Sunday, March 23, 2008


I saw a programme on one of the TV channels that NIIT has established offices in China. As the anchor was saying apart from learning Chinese the staff are also learning Chinese manners. She was shown seated at a dining table and pouring water from a jug into the glass of a person sitting next to her and saying,” in China you have to serve others before you serve yourself”. This was surprising. This is a common ettiquette we were taught when young. The anchor or the scriptwriter is from a generation where they live in very small families and had not had the occasion for informal education. Subjects like Civics, moral science and ‘Deeniyat are missing from school syllabus. Those were the days when elders taught table manners (most of us sat on floor to eat but I am using the word table manners because using ‘floor’ manners does not sound good) to children. Children were taught-not to serve yourself first, do not search for a good piece from a curry etc. Today it is missing.

But, parents do teach children to be competetive even if it amounted to usurping someone else’s right. You have to be one up. And all this in a society, which brands itself ‘spiritual’! Talking of spiriyualism I am reminded of Shri Ravi shankar’s interactions with his desciples. I am quoting from ‘A twist of faith’ by Edward Luce.

Someone asked how she could truly know she was a good person. “You don’t need to be sweetie sweetie, goodie goodie all the time,” said guruji. The audience broke into delighted laughter. Puzzled, I looked around to see hundreds of shining eyes and ecstatic expressions. The next question which came by email and was read out by one of the his followers ended with: “I love you so much guruji.” Someone asked about whether it was always wrong to pay bribes. “You shouldn’t be too idealistic all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make little, little compromises,” he added. Again, the audience erupted in laughter. I was beginning to wonder about the Art of Living’s breathing techniques.
So much for spiritualism! If this is spiritualism what is not spiritualism. Spiritualism has to have social ramifications.
I have many times come across car drivers (I am referring to owner driven cars) trying to overtake a vehicle just in front. They keep blowing horn till the car in front gives way. The quest does not end just here, there is yet another car in front and the same exercise is repeated. He knows that the car in front is in the same pursuit as he and he also knows that the car ahead has hardly scope to give him the way. But! Is this competitiveness? Similar situations are repeated in work life. How can I be second to someone irrespective of my capabilities?

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