The human species has some special, multiple capabilities which sometimes
compliment each other, but often work at cross purposes. Accompanying
this is another unique characteristic-arrogance. This is a mindset often
having its origins in self-doubt about one's virtues.
While it is a universally
acknowledged phenomenon, it turns calamitous when it acquires a class
and caste identity. This leads to societies getting involved in a series
of crises, causing inner tensions within masses and classes. In the
end, all suffer. Class-based arrogance led to the doom of many societies
during the medieval times. Most of them discarded it at the dawn of
the modern age. Indian society, at the turn of the 21st Century, seems
to have decided against relishing the fruits of modernity and democracy.
This is a caste phenomenon and has its roots in self-congratulation
over a few imagined glories in history.
This leads to another
phenomenon, wherein the human mind turns overwhelmingly incompetent
to differentiate between wisdom and guile. In such a terrible social
context, the collective conscience of the society plunges into arrogance.
The arrogance, in turn, becomes its very reason for existence. For instance,
to representative Indians, their ancestors were pre-destined to invent
the place value of zero, or the decimal system in the Fifth Century
AD. If Dalit Diary were to remind them that the Chinese invented the
decimal place system in the 13th Century BC, and the zero in the 4th
Century BC, most would react the way captains of the Indian industry
are reacting now to the United Progressive Alliance-sponsored "national
level dialogue" initiative on private sector job reservations.
the Congress party may have been in its agenda, the question proposed
is a fine prescription to accord civility to India's corporate life
and usher in an era of a social reconciliation. A noted industrialist
screamed: "If the proposal becomes a reality, companies will lose
their competitive advantage." Another said: "It will hurt
the private sector's productivity, and its efforts to be internationally
competitive." Most captains of Industry, barring the Videocon Group,
were similarly toxic. In the grotesque eyes of Indian industrialists,
the 250 million-plus Dalits must be born with some genetic problems
which make them naturally "incompetent". The very existence
of the shadow of a Dalit in a corporate office would make private industry
lose its "competitive advantage" vis a vis the multinationals.
The way the term "competitive advantage" is bandied about,
an impression is formed that without Dalit "pollution", Indian
industry is doing terribly well in world trade and giving MNCs sleepless
nights. Till date no Dalit has ever presided over the Prime Minister's
Office, the ministries of Finance, Commerce and Industry as either as
a minister or secretary in-charge. Shouldn't it be a matter of civilisational
shame if one were to point out that India's share in world trade is
less than one per cent? The truth is that, India is expected to claim
one per cent of world trade by the year 2006-07, whereas China, a belated
entrant in global commerce, has virtually garnered five per cent. This
singular truth should, in normal civic situations, drive captains of
Indian industry to the nearest Banyan tree with synthetic ropes to hang
Equally mythical is India's super power status in global IT. The private
sector would like us to believe so. The truth is that, India's share
in the world's IT trade is just two percent, and total IT exports add
up to roughly the figure garnered from the foreign exchange inflow of
the gems and jewellry sector. Now, this last named sector has flourished
due to the skills and work culture of our humble artisans. Dalits make
a sizeable section of this workforce. In the United States, Indian IT
professionals are often described as blue collar workers, which, most
unfortunately, is akin to our coolies. Indian IT companies are sometimes
described as "global hawkers". One therefore wonders, what
is this great "competitive advantage" which Indian industry
claims to possess?
Take a look at India's basket of exports. Engineering goods, which require
high technology and training, contributes to a mere 11.62 per cent of
the total earnings whereas, the economic activities require just primary
level education: Gems and jewellry (17.51 per cent), sea food products
(3.32 per cent), handicrafts (2 per cent) and leather goods (3.71 per
cent), contribute to 26.54 per cent of India's total export earnings.
Thus, what is abundantly clear is the fact that the performance of India,
a country of more than a billion souls and a rich natural resource base
should shame any nation with pretensions about its industrial capability.
But, these arguments can only be proposed to those possessing the remotest
link with civility.
Imagine the irony. A person has to swim through the waters of stiff
competition to get a measly clerical job in government. But rarely is
there any transparent recruitment in the private sector. The attitude
of India's private industry is just civilisational, as civilisational
as prejudices against Dalits. What is missing in the arguments of the
private sector is just "merit." What a paradox!