An unfortunate trait in my countrymen .... And how I have been trying to overcome this challenge
My Hero, Dhirubhai Ambani, once pointed to an unfortunate trait in my countrymen. ‘You must know that, in this country, people are very jealous.’ It is not like in Hong Kong or other East Asian countries, where people applauded each other’s success, he claimed. In India, success is seen as the prerogative of certain families/ individuals. But he didn’t really mind. ‘Jealousy is a mark of respect,’ he said.
I had a taste of this when we organised the UK Karnataka Business Meet 2013 at London in Nov 2013. My friends encouraged me to write this blog as they wanted me to share my experience in handling this kind of situation. Finally, I got some time to put my thoughts together in this blog.
As we were making our final preparations for our latest business meet, UK Karnataka Business meet 2013, which took place on 7th November, 2013 at a committee room in London, I received a cracker of an email on the day of Diwali from a person who questioned my intention to organise a Karnataka meet. The content of the email was purely meant to sabotage the business meet and the email was titled as " 10 questions to Sujit S Nair" and the copy of the email was marked to about 100 - 125 individuals including officials of UK Government, Karnataka Government and other prominent individuals in UK, Karnataka and India. Three other emails, with punchy subject lines like "Moral Challenge to Sujit S Nair" etc followed over the next three days and all the emails had a common theme of questioning my intention to organise a Karnataka meet as my place of birth happened to be the neighboring state of Kerala ( even though I had spent all my life in Bangalore, Karnataka ) and that according to the email sender does not give me "right" to organise a Karnataka meet. What was surprising to me is that in this day and age where a person is known by the work he or she does rather than region, religion, surname, caste, colour, creed etc, we still have people, who unfortunately seems to have made their way to UK from India, who tend to divide a community on regional basis for their own personal gains.
These emails did not warrant a response because these mischief monging mails were only sent to create confusion and commotion and therefore no amount of persuasion would have been able to the convince the sender and the people behind it. But since I was also answerable to the Karnataka government, I formulated a reply and send it across to only relevant people in Karnataka government. To cut a long story short, they were satisfied with the reply and offered us their full co operation.
All this drama happened during the time of Indian festival of Diwali and as Diwali is celebrated for victory of good over evil, there was again a victory of good intentions over evil intentions and the business meet went on as schedule on 7th November and the venue of the meet was packed beyond capacity. The icing in the cake was when major Indian newspapers including Times of India, Economic Times, The Hindu, Business Standard and international newspapers like Times of Oman etc extensively covered the news, thereby providing massive publicity for the state and its investor friendly policies.
I faced a similar situation in June 2012 where we were in the pursuit of organising UK South India Business Meet 2012. I was in touch with the Andhra Pradesh government regarding their participation in the meet and they had agreed to participate. Then out of the blue, somebody from Andhra Pradesh who was based in UK called up the government representatives and tried to deliberately destroy my credibility and reputation by mentioning that I had never been to UK, that I do not have a visa nor a passport etc. This did create panic in the government circles. In order to defuse the situation, I not only had to scan my passport, visa etc and mail it across to the government representative but also had to rush to Hyderabad to meet the ministers and explain things in person. Luckily, the government representatives were also able to find lot of information about me online which worked in my favour.
These incidents did shake me a bit but as I had mentioned in one of my recent interview with Asian Voice that patriotism is not about dying for your country but to live for your country so as to make a difference to lives of your countrymen and while trying to make that difference and bring about a change, I have now resigned to the fact that I will be facing even bigger challenges in future.