Getting to Consumer Culture in India.
Thanks to Niti Bhan, I jumped into Dina Mehta's fascinating blog and its insights into the various cultures of India--the cultures of business, the cultures of consumption, the cultures of technology and more. Not the usual "culture" you expect from this kind of discussion.
This is what she has to say about attitudes towards rules and regulations:
No rule is absolute, everything can be worked around, finding loopholes in regulations is perceived as smart
Paying hard earned money to government as taxes is considered dumb.
Attitude towards wealth - Goddess Laxmi resides in your house in the form of wealth; if you please her and are attached to her she will flourish, if you let her "slip through your fingers," she will desert you.
Bribery is rampant everywhere: from acquiring a birth certificate to getting into a good school - it is 'commission,' almost like a service charge paid to the concerned person for doing your work.
This type of approach to rules and regulations has deeper cultural roots; Brahmins had to be paid 'dakshina' - fees to conduct rituals to invoke the gods, they were 'brokers' to reach God
Indians paid 'lagaan' - taxes in the feudal system, which went first to the Rajas and then the Moguls and British
Hierarchies are important to Indians - but at the same time, knowing how to work around them and the system is considered smart and right."
Fascinating. Niti is my guide to India. Her blog is must reading.