As the Thanksgiving week approaches in the USA, many would wonder what relevance it has to India. More so, you will wonder what the title of the article has to do with it!
Thanksgiving is not just an American phenomenon. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated also in Canada, some of the Caribbean islands, and even of all places, Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan, and of course, not to forget our own country India. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.
With what is going on in our country, I think it is time to celebrate the same in India, possibly the way it is celebrated in the USA for the past many decades. That’s the time of the year Americans say “Thanks” to their parents, relatives, friends, clients and mentors. Though now not really connected just with the harvest, Thanksgiving connects families and many people working together. You see children coming home to their parents for a great family dinner at least this time of the year, and it is the time when you see a huge surge in traffic on the interstate highways, the airports etc.
Thanksgiving “per se” / by itself, is what Indians have almost forgotten. That is precisely what we must start learning and training young people in this country. If you watch the TV debates on various channels in India, what are we getting known for?: Insulting others, Criticising others, Backstabbing, Playing office politics, Corruption, Open fights- physical or otherwise, reckless and mannerless driving , misbehaviour towards women ? ( in comparison, watch the polite way in which debates happen on BBC and CNN ) . This is the best sign of a country deteriorating in ethics and public behaviour.
Today, we aren’t able to appreciate a single thing that is going on in our country. We are not able to applaud any good work done by anyone. We have also stopped appreciating good manners and propagating the same. All that the younger generation is now learning is, how to find faults, how to make more money, how to become more popular, how to push others behind to go ahead. We are not able to develop basic courtesies in life, have basic manners in place and follow basic public rules. From the way top political leaders talk in TV debates and argue in a manner less way, with even some political leaders going overseas and criticising our own countrymen openly, industrialists looting banks and disappearing abroad, down to the ordinary citizen not following basic traffic rules and courtesies, all these are signs that from top to bottom we are a society that has no basic grooming in place or we have lost all the values we had.
My personal experiences were a number of relatives who came for a number of years to my home when I was a kid to seek help and financial assistance. That was definitely at some cost which affected my education and life as well as during those frugal times, even any amount was a big packet. After their motives were achieved they never even bothered to inquire about my family. I always thought that it was a one-off incident. As I progressed to my job and business, I saw it happen unfortunately everywhere.
To ensure that we change over years and not get recognised as “one of the fastest growing and possibly the largest economies BUT with the least of morals, ethics and manners, the time has come to revamp our education system- from KG to PG!
We need more IITs, IIMs, IAS, IPS, IES and IRS and the likes. Surprising ? Not at all. I mean we do not really need any more of the elite institutes producing well-paid monsters who possibly make a difference to their own pockets, BUT we need on every Indian street- Indian Institutes of Thanksgiving, Indian Institute of Manners, Indian Appreciation Services, Indian Privacy Services, Indian Ethical Services and Indian Reciprocation Services. We need to change the mindset, manners and behavioural training of our future generations, starting from school level. We need basic changes in our society for the masses and not just focus on imparting high-level education for a small fraction of our society. The change in our behaviour will take us a long way for future and future generations to come. It is time to focus on the basics. We need a huge cultural change happening all across the society to take this great nation forward. Otherwise, we are bound to have a tagline very soon….”Just economic development, no ethics”.
Have a Thanksgiving weekend beginning 23rd November at your home this year. Let’s begin from home, thanking all those who mattered in your life right from your early days. Why celebrate only Valentines Day?
Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar