July 29th, 2015
We complain all the time about how India is fast becoming a terrible place to live in. We complain about how corruption is fast increasing, how our trains are getting more crowded, how everything is simply getting worse.
But is this really true? Statistics show that India is a much better place than it was even 10 years ago. Yet, our newspapers and television news are filled with corruption scandals, gruesome murders and so on and so forth. Why does the media concentrate on the bad things in life, rather than the good? And what might this depressing slant say about us, the audience?
Enter the concept of Negativity Bias. This theory essentially says that humans actually love to hear bad news, and remember bad news better than the good ones. There have been multiple studies that have proven the existence of such a bias in humans. We’ve evolved to react quickly to potential threats. Bad news could be a signal that we need to change what we’re doing to avoid danger.
There are thousands of people in India doing exceptionally positive things. For every corrupt politician, there are a hundred anti-corruption activists who risk their life to fight corruption. For every public servant who force people to pay a bribe, there are thousands of loyal, sincere and honest public servants who go out of their way to help people in need, and never accept a bribe. For every arrogant auto driver out there, there are thousands of friendly, helpful auto-wallahs. For every greedy business owner, there are hundreds of NGOs run by genuine social workers who aim to help people in need, and give back to the less fortunate sections of society.
What does this mean for us Logical Indians? We Indians are a cynical lot. We don’t waste one chance to degrade our country. Let’s say we land in a foreign country and see their exceptional infrastructure. What do we do first? We appreciate it. ‘Wow, the roads are superb. Excellent public transport system. And that is great. But do we stop there? Unfortunately, we Indians get this inexplicable urge to add – ‘hamare India mein hota to…log aise karte…waise karte…’ We put our country down – in front of people from other nationalities. What image of India will they be walking away with?
I’ve spent the last five years outside India, and have had the opportunity to interact with young people from a wide range of countries – China, Colombia, Russia, Germany, Turkey, the USA, the UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Chile and many others. There was one thing that stood out – Indians were always the quickest to criticize their own country. Many of the other countries I mentioned are less developed than India. Their levels of corruption are worse, they ahve terrible infrastructure, and many other ills in society. Yet, when they talk about their country to people from other nations, they highlight the positives. They talk about their countries with immense pride, while recognising the negatives and the need for improvement.
Why, my dear brothers and sisters, do we have to do this? Yes, our Mother has many faults. But does that take away the fact that she is our Mother? Should we be criticizing her, every chance we get? Let us all make a resolve today to focus more on Mother India’s positives. There are many. We are the youngest country in the world. We are poised to be the world’s third largest economy by 2030, pushing behind many developed countries. We are the largest producer of milk in the world. We have produced some of the worlds best literateurs, scientists and sportspeople. We have the cheapest telephone and internet rates in the world. And lots more !
India has a million positives. Let us talk more about them. Next time you want to talk about a negative, stop for a second. Think. Do we really need to say it? And then just say something positive about Mother India. Don’t let negativity bias get you!