Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Bob’s Banter


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By Robert Clements

Worker Ants of India..!
This happened in San Francisco!
“Take a picture of me, next to the statue!” I shouted, pointing excitedly to a statue of Gandhiji.
“But you’ve got hundreds of his statues all over India,” said my American friend, “Why take one with him here?”
“Because, I’m proud to see him honoured here in the USA!” I said simply.
Yes, it gave me immense pride! Similar statues of the Father of our Nation are all over the world, and many of them, not put up by Indian communities, but by locals, in honour of what he exported to the whole world: The idea and practice of Non-Violence!
If there’s one product that is ‘Make in India,’ and has been used effectively the world over, it’s the one Gandhiji spun in the spinning wheel of his mind, right here in our country.
With non-violence he beat the victorious British who had just beaten the mighty Germans!
With non-violence, he made the fierce Winston Churchill tremble as he disembarked in England wearing nothing but a homespun loin cloth.
What a product!
Today if the African-American is equal in his country, it’s because Martin Luther King, imported this wonderful export from India, and put it to good use. It’s a product that no one needs to sell, that no one needs to hop from one country to another peddling and hugging world leaders to buy. And yet, today, in his very land, we have men and women who dare honour the very assassin who killed the greatest man our country has ever known.
We have reached a point, when the very product which has won us renown, is being dismantled and put away, and instead, a new one called violence is being exalted!
The British were cruel masters, but not once did hate or anger temper Gandhiji’s talks. Today, such talk is in every WhatsApp group, political speech or email, incited, encouraged and emboldened by present political leaders.
I can hear voices the world over asking, “Is this true? Can it really be happening in your country?”
“Yes, it’s true, as the murderer of a Man of Peace is made a hero!”
I stand next to that statue in San Francisco and I hear crowds shouting from all around the world, by nations that have benefitted from our desi, homegrown, make in India product “There is no need,” they shout, “for bear hugs, and your leader spending your nation’s time and money on visits to our leaders. Just start respecting again the man who gave you the best ‘Make in India’ product, and we around the world will respect you!”
But coming to the phrase that is being bandied around us becoming a ‘Make in India’ country, I come back with the fact that the only ‘Make in India’ product, we should be proud of sending abroad, and worth exporting is the product of peace and non-violence that as I’ve just mentioned was taught by Gandhiji and that won us our freedom. Otherwise, the very concept of making something that foreign powers have innovated just makes us worker ants.
And why would they want to make something in our country instead of doing it on their own, except that our labour is cheaper than what they pay their workers. Which makes us a sort of old colonial slave labour force.
Yes, think about it.
We as a people have the brains to create and innovate as good or even better than those who live abroad, and to be told, “Here, this is the design, just produce!” is an insult.
For many years I drove a Tata Estate car. It was the costliest car in the market, but not the best car in the country, but even as I drove it, I was proud the design was Indian. One day, while in Spain, I saw the Tata Safari, and shouted, “That car is Indian!”
Can we shout the same way when we see an iPhone that was made in India? No, we can’t because it was never designed by us.
What a huge nation we are, and why is it we still can’t make something that becomes a world beater? First, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as the world’s cheap labour force. We need to stop being used as a slave plantation, and start thinking bigger.
Look at Japan, South Korea and China, all countries who are Asian, how is it, they are designing, producing, and exporting their products? Because they are able to innovate.
Something that is stopping us from innovating, is our weakness in imagining, questioning, and thinking. The British left us with an educational system that made us a country of clerks to serve them better, and our politicians after that have made us worse. They don’t want thinkers, because just like the British felt, our politicians realise that a thinking Indian can’t be fooled by them anymore. And fooled we have been year after year after year.
The same Indian, going abroad, and studying there, becomes a world beater. Not here.
Even as these elections draw to a close, and we elect a new set of representatives to sit in Parliament, let us shout ourselves hoarse to have a ‘thinking’ educational system for our children.
We have been worker ants too long. We have seen how a simple man in khadi cloth exported his idea throughout the world, and with him in mind, and knowing we can do it, we need to throw away our worker uniforms, and don the suits of those who create, design and innovate.
Stop being worker ants, and start being the boss..!
(The Author conducts an Online Writers and Speakers Course. For more details send a thumbs-up to him on WhatsApp 9892572883 or [email protected])


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