Monday, August 14, 2006

a dialogue on being Indian

Hey as promised naresh its me Gaurav from aseem's party last
night. Great meeting up, it made the evening tolerable and even at
times pleasant. I have a difficult time in such parties though you
are right, I need to check my ego. Not because I am not great, its
just I need to engage these people because they are a very potent
reality. Its just I feel disapointed when I see indian people, my own
people, on such consumerist shallow narrow minded corporate tool
paths. I mean shouldn't our discussion be based on more than money,
cars, retirement packages, health care plans, my beta is at Upenn so
and so is doing well for themselves. What about the finer virtues of
ayurveda, something deeper, if everyone exerted just 10 percent of
their energies and power to something good, a real concerted effort,
it would not only change the world, it would change their life. It
would infuse their lives with a meaning much greater than what they
have now. And perhaps our parents generation is different, for they
have seen virtue being equal to providing well for one's own, that's
considered noble, responsible and rightous. They came from nothing
many of these people to become big men and women, but thats them, what
about our generation? Their lives were exciting because they made
something of themselves and now are we to continue on that path? WIll
Aseem strive to have even a bigger house than his parents? And the
point is? Okay money isimportant, but why don't we strive to be
like the old money in America, great gatsby style, with great taste, an
emphasis on the arts and statesmanship, great food and great habits.
I sound like an intolerable uncle, forgive me.

Quickly some books to change your life and write me who you

India unbound - Gurcharan Dasif you are interested in india, indian economy, the future, the past
the present this book puts it all together. I don't agree with
everything but the man is sparklingly brilliant.

my favorite indian writers and books :

Imaginary Homelands - salman rushdie

A book fo essays 2-3 pages each most importantly on indian expat
communities, identity, the longing for a home. Also great analysis on
indian politics of the 80s, cultural studies on the movie gandhi and
much more. The other essays are on authors and films, its a real gem
and was the first book that showed me that indians can be much more
than doctors and engineers, that we have a rich artistic and
philosophical traditions. go for it.

The Guide - rk narayan

also a great bollywood movie. To be lost, oh to be found!

The god of small things - arunshati roy

to understand what exactly happened in the 90s to india and also hands
down the greatest book in modern times on modern india. Its really
really important. and will stay with you for a life time. treats
caste, imperialism, marxism, religion, it hits everything so
eloquently so beautifully. Arundhati who I met in delhi on my last
trip is also oneof the most important thinkers of our times with her
books of essays on 9/11 and much more.

Alright naresh wishing you well on your path. I like you. You got
fire and passion. Just use it for good. and the world will be better
for it.

and ofcourse if you want to put me in touch with some people I am
open. and humble.

Peace and Love

Gaurav Deep Arora


Naresh response:

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response on your
feelings on the IA community.

I think you touch on some important points and some very factual
points.  Most importantly, you sense that there is much to change. 
Yet at the same time, it seems as though the IA community has reached
such a profound level of success that much of the community's
underlying problems go unheard of.  I would challenge you to link of
with the hundreds of IA's in DC that are trying to bring these issues
to light ( i.e. small business loans, profiling, the poor (yes we have
poor IA's), India development issues, etc, etc). 

I actually heard a touching speach from Sonal Shah of Indicorps at
SAIS two weeks ago in DC and she talked about how the Indian immigrant
community pretty much not treated the same way that one in India would
treat us if we were to visit there.  I think it's true in many ways
and metaphorically describes how our generation has become inward
looking and the moral values that define our parent's generation is
lost in many ways.  I've always supported and co-founded National
Gandhi Day of Service (at Rutgers) which atleast attempts to restore
the humility and respect in our generation's youth, even if its for
one day.  I think over time, leaders will emerge in our generation and
take on these challenges...Yes, I know they are nothing in comparison
to the real challenges that face some humans but I guess our
generation is blessed to have had such hard working moral parents to
build our base.

Anyway, the uncle in me has also surfaced and I see your point.  Man,
when you go to DC...attack and learn and use your potential to do
something big..I'm all in, just let me know how I can be of
assistance.  Have fun in Italy and give me a shout out when you
return.  I'll be coming back to NJ and DC more frequently since I am
taking those mini-MBA classes and studying for the GMATS.

Gaurav Response:
I feel you with the IA community and I value

making certain issues pertinent to everyone.

There is however an uneasiness I possess on IA

groups. I like you because you are cool and I

cannot deny that your being indian awakens a

feeling in me I didn't know I possesed. Kind of

like the first time I rode a bus in india and it

was full of indian people. It felt so good, I

felt so happy to be surrounded by only indians

and then I step back and ponder if this need

this good feeling is not some shallow

nationalism or a deeper need to fit in, to be

accepted, an issue all indian people growing up

in America have dealt with at one time or


and my dissapointment, saddness as to how most

IA's are is bigger than anything I would feel

for anyone else. Perhaps because I am intimate

with aspects of Indian history and spirtuality

and I have looked to india as a respite to

corporate american consumer culture, something

which has only enhanced my american

experience(or better said provided a shelter)

and when I see these people act like white

people, negating the best and accepting the

worst of our traditions I feel hurt.

and to call our parents generation moral I don't

know. Are they hard working as a group, yes.

Do they provide for their children, yes. Are

they wildly successful materially, yes. are

they good people? I don't know, to me they have

led magical lives, transformative lives, the

stuff of legend but does that make them good? I

don't know. To me many are dull, narrowminded

and place "success" over the heart and spirit.

The fear in them and what i have seen many do to

their children is saddening. at the same time

there is a love and a warmth, a stability and

unconditionality in loving which is refreshing

in this "what have you done for me lately"

modern culture.

Its complicated. Its simple. all i know is I

want to do something about it, constructively

and you remind me that there are many people

like us who are not content with the status quo.

and let me make it very clear to you naresh

that my appeal to other IAs is not going to be

from a moral mother theresa like standpoint

where I have to convince the rich to help the

poor. The poor are not my primary concern. If

we are to be elite, a status many IAs now are

reaching, than we need to be a rational and

healthy elite, one which uses its power and

influence for the good life. At our present

state many would argue that the USA and much the

world, in the history of history there have

never been a more pathetic elite. The elite

have never been as unhealthy,uncultured,

depressed and over-worked. and thats what needs

to change and thats what I want to change

because they set the standard point and effect

the world around them. and indians because of

their history can be the trailblazers if they

are to be leaders rather than followers. I have

nothing against wealth, my problem is rich

people who are dull and do not make the most of

their wealth. happiness and health, focus on

those 2 things always and you will be rich.

Much love,


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