Chetan Bhagat’s three remedies for resurgent India

November 22nd, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s top selling authors in the English language, Saturday prescribed three remedies for a resurgent India to meet the challenges of the new century - ending the politics of differences, shunning the culture of eliticism and embracing English with greater gusto. The author was addressing the penultimate session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.

The session, anchored by Vir Sanghvi, advisory editorial director of the Hindustan Times, was also addressed by Lord Karan Billimoria, founder of the Britain-based Cobra Beer Limited.

An astute Bhagat, whose books “Five Point Someone”, “One Night @ The Call Centre” and “The Three Mistakes Of My Life” have made it to the best-seller list, said young India had to fall back on the glorious legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and the values enshrined by the freedom fighters to steer the nation on the path of superpowerdom and to change the people’s mindset.

“Two generations ago, our forefathers came together to win us independence. It is not that there were no hatred, animosity, caste divides, political and racial schisms. But Mahatma Gandhi bridged the divide. We must live by those ideals to get India its pride of place in the world,” the author said.

Bhagat cited his own life as an example to drive home the point. “I am no leader. At home my wife decides what to do over the weekend and I work in a bank. But I have made all my dreams come true. Nobody asks you, where you come from, everybody wants to know where you are going,” he said.

The author felt that seats in good colleges were limited and so were good jobs. “I see a huge disconnect in political strategies, we need more broad-base development and economic planning. Only a dynamic politician can breach the politics of differences to bring about a politics of similarities,” he said.

Decrying the outlook of eliticism among the educated youth in the Indian middle class, he said whenever a young man or a woman in our country became “moderately successful, talented, rich and developed a taste for finer things in life,” the achiever moved away from his own set and “tend to look down upon his peers.”

“They prefer to live air-conditioned lives,” he said.

Bhagat advised that this elitist outlook had to end. “I am a massist author in India, my books sell at the railway stations, at the Big Bazaar and I also have a publisher in Dariyaganj. But the adjectives used for me are coolness and awesomeness. India has to move away from its metros and look at its cities for change,” he said.

The author, who has also written the script for “Hello”, the screen adaptation of his novel “One Night @ The Call Centre”, felt India had to embrace English like never before to be on the global centrestage. “But not England. Hindi is the mother, and English is the wife. It is possible to love both. We need to spread English in small towns and villages. One must not confuse patriotism with the needs of the world. It is easier for a youth, who knows English, to get a job,” he argued with a laugh.

Bhagat is currently working on his first independent script for Bollywood. It is a romantic comedy, he said.

He will begin work on his new book in 2009. “Since I have legions of female fans- they want me to do something for them. The best thing to do is a love story,” Bhagat said.

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