We are still Closet Socialists

I often find that I sell myself short. When it comes to doing client work – I’d undercharge, or I’d make the matter of money very trivial – as if it was the last thing on my mind, and be extra eager to please – ‘Haanji, yeh bho ho jayega ji’. Of course I’d realise later what I had signed up for – and have begun to learn the hard way that it is definitely the wrong way to go!

What’s interesting is when I recently worked with a freelance Illustrator for some design work, he seemed to be echoing the same feelings. This was a young guy, fresh out of college with maybe a few months work experience. The work that we were doing increased a bit – but he did not ask me to re-evaluate the quote and I assumed that it was okay with him. Later when it came to the final payment and I asked him why he did not talk about this earlier, he said ‘Mujhe paise ki baat karna achcha naheen lagta’.

And I realised that a lot of us perhaps still attach a certain amount of guilt to the pursuit of money – we guys are still closet socialists. Note that it is not that we think that money is wrong – it’s just that we are reluctant to ask for it. I’m not sure if this was the right phrase to describe this mentality, but here’s what Pavan K Verma in his book Being Indian writes on the chapter on Wealth:

The year 1991 removed the stigma associated with the pursuit of wealth. It buried the need for hypocrisy for the aspiration to be rich … People could now do openly – and with greater effectiveness – what they had tried to do surreptitiously under Nehruvian socialism:find ways to make money for themselves.

Perhaps we (I?) still need to pull myself out of this mentality.

A related post on my design blog: Dihari baandhna mat bhoolo

4 thoughts on “We are still Closet Socialists

  1. suparna says:

    As catchy as the term ‘closet socialism’ is and it is extremely catchy :)….i have to disagree with the fact that thats what Indians suffer from…Indian are, plain and simple, just in the closet…there are a bunch of topics which are taboo and noone wants to bring them up because they think its ‘wrong’…money is just one of them…sex is another (asking for a condom or birth control for instance)…i actually feel people even tend to be shy about asking where the washroom is….socialism isnt synonymous to charity or doing things for free…its about state ownership of capital and equal distribution of wealth and the end of exploitation of the working class etc…the guy in your example, for instance, probably even if the state owed him his fair share of money and due to some oversight had forgotten to give it to him, he still wouldnt have asked–its not closet socialism, just plain and simple in the closet!!!! :)

  2. A wonderful insight, typically happens with me. I always thought this is a phenomena with business where I get too excited and want to close the deal out of impatience. But i realized its beyond that. It reflects in the way i budget for my pocket money that comes from home as well. But i realized that its not the case with people in Mumbai. They often reject offers that don’t match their quote. So i think its our “Sirjee n Hanjee” attitude. Substantial damage is caused because the follow on orders cannot be priced higher. Guess i will stick to math before i become a NPO !!!

  3. Ashish says:

    Chigge – thanks for stopping by! Checked out Chillums – nice site and really cool logo.

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