Jul 14, 2012

Of Generalizations, Assumptions and Mediocrity

Change is the only thing that is constant in our world today. We have been experiencing change in all spheres of our lives and will continue to do so; thanks to various factors.

But there are certain things that haven’t really changed yet. And one of them is the tendency to stereotype.

As we all know, a stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Contrary to popular belief, stereotyping does not happen because of aggressive or unkind thoughts. It is more often a simplification to speed conversation. We use stereotypes to simplify our social world, since they reduce the amount of processing we have to do when we meet a new person. We also form stereotypes because of ignorance and misconception.

We are all live in the internet age, where information is just a click away. But it is quite surprising that generalizations and preconceived notions still exist in our world today.

Stereotypes about Indians 

We Indians are constantly stereotyped about various things ranging from our skin colour to our economic stature. Is there some truth to these generalizations and assumptions, or are they totally baseless? This is a debatable topic.


Example: “Indians tend to downplay their abilities.” This statement is a typical case of stereotyping. But is there some truth to it? Or is it as false as they get?

In my opinion, the stereotype about us downplaying our abilities does have a certain degree of truth to it. The expression ‘there is no smoke without fire’ is applicable in this context.

We Indians are really capable people. But the problem lies in the fact that we do not make full use of our skills and abilities. Sad,but true.

Here are a few examples-

Who invented zero? We did. Aryabhatta, an Indian mathematician, first used it in his place value system.

Who invented the game of chess? We did. The earliest precursor of modern chess is a game called chaturanga, which flourished in India by the 6th century.

Who invented plastic surgery? Again, it was us. Reconstructive surgery techniques were being carried out in India by 800 BC.

Apart from the ancient inventions, there are many recent inventions too. Hybrid electric stoves that save 70 percent of fuel costs, modified lanterns that produce light equal to a 100-watt bulb but run on kerosene, diesel or ethanol, etc are all recent Indian inventions.

But none of these recent inventions are outstanding. In spite of the immense potential we Indians have, we haven’t achieved any major breakthrough recently.

And why is that? Simply because we don’t innovate.

What prevents us from doing so? Is it just apprehensiveness, or are we really devoid of talent?

My answer would be that we are definitely apprehensive; we hesitate to showcase our abilities and are also very lazy. We do not want to strain ourselves and prefer to follow the herd.

As Steve Jobs said, ‘the difference between a leader and a follower is innovation.’ And till we innovate, we cannot become leaders. So, we are not leaders anymore. We have become followers- we follow the treaded path and do not blaze a trail.

For example, let me take the case of the cinema industry. A large number of formula films are churned out repeatedly, day after day. Remakes are the order of the day. The formula for success has become cliched. While there are a few offbeat films, the incidence of similar storylines is more predominant.

We are afraid to experiment and hence remain mediocre. We are not willing to showcase our abilities or utilize them to the fullest extent.

Indians also ape the west in almost everything we say or do. We seem to have lost our originality through the times.

For example, the use of and fluency in the English language has become a prerequisite for success in our country. Regional languages have taken a backseat of sorts and we are all running behind ‘English’, a foreign language. I do not deny that knowledge of English is helpful and useful. But the fact that it has gained more importance over other languages is something that is not acceptable.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, Indians are stereotyped as people who downplay their abilities.

How do we overcome stereotypes?


In order to overcome the stereotypes made against us, we have to find how others stereotype us (if possible, getting them to stereotype us positively).
For example, if we are stereotyped as a ‘shy’, we can begin by coming out of our shells and interacting freely with one and all.

To change a person’s view of our stereotype, we’ve got to be consistently different from it. At the same time, we should be aware of our own stereotyping blinding us to the true nature of other people.

It is his thoughts that separate the highly developed creature called man from an animal. So as long as we don’t think out of the box, innovate and start sharing our talents, we cannot really overcome the stereotype about us Indians.

 It is essential that we stop feeling shy about flaunting our strengths and try to maintain a healthy balance by underplaying and overplaying our skills. This can and will make all the difference in the world.

2 comments:

Rupertt Wind said...

Indeed we are so into stereotype that we ourselves are a living one. Nice post

Pages Off Life

Deepz said...

@Rupertt Wind: Thank you :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...