Early in my career, I worked with a marketing company founded and headed by a Managing Director who believed in Quality as a philosophy in all spheres of life.
On the eve of my departure on my first overseas business visit, the Managing Director summoned me to his room. After ascertaining that I had made all necessary preparations, both work and personal, he advised me to be on my “better-than-best” behaviour when I was abroad because, “People will judge your country by your behaviour.”
While I have always scrupulously followed this piece of advice, I have noticed that many of us Indians take great pains to lower India’s image when we travel abroad. This starts at the airport on the way out of India, and goes on till Indian soil is set foot on again.
Though this is not one of the bigger matters, many of us just do not know how to stand in a queue without shoving and poking into the person in front, or how to walk without bumping into others around us.
While men (including 6-footers) from most other countries generally manage to confine their bodies to the limits of their own seats in the aircraft’s Economy Class, many Indian men, sometimes even short ones, sit with their legs wide apart and with both elbows intruding into the adjacent seats, making their co-passengers uncomfortable.
With many Indians travelling abroad in groups these days, one common sight is groups of people talking loudly in Indian languages at various places abroad, particularly at airports while in transit. Nothing wrong in speaking in one’s mothertongue, but speaking loudly is considered impolite. Often, they use commonly understood obscene gestures and English swear words.
The most disgusting sight is the behaviour of many Indian men when alcoholic drinks are served on flights. Many act as if the world is about to face extinction of alcohol! I have always wondered why they behave in such an uncouth manner. Is it just a craze for alcohol, or is it the thrill of getting something free? On one flight, I saw some well-to-do Indian businessmen making thorough asses of themselves, almost begging for more and more drinks. The other Indians on the flight were very upset that our country’s reputation was being tarnished, but we did nothing because we knew that intervention would only worsen the situation since these men were totally drunk.
Most of the persons whom I have seen misbehaving abroad were educationally qualified and doing well in their profession or business.
Giving others a good impression of India is not just a matter of patriotism. On a very practical and materialistic level, people having a good impression of India will want to have business relations with India and/or visit India as tourists, while people having a bad impression of India will not want to have any connection with India. It’s in the interest of all Indians if Brand India has a good image. So, let us all promote Brand India!
(This post was originally published on August 13, 2013.)