Start Function In Time-Don’t Make ‘Guests’ Wait for ‘Chief Guest’, Especially ‘Netas’?
Coming LATE to functions/events has been a trend here for the Chief Guests, especially the ‘NETAS’ (POLITICIANS) -who go by Indian Standard Time or Indian Stretchable Time (IST)? and for them, It’s Like: ‘Oh, It’s Ok If We’re An Hour Late’! The Inviter and Invitees will wait? Why even bother to invite these chief guests who can’t arrive in Time. And the bad part is that about 90% of the events that take place in and around Mangaluru, the politicians are the chief guests/Guests of honour- and 99% of the time they are late for the occasion. We all have experienced it in the past and experiencing it even now. The latest incident where a minister came late as a chief guest was at the ‘World Elders’ Day” celebrated at DK Zilla Panchayat Hall on 4 October- the programme which was supposed to start at 10:00 am, commenced at around 11:45 am, since chief guest Minister Ramanath Rai came nearly 2 hours late- and the best part is that he walked into the hall so cool, didn’t even apologize for the delay, nor gave reasons for the same. This “late” incident has been covered in many print media today and in our website yesterday-hoping that it would bring a change in the habit of our “late Kate” Netas?
Mangaluru: Being late and delaying stuff has been part of growing up for all of us here in Mangaluru, as well as India. Seriously, it is disheartening to see many Indians regardless of education, cast, creed and other exceptions are always delaying things. The irony is that we are very consistent throughout every sector in being late and procrastinating things and more often than not being proud of it. A time sustained joke “Indian Standard Time” is what we all grew up with. For years and years, we have heard, laughed and repeated the humour behind the words ” India Standard Time”.
Let’s call it ‘IST’ here. We accept it as a matter of fact and do not seem to feel embarrassed about it. For us punctuality is such a harsh term, we restrict it only to schools and army. Rest of the outings and appointments are run along IST. Each and every Indian has observed and commented, “Oh these Indians! They are always late”. Almost each and every Indian has maintained the features of the cultural trait IST, regardless of how busy their life is, how well travelled they are or to which part of the world they have migrated. Yet, when it is time to ridicule we have the propensity to refer Indian as “they”. How smart?
Reaching late at an event was a habit we grew up with. We just accepted the events to start late – wedding parties or just any get together did not have the constraints of time as we see today. It was an accepted fact that none of us complained about. It was a casual joke we laughed with insouciance as a ‘time pass story’. So, why I am writing this article about it? Because the casual joke of Indian Standard Time is always not funny and following the saying, ” Better late than never” is not funny either.
Oh yes! Politicians- All of us criticize them. And why not, after all, they set the example for us. They are the one who keeps a congregation of hundreds or thousands of people having to just wait for their dramatic arrival – the terminology here in the word ‘time’ is an abstract form. It is never interpreted as punctuality. Whether it’s showing up at a function in time or implementing the promises in the manifesto or setting up infrastructure in rural India delays are ubiquitous. The vicious cycle of babudom and the time taken in transferring files from one department to other has time and again proved to be detrimental for our country.
And the recent example- the programme “World Elders’ Day” organized at the Zilla Panchayat Hall which was supposed to start at 10:00 am sharp, unfortunately, commenced at 11:30 am- and you know why? Chief guest District-in-charge Ramanath Rai arrived one and a half hour late- some seniors in the audience were half tired and half asleep when he entered the hall, while a few had already left since they couldn’t wait any longer. Surprisingly the audience predominately of seniors were in their seats well before 10:00 am, some showed up at 9:30 am- if our elders can follow strict time schedule, why can’t our politicians? Everyone in the audience was losing patience, they were grumbling, cursing and what not, for making them wait. One thing I don’t understand is that our Netas follow most of the Western styles/habits, but why can’t they follow the strict time schedule? It’s not just Ramanath Rai, I am talking about every politician, from ministers, MPs to MLAs- they all show up late. Is there any solution for this- only Indian Scientists have to find one?
The other day I was getting ready for a party which was supposed to start at 8:00 pm. My friend started mocking me and said that “Are you crazy because you’ll be arriving there on time!!!” It’s a part of our culture to be late in parties and informal dinners. I have noticed weddings and other social parties in town-people don’t arrive for the starting session of the celebrations-they all show up during fellowship or dinner time. If that’s the case, why even start a formal function at an earlier time. Sometimes I feel these invitees are ignorant to arrive at a party or gathering late at their convenience. Why is it so that people don’t keep time and arrive late?
Reason? To show-off that we are important, busy and have a hectic life. That’s sick because it means wasting your time as well as not paying respect to others. Being late is considered offensive and irresponsible and rightly so. Our habit of not respecting time has made us insensitive to time. Politicians and other administrators exploit this habit and procrastinate realizing that we are used to it. Many of you may ask me why the heck am I always supporting the American way of lifestyle and manners being an Indian. Why not? There is no American, European or Indian in following manners-we all are human beings- most of us educated, from a decent family and God fearing. As Indians when we copy American way of living, lifestyle, fashion, music, etc etc, then why not copy American ways of manners, especially keeping “time”.
As a journo covering many events since the last couple of years, where the presence of our Netas is involved, every such event has started late, to be frank. So why even bother to have these politicians who can’t keep their time? Doesn’t make any sense to me. I have also noticed many a time these politicians come late for the function, and then they want to give their speech, so that they can leave early- and the great example is that of MLA Moideen Bawa, who is always late, no matter what- he comes late, speaks to the audience in a hurry, and exits the venue. This messes up the whole agenda of the event. But I like this guy for his “Binaca Smile” and his friendly nature- but sincerely don’t like his “Late” policy?
I remember yet another incident that happened when I attended an inauguration ceremony couple of years ago at an Art festival during the Mysore Dasara- a Swamiji of a Math was the inaugurator of the function, with the chief guest being a politician. When the politician didn’t arrive in time for the event, the upset and all fumed up Swamiji went ahead and inaugurated the function in the absence of the politician, spoke a few words and left the function. Another incident that I read was -the then Health Minister U T Khadar’s delay of more than three hours to attend a review meeting, which left the MLAs fuming in Hassan, on 22 October 2013- They also boycotted the programme and walked out of the meeting as soon as the Minister arrived at 1:30 pm, for a meeting that was scheduled to begin at 10:00 am. I liked that! Don’t you think such action should be taken here too so that our Netas could straighten up their habits of coming late?
The story doesn’t end here. Students are late for classes, teachers are late for lectures, dealers are late in supplies, public transport is consistently late, even emergency doctors are late! The only thing that is on time is procrastination. While on one extreme we see people loitering around aimlessly or engaging in conversation with total strangers on the other we see people jostling and pushing at bus stops and vegetable markets, as if their time is most precious in this country and it’s absolutely critical to reaching their destination or completing their task in record time. I think we should soon get rid of the famous concept of Indian Standard Time (IST) or it going to all-pervasive and make our children even more time insensitive.
Cultural and religious events like dramas, concerts, seminars, poojas, prayers and ceremonies rarely start in time. Yes, we grew up with this. We took our own laziness for granted. It is a deeply ingrained habit that can be changed. Have you noticed- even the TV programs on Indian channels do not seem to start in time. It is this kind of stretch that compels the need to improve. We need to mend our habit now. It is time to correct our drawback. We all grew alike with this habit. A very wrong habit indeed! Nobody should be wasting hours of waiting time. We need to inculcate a practical approach to repair it. It sure is possible.
Do we all know that we reached our school on time and even got punished for being late? We were disciplined into that. Our ‘National Anthem’ and ‘School Anthem’ started on time at school and the PE teachers were always so strict about timing. That is the discipline every school in India, for that matter even in Mangaluru, inculcates. So when does the habit of reaching late to social events creep into the system? I bet our politicians and religious leaders had learned when they were too school children to keep time. Why do we slide off from the strict convent or Jesuit institutions habit when it comes to social events?
A social party can sure, stretch for long, it is fun. No complaints here. But a formal gathering has to start in time. The speakers, the luminaries and leaders who agree to perform or preach, do owe that much respect and responsibility to their audience. It is no longer funny waiting a dreary one hour or more for the emcee to peep from the stage curtains and play a blaming game on technicians or power supply or for the actors to show up on stage. Our high and mighty stars, singers, sages and politicians travel around the world, but cannot reach the stage at the appointed time. Do they never feel guilty draining their audience of a few hours?
What’s more frustrating is that dealing with IST in daily life is impossible because your life is so intimately dependent on people around you. Both at work and outside, I find myself alone and helpless, racing beside the vast majority that slowly marches on at a completely different pace. It’s time to add punctuality to Indian Standard Time – we need to specify the time to be little more punctual. Respect for time should be our idea of Indian Standard Time (IST). Grow up India, it’s not uber-cool to be late! And this is a message, especially to our Netas?