Indians are sometimes lazy, says the Dalai Lama

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ajtr, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Indians are sometimes lazy, says the Dalai Lama

    New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) Indians are "lazy" and must work hard like the Chinese, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said here today. "As a critic, I feel sometimes people in India are lazy.

    You should work hard. Look at the Chinese, they work very hard," he said.

    In a lighter vein, he also said, "Wherever the Chinese go, they make China towns. However, nowhere in the world there are any ''India towns''.

    " However, negating China''s economic growth, the Dalai Lama attacked it for "lacking" values like transparency and free information which were important for a successful democracy. "Money is important.

    Nobody is denying that. But there are other values like democracy, respect for others'' views.

    these are the foundations of successful democracy," the Tibetan spiritual leader said. He also referred to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh''s recent remarks in which he talked about China progressing more than India economically but the country having other fundamental values -- democracy, openness, transparency, free information, independent judiciary -- which the Chinese lack.

    The Dalai Lama was speaking at a function organised by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Mother Teresa. According to reports, Chinese economy has recorded a stellar growth of 11.9 per cent in the first three months of 2010, marginally higher than projected.

    Indirectly referring to China''s media control efforts, the Dalai Lama said, "There is something wrong if there is fear and doubt. You cannot be then transparent, truthful or honest and have to carry censorship.

    " He noted that India is very rich culturally and spiritually and post-independence it has remained the most stable country in the region. "Of course there are problems like that in Jammu and Kashmir.

    That is mainly due to Pakistan and due to partition which was totally opposed by Mahatma Gandhi." PTI KKE PYK.
     
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  3. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    I've personally heard many other public personalities, philanthropists and business heads use that very tag to describe their frustration. I don't think its inaccurate, in fact it is highly evident in the lackadaisical performances experienced on a day to day basis in India . Having said that I do think that this label needs to be put in a context in order to make sense of it.

    For one, I think the term "laziness" is used broadly to describe the superficial appearance of the phenomenon, but the deeper etiology IMO is lack of incentive. The reason nothing ever gets done in India is because the people doing it have no real stake in the final outcome. Without incentive any endeavor becomes merely a tool for corruption, as is clearly the case in India.

    There are numerous factors contributing toward this phenomenon such as the rotten Socialist system upon with the GoI operates and the fact that the current GoI merely took over from a colonial government. As George Orwell rightly pointed out, colonial governments, or any government not accountable for their actions generally end up working for themselves, and not the people, and this in turn is evident in the poor standard of living. While India has adopted a democratic model many of her citizens are as yet to shed the baggage from the torrid past of subjugation.

    But in addition to the above mentioned reasons which are generally characterized as "structural" there are a barrage of other factors which are cultural. Disdain of physical labor or a pyramidal- hierarchical society where only few with the proper birthright are able to enjoy the spoils while the rest toil away for nothing in return may be throwbacks from the Brahminical traditions of the past, but they are afflictions that still plague modern India.

    Unless there's a meaningful analysis of all the facts in the proper context which is then followed up with action through good leadership, it is unlikely these issues will ever get resolved.

    Nonetheless, the Dalai lama's observations are pretty accurate.
     
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  4. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    I too agree with the Dalai Lama. I don't know about China, but my personal observation has been that workers in western countries have a much superior work ethic than in India.
     
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  5. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Unlike Chinese people, Indian people lack the sense of urgency.

    One funny thing i find out about Indian's opinion about the development of China and Inida, many of them compare the competition between China and India to the race between The Tortoise and the Hare. Obviously, Indians are satisfied to be the Tortoise here, because in the fairy tale the Hare was catched up and left behind by the Tortoise while he was sleeping. So in the reality, Indians are comfortable with their Indian speed and wait for the day when China gets asleep so that they can enact a realistical Tortoise and the Hare.

    Indian people fail to realise what a competitive world it is today. India are not just racing with China, but with the rest of the world. For country like China and Inida, we need to stride much faster to keep up with the developed countries and much more effort will be needed if we want to catch up with them, because we are left behind too much. Whenever the west make one step forward, we need two, three or more steps. Speed is important.

    And there is another crucial factor which i think many Indians tend to ignore, time.

    Time is limited. For now we are lucky to live in a relatively peaceful world, and thanks to the short peace, we are able to reconstruct our countries that were once fully devastated. But i dont think we can expect this transient peace to last forever. The west will not give you as much time as you need to transform your country to a powerful one. War can break out anytime, anywhere if the interests of different countries collide. Aggression from the west is likely to be repeated again, just like it has been repeated for so many times in the past. If this happens, countries who have not prepared them for it will be victim again.

    Does history repeat itself? It all depends on you!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
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  6. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    I agree with His observation. Indians in general lack the sense of urgency, and also lack the ability to prioritize well. There's too much lethargism. The worst part is that this has mixed with corruption at a systemic level.

    But there's an explanation for that. The Indian subcontinent is a very hot and humid place. Daytime temperatures easily cross 35C in the farmlands, so does humidity. The human body can't take it beyond a point. So it's not just the majority Aryan-Dravidian races that are "lazy", but also the mongoloid races from the North-East that express similar characteristics. If Hans lived here, they wouldn't have fared any better. Since India has emerged from a largely peasant background in a span of just some 40-odd years, the characteristics of peasants, their bodily tolerances have been passed on. This generation of urban Indians are just two generations ahead of them, so the traits carry on. However, things are improving. We're not an extremely lazy and regressive kind like Africans.

    Also, since Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are the same race, they're identical to Indians in this regard.

    As for:
    This is where Dalai lost it. Indians are liberal. Wherever they go, they blend with the local culture almost instantaneously. The Chinese have trouble moulding themselves to local culture, and hence set up ghettos such as Chinatowns. Indians in the US live with the locals. They're the wealthiest ethnic group.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
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  7. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    I don't want to sound offensive, but this idea is complete BS. Anybody who says Indians are lazy should go and see several SMEs dotted across urban India where people work 10-15 hours a day trying to earn that little extra bit of cash. They should also go see the millions of rural Indians who get up at 5 in the morning, work in the field till sun down, go back home to finish their chores and go to sleep by 9 or 10 and do the same thing day after day with no sundays or holidays.

    The lethargic attitude of Indians exists in only one place and those are in govt offices, that too is not because of the people but because of the system which doesn't provide the correct amount of reward or punishment depending on the work.
     
  8. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    I think he has dealt more with the sloppy Indian bureaucrats and ministers.

    The work ethic is an issue in India but it has more to do with the work culture that has been developed in public sector with unionism etc. When Indians work as an entrepreneur or in the best companies of the world, they are second to none. The best Indian companies also don't have any issues with work culture.

    I think he is a friend of India and means well. We don't need to take offense to what he has said.

    I also agree with Nimo that India's competition is not just with China. It is with ourselves, to try to be the best we can be. We can't be slothful this time.
     
  9. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah, urban India, a minority of the population.

    Peasants who get good water supply, good weather, can do that (such as the Gangetic plains, deltas, or the even the deltas of coastal Andhra). But for those deprived of water, coupled with typical subcontinent climate (example Telangana), life begins at 4 (to run the pumps, before the electricity goes out, nobody built canals despite major rivers flowing through here), muster strength to plough fields because there are no tractors or bullock carts to do that, and then give up by 1 PM when the sun gets the better of you. And sunday becomes a holiday because there's no power on that day to even run the pumps.
     
  10. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    there are two sides to it as i see it.

    GoI and its bureaucracy falls in the bracket.

    on the contrary you dont talk that about the thriving India private sector where the work culture is as competitive as any out there, the rule followed is simple, do the job given with in the dead line or find another job.
     
  11. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    I don't agree with this article at all.


    Let me put this into context for ya'll, especially those overseas Indians who have never lived in the slums, never traveled by the day train, never witnessed a low class basti in action and never seen their relatives toil in the fields from sunup to sundown in rural Maharashtra, or Goa or Madhya Pradesh:

    Government employees, civil servants, bureaucrats and all manner of public officials could properly be described as 'lazy', not just sometimes, but most all of the time.


    Is the vegetable vendor that rises at 3:45 in the morn, to be at the wholesale market at Dadar from Nalasopara at 4:30 am, and from thence to a day in the suburbs of Juhu or Vile Parle or Mahim at his food cart, that ends at 10:30 at nite with a train ride to the outskirts 'lazy'? Is the rickshaw driver that plies from 6 am till 11 pm, with little in between except a piss and a drink, 'lazy'? Is the manual worker that pulls a haathgaadi , hauling cement or gas cylinders or iron rods for a minimum, yes a minimum of a stipulated 10 hours for the daily wage, 'lazy'? Is the farmer that begins her day at 5 in the morning, threshing wheat in the fields in rural Goa, to end it at 6 at sundown only then to go and prepare the family meal, roll bhakris for breakfast the next day and put her children to bed 'lazy'? Is the child labourer that works at the food stall in Kolkatta, with a day that begins at 5 in the morning washing utensils so that his stall can cater to the morning rush, and ends at 11 at night taking down the tarpaulin after the last customers have had their fill 'lazy'? Is the rural schoolkid who attends school, to come back and then help his parents in the fields at mid-afternoon 'lazy"? Is the middle / lower-middle class city youth, that attends school from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, tuitions from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, swimming or elocution or badminton from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, and homework from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm also 'lazy'? Remember these are all people that form the bulk of our society. And they do this in 40° summer heat with less-than-adequate nutrition on their tables and sometimes nary a roof over their heads. I have lived with them, and I know they are anything but 'lazy'.


    Now, let me suggest a reason for why people may sometimes perceive some Indians to be "lazy". Because of a higher population density- and a significantly higher population density at that- the unemployed, where they are around are more in abundance, sitting, loafing around and generally being of no good use to themselves and society. They are even more in evidence because they attract attention to themselves via socially 'malfeasant' behaviour, cat-calls, hooting, eve-teasing and the like. Another very ostensible reason is the fact that it takes very long to do anything in this country, from getting a permit to a license to sanctioning forms or receiving clearance for work, which is why, in the interim, public or private officials are seen to be 'loafing around'. That loss in productivity may be a legitimate concern. However, may I suggest that even that is changing. Since 2008, 750,00 jobs in the bureaucracy remain unfilled, suggesting that a leaner bureaucracy is supporting higher volumes of work. In addition, anyone who has been to collect a birth or death certificate lately will know how threatening corrupt civic officials with taking their names to the paper can do wonders for expediting the process.

    Not only are we 'hardworking', the costs of achieving those goals taking their toll under minimalist conditions are even higher here than they are anywhere else. Nowhere else in the world will you see people such as these, these or these.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
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  12. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Nobody is denying that the officegoers, private-sector yuppies, the doodhwala, the dabbawala or sabziwala aren't lazy, however that is not enough to label Indians as "not lazy". Dalai's generalization is pretty qualified.
     
  13. Rayala

    Rayala New Member

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    Indian system(bereaucracy and politics) is lethargic and lazy. Not necessarily the individual Indians. Frankly, the generalization of an entire country(specially a country of size and diversity of India) is distasteful and bound to be erroneous.
     
  14. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Give me both a necessary and sufficient condition to label "Indians", or presumably the most of them, "lazy".

    Unless you believe the farmer, the officegoers, the private-sector yuppies, the doodhwala, the sabziwala, the village school student, the dabbawala, the child labourer, the urban school kids and the haathgadiwala don't make up the bulk of our society, we have a fundamental discord of opinion.

    Any aggregate attributes are defined by characterizations to the bulk of society. Every society has its share, and its fair share, of loafers, the unemployed, the unambitious, the unstriving and the "lazy". Overall, I don't think Indians could be described by any of that.

    That said, there is always room for change. I believe the right capital:labour ratio will change much of that.
     
  15. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    True story. A junior engineer in a leading private company in India tried to improve efficiency by cutting middlemen out of the business of reparing the company's construction equipment. He found that the workers were deliberately damaging the equipment so when it was sent out for repairs, they would either sit around and get paid for doing nothing, or take the machines out themselves and disappear for most of the day, coming back only at the end of their shift so they could get paid overtime for work they should have done in the regular hours instead. The workers revolted, and the next day, barged into his office carrying swords and threatening to harm him physically if he did not reverse the new policies. Senior management, fearing the worst, acquiesced, and the workers were back to their old game. The engineer resigned in disgust and eventually after dealing many such experiences, quit the country and immigrated to the US.
     
  16. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Analogies notwithstanding (and yes, I can give you harrowing analogies of labor inefficiency a machine toolist for Valiant, who makes parts for earth movers for LeTourneau and Caterpillar, my uncle, has told me about about the world's most productive economy, the United States), is that a general description for the overall populace? Is that how most Indian students, farm labourers, middle class yuppies, slumdogs and low-income workers work?
     
  17. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well, it is not true for the vast majority of Indians. It is still true that we have pathetic governance and our social indicators suck. It is due to corruption and incompetence of our politicians and bureaucrats. It is also due to the massive slopiness of our vast government machinery.

    Just go to any government office or public sector company that employ massive numbers. The title of the thread will look like an understatement! Those buggers are always lazy.

    I don't think we need to take this comment in a negative sense. he has said this as a well wisher of India. This is no different from what many Indians say every day. That guy calls India his guru.
     
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    ^^ thats why its said india develops when govt sleeps.
     
  19. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    1. A majority of Indians are into agriculture
    2. Despite the cultivable area, product is low.

    Millenia of poor agro-infrastructure coupled with extreme poverty for a majority of the population, and the weather conditions have helped shape the characteristics of the subcontinent's inhabitants.

    Farmer: pointed out earlier. Officegoers: Government offices are trailer-trash in terms of productivity, private-Indian companies for a bulk of the time being low on productivity, the general work-culture stayed on. It's the MNCs which transformed work-culture, the "chase the deadline or GTFO" culture, Doodhwalas are productive.

    Sabziwalas remain sabziwalas throughout their lives, because they're backed by a public distribution system that's utter-garbage.

    Go to the thana near your home on a nice 2:00 pm afternoon to see how many of them actually have their eyes open, how many haathgadiwalas have acceptable levels of physical fitness, who do not have abdominal obesity. Speaking of which, did you know, Indians have some of the highest cases of abdominal obesity? Source

    Let's leave "society" out of this for a while, and talk "population", since that is what is relevant. 2/3 of India's population depend on agriculture for a living. Their productivity, coupled with those of the civil apparatus in general is a reasonable indication of the country's productivity.

    This is what World Bank thinks:
    Source

    You can feel lethargy at every stage, be it state institutions, be it efficiency in executing public projects, particularly big infrastructure projects, and a typical Indian office is the ideal place to get a feel of it. "chalta hai", "dekhenge", "sochenge" attitude is prettymuch inherent.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  20. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    well that really cant be termed being lazy, but is a case of militant labour unions and greed which is seen as legitimate way of earning and to an extent these people will justify it because the labour force in india is certainly not the best paid much like how medical reimbursements get taken month after month even though people taking it have no medical problem, and sadly we have not moved ahead on much required labour reforms which do have a cure to the labour unions, but all these cost over runs are well calculated at the time of making a quotation.

    the question is not really about tactics but about job getting done and if it is happening with in the targeted time frame then its a job done well, by the way dealing with labour force in india is quite an art.
     
  21. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    That is a misplaced application of economics. Cultivation is low primarily because:

    a) land holdings are small
    b) capital to labour ratios are low, as a consequence of which 'productivity', which is defined purely in terms of units of output per capita, is diminished.

    'Productivity', as it is economically defined, is neither necessary nor sufficient to categorize a populace as "lazy". Productivity is purely an output variable, laziness is purely an input, endogenous variable.


    Farmer: pointed out earlier, most farmers rise at ungodly hours, begin their day with a long and arduous journey for their basic necessities, begin work in the fields at slightly less ungodly hours, break after noon when the sun comes down on their backs (some, not even) and continue from late-afternoon to sundown, at which point they go back to their homes where more activities await them, not so much for the menfolk, but for the women who are entrusted with cooking, washing, cleaning and other house chores. I spent virtually every one of the first 16 summers of my life in farming communities in Ratnagiri, Mhasvad, Bijapur and Goa, where I actually underwent a small fraction of those routines- city boy that I was!

    Government offices: already acknowledged earlier, productivity is not just crap, it stinks like a dung-heap. They do not represent the majority of India.

    Private Indian companies: productivity tends to be generally high.

    This might orient you in the right direction:

    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/26142778/Manufacturing-Sector-Productivity-in-India--Trends-at-the-All/
    http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/170729962.html
    http://ideas.repec.org/p/ess/wpaper/id991.html

    Notwithstanding sub-optimal capacity utilization, which exists everywhere, and is purely a function of macroeconomics, productivity levels overall at private sector enterprises are at par with world standards.

    I don't know about your sabziwala, but my sabziwala has an apartment in New Bombay, two rickshaws he lets out and a Tata Sumo he leases on the side. His son is pursuing a degree abroad, and he makes more from selling sabzis than I, a "middle-class individual" could ever hope to make in a day, as I can testify for the majority of sabziwallas in Mumbai that follow his trade patterns: early rising hours at the Dadar wholesale market, a long day that ends with winding up shop at 10:30 and an hour and a half ride from Mahim to Dahisar/Nalasopara. He sleeps three and a half hours a nite, and catches forty winks during his 45 minute break at noon.

    Haathgadiwalas have far more exceptional levels of fitness than you could hope for. I challenge you to try and rig a three hundred pound cart to your back and employ 'calf power', or to carry two or sometimes even three 26.5 l LPG cylinders up four flights of stairs.


    You can't leave "society" out of this for a while, because the characterization "Indians" refers purely to a society and its attributes. The very fact that when Indians go abroad- where there are higher capital : labour ratios- they do exceptionally well is testament to the fact that Indians are anything other than "lazy".

    Here's what your claimed source says about labour productivity in India:

    Raising agricultural productivity: As already noted, agricultural productivity in India is low because of small land-holdings, disparately distributed input subsidies, diminished variable-cost inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides (where in the West high-productivity is ensured by steroid infused crops, massive application of hydroponics, disparate subsidies to large farmers and thousands of acres of yield employed by farmers sitting in 6000 lb. harvesters) and not because of labour inputs such as number of hours worked or peak labour travail/ exertion, to which the attribute "lazy" more correctly describes.

    "Informal Sector Jobs: While the services sector has been offering promising job opportunities for skilled workers, some 90% of India’s labor force remains trapped in relatively low-productivity jobs in the informal sector."

    These have been somewhat accurately attributed in the following lines:

    "India’s labor regulations - among the most restrictive and complex in the world - have constrained the growth of the formal manufacturing sector, where these laws have their widest application. Better-designed labor regulations can attract more labor-intensive investment and create jobs for unemployed millions and those trapped in poor quality jobs. Given the country’s current downturn, the window of opportunity must not be lost for improving the job prospects for the 80 million new entrants who are expected to join the work force over the next decade. The challenge will be to build enough safety nets for those losing their jobs in the informal sector, especially in urban and peri-urban areas hardest hit by the slowdown, while creating the space for the enhancement of skills."

    None of those are attributable to "laziness".

    The report also goes on to say the following:

    "Education: India has made huge progress in getting more children, especially girls, into primary school. Since 2001, the government’s flagship elementary education program, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, has helped to bring some 20 million children into school; most of them are first-generation learners. The gender gap has reduced and more children are transitioning from primary to upper primary school. Many of India’s states are now either approaching universal primary enrollment or have already achieved it. According to the Government, less than 5 million children between the ages of 6 and14 now remain out of school. The program is now focusing on bringing the hardest-to-reach children into primary school, raising access to upper primary education and improving retention and learning outcomes."

    which will seek to amend this:

    Skills: Presently, nearly 44 percent of India’s labor force is illiterate, only 17 percent has secondary schooling, and enrollment in higher education is a mere 11 percent. Moreover, the quality of most graduates is poor and employers offer very little upgrading of skills;

    * As of 2009, India's literacy estimates stand at around 80%.


    As an aside, I repose little faith in the World Bank's statistics on India. Notwithstanding their general 'outdatedness', this is the same organization that endorsed U.N. figures of more than 5 million AIDS victims for India. Their recalcitrance, by more than half, has been astonishing.


    I feel lethargism in all of those contexts, but all of those describe public sector offices, which I have already extolled as being decrepit. Public sector offices are beyond redemption, as they are in most countries where monetary incentive is not tied indefatigably to work, as some of the Chinese members here will tell you.

    I attended a public school, and did not feel lethargism there. I know of few other schools, where teachers stayed back a couple of hours after school to give separate French or Hindi lessons. Even in the West, university teach's are loathe to staying back after class to explain a concept, relying instead on their TA's, and the only reason they hold 'office hours' is because they are paid to conduct 'em.

    Big infrastructure projects are purely due to the lack of planning, inefficient management and supervision that almost inevitably entails them, not due to the "laziness" of the workers that work on them.

    Speaking of which, even in Bihar where the teachers would not attend school because of the lack of an incentive, the schools are now filled with them thanks to the minor changes in incentive and supervision made by the Nitish Kumar government. Which goes to show, you throw the same Indian in an environment where there is enough monetary incentive and effective supervision and the change in his output becomes phenomenal, which means that his previous less output was not due to his "laziness", but rather to the constraints of the environment that surrounded him.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010

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