Change in India comes from bottom of pyramid ( ‘Caste Busters’ from NY times Mag)

Hope NY times forgives me for reproducing this article without prior permission, but it is such a great article and important for those interested in India,

By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS

Published: December 30, 2010

New York Times Magazine

I came to Umred to write about a riot. A few months earlier, power blackouts that rural Indians always suffered silently triggered a violent reaction. Why? Umred was just another small town in the middle of nowhere, dusty and underwhelming. But Umred had begun to dream, townspeople told me, because of television, because of cousins with tales of call-center jobs and freedom in the city. Once Umred contracted ambition, blackouts became intolerable. A psychological revolution, a revolution in expectations, had taken place.

“Electricity is essential to ambition,” an energetic young man named Ravindra Misal explained to me, “because I need it to do my homework, I need it to listen to music if I am a dancer, I need it to listen to tapes of great speakers, I need it to surf the Internet. But I cannot, so people get angry.” Over plates of mutton and chicken, Misal and his friend Abhay offered examples of the little things that were changing in Umred: young men hunting online for wives, farmers’ sons deserting the farms to work at a bank in a nearby town, a deluge of students signing up for English classes. And beauty pageants. “I see Fashion TV on television, Miss India contests in the big cities,” Misal said. “So I thought, Why can’t we have that also?” And so he organized the first Mr. and Miss Umred Personality Contest, which seemed to be half about physical appearance and half about the communication skills that are all the rage in small-town India.

Misal embodies the type of person who will truly transform India: not an engineer or a financier, but an average person who refuses to be satisfied with the status he was born to. Umred rioted because its people had somehow acquired the courage of their own dissatisfaction. But what kind of India will they build?

The beauty contest was enough of a success for Misal to organize the second Mr. and Miss Umred Personality Contest just months later, which he invited me to attend. On plastic chairs in a gymnasium, eight women sat dressed as if for their weddings, with sequined saris in pink, green and orange, pinned with white laminated contestant number tags. The men took their inspiration from Bollywood gangster movies, leafy collars drooping over the lapels of their ill-fitting suits. Their belts, the belts of the Indian underclass, were too long for their waists, traveling all the way around their backs, such that two belts would have furnished enough leather for three men.

The pageant began with a talent contest. Some of the contenders, most of them engineers from local colleges, sang; some danced; others told jokes. All of them seemed to plagiarize television, which was their main portal to the world. The pouts were lifted from Fashion TV, the breast shimmying from Channel V, the joke timing from the Great Indian Laughter Challenge on STAR One.

After a Q. and A. session and a catwalk round, which involved men and women who were probably not allowed to have lunch with a member of the opposite sex strutting down a ramp, it was time to choose the winners. The judges whisperingly reached their verdict and came onstage. One by one, the contestants thanked them, their hands touching the judges’ feet. The two winners were announced and handed their prizes: 600 rupees each and a gold-colored tiara (including one for Mr. Umred). Two banners on the stage declaring the name of the contest were removed and, reimagined as sashes, tied around the winners’ torsos.

I realized that night as I watched Misal, dressed in a crisp white-and-purple shirt and a dark tie emblazoned with the crest of a family not his own, that he had made himself Umred’s ambassador of escape: part motivational speaker, part revivalist preacher of the gospel of ambition. When he established the Mr. and Miss Umred Personality Contest, he was not bringing a new idea to Umred so much as giving expression to an existing idea. What he understood was that the young craved an exit, and he had built a personal empire to serve that craving. Everyone knew Misal. Everyone, regardless of age, called him “sir.” To reach Nagpur or Pune or Mumbai, you had to seek his advice, learn English from his English academy, learn roller skating from his roller-skating academy, reach into his network of contacts, compete in his pageant, learn to dress and think and enunciate like him.

On the day after the pageant, Misal took me to a restaurant called Uttam, which, in the small-town Indian way, served every kind of Indian cuisine except the local cuisine. As he began to tell me his story, I learned that Misal swept into Umred not from above but from below – far below. He was born in a village called Bhiwapur, a half-hour drive from Umred. It is one of hundreds of thousands of such villages in India. His family lived in a three-room house with concrete walls, an outdoor latrine and a thatched roof. They had no land to cultivate, just a small yard with some anemic trees. His father worked as a laborer, loading foodstuffs on and off trucks. His mother was a farmhand. Neither parent advanced past fourth grade; they spoke Marathi but not Hindi. “We are daily-wages people,” Misal said, betraying elements of the old thinking that he hadn’t wholly shaken: daily wages as social identity, not economic circumstance. He grew up eating plates heaped with rice, covered with watery lentil dal, with a small dollop of chutney on the side to lend piquancy, and sometimes a thin piece of roti. From time to time, the family splurged on eggplants. They bought their clothes secondhand from the village bazaar, making them poor even by the standards of the poor. They rarely possessed more than a few hundred rupees in savings – less than $20 – almost enough for a one-way train ride to a neighboring state. Misal’s family lived in a particular area of the village, a mohalla, a ghetto. As Misal grew up, he learned that his mohalla was reserved for low-caste laboring families like his. Their caste, traditionally tasked with crushing oil seeds, stood some rungs above the untouchables, belonging instead to the bureaucratic category of “Other Backward Classes.”

He discovered his inferiority at school, noticing that the Jaiswals and Agarwals and Guptas, the children of merchants and shopkeepers, bought 2-rupee ice creams at recess, while his mohalla friends bought the 50-paise kind. He realized that when guest speakers came to the school, the children of daily-wages people were rarely chosen to introduce them. He noticed that at the wedding of a big man in Bhiwapur, he had to wait until the “guests” had eaten. “You come afterward,” he remembered being scolded. He used to watch his classmates roar into the schoolyard on the backs of their parents’ motorcycles. He did not even have the two modes of transportation below motorcycles on the Indian staircase of affluence: the bicycle and shoes. He wore no footwear until ninth grade. “Whenever I saw other people wearing expensive shoes and socks and slippers, I used to get very angry, and I felt very bad,” he said. “Why am I not getting all these things? Why only I don’t have all these things? And at that time I decided that I will earn great money, and I will remove my poverty. I considered poverty as a disease.”

This was not the old Indian orthodoxy: for Misal, the world was not illusion, maya; it was not enough simply to do one’s duty and do it well and be satisfied with what God gave. “I just believed that we all are equal human beings, so why do we have differences, as far as social status is concerned, economical status is concerned, social recognition and honor and respect?” he said. “What I used to believe every time is that if one person is getting something big, better and best, that should be my right.”

“Most Indians don’t think like that,” I interrupted.

“They don’t think like that,” he said. “They just want to compromise: it’s O.K., we’re having sufficient things; let’s be settled. But – I don’t know – right from the beginning, I had great anger of my poverty. The generations after me will not live this kind of life – that’s what I decided. I will change my destiny. I will be good. I will be rich.”

When Misal was in eighth grade, the village school held a public-speaking contest. He had never stood on a stage before. But now there he was, with hundreds of people sitting below him, watching. He spoke for five minutes; the crowd applauded three times. He discovered that night a power in himself that he had not known: to connect, to inspire, to cut into people’s hearts with his words. And, having contracted his thirst for money through its absence, he now felt the first rush of respect. “I felt that I am something different, I am something special,” he said.

Misal’s speech, which won the prize, was about the impact of television on society, and by that time a television bought by the family was having a great impact on Misal himself. He would spend hours each day watching “He-Man,” “Spider-Man” and “Batman,” piously balanced with the Hindutainment of the “Mahabharat” and “Ramayan” series. In Misal’s world, television was seen, even by parents, as a force of liberation. “TV is the very hi-fi form of everything,” Misal said. “It’s the extreme level of ideas, where they show you everything at top level, so that certainly gives you motivation. On TV you see the things of world-class standard. When you see some person on Discovery catching anaconda, you are looking at the best person in the world for catching anaconda. On TV we never see the strugglers or something like that; we see the people who have achieved what they wanted to be.”

For all his dreams, Misal was just another village kid who didn’t have connections and didn’t speak English, the language of success in the India that was beginning to flourish in the 1990s. At the end of 10th grade, he enrolled himself in an English-language school in Umred, the nearest town, even though he didn’t speak English. He and the other village kids sat in the back of the classroom gathering fragments of vocabulary and grammar day by day.

He graduated and moved on to a college in Umred, choosing business as his major. But he was working numerous odd jobs after school; the strains became too much, and he failed his second-year exams. He was kicked out.

In an earlier India, that might have been his story’s end: there were no second chances then, and there were no other routes upward. Knowledge was the rampart that protected the well-born from the rest. In an earlier age, that meant confining Sanskrit learning to the priestly castes; in more recent times, it translated into massive public investment in elite colleges and universities and the neglect of basic schooling for most Indians. Even today, the quality of instruction at all but the best institutions is miserable. And so if you were like Misal, you were probably not getting a very good education to begin with, even before an unforgiving examination system cut you loose.

But the ambitions stirring below created a market for a new breed of middle-class finishing schools. They catered to young people born into the lower orders, filled with dreams but shut out by the old system. The schools were often single-room institutions, taking cash only, with dubious teaching methods. The most common subject was English. It was not the archaic English curriculum of many Indian schools and colleges, with Shakespearean sonnets memorized and not understood. It was spoken English that could be used in the workplace, language the quick and dirty way. It gave students the idioms, vocabulary and placeless accent that would render your lowly origins untraceable in a land where so much could be deduced when you opened your mouth.

Misal coated himself with one finishing-school skill after another, learning everything from desktop publishing to how to be an electrician. One of the schools sensed his talent with people and hired him as a teacher, paying him 360 rupees a month. Another school soon poached him for more than double that amount. With the finishing-school cult spreading, the company even opened a branch in Bhiwapur. Misal was sent to manage a school there. He had left the village as the boy who ate last at weddings; he returned as that loftiest of Indian creatures, a teacher and, better still, a purveyor of new-economy skills. He was earning 1,800 rupees a month. He had become a big man.

On his 21st birthday, in September 2002, he bought a motorcycle. It was the first motorized vehicle owned in the history of his family. He drove it from the showroom to his home and took his mother for a spin around the village. “She didn’t say anything,” he recalled. “She just cried. And she said, ‘Take care of the bike.’ ”

Misal told me his favorite book was Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” with its tale of the writer’s poor childhood in Missouri, his contemplation of suicide and then his discovery of a talent for public speaking. “I have read that 28 times so far,” he said. “Whenever I feel nervous or depressed, I open that book.”

In 2004, Misal decided to return to Umred and become its Dale Carnegie – to start a finishing school of his own. He set up roller-skating classes and an event-management firm, but the heart of his work was a spoken-English academy. It offered 90 hours of classes over 45 days for just 1,000 rupees, the cost of a fancy meal in Mumbai. The students trickled in at first; then the trickle gathered into a gush and before long Misal was just about the most important and well-known young man in Umred.

A year after my visit to Umred, my phone buzzed with a text from Misal:

Sir, last couple of months are full of achievements 4 me. My 2 skating kids represented India in international skating comp in Belgium. It ws my greatest dream, turned into reality. I ws busy in passports, visas n other formalities. Nw im going 2 Hongkong 4 international Skating Championship as India team manager on sep 26. My life is transforming rapidly this time. My faith on my abilities raised. Its rising time 4me. My image is getting new shape. Im proving n improving at personal, social, family n financial areas nicely. At present im contributory english lecturer at 6 dif school n colleges. Im constructing my new home also.

The man never stopped.

I began to see self-invention as a theme of India’s unfolding drama. Misal, the shoeless son of a porter, was the manager of an Indian roller-skating team, was going to Hong Kong, was teaching at six colleges and was building a house.

We met again at a tea stall in Umred. He came on his motorcycle, dressed in a silk shirt with green and blue diagonal stripes and a vast collar, over black polyester pants streaked by a strong pinstripe. He ordered two cups of tea from the owner.

The English academy continued to do well, but it was his roller-skating classes that had really taken off. Roller skating was becoming a major pastime in small-town India, part of the new frenzy for competitions of any kind. Misal had signed a lucrative deal to be the area’s exclusive distributor of a brand of high-end skates that he recommended to his students. Meanwhile, he was becoming known as a groomer of great skaters. One day he got a call from the Roller Skating Federation of India. The group had heard of his skills as a teacher, the man on the line said, and they wanted to appoint him manager of the Indian national roller-skating team. Within weeks he was shepherding the team through Hong Kong, marveling at the skyscrapers and the armies of people dressed in coats and ties and dresses.

As he delivered this update, Misal received a phone call. It seemed, from the blend of swagger and nervousness in his voice, to be a call of love. The last time we met, I asked Misal about his romantic affairs and was surprised that, for all his daring, he was a dutiful Indian son on the question of marriage. He would marry a woman to his parents’ liking, chosen by them with the family’s interests in mind. This was the case across much of the society: young people bold and mutinous in matters of status and hierarchy, yet wholly willing to submit in this other sphere.

When his call ended, I asked who it was.

“That was my best friend.” Giggle.

“Best friend or girlfriend?”

“No, no, best friend, best friend.” Giggle. “Maybe girlfriend.”

I asked if we could meet her. We drove to a school, just outside of town, where she was the supervisor of teachers and he was a lecturer in English. On the way, he told me that they were friends but that he was “willing” to be more and that maybe it would happen someday soon. She was also an aspiring trainer and public speaker; she, too, emceed events like the pageant. He insisted I not publish her full name, so I will call her Miss S.

“Since we are coming together by means of this profession, she is getting much popular, she is getting improved, her personality is getting much fragranced – she said many times to me,” he said. “She is getting very much P.R.,” he added. “She gives all credit to me for that. She says, ‘You’re in my life, and that’s why there are so many changes occurring.’ And I always say: ‘You deserve it. I’m just the medium, maybe.’ And she always says, ‘You are the best motivator I’ve ever had.’ ”

We walked into the school and into the principal’s office, where Miss S. was sitting with the principal. She was short and pretty, wearing boxy metal-framed glasses and a white salwar kameez with printed flowers. She was the second-ranking official at the school, but I noticed that she called Misal “sir.” As we made conversation with the principal, she stayed silent. When the principal gushed to me about Misal’s galvanizing effect on Umred, she grinned quietly.

I accompanied them on an errand of hers, to print out and mail some forms. They both got out of the car at the post office and asked me to wait. A few minutes later Miss S. returned on her own. I sensed that she wanted to talk. But when I asked about her relationship with Misal, she instantly became shy. Then something in her stirred, and she said that she liked him very much but that it was complicated. They had met in the computer institute where he used to teach; she was one of his students. She was enchanted by his lectures. “As a person, I like him very much,” she said. “Caring. Hard worker. He has a helping nature. I call him ’sir’ because I met him first as a teacher.”

When I asked if they had a future together, she demurred. Then, perhaps realizing the back-channel possibilities I offered, she said she had thought about marrying him, but he had never spoken of any feelings for her. Her mother, meanwhile, was opposed to the notion. They were from the same caste and even the same subcaste. But they were not from the same sub-subcaste. They were the descendants of oil-seed crushers of different varieties. This could be overcome, but it would require some labor, so Misal had to make up his mind.

I promised Miss S. that I would see what I could do.

On the outskirts of Umred there was a restaurant called Machan, whose village theme, including the terra-cotta ox cart in the muddy courtyard, suggested an anticipatory nostalgia for the world now evaporating. During lunch, Misal took call after call, struggling to look up from his Nokia.

I asked him about Miss S. “She’s my first love,” he said. “I never had such kind of feelings for someone before.”

A moment later, he added, “I’m thankful to God that he has put that love feeling in my heart.” He didn’t know if she felt the same. I suggested that perhaps she didn’t know how he felt.

Then it seemed to dawn on Misal that she might have been dropping hints for some time. “Many times she talks about marriage – in general,” he said, reflecting as he spoke. “She says, ‘I will not get a good husband; I don’t know what kind of husband will I get.’ Then I ask her, ‘What kind of husband do you want?’ So maybe she wanted to tell me her expectations through that.” He was now listening to himself as carefully as I was listening to him.

“I will get married in two years,” he said rather abruptly. “It’s planned already. That’s the age of 30. At that time, I will have many things: my house, my vehicle, a couple of international tours.”

But when did he intend to reveal this plan to her?

“Obviously, I will tell her,” he said. “I will just tell her that I love her and that I would like to marry her – after completion of my home. That is the most important priority and responsibility at present for me.”

“But you can tell her before also,” I said. “You don’t have to marry her now, but you can tell her before. Otherwise, she’ll get married to someone else.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Why are you so fixed about two years from now?” I asked. “If you love someone, wouldn’t you put that first?”

“There are so many goals,” he said, “and I have my sequence set.”

I went to see Misal teach the next day. He was a commanding figure in the classroom. He paced around the room, only a decade older than his students but, unlike them, a man of his own making, at peace in his skin. They sat before him in their half-sleeved shirts and ties and white tube socks and black shoes, listening raptly.

The first class was ostensibly in English communication; the second was in D.L.S., as Misal called it – development of life skills. But all his classes were really just different versions of what was now known as the “personality development” curriculum in India, which taught everything from how to pronounce words to what to wear to an interview, from how to work in teams to how to build self-confidence. It was what the call centers and high-technology firms insisted on: they claimed to receive too many rsums from brilliant engineers who could not string together a coherent sentence, could not work with others, could not make a presentation, could not calm an angry customer.

Personality development was very alien to the traditional Indian world. Hinduism had always cultivated a sublimation of the self, aimed at realizing moksha, or liberation, through transcendence and renunciation of the material world, which Hindus saw as illusion. But more than that, it was the social fixedness of Indian life that had limited the usefulness of a compelling personality. Your station in life was said to be determined by karma. Your position in the family was determined by your sex and birth order, not by your skills or manners. Your early peer relationships were with cousins more than friends. Your marriage was organized by others, based on family reputation, not on your charm.

Misal, like the students he taught, was in revolt against the old fixedness. But once that revolt was complete, a person could find himself utterly alone. Under the traditional system, a person at least had a domain of certainties. He knew which foods were his foods. He knew which things his people considered to be polluting. He had a way of gesturing and an accent. And so when he chose to strike out as a self-made man, he would need – even before a job and a house and a car – the rudiments of selfhood. He would need to develop a personality.

Misal fired up his motivational energies for the students, who were in their late teens, a light black fuzz darkening the boys’ faces. “There is always gap at the top,” he said, and it took three things to get there: knowledge, attitude and skill. Today’s lesson was SWOT analysis, by which business executives around the world assess a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But here in Umred, SWOT was part of the relentless cultivation of the self. “SWOT is the method by which we can evaluate ourselves,” a lanky teenage boy stood up to say when Misal asked for a definition.

And I had a sense, from this and earlier visits to Indian finishing schools, of a generation being trained rather than educated. They knew nothing about industry, art, history, literature, science.

There were now hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Indians who were making this bargain and adopting this focus. And they were liberating India. But I wondered what kind of country they would make when there were enough of them to change its essential character. Their heads were filled with SWOT analysis and ways to win friends and influence people, not with the tolerance of Asoka, the poetry of Kabir, the universalism of Tagore.

As Misal drove me to the airport, he asked for advice. It was a request for feedback, a foreign corporate practice imported into this setting. I told him that my suggestion would be to have a well-rounded idea of life, to pursue interests other than his own success, to be humble, to keep space for friends and family and love. And I realized, even as my words poured out, and in the moments of silent incomprehension that followed, how empty and out of tune they must have sounded. Misal did not have the luxury of broadening his vision, because if he lost focus, the world of degradations that he had escaped would be delighted to take him back.

Some days after leaving Umred, I received a text message from Misal: “Bad news! Miss S. denied my love. Her parents r fixing her marriage with some1 else. I think she is unwilling 4 this. Bt cant resist against family.”

When she spoke to me in the car, in secret, it was perhaps a last, hopeless attempt. She gave him the opportunity; now she was gone. She refused even to talk to him. He begged me to call her, which seemed like a terrible idea. But he said that his very life was at stake and that he needed my support. So I called. Her answer, in five words, resolved all ambiguities. “I love my family more.”

When Misal showed me the thousands of text messages he had stashed in his computer, sent and received, they seemed to brim with borrowed emotions: made-up sayings, quotations from people they scarcely knew, like Abraham Lincoln.

If you find your self in a dark room + vibrating walls and full of blood, then don’t worry. You are at safe place, you are in my heart!

LOVE is 4 LIFE. LIFE is not 4 LOVE. LOVE may fail in LIFE. LIFE should never fail in LOVE. So dnt spoil LIFE in LOVE. But dnt 4get 2 LOVE in LIFE!

Ice is a cream, luv is a dream, bt frndship is ever green. Dont mak frnds b4 understanding, & dont break ur frndship after misunderstanding.

Ninety percent of the messages appeared to be forwards. It was as if they had so much to say to each other, and no language of their own in which to say it.

Now Misal would suffer for a time. Then he would continue down the path of becoming everything that India once told boys like him they could not be.

43 Responses to “Change in India comes from bottom of pyramid ( ‘Caste Busters’ from NY times Mag)”

  1. Chaitali Shah says:

    So there is hope for India….Happy New Year to all!!

  2. TWINS says:

    MINDBLOWING

  3. AJ says:

    Happy New Year 2011 to Everyone

    ?*??* HApPy New YeAr *??*

    ??????????????????????????????
    ??????????????????????????????
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  4. Arumugham S. says:

    Amazing post by New York Times Magazine. Thankyou for sharing. With more than 72% of youth in rural India, Initiatives like these by the youth for the bottom of the pyramid is a good sign for India’s prosperous growth.

  5. Chakra says:

    A text book case study of brown coconuts; as Rudra Bhairav ji has aptly described previously 🙂

  6. kedar says:

    Certainly inspiring! loved it!

  7. Neeraj says:

    Thanks for sharing.
    What a guy!
    I wish the powers that be in India would honour Misal for the change he is bringing to India at the village level.
    These are the real treasures of India!

  8. Amazingly honest article! Beautifully written ! reveals an India many Indians might have developed a blind spot to.

    Reading it generated mixed feelings in me.

    One the one hand I admire and feel happy for the “success” of Misal through his sheer determination, and the new energy and feeling of empowerment that he is experiencing which must be alien to his parents and community

  9. On the other hand I wonder if this success will continue to make him feel happy and at peace in the years to come as the parameters of this success is being set by factors not based on heart based enduring values.

  10. brahmastra says:

    What a pathetic story!! Typical fodder for the pseudo-intellectuals and pretentious wannabes. This clown Misal is only entering the gates of hell with a surge in material desires. At the spiritual level, he is enforcing his identity with the body, thereby increasing his ego or ahamkara, as he says somewhere that he wants everything bigger and richer. As fluffy as this story sounds about some lower-caste person climbing the social ladder, it is merely the process of evolution which is intensifying this clown Misal’s ego so he can get the social status and possessions he desires along with the suffering attached to it, and then someday he will realize his follies, and yearn to be back to square one.

    All the enlightened masters say that the inner Self is perfectly content as a servant or a king. It is a mere witness completely in peace by itself, independent of social stature or possessions. The caste system in its time was one of the best formulas of social engineering the world has ever seen, but the rise in ego across all levels outdated it.

    But such pathetic stories should not serve as inspiration. It is just more bait from the maya.

  11. kavitha says:

    Misal’s story is both inspiring and moving…success and failure walk hand in hand,

    If youd like a peek into the dark side of what happens at the bottom of the pyramid, and an innovative approach to escape desperate poverty, read on

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main47.asp?filename=Ne201110Maariyamma.asp — a very disturbing reality

  12. Trupti says:

    Best. Thanks.

  13. Mr. India says:

    Sirji ,
    Its high time you make a Dhasoo movie on Bihar , after Dabanng and Rajniti we want to see more of good Bihari stories in bollywood .
    Thanks
    Mr. India

  14. Dear Mr. Kapur,

    At IIM Ahmedabad, there is a course “Contemporary Issues in Films (Business Perspective)”. I take the sessions regarding censorship, Intellectual Property and law. I use the Supreme Court judgment about the film “Bandit Queen”, however, I have not been able to get a DVD/CD in the market.

    I would like to request you to kindly let me know from where can I get it.

    Thanks and regards,
    Anurag
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dr. Anurag K. Agarwal
    LL.M. (Harvard), LL.D. (Lucknow)
    Faculty – Business Policy Area
    IIM, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad – 380015, India
    Tel: +91-79-66324916
    ———————
    Book released on 11th Dec: “Business and IP” http://iimabooks.com/book-detail.aspx?bookid=1

  15. Vaishak Buddha says:

    Yes, yes ,very honest. I was figuring out why India was always the colony for west. Most of our people can’t think deep. The story of a young man told in this post, sounds like a stupid story knitted for spreading american cultural imperialism into india in larger scale. The writer was so stupid that he incoporated all the elements of american cultural imperialists and made it too moronic without any creativity. There was fashion tv, channel v and he-man spider man. Let me tell you a few things. I wont waste my time thinking over this. Just a few words

    farmers sons deserting the farms to work at a bank in a nearby town
    Wow…what an example for modern corportization… So the envoironment loving shekhar wants our agriculture sector will be stopped forever..oh, america will buy them out and we can buy foods in packets from them,right ? in big prices ? no no, america is our god !

    a deluge of students signing up for English classes. And beauty pageants.

    Ha Ha Ha…..

    Misal embodies the type of person who will truly transform India:

    Yes, yes, a third hander, who try to copy everything he watched on television is the new hope for India. He doesn’t have the maturity or knowledge to think for himself and this mahatma is going to tranform india ? To what ? a colony of america ? From the beginning of eveything, Non creative indians were copying everything what americans do. They make z graded version of american films and this guy who starts a bit late is the person to transform India ? WoW, super brain, great brain…I will be grateful to you forever for this, shekhar

    He would spend hours each day watching He-Man, Spider-Man and Batman, piously balanced with the Hindutainment of the Mahabharat and Ramayan series.

    WoW, when Maha Bharath and ramayan are Hindutainments, he man and spider man are so authentic,natural entertainment. They are not called as Americaintment or Westentertainment. Wow, what a guy ? what a guy ? The guy who writes this column is paid to write a completely western biased article for the news paper ? what’s your interest, film maker ?

    Misal told me his favorite book was Dale Carnegies How to Win Friends and Influence People, with its tale of the writers poor childhood in Missouri,

    Oh my god, my feet is wobbling, I can’t take it anymore !

    He set up roller-skating classes and an event-management firm, but the heart of his work was a spoken-English academy.

    In umred ? What to say ? My god… I can’t take this and i stopped reading it here…i can’t go forwards…

    So It proves that we shouldn’t think by our own intelligence and understanding and what we should do is to just copy it from west. and we should always be their slaves mentally. Mental slavery is harder than physical slavery because in physical slavery, there are possibilities of escape but in mental slavery, there is nothing but gradual destruction. Don’t anyone of you want Indian green as it is now ? We already had killed our forests and agriculture sector ..what more ?

    I salute the good old Indians who appreciated this post because i feel like crying now. i was born here. Why should I ? in such a place, where people are thinking like retards ? How long you will succumb into this materialism ? Why west want to rule the world ? Why can’t they be happy in their own land ?

    In future, there is only one culture, and that will be American. In future, there will be no innocence and honesty because of the negative shades of that culture. In future, there will be no thought called ‘India’.

    When all you embrace western culture like this, i want to repeat telling the quote of a honest west philosopher [ to impress you , you only like western stuff, right ?’

    “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” – Santayana

  16. Vaishak Buddha says:

    This is the trick of the western people. They chose this ‘misal’ kind of people who are greedy and cunning. There are good number of them in any town or village. They want to copy their superiors in the city and they will allow anything to happen in their country ,without knowing that in the end,that it will affect them also. A lot of Indians betrayed and opposed India’s freedom struggle. They were indians, They were villagers.

    Being a person from a Village is not the qualification to be morally right ,always !

    Then, If they are waging their war from Indian villages, they are going to win it ,for sure. Wow, I still remember Mr Micheal Crichton said [again western reference for impressing poor indians]

    “In future, there is going to be only one culture and it is very dangerous because such an atmosphere may lay seeds for something like Nazism’. – this is what he said in an interview about cultural imperialism.

    If you are not still convinced, i want you to read a human right essay written by an american girl [and she won the contest for this essay] about her country’s cultural imperialism. Please check it out. If you spend time to watch this made up, z grade story, please spend time to read this first class essay which won the human rights essay competition, please.

    http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/essay3mayjune04.pdf

  17. Vaishak Buddha says:

    Shekhar,

    what change you are talking about…It is Cocacolonization, man and you know it ! I am sorry to say that you are corrupted,shekhar. After India became a colony, you may keep blogging about intruder nation’s bad activities on it as you comment on Iraq’s sorrow. But what use , dude ?

    India has got brains,but very few and I , am one of them

    Vaishak BUddha

  18. brahmastra says:

    Sachin Tendulkar, and several celebrities, sell themselves to Coke Inc to help this stupid, ruthless and unethical corporation market its poison to the Indian masses. The success of Coke is a textbook example of how the gullible human minds can be easily baited by the Maya to consume a waste product by camouflaging it in glamour. Bravo Sachin!!

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/series-tournaments/sachin-tendulkars-half-century-of-centuries/Coke-strikes-3-year-deal-with-Sachin-for-nearly-Rs-20-crore/articleshow/7223074.cms

    The above villager is going to turn out to be far worse. True inspirational stories should be where core spiritual values are imbibed in and displayed by Indians, not such shallow crap.

    Vaishak Buddha, yes it is true that “American” culture is shallow or more punch drunk in Maya in comparision to other cultures, and that culture is spreading like a virus. However, it cannot really be attributed only to America, it exists in varying degrees everywhere, and is the culture of all those who lack a thorough grounding in their inner selves, like these wannabes and insecure Indian slaves. Some of these slaves are the kind who think that British Raj was good because they built the railways.
    However, the prime crime of these slaves is that, in this pseudo-democracy, they get to choose the government, and they have chosen one in their reflection with a stupid, corrupt Italian waitress as their slave-master.

  19. kedar says:

    All this discussion in ENGLISH!…When Yusuf Pathan cant speak properly in English it is ‘Pathetic’, when Toyota’s CEO cant speak in English it is ‘Patriotic’…Is MISAL at fault or rest of high profile India which created this dream for him which he saw through TV, Films, magazines?…I am out of the race…i have my cunning naughty mind to defeat! cheers!

  20. Mike says:

    Vaishak Buddha everyone has a brain, even you but it seems yours is up yours a$$. BTW had you used what you have for a brain, you’d realized the story is about human beings achieving their “own” dreams regardless of the odds they are up against. Again this was Misal’s dream, not “your” dream for him.

  21. Vaishak Buddha says:

    And…..

    The Writer of this article is kid born and brought up in United States and He knows nothing about India. I goggled it up ! I can see that all his thoughts were of a purely American conservative. I don’t know why these people promote such article written by people who don’t know about India.

    People won’t listen to words of my kind of the people who born and brought in India and knows India. We talk for India while these rich American kids are speaking it for their own country. For them, India is just a colony from where they can make most fortune possible .

    I am fed up with these people who have no Understanding of things !

  22. brahmastra says:

    Sonia Gandhi = Italian Mayawati
    Both are corrupt, indulgent, greedy peasants that are looting the money belonging to millions of Misals and poor of India. Yet, these low-caste people vote for the UPA. It is said by credible sources that 60% of the bribes from the 2G scam were wired to the accounts of Sonia Maino’s 2 sisters Nadia and Anushka. These 3 sisters fly in and out of Dubai on private jets, and are aided in such scams by several corrupt and anti-national elements there.

    All Indians should read the information in the below link to bring about real change in India:
    http://www.janataparty.org/pressdetail.asp?rowid=59

  23. kedar says:

    @Bramhastra….every political party and member is corrupt…but i agree that congress is the most corrupt party…the only reason why lower caste people vote UPA is because they feel they are being treated equals in UPA rule…they feel the party especially BJP is pro-bramhin and hence not for them…

    i have observed that in reality most of the bramhins dont have any caste issue in their mind any more…there are outrageously pathetic orthodox bramhins but very few…most of them are of progressive thinking…

    i have observed especially in Maharastra that Khatriyas-Maratha are the biggest bramhin haters and they are busy absorbing many lower castes into Maratha i.e. Khatriya category just for vote bank…

    These is the predominant reason they still vote UPA…

    as of 2010, there are 6000 castes and sub castes all over India!…

    Congress has sold our soul to western life style long back( started with Neharu)…now there is no coming back…the route ahead is difficult and we can not directly jump to Vaidic life style…

    Varna system has completely collapsed…but it is the most effective system to run any society and will be restored eventually…the tags would be different but system will be same…

    all over the world irrespective of nationality, caste and creed people are turning towards Natural Life style and these are the people who will help bring a positive change…

  24. brahmastra says:

    kedar,

    That’s a credible analysis.

    BJP is working on being more caste-inclusive, and that is really good. All secular muslims, sufis, christians etc should also be welcomed. This is the true essence of Hindutva. BJP – and especially the RSS – are probably the best socio-political outfits in the entire world. India is lucky to have selfless, values-driven social-service workers like the RSS. Indians need to look through the nasty images that are painted of these parties in the media by the political mafia that thrives on anti-hindu sentiment.

    As far as the divide between Marathas and Brahmins, this is again the brain-child of that anti-national buffoon Sharad Pawar. It is a miracle that this criminal mafioso is roaming around as a social leader. The NCP has always been trying to destabilize and divide the Marathi Hindus in Maharashtra. The recent antic being the creation of Sambhaji Brigade which was involved in removing the statue of Shivaji’s Brahmin teacher Kondadev in Pune. This outfit has been specifically created to polarize the Marathas against Brahmins. This criminal Pawar has also caused deep damage to the Indian economy in more ways than one by scams in the agriculture and crop export/import industry. However, this Maratha-Brahmin division strategy will backfire.

    As you said, Varna system may come back in a new incarnation. The society will function well only when wise, selfless, ascended (sattvic) people are leading it. How these people are going to find their way back to the top like in the glory days..that only time will tell.

  25. brahmastra says:

    This is another example of the anti-hindu machinery at work. Even the Supreme Court now has the audacity and arrogance to judge ascended rishis from the ancient times in relation to some petty crimes committed in a village:

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dronacharyas-act-was-shameful-says-SC/articleshow/7226157.cms

  26. Vaishak Buddha says:

    @ Kedar,

    Castes in Hindu Religion is a product of politicians among them to promote their own people to power forever. In the beginning, in the times of great sages, there were no caste system. It came deliberately from the minds of evil people and that is the biggest hurdle for your religion to prosper. You can thank your gods for not ruining your religion forever because the chaos the chathur varna brought this country can’t be explained by the words.

    Chathur Varnya is a system which is dead long before and for people of your kind can worship its death anniversary in the coming decade. Abolishment of such dividing systems is one thing we need to learn from West, not the free sex and pub culture. Who are the people on the top in your caste system Mr Kedar. What is their qualification to be on top ? What is their qualification to be called as ‘Brahmins’.

    The word ‘Brahmin’ represents one who knows the brahman – mean one who knows the super power that design the universe.If you want to know the ‘cosmic force’, you need to do away with your Himalayan Ego. Then if you take yourself ‘Brahmin’, that itself makes you a ego mountain and thus , it makes your vision distorted.Why lower castes should be untouchables. If they didn’t sweat in fields and in all other profession that you,divine men, don’t take up, you will be died out of Cholera and plague. In my opinion, a brahmin [a ordinary man belong to that caste] should worship these people for cleaning their garbage.Otherwise these ‘Kulakshetras’ will die out of the most dreaded diseases in the world. It is science and it is of nature, the ego mountains can’t escape it. And when they die out of those diseases, they wont look like ‘Kulakshetras’.

    there are people who hate people of forward castes. I want to say, these outrageously orthodox people and they,are in the same boat. In fact, they should love each other and form a party, then they can abolish the whole world because they are most evil gang of the planet.

    Now you may attack me saying that i am of a low caste. Ha Ha, No i born in a forward caste but once i followed OSHO and other Zen teachings, i understood the whole politics game in the Hinduism and left it almost.

    Kim sharma, urvashi sharma,Deepika padukone are Brahmins according to their castes. Aishwarya Rai , even though, her caste is of fedual lords and counted as ‘forward caste’, it is in the ‘Shudra’ section, according to Chathur Varnya. She is a Bunt which is a caste of feudal lords in Karnataka. This is the same with Marathas and Telugu reddys. They were not Shudras by proffession. Caste system came in the order of proffession. Now these castes were never did any proffession of a shudra but they were ruling their places . Then they have to be called as ‘kshatriyas’. Why Brahmins didn’t allow them the status ? That is called ‘political games’ of castes.

    And My point is , Among All these actresses i mentioned, Aishwarya is far more superior in the terms of Brain and beauty. So where is your Brahmin divinity. babes ?

    Only because of this term ‘Brahmin’, a good number of stupid people in our society can feel themseleves as superior and hurt other people.

    Jai Ho, India, Jai Ho , your people !

  27. salu says:

    Best wishes Ravindra Misal……….

    n thanks mr sk for introducing such wonderful personalities….

    salu.

  28. kedar says:

    @ Vishak Buddha…You id should be Vishak BUDDHU and not BUDDHA!… lol… read my comment again and see for urself that i am not boasting about Bramhin superiority…

    i clearly mentioned that Varna system is the best system to run any society…And also said what we had as Varna system has collapsed long time back…when it was in existence and was working properly never there was a rule of attaching Varna on basis of birth…each individual had choice to test his own capacity and then Varna was attached to him…as there are tigers in the jungles there are Swans too…why it worked for a long time because no matter what Varna tag you carry you had privilege to live a normal sophisticated life…we were a prosperous society back then…economic disparity was nil at that time…economic distinction was there…but like in affluent western societies like Scandinavian countries even lower rung people had enough of material wealth to lead a respectable life…
    it is as simple as organization structure of any multi national…there is hierarchy in it but even the lower grade professional gets paid enough so that he can lead a normal life…

    well…then i also said that new world is emerging where people are no more bound by nationality, caste or creed…

    @ Bramhastra…it seems you are well informed about Maharashtra politics…Yes SHARAD PAWAR it is!…He is like Constantine Demiris aka Costa (The other side of Midnight, memories of midnight : Sheldon)!
    # Stamp scam: Telgi was shouting in narco test ‘Pawar…bhujabal’…video stopped playing on channels and media focus went to Malegon Blast!
    # Raj Thakre is fan of Pawar…( ideologies dont match but funds can come from any where!)
    Something similar to Vasant rao-Bal thakre equation?…After all Shiv Sena was called as VASANT SENA as a joke back then…
    # Sudhar Naik then CM was behind mumbai underworld to wipe them out…many secrets were coming out…suddenly he had to resign…In March 93 Pawar came back to state from center( he was defense minister at that time) and became CM for the 3rd (?) time…same month Bombay was rocked by 13 monstrous blasts!…

    There has been and there will be blood and more blood on the pages of history…such is the destiny of a race called ‘Human’…

  29. Neeta says:

    Misal is uplifting himself and others through pouring his passion into his work and inspiring others. Him and others like him deserve our full support and admiration.

    I hope he never veers towards wrongful materialism or bitterness but continues to be driven by the inspiring energy as he is now.

    The world has but one culture. We walk in it and breathe in it and it walks through us and breathes through us. Misal is living this culture more than any other.

  30. kedar says:

    ‘awaiting moderation’…delete it if possible…too provocative…re read it and not much happy of what i have written…too much explosive information with out solid PROOF…well more information is there but it has spread from mouth to mouth from close authentic sources…dont want to get started with that…speculations dont work in real world…discussion is getting ugly…sorry for the trouble…

  31. shekhar says:

    kedar, i thing your piece is fine, if you will allow it, i will publish it

  32. kavitha says:

    The architecture of varnashrama dharma is the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, politicized and dehumanized concept. Thanks to British colonists’ [mis]interpretation & labeling as a ‘caste’ system to serve their own ‘divide & rule instincts’, the shallow, degraded, adulterated & divisive connotations continue…

  33. kedar says:

    ok Sir!…some of the information i noted down may be a baseless rumor but the truth is that that politicians use a red ink called Blood to play the dirty game of Power!

    Pls publish it… ‘OPEN SOURCE’ rocks! ty!…

    PS: this is the reason i call u ‘DUDE’!

  34. Vaishak Buddha says:

    Hi Kedar,
    I may be a Buddhu and I am ready to accept it. Thanks for being such an intelligent person. And I must tell my special thanks to the hypocrite who sit down there to upload the crap content in the name of blog, publishing content only that suit to his taste,edit all the other content like a tyrant, allow even reaction including abusing comments if his purpose is fulfilled and act like the savior of the world by moaning about the world problems through blog. But He would go on asking for a debit card swiping machines to the boys who sell dolls in street. He would go on making fun of people’s poverty but he is angel. They hypocrite never eat and sleep just because of the ‘water problem’ and ‘global warming’. The whole idea of that pseudo hypocrite will backfire once an intelligent scientist comes up with an idea to solve the ‘water scarcity’. Until that point, hypocrite and his bunch of disciples can go on making fun of people on street, then moan for the world in the blog and promote American Cultural Imperialism in other countries.

    “I am just a Buddhu, But I am no hypocrite. I dont have to be one’

  35. Vaishak Buddha says:

    @Kedar,

    The History of caste system that you wrote, was known to me before you wrote it. I want to ask you, why you need a tag. You are just a human being, isn’t that enough for you ?

    ………

  36. brahmastra says:

    kedar,

    Yes, Aamchi Maati Aamchi Mansa!! I tend to have an affinity for Maharashtra. The reason Mumbai hasn’t turned into a Delhi is because of the soft and rich culture of Maharashtrians. The separatists like Raj Thackeray and Pawar have been effectively destroying the brotherhood among the Marathi people. The day these people are brought out on the streets, stripped off all their assets and thrown into prison would mark the real rise of India.

  37. brahmastra says:

    A great discussion of ancient and modern India including the caste system with Dr. Subramanian Swamy and CTS Canada. This is the first of 9 parts on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUJrgPjp8sw

  38. kedar says:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfmidj_underwater-worlds-3-ancient-aliens-dwaraka_webcam

    All of you please see this fascinating link…

    My comment on the video:

    may be something like world war plus natural calamities washed away ancient civilization…well so we too were sophisticated…may be…saddest past is that humanity lost vital link to KNOWLEDGE BASE!…VADIC life style based on Natural Rules of Nature…above religion, cast and creed!

  39. kavitha says:

    naivet?attempting to understand the semantic nuances between ‘Hinduism’ vs. ‘Hindutva’. anybody?

  40. kedar says:

    @ Vaishak…Are Tags necessary? …well…ab mai kya bolu? whats in the name!

    Are Societies necessary in the first place?…even Tribal people have societies and they run them in an orderly fashion…how to run any society in an orderly fashion with out tags is beyond my tiny brain’s capacity to grasp…

    Tags are necessary…Tags used for power game are absolutely unnecessary…

    but then do we need societies in the first place?…do we need to be civilized in the first place?…well …Societies: we dont need them…but we form them…we dont require them…but we build them…and we will keep doing this again and again…Yogis dont need them…So an individual is always free!

    @bramhastra….hahaha…amchi mati amchi manse! There was program of that name on DD…hilarious!

  41. brahmastra says:

    kedar,

    Great link. I’m amazed that David Hatcher Childress was featured in that mainstream piece. That guy is the real life Indiana Jones, and has made some fascinating discoveries that will change the boxed mode of common existential thought.

    Why is a mammoth discovery like Dwarkha not popularized in India to the extent that it deserves to be? Indians need to spend on archeology and unearth the facts of our ancient civilizations dating back to Ramayan and Mahabharat. These were real events and NOT mythology as the foreign occupiers made the Indians believe. All this will happen only if the anti-hindu machinery is dismantled.

  42. Blognostic says:

    Caste-ism is a dominant hindrance in rural areas.

    Government needs to slowly remove the rich people from caste list and retain only the poor in caste list, for economic and educational benefit.

  43. Florrie Speh says:

    It might surprise you to know how much I wanted to read this article. Your beliefs are well timed! Thank you for that! Warm Regards!

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