These days everyone is an expert on any random subject. The most natural expertise seems to be on how to run the country.
The organization I work is not a very large organization and one of the very nice practices in this organization is about the key people getting together every day for lunch, which includes the owner and his family. The discussion on the lunch table can be on any subject and on debatable issues there is an animated point and counter point. Most of the times I felt that people with divergent views used to leave the lunch room even more convinced about their views, which of course corroborates Dale Carnegie’s golden words “NO ONE EVER WON AN ARGUMENT”
By nature I am apolitical, because I feel I do not have the requisite knowledge or information to understand the nuances of the poltik. It was one of those discussions at the lunch table where I found it quite embarrassing to not have a view when most of the people around were discussing about the giant strides the current government has taken. The long bridges, the big statues , the waterways and what not. I could not make up my mind.
From the way the colleagues were extolling the current government , it was as if we are on the threshold of becoming a super power. I was not getting the drift. My mind was confused. Having traveled and seen so many other countries I felt we have a long way to go, but here on the discussion table, we were winners, or atleast we were on the threshold of a great victory as a nation. The ruling class be it at the center or the provincial government s all were rocking. I was promptly shouted down when I attempted a feeble counter argument to the whole development story and in my prudence I decided that the best thing would have been to keep my mouth shut
As a routine that evening I went out for a walk with my colleague with whom I share the company guest house. Winter had already settled down and it used to be quite an experience to walk in the winter nights adequately clothed with wollens and jackets.
My colleague was a young lad, MBA from a premier institute and working in my department under me,. Full of energy, full of opinions, full of everything… As we started walking, after a while he broke the silence. He broached the afternoon discussion yet again, may be , he sensed my predicament.
The night was dark, not many people on the roads, an occasional late office sitter was hurriedly making his way back to home. The last of the commuting buses were also honking their way back to the final destination of the day.
Abhijeet took off from probably where we left in the afternoon.
He went on to state how the previous governments did nothing for the country and all real progress was happening now.
He listed the lakhs of crores of rupees which previous governments had siphoned due to corruption. Frankly speaking, while he was rattling off these figures I was just trying to count the number of zeroes in these figures.
He listed how the country has jumped some ‘x’ number of places in the ease of doing business ranking. He extrapolated the size of our economy in the next 10 years at the current rate of growth. He rattled off figures of the industrial production, agricultural growth, the banking sector reforms.
As the discussion went on I was listening intently to internalize the same. He jumped to the topic of national pride, how the all inclusive growth policy has contributed the nation’s success. The great digital revolution was his passionate subject. He explained how ecommerce, e banking was the pivot of our success, digital payments et all….
I could not help also feel the same. Did I find my answer??
We were returning back and out of instinct I advised him that we walk on the sidewalk than on the road, lest someone knock us over in the darkness of the night… notwithstanding the eco friendly street lights.
As we were making our way thorough, on the sidewalk, his aggression and conviction grew with every point and if not for his views, I was impressed with his theatrics and conviction and the deep knowledge on variety of macro economics
We were just close to our complex which is quite a posh one, my eyes just fell on the ground at the right time to avoid a hump on the side walk.
In the darkness of the night I almost missed what I thought was a manhole cover standing up. As I jumped over it and turned back to curse the municipality, I saw the bump move. As I moved ahead keeping pace with Abhijeet I realized it was a man covered in a blanket sleeping at peace with himself on the sidewalk of this metro, the blanket for all purposes must have been donated by a corporate as part of their CSR activity.
The realization had a deep impact on me, in this world of high GDPs, ecommerce, digital revolution, giant infrastructures, here was still a man suffering for basic basic needs, no shelter, probably no food either . How do we improve the life of these poor and downtrodden? How do we reduce the inequality in the society? I had found the perfect example to push my point that while our developments have been commendable but still a lot more needs to be done at the ground level if we want the benefits of development to percolate down to every section of the society
I was just about start my version of the argument and was just about to interrupt Abhijeet when Dale Carnegie’s statement reverberated in my mind again “ No one ever won an argument” and “A man who has been convinced in an argument, is not convinced still “
I decided to keep quite and keep walking…..