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The Right Question

February 7th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Asking the right question can make all the difference.

It was the right question that led Atanu Dey to a different career. His question: “Why is India poor?” This is a question which can, I hope, one day transform a nation’s future.

I thought of this again when Bhavana (my wife), after walk/runn-ing the half Marathon, asked “Why do my feet hurt?” Coincidentally, I had got a book from a well-wisher “Born To Run” which had the author asking the same question. So, I started reading the book, embarking on a fascinating journey into the world of ultrarunning.

In work or in personal work, asking the right question can open new vistas. As long as we are not afraid to seek out the answers.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Veerchand Bothra // Feb 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I think one of the answers is that India is poor because of its recent colonial history.

    Which was true till 1947.

    So perhaps the right question is “Why is India still so poor after more than 60 years of independence and self-rule?”

  • 2 Atanu Dey // Feb 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Veer,

    The question “Why is India poor?” subsumes your question in the sense that if you answer former question, you answer the latter as well.

    Your answer to India’s poverty in terms of “its recent colonial history” is rich with ambiguity. It could refer to India’s colonial past under the British, or it could refer to the neo-colonial rule of the Congress which is now in force under the Congress-led UPA government.

  • 3 Bhuvan // Feb 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Great TED talk here by Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run):
    http://blog.ted.com/2011/02/03/are-we-born-to-run-christopher-mcdougall-on-ted-com/

  • 4 mockingbuddha // Feb 22, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Who says India is poor, it is just that the riches are and were unevenly distributed. India was never a poor country, historically it was one of the richest, but for a brief period of colonial oblivion.

    In days of old, India was referred to in the same spirit in which we refer to the richness of America or Japan.

    Many people remained poor, but as I pointed out, the problem was distribution, the bigger problem being that it was accentuated by social distinctions.

    As for Bhavana’s foot, it was born to run, but didn’t when it could… One sees parallels with India’s fate, our India, born to run, but hobbled, mainly from within.

    Much before the British came in, we had lost the itch to run, we had got fat on our successes, our sciences stagnated, our technologies saw no innovation, the intellect had darkened and had busied itself with other worldly things, and the end result was that the nation withered and died.

    The British brought back the concept of nation to us, but by then we were too weary to appreciate it.

    People and nations who lose the itch and drive, have to necessarily surrender to the hegemony of others equipped with better drive and ambition.

    As a nation, we went to rot, and Indian poverty is but a reflection of that rot. Can we wake up, is the question, and the most pragmatic response is Deng’s “Let some people get rich”

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