Individual Success in India is Probably Over-Rated

I have a theory, but unlike Mr. Malcolm Gladwell, who has realms of objective data to bolster his conclusions, I have only circumstantial, subjective evidence to support mine.
The thought first came to me while reading Mr. Gladwell’s book, “Outliers”, in which, he argues that successful individuals and geniuses are as much a product of their circumstances, as their own hard-work, talent and capabilities. He gives multiple examples to support his theory…Jewish law firms in New York, Canadian football players and violinists, among others. Around the same time, during one of our school-reunions, I noticed that more than 90% of my school-colleagues are doing well, irrespective of how they had fared in school or junior college.
So here’s the theory!
All you need to be successful (as measured by comfort, status, wealth), is to have been born a male, in the mid-60s, in Mumbai and to have studied in a good English-medium, preferably a convent, school.
That’s it! I know how silly this sounds at first read…but think about it! Look around you and apply it to all those who you know fit the bill.
The theory of course, follows the 80-20 rule, i.e. it works for 80 out of 100 men who meet these criteria and finished school around 1980. Of the other 20, 10 odd probably have emotional and psychological issues preventing them from doing well and the other 10 are perhaps so fortunate or capable, that they would have done well, irrespective of when and where they were born.
Also, of these successful 90%, the ones thriving the most are those who went and joined medium-sized and large companies and became accountants, lawyers, engineers and/or did their MBAs. Not that those with their own businesses or those who are self-employed are not doing well!
When I mentioned this first to a group of friends, the explanation that cropped up and made the most sense was that when the economy opened up in 1991 and there was suddenly a need for middle and senior level managers who could speak English, work hard and had common-sense, those born in the mid-60s, suddenly found themselves in the thick of it all…in the right time, at the right place.
This is not to discount talent and hard-work, which are a given and essential requisites. This theory is about something more. A set of circumstances that has enabled this particular male generation…my generation…to do well, irrespective of how the individuals fared in school or college, as long as they worked hard and got along with their colleagues and peers.
Maybe in India, its even simpler. Maybe, all that is required in our country to do well in life, irrespective of when you were born, is to have gone to a good English medium school in a large metro city and to have a decent EQ (emotional quotient). It is not that others in different circumstances don’t do well…its just that it is that much easier when you are born in the right environment and that much tougher for the rest!

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