The great Indian psychotherapy

Hi All,

Hope you are well. In today’s column, I tried to see Indian issues through a different perspective. My column in TOI today, reproduced below. Otherwise, the link is here.

As always, comments are welcome, and I encourage you to read them as well, as they really aid the discussion.



The great Indian psychotherapy


(TOI, 26 Sep 2010, All That Matters, Page 22)

Countless articles, books, thesis, papers and research reports have tried to answer the question, ‘what is wrong with India?’ Global experts are startled that a country of massive potential has one of the largest populations of poor people in the world. Isn’t it baffling that despite almost everyone agreeing that things should change, they don’t? Intellectuals give intelligent suggestions – from investing in infrastructure to improving the judicial system. Yet, nothing moves. Issues dating back thirty years ago, continue to plague India today. The young are often perplexed. They ask will things ever change? How? Whose fault is it that they haven’t? 

Today, i will attempt to answer these tricky questions, although from a different perspective. I will not put the blame on everyone’s favorite punching bag– inept politicians. That is too easy an argument and not entirely correct. After all, we elect the politicians. So, for every MP out there, there are a few lakh people who wanted him or her there. I won’t give ‘policy’ solutions either – make power plants, improve the roads, open up the economy. It isn’t the lack of such ideas that is stalling progress. No, blocking progress is part of the unique psyche of Indians. There are three traits of our psyche, in particular, that are not good for us and our country. Each comes from three distinct sources – our school, our environment and our home. 

    The first trait is servility. At school, our education system hammers out our individual voices and kills our natural creativity, turning us into servile, coursematerial slaves. Indian kids are not encouraged to raise their voices in class, particularly when they disagree with the teacher. And of course, no subject teaches us imagination, creativity or innovation. Course materials are designed for no-debate kind of teaching. For example, we ask: how many states are there in India? 28. Correct. Next question –how is a country divided into states? What criteria should be used? Since these are never discussed, children never develop their own viewpoint or the faculty to think. 

    The second trait is our numbness to injustice. It comes from our environment. We see corruption from our childhood. Almost all of us have been asked to lie about our age to the train TC, claiming to be less than 5 years old to get a free ride. It creates a value system in the child’s brain that ‘anything goes’, so long as you can get away with it. A bit of lying here, a bit of cheating there is seen as acceptable. Hence, we all grow up slightly numb to corruption. Not even one high profile person in India is behind bars for corruption right now. This could be because, to a certain extent, we don’t really care. 

    The third trait is divisiveness. This often comes from our home, particularly our family and relatives, where we learn about the differences amongst people. Our religion, culture and language are revered and celebrated in our families. Other people are different – and often implied to be not as good as us. We’ve all known an aunt or uncle who, though is a good person, holds rigid bias against Muslims, Dalits or people from different communities. Even today, most of India votes on one criterion – caste. Dalits vote for Dalits, Thakurs for Thakurs and Yadavs for Yadavs. In such a scenario, why would a politician do any real work? When we choose a mobile network, do we check if Airtel and Vodafone belong to a particular caste? No, we simply choose the provider based on the best value or service. Then, why do we vote for somebody simply because he has the same caste as ours? 

    We need mass self-psychotherapy for the three traits listed above. When we talk of change, you and i alone can’t replace a politician, or order a road to be built. However, we can change one thing – our mindset. And collectively, this alone has the power to make the biggest difference. We have to unlearn whatever is holding us back, and definitely break the cycle so we don’t pass on these traits to the next generation. Our children should think creatively, have opinions and speak up in class. They should learn what is wrong is wrong – no matter how big or small. And they shouldn’t hate other people on the basis of their background. Let us also resolve to start working on our own minds, right now. A change in mindset changes the way people vote, which in turn changes politicians. 

    And change does happen. In the 80s, we had movies like “Gunda” and “Khoon Pi Jaaonga”. Today, our movies have better content. They have changed. How? It is because our expectations from films have changed. Hence, the filmmakers had to change. 

    If we resolve today that we will vote on the basis of performance alone, we will encourage the voices against injustice and we will place an honest but less wealthy person on a higher pedestal than a corrupt but rich person. By doing so, we would contribute to India’s progress. If everyone who read this newspaper did this, it would be enough to change voting patterns in the next election. And then, maybe, we will start moving towards a better India. Are you on board?


Leave a Comment

  1. Adamya says:

    Hello Chetan sir..

    the article was Superbbbbbbb….. really Fun to read…
    especially great take on our edu. system…. once it is settled.. then other things will follow.. but settling it and the psychology about edu. is a HUGE one…!
    so lets do our little for it.. (dont know how!! , but there must be some way to solve it.. the way in which a common man can give his share.. )

  2. saranga says:

    ohh i dunno but we need good candidates im happy with our voting system

  3. abhishek says:

    hai.. this is abhishek and my openion chetanbhagat are gretest and messanger of india

  4. abhishek says:

    hi.., chetan i’ m agree with u bcoz u r a fabulsh writer

  5. abhishek says:

    i think u are gretast writer of the word bcoz ur comparing i s wrier “” ARASTU” which r greatest writer of our india

  6. shelley k das says:

    hi, too late but still..
    Education part true n thought provoking..
    rest two are more of morality issues, n as far as they go, they are same all over the world.. (heard the idiotic newzealander today?).. so they wont be part of actual problem..
    servility has something to do with the genes.. may be will change with a few generaions..
    but the ultimate remedy is— “LET THE MONEY COME IN” frontdoor / backdoor, it will improve lives..

  7. Divya says:

    A very very insightful article.
    Each and every one is responsible for the state India is in and even a small set of straight-thinking people can make a huge difference.

  8. Kual says:

    Hi Chetan,
    Yes, some very valid points brought up there. The servility aspect is present to this day even in higher learning courses like engineering & medicine. Right from childhood, we are brought up with the “Chalta hain” attitude. That sucks. As for change in the caste based voting, I guess a purge of the entire system is necessary, and there needs to be fresh young blood, straight from institutes of higher learning. There is tremendous potential in India, but until the thinking caps are put on, India can live in the fake hope of being a developing nation.

  9. Alvika says:

    Hi Chetan,

    Completely agree with your views. What you say is true but you are looking at one side of the coin. So true that all of us have been told to lie about our age to get a free ticket – but u missed the point “why” .. why cz ther’s this govt employee with a family of 3 childern and a housewife and probably also his parents, to fend for all by himself .. and thus he tries to save whatever little money he earns for a genuine purpose .. for his kids education etc etc ..

    poverty or limited resources make ppl resort to corrupt ways .. why dont common people in developed countries do such things .. not because they’ll get caught its because they have adequate resources to not only afford basic necessities but also “basic luxuries” in life .. which most indians have to work very hard for ..

  10. Siddharth says:

    HI Chetan !!!

    I am very happy to read your blog & I am fully satisfied with it.
    The Youth India has to come together to raise a voice against wrong concepts being followed in our country. India is a great country, Indians are very much talented but the Country lacks in providing Resources. If Corruption,Injustice, Political system is changed & Improved. I am sure…
    India is on the Top of the World.

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  12. dr sushil shukla says:

    hello sir,
    hope u r fit & healthy.The points u made in article are really powerful bt i wd hav been glad if u hav included the real probl faced by the world rt now d `probl of population’.We hav to ultimately think abt our ecosystem in.Proper mngmt can only b performed only if we hav manageable population..If we continue to multiply like this the end is near.

  13. Sunil says:

    See what ur tryng to say it has a potencial.
    But when we are going 2 say dat ppl vots fr their cast repectivaly it may has a reason..
    let me explaine:
    I’m frm a part of a state where all poloticians are corrupt.. i can’t expect frm any 2 1 of them dat they will do somthng progressive for my area..& also each leader frm repective community is having their own candidate.. so whts the use.
    So the best way is skip the election or dont gve ur vote to any1


  14. sanjit yadav says:

    i know its hapening in india what sir you have to tell me how we came out from this

  15. hey….
    the true saying that u written is really impactitious bcz it is us who can make this true..but india is being grabbed by such corrupt politicians that they hide all these.if every student or every awared person can do the awareness at his city or state ,then we can have +ve results.illa…illa…reply…

  16. Melynda Catt says:

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  17. Navonil Das says:

    the article is very nice. its easy to find articles saying India is this India is that but very few are keen to actually find solutions to the problems like u did here. those 3 problems and the solutions once read appears easy yet if not said is difficult to answer. would love to read such articles from You.
    Thamk you

  18. Samyadeep says:

    I also think that schools have no creativity in them. They are not friendly to kids. Their wall painting are dull and the teacher is not describing but lecturing. It’s utterly boring in schools. The teacher doesn’t listen to the children why or how he has done something but immediately tells off and the the why or how the child has done it is called ‘excuse’. Isn’t it?

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  20. Thank you for providing such great information on psychotherapy..

  21. WhatswrongwithChetan says:

    OMG you have be the the dumbest nut bag to have made money in India.
    Truly – as your followers state – you are the “GRETEST” and “FABULSH” writers of all.
    The Rakhi Sawant of Indian Literature.

    Seriously WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ?
    have you faked your degrees or did you actually go to those institutes ? and did you even make one friend there? I am really curious as to HOW you live with yourself knowing that anyone with an average IQ of 100 or more thinks you are a such a SCUMBAG FRAUD deluding idiots in the country into believing your stories.

    Could there ever be a bigger “stating the obvious” king ?

    I really truly wish to meet you one day and have the pleasure of throwing a glass of wine in your face.


  22. gandhar says:

    gunda is the smartest film ever made. What is khoon pi jaunga?

  23. Renuka says:

    Tell me Indian culture challenge psychotherapy

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