Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wrote about the argumentative tradition of Indians in his book The Argumentative Indian. He argued that, understanding of this tradition is critically important for understanding the success of Indian democracy, defence of its secular policies & removal of inequalities etc. Here, I would like to talk on the other facet, the impatient Indian.
This impatience is glaring in the everyday chores and it is for public display. Just waiting at the traffic signal you will understand that for the Indian, three colours in a traffic signal is a waste of public money. There should have been only two, red & green or rather only one red; red on & red off. People are always ready without shutting of their engines or when red goes off they only see green. For some people even signal lights at all four junctions are not necessary; they always track the red light on their left side. Normally, we all are so generous that we even take seconds from our neighbours and just move even when it has turned red for us and green for our neighbours. We display the Japanese sense of value for time only at these junctions. Traffic signals are the most potential spots for all the accidents we consciously get into.
The next point of evidence is when finding a seat for a bus or train journey. Queue is a word that is alien to Indians; there is always a mob at the door of a train or a bus. I used to see a proper line in the beginning days of Bangalore Metro travels, but now, even there it is the same old mob culture is at display. Even if the train one is trying to catch is not a push pull train, there is always push & pull at the doors.
Here there is an Indian invention that I forgot to mention; it is on the spot seat booking system which happens to be the most advanced system in the world. There is no hard cash or digital transaction involved here. You just need your handkerchief, towel or a bag, book anything for that matter which you need to place it on the seat through the window and then you get all the right to put claims on that seat. Incredible indeed, isn’t it!
The third point to put forward is on the mass gatherings at events like kumbh mela or any other such gatherings. The next day the newspapers are buzzing with the reports of people getting killed in a stampede on a hoax call of something bad happening. These are the stark realities on how impatience has become an intrinsic quality in our everyday lives.
There are more worrying examples of impatience. Sharing, commenting, arguing, passing insults on the social media platform on even unconfirmed reports of news is the newfound face of Indian impatience.
Is impatience our tradition like the argumentative nature that Dr. Amartya Sen talks about? India has been patient enough to welcome all the religions in the world to find refuge in their times of oppression. India has been patient enough to walk the path of satyagraha, without even having an iota of idea on how successful it can be against the mighty & oppressive British empire under the leadership of a man whom the then British Prime Minister called, a ‘half-naked fakir’. Both our epic literatures, the Ramayana and Mahabharata teach us how the protagonists had to patiently walk through years of forest life as part of the tough circumstances they get into. India is the land of Buddha & Asoka who taught us the way to peaceful living for which patience is a precursor.
So, impatience wasn’t our tradition; we cultivated it somewhere down the line in the chase of a busy life. Impatience in the daily walks of life always inconveniences the other, puts one’s life at risk and spoils everyone’s peace of mind. So, patience is a lost habit that we must cultivate as part of our culture that we are going headstrong showcasing the world around us.