I was raised to be courteous and have manners - to respect others despite how one may treat you. Yet I was not raised through any religion other than spiritually within one's self. So how is it that the Indian culture is thriving with so many different religious beliefs yet India's society itself is awry with so many challenges? It is a multifaceted issue and cannot be to blame for any one reason. I recently read an article from an Indian Hindu Woman with the handle, SittingOnTheFence, who sums this issue up perfectly:
"I think the main problem with Hinduism is that it confuses ritualism and superstition with religion and God. Everywhere around me I see people having different values for themselves and others. Nobody respects other peoples time and space (be it on road…where people keep driving deeper into gridlocks, or in personal relations…where elders decide whom their children marry or what they study etc.)"
I have met many genuine and caring people during my time in India, in particular my family. You can read more about Why I Love My Indian Family Here. However I have also come across equally as many ignorant and selfish people. Yet each and every one of them all worship a faith that teaches them to respect life, so how can one be so disrespectful? Nonetheless these people criticise the state of India's problems which for the most part they are the very underlying cause. The issue is that many don't see it from this perspective or even just don't want to understand the deep seeded issues and therefore continue to behave in the same disrespectful manner. How can one change if they do not believe there is a problem with their behaviour?
It is still surprising to me just how many Indian's do not respect others. It is common practise in Indian society to: push in front of people patiently waiting in queues, talk over other people whilst they are talking, talk excessively loud in places of silence, stand in others personal space, touch others personal effects without permission, slam a door in the face of the person behind you, close the elevator doors without waiting for the next person to enter, spit at pedestrians from bus windows, stick gum underneath seats on public transport, urinate in public if you are a man, speak rudely to your maid as she is a servant, talk condescendingly to others as they are deemed to be lower status in society, stare at others, graffiti historical landmarks and any public property, and the list goes on. What is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behaviour does vary depending on the region of India. It is difficult to fathom how such blatant disrespect for others can stem from such faiths that teach respect to all life. However what is more disturbing is that those in society that are in a position of leadership only exacerbate this behaviour. With many assuming these leadership positions are an entitlement to act in such a disrespectful manner.
Even the Indian Tourist is widely known to be rude by many tour operators and travellers alike. On my flight to Delhi I was one of very few foreigners on a plane filled with Indian passengers. The cabin echoed with loud chatter from all the excited passengers while many were still talking obnoxiously loud on their mobiles. The Flight Attendants scanned the aisles in preparation for takeoff. An Attendant had asked politely for the woman seated across from me to buckle her child into the seat. The mother pretended to buckle her child only to, a few seconds later allow her child to lay down on the empty seat next to me. Again the Attendant passed and asked her to please buckle your child. Once more she pretended to buckle her in. It took five attempts for this mother to take the Attendant seriously and buckle her child in. The no seat belt sign lit up as the aircraft tookoff, yet the faint ding of the attendants button could be heard as many passengers could not wait to be served. Those who didn't press for an attendant had already unbuckled and made their way up the aisle. Once the aircraft was in the air, the mother across from me unbuckled her child and allowed her to lay across the empty chair again, kicking my armrest continuously as she slept.
Meal service shortly commenced as Attendants asked passengers which meal they would prefer. One gentleman who spoke English perfectly, asked the attendant to read the menu options despite the fact he had the menu laying in his lap. The attendant was becoming quite frustrated having to repeat the menu whilst passengers were looking on impatiently. The elderly man in front of me during dinner service had his seat laid back so far so, that it left me to eat my food out of my lap. Despite the Attendant requesting him to earlier please move your seat forward during dinner service. After the dinner service I felt so cramped I decided to stretch my legs and go to the washroom. As I waited patiently to one side, the washroom door opened suddenly only to have another passenger barge straight past me. Finally my turn came and the state of the washroom was not pleasant despite the sign on the door 'Please Leave The Washroom Clean For The Next Person'. The toilet seat itself was covered in dirt and feces from passengers standing on the toilet seat to squat. Paper towels were strewn everywhere. The floor was flooded with what would seem to be toilet water imprinted with dirty footprints. I returned to my seat to nod off to sleep from sheer exhaustion only to be continuously awoken by passengers barging into me as they made their way down the aisle. By the end of the flight despite the smile plastered on the Flight Attendant's faces you could see the cracks appearing - it had been a long flight.
In Indian Society it is the opportunistic Indian that makes it in life leaving no place for morals and good manners. Adapting faith to suit their lifestyle in an attempt to justify their actions. I say this as I have witnessed it on many the occasion with some family members leaving us behind in the dust now that we have helped them through the tough times in life. What is worse is that my Grandmother is in support of these actions as the family in question has a daughter opposed to sons. Whereas my husband is the eldest of two sons. If one should have sons then they will make it through life as sons are deemed to be status enhancing. How can such a person who is so intelligent in every other aspect of life behave in such a manner? This behaviour is common in the elderly as even a close friend of mine is encouraged by her mother to have sons as she only has daughters. She is expected to keep trying till they are blessed with at least one son. It is this wayward thinking that has so deeply embedded such beliefs into Indian society today.
With so many positive aspects of the Indian Culture it makes you wonder when did they become so rude? I do not accept that culture can be an excuse for bad manners, no matter your status. Especially when one's said faith is defined by the very meaning of respect to life.