Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Indian Growth Story

Every time I fly back home, India amazes me in a positive way. This time I am coming down India within less than four months, and the development brings a smile to my face - the kind of smile I have while coming out of a job interview knowing that I have hit the bulls eye with my answers, a quiet sense of delight. A pleasure I don’t share with anyone until the final glorious outcome. I feel the same right now while seated besides a gentleman coming from a very modest background. His cap is dirty and wet with sweat, his clothes showing off the hard labour he is putting in to save enough to fly back to his home town. I feel this is an achievement. In the past I have really longed that some day I would sit beside an Indian farmer in domestic flights, and it seems like I am getting closer to that dream becoming a reality. The sense of quite pleasure is because I would like to wait until all the poor Indian farmers can make this as their lifestyle choice.

Contrary to this, on my international flight from London to Delhi I met a young Indian entrepreneur. He is only 23 years old and he is heading the technical team in his father’s company. I had a long conversation about the work he is doing so as to assure myself that the position is not a gift of silver spoon but something he has earned. And the young chap did manage to impress me with his knowledge in the sector he is working on. However, like most Indians, he doesn’t appreciate everything that is Indian. Purdue university graduate he feels life is much better in the West and that India has no future. This irked me and what started off thereafter was a long conversation where I broke all his myths about western life style from my experience of living the past three years in London. When the system works there, all is fine, the moment things break down; they take painfully long in rectification.

India is growing and it will be a success story. If only all of us can be a little honest to ourselves and our nation. Commonwealth Games 2010 has exposed corruption to the extent one could not even believe, and I would like to see all those guilty accused.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Origin of Agarwals

Once upon a time there used to live a king called Maharaja Agrasen in an ancient state of India called Agroha. He appeased a beautiful princess called Madhavi in a swayambar her father King Nagaraj organised for her. Swayambar was a practice in ancient Hindu culture where the father would organise massive social gatherings by inviting many agile and able prospective suitors to win the heart of his daughter. In that gathering she is expected to put a garland on one of the men as an indication of her choice and marry him during that event. She chose King Agrasen over all the other able and equally competitive prospective suitors. It is believed that the Agarwal clans originated from King Agrasen and the 18 children he had with Queen Madhavi gave the names to the 18 gotras in the Agarwal clan. I am a Mittal gotra married into a Garg gotra family. In Agarwals, marriage within the same gotra is prohibited as they are considered as siblings. However marriage of Agarwal with another Agarwal is allowed and preferred as long as the two belong to different gotras out of the 18 gotras.

King Agrasen with his dedicated meditation pleased Goddess Mahalakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity in Hindu religion). She blessed him and asked him to give up knighthood (the Kshatriya tradition) and become a Vaishya (i.e. follow the tradition of business) for the sake of prosperity of his people. She asked him to establish a new kingdom and promised that she would bless his descendants with prosperity and wealth.

The reason I started digging into the history of my origin is precisely here. Sometimes when I feel lost in this fast paced world, I ask myself the questions of who I am and what I am. More often than not, I have found answers to such questions burried in history. Being a descendant of Maharaja Agrasen, I hail from a family who has never known what working for somebody means. From my knowledge of my great grandfather to my father, all have been businessmen. They have traded goods, employed people and created wealth for themselves and the society. During my growing up days, I have assisted the family in doing so. My generation across most of the Agarwal families, if I may say so, is trying to break this family tradition and do something different on their own. They are trying to create a mark in the service sector instead of taking up business. To challenge yourself by doing something which is not a proven path can mystify you at times.

My digging the history also comes timely when the big verdict on Ayodhya has just been declared by the High Court in India. I have heard the youth in India saying that there are bigger problems to take care of, let’s keep history behind and move on. Does it really matter whether there was a temple or a mosque or does it really matter if there now should be a temple or a mosque in that place? I agree that this does not matter. But what matters is that this problem exists in the society and just like any other problem it needs to be taken care of. Ignoring a problem cannot be a solution to it.

I have been so irregular with my blogging in the recent times that I can imagine to have lost the regulars. However, for those who still have been checking my blogs once in a while, hope you have liked the new look.

Source: Wikipedia for information on the origin of Agarwals.