I love the way we Indians solve our problems. Be it the simple piece of folded paper below a rocking chair or the introduction of FDI in retail to boost our economy, Indians love myopic and temporary solutions that only serves in further complicating the original problem.
A classic example of the manner in which we try to solve problems in this country is the case of the famed Langurs of Delhi. The Delhi Municipal Corporation until recently employed Langurs to get rid of the common Rhesus monkeys. Rhesus monkeys, which aren’t scared of humans, are gripped by fear upon laying their eyes on a Langur. When a complaint is lodged by someone about monkeys creating nuisance in a locality, the Langur and its caretaker go to the problem spot. As soon as the monkeys lay eyes on the Langur, they disperse from that area, shrieking with terror. Mission Accomplished! The Langur and its caretaker happily collect their fees and retire for the day.
But wait, where do the monkeys actually go? That is a question nobody wants to ask or answer in India. The truth is, the monkeys just shift from one location to another. In a couple of days, the same Langur or a different one is called upon to act on these very same monkeys which are wreaking havoc in a new locality where they recently shifted. So the current solution for this problem is that the monkeys will be chased around from one area to another every other day. The present system only tries to distribute the burden of the nuisance equally among its citizens without really finding a permanent solution!
India has a lot of monkeys — Casteism, poverty and illiteracy, to name a few. All these monkeys are only made to jump from pillar to post, hidden away from society behind the screen of apathy and ignorance. Neither has there been a concrete plan nor any united action since Independence to weed out these nuisances. Instead, all of us carry on with our lives, selfishly trying to dodge the monkeys, ensuring that they don’t land at our doorstep.
But the monkeys never go away. They are always around. And they will come one day and knock on our door. And we will then run around looking for the inefficient Langurs that we have created in the form of our systems and services, all the while cursing the government and society for its failure to provide a permanent solution to our problems.
But before we go around blaming everybody else, spare a thought to all the monkeys that we create everyday which now roams on someone else’s lawn: The bike you park right under a ‘no-parking zone’, the plastic bag you throw out from your car, the mobile phone you answer while driving, the money you bribe a policeman with.
The list of self created monkeys goes on and on. It’s time we stopped creating more monkeys and actively took part in finding permanent solutions to those existing ones. The mindset of relying on systems and solutions like the Delhi Langurs will never eradicate our problems. India is far too great a country to be held back because of trouble making monkeys. All we need to do is change our habit of using a Langur as the solution.
( The writer’s email: rajagopal.sajan @gmail.com )