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Why is teamwork difficult in India?

23 March, 2014 by Sunit Nandi

I have a wonderful friend Bijaya Lakshmi Sarma with whom I often talk a lot. We discuss anything and everything from schooldays to psychology to technology and sometimes even the Indian society. On one day while chatting with her, an idea hit me that I wanted to share with everyone but I cannot explain verbally, so I’ll write it all down.

If you are an Indian, I hope you are already frustrated with many problems. My fellow Indians have often written numerous articles on social evils, education system, corruption and the like. Today, I’m going to write on something that has never been written on properly before, and that is “teamwork” and how it is related to our existing problems.

Teamwork is something that is difficult to perform in India, mainly because how our social system is designed. I’ll now be stating my reasons why I feel that way.

Let me show you the background first.

We are born as an average Indian baby and grow up under the care of our parents and a few years later we are ready to go to school. At school we first learns that we have to compete with everyone around us in all aspects. Parents often compare their us with other kids and make us feel guilty of not living up to their so called “high expectations”, without which they will not be “respectable” in the society. What we all fail to realize is that being an all-rounder is a myth and we all have our strengths and weaknesses. That every child is special and none is perfect.


Moving deeper into school life, many of us are often not given a chance to perform in activities and fine arts, just because we failed our qualifying attempt. Same happens to sports. Schools are only interested to train and improve kids who are already good at their activity, because their “reputation” depends on such students. Hence, the mindset of superiority and inferiority starts to build up at an early age. In my opinion, a school should be an incubation zone and not an elimination zone. But more often than not, its the other way round. At school everyone should be given every opportunity to try out every possible activity whether they are good at it or not. After all many skills are gained by experience. But this never really happens.

Then comes our famous engineering (like IIT-JEE, AIEEE) and medical (NEET) entrance examinations and not to mention, the other exams to join the top arts and commerce colleges. We’re all expected to join a bandwagon and perform “because everyone is doing it” and parents force us too, without even thinking twice what we actually want to do with our lives.


College is a rather quiet phase in the first half. Since we are un-innovative, lets not expect any fireworks here.

Then we move on to job placements. There is huge competition in jobs and we all try to get better jobs than our peers and to secure our lives the best way possible.


Then when we start climbing the job ladder, we Indians have this mindset of trying to make the most of it without giving a second thought to our ethics and our responsibilities as a human being. We put our coworkers in trouble, whenever we can. Some of us take bribes to fill our pockets. We don’t like to work. We look for loopholes to bypass most of the problems without actually solving them. We want instant gratification at any cost and without thinking of the consequences. Getting rich and having power is all what roams free in our minds.


This gets reflected in our society. We try to make ourselves look better than our fellow citizens by hook or by crook. Moreover, instead of solving a major problem we like to avoid it and shove the blame off to someone else’s shoulders. Unknowingly or knowingly we spend most of out time trying to beat people at their own game or one-upping them, instead of trying to make our own lives better. We also force our children to outperform other children in their studies and activities because “its a matter of name/pride/honour”.

And this vicious cycle goes on.. to make ourselves honourable while dishonouring others. And that is why our nation doesn’t progress at the pace we expect. Because we have a tendency to drag people down who wish to progress.


I’m not saying we Indians are not hardworking. We are indeed hardworking, but do not channel our efforts in an appropriate manner.

So this is the background so far.

Now I’ll state the reasons why teams don’t go well in India:

  1. Its deeply ingrained in our personality and society that we need to compete with anyone and everyone that we see and to prove that we are better than anyone at whatever they’re good at. envy
  2. We let our honour and pride (read arrogance) overpower our logic and make us blind. arrogance
  3. We follow the beaten track that almost everyone follows. It only hampers our opportunity to create new opportunities and co-exist with others. job
  4. We only think of instant gratification and short term gains.
  5. When made to work in a team, we get deeply involved in jealousy and power struggle with other team members. (See point 1) When problems do not sort out, we tend to act secessionist (like splitting up) and not in a cooperative way.
  6. When we shirk our responsibilities, we make excuses and shift the blame to someone else in the team. Same applies to our mistakes. Painkillers
  7. We do not try to understand the efforts a hardworking team member puts in and also continue to make him/her go through all trouble. And worse, even drag him/her down.
  8. Lastly but most importantly, we force our opinion on others and try to curb their expressions and wishes. We do it on our children and force them to be like us and the cycle goes on. roti

I know I have listed the extremities of our behaviour. But as long as these will continue we cannot expect to progress. The faster we get out of this cycle, the better it is for us.

Our future is in our hands. We cannot continue to afford placing our ego above everything else.

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