Re: true abundance?

From: Chris Russo (
Date: Tue Jan 30 2001 - 08:30:25 MST

>I was referring to the population of the world when I said most
>people spend the majority of their time doing things they don't want
>to be doing. I've never been to China or India, but I've known
>people from both places. From what they tell me and from what I've
>read, it seems that the majority of the people there spend more time
>working than people in the US and most of the work is pretty tiring
>and definitely not what you'd call fun or uplifting.

Don't completely trust people who live in a country to give you an
objective opinion. I spent several months working in India about 6
years back, and I have a completely opposite opinion of the work
ethic there.

During my time in Hyderabad (large city toward the center of India),
I had a chance to observe a number of different classes of people in
their day-to-day lives.

My fellow Americans and I were absolutely astounded at the milling
around going on. You'd see large groups of the same men standing
around for hours during the day. At first, I thought the men
standing outside my window on the side of the road were waiting for a
bus or something, but soon, it became apparent that these guys were
just hanging out shooting the breeze. This was day after day,
everywhere we went. I'm not talking about one or two guys hanging
out on an isolated corner, I'm talking about clumps of dozens all up
and down the roads.

The engineers in our office were better, although I was a bit
surprised at the lack of drive and enthusiasm. We were a successful
American startup with Indian ownership, so we had good funding and
lots of "connections" to locals who could find good people,
equipment, etc. We had lots of modern workstations, tons of
documentation, a good Internet connection, and we let our engineers
know that we were more than willing to allow them after-hours and
weekend use of the computers for their own projects. The
universities that these guys attended had old crappy computers that
they could only get access to for a couple of hours a week. We were
offering them a technological playground, and making ourselves
available to teach them anything they wanted to learn.

They couldn't have cared less. For the most part, they came in,
worked their hours, then went home.

The only time we noticed any kind of dedication to work was with the women.
While the men were milling around talking, you'd see women going
about their duties - usually labor-intensive work, like sweeping
dirty streets with small straw brooms or scrubbing floors with rags.
Whenever a woman wasn't actually working, you could see that she was
going somewhere. You rarely saw a group of women just standing
around flapping their gums.

My boss (who spent two years there) was at a construction site, where
they were laying some bricks on the fourth floor. The people
carrying the bricks up the stairs were women - they had them stacked
upon their heads. Up where the bricks were being laid were about 5
times as many men as were needed to do the job, so the ones not
actually laying the bricks were just standing around talking. My
boss said, "Why are the women carrying all these bricks and the men
are laying them or just standing around?"

The response was, "Well, laying the bricks is 'skilled' labor." It's
really hard to keep a straight face in that country. The real reason
was that they have a comfortable little male-dominated society, and
they weren't interested in rocking their lazy-ass boat.

I could spend days detailing my experiences there and those of my
coworkers, but suffice it to say that India's problems aren't some
big magical mystery. They're not just the fault of their government
or their large population or the evil Western World. It's a failure
of the individuals of their society who embrace a culture of
ignorance, corruption, and getting the "other guy" to do their work
for them.


Chris Russo

"If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought 
or deed, I will gladly change.  I seek the truth, which never yet 
hurt anybody.  It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance 
which does harm."
              -- Marcus Aurelius, MEDITATIONS, VI, 21

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