Shilpas victory could be the countrys loss

Written by YRK Reddy | Updated: Feb 3 2007, 05:30am hrs
Among other things, the Big Brother TV show has brought out the challenge Indian professionals have to face if they indeed must become global. After all, they will not have the entire ethnic community, Indian policymakers and media baying for their protection. The international community believes that most Indian professionals are still far from acquiring the necessary competencieseven official documents indicate the perception that Indians are difficult to work with; easily slighted or insulted; obsessed with history and culture; difficult to laugh with; sentimental beyond reason; ritualistic; hard to fathom; patronising; etcetera.

Shilpa Shetty has indeed brought out the weaknesses sharply. It is creditable that she has won a lot of money and is due for an audience with The Queen and Tony Blair on Commonwealth Day. Even if one discounts the probability that the entire matter was a clever set up for ulterior motives, her winning hardly does Indians proud. Her response to tormentors was meek, showed weakness instead of conviction, and was devoid of any intellectual puncheven gandhigiri would not support such a crybaby.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, she reportedly lamented, Id no idea it was so bad. They are so mean. Why didnt someone stop them It hurts me deeply. Look at me...I am shaking; This is so pretty, so juvenile, so nasty. There is hatred there and that hurts deeply... and more such.

She had an opportunity for intelligent repartee against the barbs. If she was asked, to go back to the slums Shilpa could have retorted that she would then be Jade Goodys neighbour! If she was called a dog, Shilpa could have come up with something witty.

Crying and wringing hands, Shilpa let India down. We had great statesmen who handled worse at the most trying of times. If not those, she should have at least remembered how Ramnaresh Sarwan has become a popular icon for his repartee in response to some obnoxious onfield sledging by Glenn McGrath on his alleged laisions with Brian Lara. Sarwan shrugged and brought a personal aspect of McGrath into the pictureso softly that the bowler was flummoxed.

The big gap is our ability to deal with situations on an adult-adult basis, using civility, social skills, reasoning and intelligence in dealing with others, and emerging on top
In that context, Jade Goody may be the actual winner on Big Brother. She has done well for herself with her post-eviction interview, viewed by a record 8.8 million people. She reportedly managed to call Shilpa Shilpa Poppadam while hugging her in what was probably a mock truce! Jade is much younger than Shilpa, and a dental nurse with a humble and chaotic family history. She was a chance winner on the non-celebrity version of Big Brother in 2002, and became a celebrity precisely because she was obnoxious. Her innocuous comments and appalling knowledge have indeed been amusing by themselvesand yet, shes earned millions, literally adding perfume to an ordinary life.

My experience is that, exceptions apart, Indian professionals are accustomed to two types of behavioural transactions (on somewhat gross interpretation of TA).

If dealing with a lower rank or darker person, or a citizen from a smaller/less developed country, the typical Indian professional invariably shifts into adult-child relationship modehe drops all listening skills and becomes an avatar of a Vedic teacher.

On the other hand, if he is dealing with somebody bigger, more powerful or in a position to do a favour, he is happy to adopt some part of a child-adult relationshiphappy to be obedient, compliant, listening and even subservient.

Maybe it is the caste system that makes us all happier with vertical relationships rather than horizontal ones. Thus, the big gap is our ability to deal with situations on an adult-adult basis, using civility, social skills, logic, reasoning and intelligence in dealing with others, and emerging on top.

The politician Benjamin Disraeli, who was known for his brilliant sense of repartee, once said, A majority is always better than the best repartee.

Instead, globalising Indians must remember, among other things, that a good repartee is always better than suffering as a minority!