I want a potty seat made of Gold
The right question – Can we not succeed without aspiring for the obnoxious?
The adage born with a silver spoon has lost the sheen in post e reforms India and not because silver spoon is not a valuable commodity anymore but because almost everyone today has one.
Everyone also has a cell phone, credit cards, mode of transport, branded piece of clothing and even a hyper market loyalty card. This is the good news. There is no bad news as such but the strange news is that a lot of us aspire to have a lot more. At the face of it this too seems okay but when we dissect these aspirations we realize that “a lot more” stands for alarming proportions.
In New Delhi and Mumbai, you will find many moderately rich middle class families of 4 having 4 cars if not 5 to 6 cars. An LCD or plasma in every room, some even have a small size one fitted into the bathrooms. 2 big size fridge, a deep freezer, and mini fridge in the bar and bedrooms. Collection of shoes is no more a female domain, even a domestic help has 4 pairs today.
You step into a house today and every corner has a gadget, every table has a remote lying on it to access that gadget. Every individual in a family will change his or her clothes at least thrice a day and that includes the lazy brother who never really goes anywhere except the sofa in front of his TV screen. Washing machines are always on overdrive, dishwashers have been grumbling for a while now and let's not even talk about the airconditioners!!
Now lets see what’s happening outside our homes - Everyday, you will see people of all ages, shapes and sizes walking out of hypermarkets with bags full of stuff that could feed an army and provide their boarding lodging as well. So, what’s inside these bags? Lets see – tomato chilli ketchup for Rahul, tomato garlic ketchup for Priya, tomato coriander ketchup for Mrs. Verma and regular old fashioned plain tomato ketchup for Mr. Verma. There’s 3 kinds of wheat, 3 kinds of rice, 4 kinds of cheese, 2 kinds of butter, 4 kinds of oil, 3 kinds of milk cartons and this is just one bag of 6. But I think we all get the picture.
The other day on an English News channel I saw an interesting debate between Nobel Laurette Dr. R.K Pachauri and Icon of as yet wannabe economic super power Mr Mukesh Ambani. The debate was on flavour of the season topic – Energy management. Dr. Pachauri made an important point that most of India’s present and future energy needs can be managed by simply altering certain lifestyle choices. To which Mr Ambani gave the now often heard retort that one can not curb the aspirations of a growing nation and prospering population. America, Europe couldn’t do it and neither can we.
A disillusioned Dr Pachauri shrugged his shoulders and said that we must understand one difference when we compare our journey to being a developed nation with America or Europe that neither of those regions faced the energy crises and demand at the time they gained prosperity. Today the situation is different and so are the reserves of the resources. We must aspire but our aspiration need to be different as well. Our dependency needs to be different as well. We should use more of what we have in abundance like Sun, rainwater and wind.
Needless to say – Mr Ambani who could not counter this effectively was not very amused. And understandably so – he is building his vertical palace in Mumbai at a price that is unpronounceable in most countries – Rs.4500 Crore!!! And you can’t even imagine the energy consumption that house is going to have.
It’s reasonable to have aspirations if you are doing well after all this is not a communist state. Not as yet anyways. However, will our achievements and success only be defined by the material or tangible acquisitions our success can afford us or can we strive to achieve for something bigger, better, beyond our parameters of greed? Do we need to do everything that every successful society did before us? Can we not gauge our sense of achievements from different fulfillments? Can we not say no for few of those many times when we say yes? Can we not succeed for the joy of succeeding? Can we not prosper so that we can help those who didn’t? Can we not have a super power that can stand for values that serves our present, our future not our egos?
We can and we are in some ways, in some places. Few and far but there are examples of people like Mr Narayan Murthy, President Abdul Kalam and Dr Pachauri for whom success is not about personal aspirations but collective progression of our society, of our race.
The good thing about democracy is that we can choose to believe in Dr. Pachauri as the Icon of new super power instead of Mr Mukesh Ambani no matter what the media proclaims but for that we will first have to get our asses off our potty seat made of gold.