Filmmaker Kamal Hassan’s stance on his film Vishwaroopam has changed to enable its commercial release this week in Tamil Nadu. But the thought of Citizen Kamal Hassan – of wanting to leave India – still holds.
It is an important thought. It pops up often in the minds of many Indians but it doesn’t get written about.
Far too many Indians wish to quit the country. Here are 10 most common reasons why they want to.
1. Aggressive society
Passive-aggressive in the south; hostile in the north. This upsets people. You can sense it on the roads, in shops, in cinemas, in offices. And definitely in places that sell liquor.
Indians who have spent time even briefly in the West are able to sense the offensive nature of India better. Non-Indians are plain shocked.
Any interaction with Indians can get violent within moments. The aggression is mostly verbal, but just as bad as physical hostility.This makes people want to leave and never return.
2. Unchanging politics
There are six national parties on the Election Commission’s roster, 54 state parties and 1,392 registered unrecognised parties. There are 39 parties with members in the Lok Sabha, 29 in the Rajya Sabha [mostly the same as in the Lok Sabha].
Yet, when you try to reach the parties with a problem, it’s remarkably the same everywhere. They all have a jaded air. They all think they know more. They all jump to it when you’re willing to fund the party.
The narrowness of Indian political parties is like a sledgehammer blow when you actually face it. It drives people away.
3. Anti-everything families
Such attitude is passed down from generations. Families could be anti-women’s progress, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-Hindu, anti-meat eaters, anti-free thinkers, anti-anything.
The first chance youngsters get in such families, they leave. Mostly on grounds of further study. Few return after they complete their course.
In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, every family with means will boast of people living in the West. Curiously, many of them return to family prejudices when in India.
4. Timid governments
It is astonishing how deeply this affects Indians. The tame nature of Indian governments seems to rob them of self-esteem. It is often the first thing that comes up in conversations with friends and family living outside India.
Governments – barring those of Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi – have done so little in India that even minor routine administrative decisions appear to be important.
This creates a sense that anything goes in India. It makes people defensive and they see no hope. Consequently, many Indians rush to leave. Living outside India makes them grateful for being able to leave the country.
5. Inert justice
All else being equal, this is the killer.
In mid-2010, there were 32,127,796 cases pending in Indian courts [Supreme Court, high courts and lower courts together]. Indians who have had to be in court seem lacerated by the experience.
It creates a conviction that India is an unjust nation. This is enough for people to seek citizenship of other nations. Indians living in the West, principally the UK and the US, speak of how they can trust the system there.
Indians in India can’t.
6. Inferior intellect
Most effort seems centred on keeping backwardness alive. For instance, governments routinely identify communities by their backwardness and keep them that way.
Ideas are rare. Even those that merely try to be awake are bludgeoned. For instance, the crafty proposition that corruption is fine because it is a leveller. This is like saying addiction is all right because it brings the wealthy and the wretched together.
Instead of trashing the thought, the person saying so was targeted. Also, the three girls who sang in Jammu & Kashmir were not a rock band. Far from it. They were merely holding guitars and singing. That doesn’t make anyone a rock band but it was enough to trigger backlash.
The simple truth that drives Indians out: Peddlers abound in India; not thinkers.
7. Scary schools
This is one of the top three worries of India. Schools and teachers employed by them seem to be seriously short on integrity and skill. It makes parents so fearful that they’d rather leave than risk disaster in India.
Those that stay behind, students and teachers, rarely have attractive qualities. It’s so bad that diplomats of other nations posted in India almost never educate their children in any Indian school.
Progress, if any, comes purely from individual industry. Like the auto driver’s daughter in Mumbai who topped the all-India chartered accountancy exam weeks ago.
Fact: No Indian university is in the world’s top 200. So they leave.
8. Yearning youth
Even worse than the level of education is the fate of youngsters who come through the system. Hope and enthusiasm pull them through, but once they start looking for jobs, it hits them.
Management students work at call centres, engineering graduates slog it out in IT jobs, and IT behemoths mostly offer data entry and marketing jobs. All of this is soul-destroying.
The result: Youngsters spend time and energy looking to leave India. The lack of avenues breeds resentment and they leave.
9. Measly money
Those who do get jobs hate their fate, instead of looking forward to a life of fulfillment. So miserly are employers that Indian professionals can’t wait to leave the country.
I know of talented chefs and journalists who have spent lakhs of rupees trying to leave India. One chef I know was offered Rs 9000 a month at a five-star hotel. He felt insulted and is seeking to leave at the earliest.
Journalists are offered paltry salaries or none at all in the interiors. In many states, owners tell correspondents to attract advertisements so they can take home commission from them. A career in films, too, can be heartbreaking for the young.
All of them leave.
10. Talent trample
Calamity could be brewing in the story of Arjun Tendulkar, chosen for Mumbai’s under-14 cricket squad ahead of others with far better performances. A cricket official has said this was done because ‘he has the genes of Sachin Tendulkar’.
This official should’ve been sacked, but he is gloating instead. Such disrespect of talent has brought India much disgrace. It makes the nation look like a banana republic.
It’s the same with politics, cinema, journalism, economy, and even art. It makes people leave. They look for countries that respect talent and are willing to pay for it.
These are strong reasons why Indians look to leave India – because India is a fair weather nation. You can live here only if the going is good.
Kamal Haasan felt it this time and he got the media attention. Most of his countrymen don’t.
Also by the author:
Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and tehelka.com.
He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.
Vijay blogs here and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.