experience, the average common man in India has always been a good man. From the confines of our living rooms it would seem that everyone out there wants to fleece you. Everyone in India is an opportunist and wants to hit you wherever you’re vulnerable. However, according to me, things work in our country because of a fundamental ingredient: Trust. In general, there is respect for law and order and people are considerate. It is a country of 1.2 billion people and it is no mean feat that most institutions and systems function well. The average man on the street is not a cheat. He wants to lead a good honest life. He wants to do well. He wants to give the best education to his children. In my experience things like Honour, Trust and Truth matter to him.

This strengthens my conviction in the India story. We have strong social fabric at the roots. Yes, I say this despite the numerous scams, the khap panchayats and the rapes. Everywhere I look, I find opportunity. It's such a vibrant country with bright young men and women.

However, with this tremendous potential comes the frustration. I am in no illusion. We are still an immensely backward country and certain aspects about the life of an average Indian should put us to shame. And this is where I feel we are too patient. We can just get so much better. But we have a remarkable complacency about things. There is just no hurry to set things right. In fact, my biggest grouse with all of us is that we demand so little. We are happy with trains running at 60 km/hr. We are not concerned about sewage systems built 100 years ago for a population 1/100th the current size. We don’t complain about mediocre teachers who just make up the numbers. We don’t mind the filthy toilets at public places nor the substandard quality of food grains that we eat. Now of course, you could transfer the blame for this on another entity. In our case, it is fashionably: the government.

However, if you introspect deeper you’ll probably conclude that we are the same in our individual personal lives too. You are stuck in a shitty back office job and know you are capable of so much more but will still not demand something better. You hate pointless rituals and family gatherings but still end up wasting time there. You know that the excessive sound pollution near your house is damaging your health and peace of mind irreparably but have resigned yourself to the fact that you can do nothing about it. You were probably given terrible service at the restaurant and you’re still paying that service charge. You were too tired to fight when the internet connection wasn’t restored in time. You were probably also ok when your boyfriend cheated on you. And that is how it goes with so many other things in our lives...

Let us all cultivate an impatience. An impatience that drives a demand for the better. Faster trains, better roads, efficient systems, better teachers, 24 hour electricity, more creative jobs, extraordinary art, compassionate police (and no moral police!), cleaner air, peaceful surroundings, smarter service, super-fast internet, playgrounds for children, education for rural women, understanding life partners, good governance. It can go on. The impatience that drives us to DO things. The restlessness to create something big. The strength to set ourselves audacious goals.

Let’s demand quality. Let’s not settle for the ordinary. Let’s aspire to be the best.

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