The senior official  rose from his seat to welcome the visiting consultant from New York. This consultant had just submitted a report on stepping up GNP growth. After exchanging a few pleasantries the official came to the point .

–We sent the consultancy fee cheque of 30000 dollars promptly. Did you receive this ?

–Yes, Yes, no problem about that, the consultant replied .

—Your report is being processed by our experts, but meanwhile can you give a very short summary of your findings and recommendation so that our follow-up work is not delayed?

—Yes. Basically I found that several sections of your people find contentment too easily. GNP is more likely to increase if people feel more uneasy and try to get ahead of others all the time. So  you have to find ways of changing the behavior of those people in your country who find satisfaction and contentment too easily.  They  should be more restless and more ambitious to get ahead of others.

—Thank you for this important finding. No doubt it will be very useful in our efforts to increase GNP more rapidly.

The consultant left. The senior official opened the file containing his report and thought over the matter for a few minutes.

Then he rang up a top behavior change expert, and fixed up a meeting in the same afternoon.

–We have an important assignment for you, Professor. Do you remember what I told you about our US consultant last time?

–The one who was studying the GNP increase issue?

–Exactly. Well, now we have his report. He has stated very clearly that the behavior patterns of many sections of our population have to change. They are satisfied too easily and remain content. GNP won’t increase much with such attitudes.  We have to find ways of changing the behavior pattern of these people. So your next assignment for us is to find ways of achieving this. With your great expertise and skills in field work I can not think of a better expert than you for this assignment.

The expert was flattered. In any case he was only too happy to accept this assignment which he knew would be a high-paying one with all the comfortable travel and stay arrangements also being made by the government.

Next day he took a flight and spent two  days of rest and consultation with local officials. Then he embarked on his field-work.

On the outskirts of a village he came across a tribal sitting under a nice shady tree and playing his flute.

It was a very sweet tune without doubt and even the arrogant expert was reluctant to disturb. He allowed the flute song to be over, then went up to the tribal.

–Hey  you lazy bones. What are you doing here getting so musical in the morning. Don’t you know this is the rush hour when everyone is busy earning and here you sit lazily under a tree. It is because of people like you that the country cannot progress. The growth of GNP is harmed by such attitudes, and you  must understand this.

The tribal was puzzled. He could not understand. After some reflection he murmured—Well my brother has gone to the farm and I have brought the animals for grazing. What else is there to do?

–You could have gone to the city to earn extra, or at least you could have gone to the nearby quarry. Haven’t you seen the style in which people in city live? Don’t you want your children to be like their children? Or even look at your own village’s Ramesh . Only yesterday an official told me about his progress. After he returned from city hasn’t he got much ahead of lazy blokes like you? Don’t you want to get ahead of others?

The tribal was still puzzled. He asked—But how will this help me or anyone else?

The official was getting exasperated. He said– Why if you earn more money then you can save more. You will have a bank balance. And then you can just throw back your hands and relax.

–But this is precisely what I am doing now, the tribal said, as he picked up his flute .

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist and author who has been involved with several social movements. His collection of Hindi short stories is titled Sachai Ki Kasam ( Under Oath for Telling Truth).


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