Putting one’s self interest ahead or just plain selfish?


Credit: Indian Express

Now that I am finally in America, I thought it was apt to re-watch the nineties Kannada movie “America America” starring Ramesh Arvind, Akshay Anand and Hema. It’s a movie that captures the sentiments of the mid-ninteis generation from two perspectives – of those who chased the great American dream and of the loved ones who they left behind. There’s a scene in the beginning of the movie when Akshay Anand announces to his childhood friends Ramesh and Hema that he’s flying off to the US in a week to pursue his masters in California. His friends are thoroughly disappointed for the trio breaking up and their ambitions of doing something great in their tiny hometown. Ramesh says a dialogue in which he compares the motherland to a mother in rags and how this is not reason enough for her children to abandon her for another mother (US) dressed in richness and that love doesn’t work that way. Akshay Anand responds by accusing Ramesh of being jealous for not having the opportunity to fly off to the US. Given that Ramesh has never travelled outside his native, it may appear that he could be jealous and the sour grapes situation makes him accuse Akshay Anand of abandoning his motherland. Today, I know of a lot of people (myself included), who have travelled around a bit but would never consider any place but Bangalore their home.

Although some part of me complains about the lack of sustainability of an economy built by a billion start ups in India, I can’t be prouder of all the entrepreneurs who decided not to run away from the challenges our country throws at them, instead decided to stick it out! Ever since I have been here in the US, I couldn’t help but wonder why there are so many Indians, Chinese and Koreans here (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation and so on). At first, I thought it could be the feeling of touching warm clothes fresh out of a dryer, but that can’t be it, right? Ok, I’m joking but it’s a pretty awesome feeling. I have heard so many stories of Indians who didn’t like their life back home or had conservative families or those who had huge grad school loans they weren’t willing to wait a few years longer to pay off or enjoyed better health insurance coverage that kept them here. While all of these are perfectly valid reasons, the one thing that irks me is that it is always in comparison to the life back home. Call me patriotic or foolish, there are so many things you can like and hate about every place in the world, but what I feel for Bangalore simply cannot be explained. I go weak in my knees. I desperately hold back my tears every time I hear someone speak in Kannada during my travels across the world. May be it’s love? May be I accept it for all that’s wrong with it – the city that has tried too hard to keep up with its ever growing migrant population, but hardly ever appreciated for its magnanimous tolerance.

Earlier this week, I was at the social security office here in Ann Arbor and discovered that social security was first instituted about 80 years ago here in the US. But, we Indians want miracles from the Adhaar that was instituted just over a couple of years ago. Immigrants in general are fighters or survivors. The US was a result of colonisation or simply said, by migration of Europeans, who declared it independent over two centuries ago. It’s no surprise that the United States is one of the largest economies in the world today attracting people from all over the world to contribute to its expansion. On the other hand, India has only been a democracy for less than a century and we are comparing it to the US to justify us washing our hands off from building our motherland all in the name of putting our personal interests ahead of our duties as children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, citizens of a nation that houses over 1.25 billion people and still counting. But, isn’t it enough that we still fulfil our duties by watching NaMo speeches on Youtube or diligently change our Facebook DP’s to tricolour now?


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