Undeniably, there are millions of people in India who think little, act even less but talk too much. Indulgence in idle gossip, disgruntled attitudes, bitter criticism of all and sundry, frustration over their sorry plight, fate and "kismet", have in fact become national pastimes.
The number of those who can claim that they keep their tongue within their lips and never talk in vain is limited. The talk of the common people mostly irresponsible, creates the impression that they have little to do Indians are indeed typical of the people of the Orient who have no thin; worthwhile to say, and yet contrive to spend the longest time in saying it.
Those who have endless time on their hands are great babblers. Thinking and reflection postulate a certain degree of education and intellectual development. About 64 per cent of the people in India; illiterate; so they have not developed the qualities of thinking and reflection.
Montesquieu truly said that the “less men think, the more they talk”. India is a land of myriad tongues. The 1961 census listed 1652 languages; mother tongues spoken in India, and the 1971 census, retaining 1 number, presented a somewhat more realistic picture. Judged by; standard, India is a babel of tongues, perhaps the largest in the world. This babel has been the outcome of a cumulative process resulting fro the influx of various races into the country through the centuries.
Talkers are never good doers; this explains the proverbial slot idleness and complacency of the average Indian. Our material output, our productivity and production, our net contribution to the count Gross National Product (GNP) are all far too low.
While people shot learn to use their hands and to be active all the time (like the Japanese who have raised their country to the pinnacle of glory despite the have done to their economy during World War II), we have mastered 1 technique of whiling away time talking and talking, doing little positive constructive and concrete work.
Jawaharlal Nehru, in a speech way back in 1952, said he was tired: people who merely talk about various things. However wise you may I (in India the number of truly wise, sagacious men and women is limit he said, you can never enter into the spirit of a thing if you only listing about it and do nothing.
We do not know the value of time; so we do not mind spending precious hours in idle gossip. In part the disinclination be up and doing all the time is the result of our fatalistic beliefs; attitudes. Most of us tend to believe that what God has ordained cannot be averted. What will be, will be; so, they argue, why needlessly waste energy in thwarting God's will?
Besides, there are many among us who believe that flattery is the shortest route to success in today's India. The great talkers, the wily,garrulous politicians who sway audiences through their loud talk, all manage to mislead the people and promote their selfish ends.
A flat is in the excellent company of imitators because imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery. The easiest weapon adopted by flat and sycophants is smooth talk, not work. A ready and glib tongue has at times proved to be a more precious weapon than gifts of cash and kind. Through a facile tongue the flatterers continually create illusions and a world of make-believe. Almost all great talkers are great flatterers; praise inevitably becomes their forte.
Then there are those whose talk mostly comprises advice to all and sundry on everything on earth. Like air and water, advice too can be had free. Self-appointed advisers are great talkers; they talk their way into your hearts and they even drive away rationality, good sense and the quality of discriminating between chalk and cheese. Asking for advice is to tout for flatterers.
And flattery feeds the ego and is exhilarating. Most talkers become bores. But let it be said in defense of the growing tribe of talkers that they do manage at times to relieve boredom. A quiet gathering at which all those present are serious-minded people deeply engrossed in thought and philosophy would appear to maintain the silence of the graveyard.
The talkers relate funny incidents, describe lively experiences and entertain their credulous listeners, quieted and comfort the people, for hours together. There is no tax on talk and gossip. So the idle, endless talker flourishes at the cost of the silent, constructive worker. It is the latter that can help ensure national progress, not the ceaseless twisters of the tongue, even though the latter manage to find credulous audiences.
True, sincere and genuine workers cannot stand non-seneschal postures, including nonsense talk. But work does not lie in marching up and down the streets, shouting slogans and lodging protests. Many of us tend to resort to strikes and work stoppages.
Undeniably, our future amongst nations, and the good name of our country, depends entirely upon our work and work alone. Much valuable work can be done silently and without becoming noisy or indulging in aimless talk. If everyone realizes the truth of this dictum, the salvation of the country would not be far off.
When Sanjay Gandhi popularized the slogan, Kaam zyada, baatein kum more work, talk less, I met Verghese Kurien in his farm. He epitomized the slogan in its human form. I was living in Bombay then and took a few days off to spend with his family in Anand. It was a refreshing experience to be in the open grasslands among herds of cows and buffaloes. Neither of the Kuriens took time off from work; the only company they kept were with the herds of cows and buffaloes and the milkmen who owned them. Y.K. Alagh, who was closely associated with Kurien, has paid him handsome tribute in a recent issue of India Today. I take the liberty of quoting him:
Verghese Kurien was a man who changed the discourse. For him, the poor, unemployed farmer with no resources was never a problem. He felt if a farmer could access technology and markets, he would be an asset. Having seen the dream, he would not budge. Like all men of his genre, he was willing to engage but not change.
Then Amul became the symbol of all that was India. If an idea was presented and he could weave it into his view at Amul, he would push for it. In the many words written since last Sunday, some are worth recounting. The first was the buffalo. Kurien can be credited for the global recognition of the buffalo as an important war horse in Asiatic peasant farming... The first time he invited me to get involved was in an international conference where the theme was the buffalo. We are not doing enough but we are one of the few countries in the world that spends money on genetically improving the buffalo. It all goes back to the Dudhwala and his band of missionaries.
I have already written about this and would like to reiterate that India has more public holidays in my estimate, nearly 50 every year than any other country in the world. Sometimes, there are three holidays together in one week that causes lot of inconvenience to the public. As a consequence, we are work-shy and the least work-prone nation in the globe. Since we are work-shy, we tend to produce less and remain a poor country. I have written in the past and repeat it here again that we Indians work only three days a week. On the other hand, the Chinese work eight days a week.
Consequently, their rate of development is much faster than ours. They outpace us in every sphere of activity be it in farming, working in factories or offices or in sports. They had little trouble in giving us a sound thrashing when we went to war against them. They continue to thrash us in every field of activity, including sports. They produce world champions; we do not. They have a work mentality, we have chhutti (holiday) mentality. How on earth can we catch up with the advanced nations of the world in this way? We have to radically change our mindset or we will remain the most backward nation in the globe.
Persons who welcome death
Are heroes only at times.
When they fight as soldiers
For our country on our borders;
But those who drive
Without helmets on scooters,
On motorbikes; and what not?
Are they heroes when they die
Due to sheer carelessness.
Or dare-devil due
To youths aggressive behaviour?
And stubborn do not listen
To their elders nor even
Heed the wise rules of the nation?
(Indira Srinivasan in Poets International)
The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for various groups of animals.
We are all familiar with a herd of cows, a flock of chicken, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese. Then, a pride of lions, a murder of crows (as well as their cousins, rooks and ravens), an exaltation of doves, and, presumably because they look so wise, a congress of owls.
Now consider a group of baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates.
And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons?
Believe it or not a parliament a parliament of baboons!
Banta has demanded that the new airport at Mumbai be named Banta Cruz. Santa already has an airport named after him Santa Cruz.
(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, New Delhi)