Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Indians do not Stand in Queues?

Indians just don’t like to wait patiently in a queue. Why? It took me years to figure out why, but now I am convinced that the reason has nothing to do with mutated genes or skewed education or indiscipline or lack of consideration for others. It is a cultural thing.


Come, let me take you back some 5000 years (give or take a few 1000 years, depending on who you believe). We are entering a very critical phase of an ongoing story. This is the bedroom of a person who has already been recognized as God. Krishna is sleeping. Duryodhana enters his bedroom. Looks around. There is only one seating place, near Krishna’s head. He sits there and patiently waits for Krishna to wake up. Shortly after Arjuna enters the chamber. He hesitates for a moment, Duryoshana, the person he hates, is in the bedroom before him. But he contains his anger and stands at the foot of the bed.

Shortly after Krishna wakes up. Who do you think he attends to first? Not the person who came first. But the person who Krishna sees first. So it is all about grabbing eye balls. Doesn’t matter who came in first. What matters is who the clerk / officer / babu / chaprasi decides to attend first.

There, you see why Indians do not like standing in the queue. As I said it is a cultural thingy.

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Anjana said...

It most definitely can be attributed to culture. In fact the discipline of Ethnography will argue that any behaviour can in some way or the other, be attributed to culture. I actually have a few theories on this (some that I have read about and some basis own observations). Actually, one school of thought would say that we are a society that is hierachical and attributes high importance to power structures (has origins in caste structures). And queues follow the basis principle of equality/ equal opportunity. The other thing is that as people, we are hugely aggressive. We are so many of us in terms of population but our resources are limited. we have no choice but to fight it out for those limited resources and hence do not believe in queues. This argument cannot be calssified under 'cultural' perhaps but is a valid point, nevertheless. I personally think that it has something to do with our view of time itself. The Hindu view of time is that it is 'cyclical' versus the western view, that views time as a 'linear' concept. We don't have a rigid/ progessive view on time. To me, queues are an extension of the linear notion of time.

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