I love India because I am Indian and would like many things in India to change for the better. It may not be healthy to copy some of the things from the developed countries, especially without understanding or appreciating the context and background. But there are many things which, as I realised during my recent trip to America, we must imbibe in our system.
In the U.S., you get tremendous self-confidence evolving from the visible examples of system efficacy. The simple task of crossing a road which is a nightmare here is much easier since every one follows the rules. Drivers respect the pedestrian and allows him to cross the road. The absence of nerve-wracking horning, even when the traffic is stopped for red signal, adds to the bliss of driving. My son, who studied and grew up in India, while driving me around, stopped at a junction even though the signal was green. He explained that the traffic on the other side of the road had come to a standstill and he would be stranded in the middle, causing a traffic jam, if he tried to cross the junction. This realisation has come from the social responsibility one feels in such an environment where everyone appreciates his/her responsibility.
Talking of social responsibility, I came across an incident during one of my morning walks. I saw a dead cat lying in the middle of the road, something quite common in our country. To my surprise, a woman stopped her vehicle, got down from her car, removed the carcass, placed it on the pavement and called the authority before driving away. In all probability, in our country, the dead cat would have been run over by many vehicles until it became one with the road. Policemen who are generally well built infuse confidence and you don’t feel intimidated in approaching them for assistance. There may be instances of bribe and corruption but the evil is not so rampant as to make one confident of getting away with bribes.
Independence and self-reliance are qualities that can change the character of our country. One day, we called our houseowner and complained of an abnormal sound coming from the refrigerator but were ashamed to see him and his wife coming with a toolbox to repair it. Most of us abhor staying in the U.S. since we have to do our own chores.
Importance given to customer service can be felt in all facets of life. I was pleasantly surprised to see a note of thanks and appreciation, for the opportunity to be of service, from the doctor who attended on my daughter-in-law during child birth. I don’t think we can ever imagine such humility and professional ethics in India. Once I approached an enquiry window for assistance while the woman at the counter was attending a customer. She politely but firmly requested me to await my turn. I was left comparing this with my experience, back home, trying to get the attention of the person at a counter who multitasks with five customers seeking different information.
Most of our residential areas back home are an eyesore with festoons of drying clothes on balconies. But in the U.S., most of the housing societies are fastidious about upkeep and prohibit residents from hanging clothes on balconies, littering in common places or allowing pets to defecate on pavements. Segregation, collection and disposal of garbage are so systematic that the entire operation goes on like clockwork with every one doing his/her bit. Implementation of rules is facilitated by suitable infrastructure. There may be dirty politics but the public interest is not compromised. Local issues are given importance and national or international issues do not come in the way of resolving local issues and bringing about improvements.
Everything in America is not rosy but it is time we learnt some of their good practices.
The writer’s e mail nair.ayyappan