• kewal sethi

chalta hai


chalta hai india

alpesh patel

bloomsbury 2018

may 2022

it has been my lot to have borrowed two books from the library and both disappointed me. one was 'my god is a woman' about which i had written sometime back. but it had some theme, some good introductory chapters, before getting into an unattractive situation by emphasizing upon a single theme. in the case of the other book, named above, even that saving grace is not there.

the fault is mine. seeing the publishers as bloomsbury, i should have been careful in selecting it. it is my experience that the western publishers favour books which want to depict the negative side of india which gandhi once described as a drain inspector report.

the theme is (and it runs throughout the book) that indians are useless people. steeped in their ignorance, apathy, refusing to learn from others. they are content with their lot and have no inclination, energy, or the brains to improve their lot. their desires are unworldly believing only in moksh. since there is rebirth promised, so they are not in a mood or in a hurry to improve their lot.

in contrast, the europeans and the arabs have one life only and seek to make the most of it. they are active, enterprising, learning all the time and improving. hence, they are better off. the deficiencies are described field wise so as to add length to the book. traffc sense, education. existence of slums, qualities of trains, of roads, of film industry and many more sectors are shown to be deficicents. none praised.

it is, reluctantly, conceded that violence and crulety is the creed of the europeans and so is their tendency to loot and destroy. but , take care, it is seen as a good point since it keeps them on the road to progress. the measuring rod of success is material prosperity. they plan for it and work for it whereas indians have no planning and, even if they have, no idea of its implementation.

i took up the book knowing that shortcomings will be described, as if we do not know about them, but then it will have some insight in the situation and suggest workable solutions. in fact, one part of the book is called 'the root causes and resolution of chalta hai'. unfortunately, it is all as barren as the rest of the book, pointing out shortcomings (actually repeating what has been said earlier) and is short on ideas about improvement except one big concept which is "we must improve". as if we did not know it.

and that is all.


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