Mr. Anand Mahindra, it’s time we accept the reality of creativity in India

Apple’s much understated co-founder, Steve Wozniak suddenly found much fame in India by creating a stir last week. In an interview, he claimed that the Indian education system lacks creativity which makes a person’s success dependent on getting a job rather than thinking uniquely by and for themselves. For him, this is a major reason for India’s unemployment woes.

steve wozniak

On first reading, this is not something unheard of before. In our country, successful films like 3 Idiots have focussed on this issue so that something can be done to solve it. However, in a world where everyone thinks they have the freedom of expression, they take to social media to voice out their opinions.  A certain Mr. Anand Mahindra, the celebrated chairman of the Mahindra Group of companies, did the same albeit in response to Wozniak’s comments.

As much as he is highly respected and intellectual in the world of business, I dare say that his Tweet actually proved how correct Wozniak is.

‘I love it when such comments are made. Nothing like a sweeping stereotype to get our juices flowing & prove it wrong. Thanks Come back soon. We’ll make you sing a different tune…’

There is a difference between being patriotic and sensible; both may not go hand in hand always. Like with people, all countries have their imperfections. Admitting to them with grace is the first step to going about rectifying them. It shows humility and great understanding. While denying it, is a show of crass arrogance.

Mahindra’s reaction seems to be impulsive. If he has a look at his own background, it took him not one, but two degrees at Harvard University (ironically it is in Wozniak’s country!) to make him the successful businessman that he is today. If all was well with the Indian education system, why would he have had to go overseas to study?

anand mahindra

The same can be asked to those Indians who are CEOs in western companies. Sure, they may be considered successful by the society, but that wasn’t necessarily due to being creative in our motherland.

Besides, Mahindra had the fortune of inheriting an established business set up built by his father and uncle at a young age of 26, before he made it bigger. How many Indians have a similar, affluent lineage to use as a career launchpad? They fight for jobs and jostle for places in public transport alike left, right and centre whether in urban or rural areas, just to meet basic needs and support their families. Traditionally, a man’s identity in society has been based on their existence in the working class as much as woman’s has been on raising families and cooking in the kitchen. This constant struggle of taking care of the house drains people and cuts their lives shorter. Where can creativity exist then?

Look at the population, which exponentially grows by the day and yet we proudly claim that we are a nation of not just 1.2 billion people, but 1.2 billion minds! Really? It is hard to believe.  Amongst innovative companies, not many Indian ones come to mind in a flash. We still have a long way to go. Competitive and creative juices just cannot simply flow at the same time, Mr. Mahindra. Attachment to power and money makes one result-oriented, greedy and fearful of failure. This can also explain why we top the charts in power and wealth inequality too.

Being in the comfort zone is easy, isn’t it?

This is a problem which other nations face too. Yet when it comes to India, we are so proud of their traditions that we stop looking forward. Yes, there are creative people despite all these limitations. Exceptions of all sorts are there always. But let’s admit this is majorly due to the fact that they have a support system and certain resources that give them the freedom, time and space to think for themselves to make their lives much simpler and better. The education system has nothing to do with it one bit.

Learning about the exact date of Akbar’s reign in the Mughal Sultanate has helped me and many others in our general knowledge quotient, not in our day to day lives. And the latter matters more eventually. If people like Mr. Mahindra think otherwise, they are living in a fool’s world.

We look to ape the West conveniently. It is high time that we learn from them that it is OK to fail and irrespective of gender or background, you are firstly responsible for yourself than someone else. You don’t owe the world anything except bettering it with creativity or contributing to a cause which you are passionate about. Society’s thoughts are not everything and don’t make you. Thomas Edison, AR Rahman, Albert Einstein for example, have all been geniuses for some reason after all.

You make a creative person suffer and the world suffers. Unless we don’t accept this, Indians can never really be a happy lot in a constantly changing world. And an outsider like Steve Wozniak will continue to be proven right. So, instead of bashing and criticizing him, let’s rather take inspiration and encourage each other to make our own Apples (whether you are a fan of it or not) in different walks of life so that we and our future generations can live on the planet peacefully.

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