To set the context of this blog, let me cite a relatable situation.
On my recent trip to Dubai, I observed how jam-packed the metro train gets, specifically during the office hours. Equally crowded are the metro stations. Still the folks waiting to board the train stand in a queue and give way to the passengers getting down and board after that. There are times when a metro arrives and there is no space for those waiting to board. Surprisingly, nobody tries to squeeze in. They simply wait for the next metro.
Replicate this scenario and think about our metros and local trains. The queue is missing. Nobody wants to wait for others to get down. And everybody wants to cram themselves in the metro – space or no space.
Both in Dubai and in India, the next metro will obviously arrive. If people in Dubai (Indians included) can be disciplined enough to wait for the next metro, why can’t we wait for the next metro in India? Why do we behave as if the next train won’t arrive at all? As if this is our last chance to reach home?
There’s a bigger issue in play here. We have been a poor country for generations now. In the recent past when the population exploded, we Indians had to learn to survive under significant lack of resources. Not just food, clothing and shelter but all kinds of resources. Our cities do not have the required road infrastructure to accommodate the rise in the number of vehicles. Our public transport systems do not have enough buses or trains. Bangalore has half the number of public transport buses required to support its population. The next Namma Metro arrives every 10 minutes while the next Dubai Metro arrives every 3 minutes. Our government schools and colleges are pathetic. Our government hospitals lack even the basic facilities. And these are just a handful of resources that we lack.
This resource deficiency has made us miserable. It is so imbibed in us that we always want to be the first to consume a resource as soon as it’s available. We cannot help but believe that a resource won’t be enough for everyone.
“If someone takes his share before me, there might be nothing more left.”
“I must not stop for the pedestrians to cross the road, I need to reach fast.”
“I must board this metro train/bus at all cost.”
“I must compete with other passengers to grab the seat as soon as its available.”
This very feeling that something (a resource) isn’t enough for everyone and will be over by the time your turn comes up is also known as the Scarcity Mindset. And this is exactly what most of us suffer from.
But wait it only gets worse from here.
Why do you think our politicians, police, bureaucrats, the people that run the system are involved in corruption? It’s the Scarcity Mindset at play again. The mentality that money isn’t enough for everyone and thus those in power must grab as much as possible and as soon as possible.
Here’s a ted talk I would like to introduce here,
Here’s another example from my recent visit to the Silicon Valley. Alcohol is served for free on certain flights. People with the scarcity mindset (not just Indians by the way but you can be sure that we are the ones who lead here as well) will drink 5 times their usual capacity. Why? Because here is a resource available for free and it may get wiped-out if everyone asked for it.
While abroad, you will be pleasantly surprised to notice how the cars and even the buses stop for the pedestrians to cross. You will be even more surprised to notice how honking is so rare.
I also liked how kids of Indian techies residing in US easily grasp the American accent but what’s more important is to ensure that they learn to be more openhanded and not develop the scarcity mindset.
Back at home, the curse of the scarcity mindset doesn’t look like fading away any time soon. There just isn’t enough for everyone.
This is a one man’s point of view but you are on my blog so what else do you expect? 😉