|Before I begin, I’d like to say that I am Malaysian and I am very proud of being Malaysian, but I am also Indian. I don’t think one takes away from the other. I can be Indian because that’s what my tradition and heritage is, and it goes back to a good 4,000 years. Arguably even 6,000 years, depending on which historian you’re speaking to. Having said that, I think it’s important to recognise who we are, before we look at what we’re going to be pursuing.I had the occasion a while back of addressing the Madras Management Academy, which is the oldest institute of management in India. And uniquely enough, they asked me what I had to say as an Indian. The concept was basically ‘Indianness’ and what it’s good for. So I was able to give them an idea of what I think an Indian is, because I am looked upon as an Indian from the Diaspora. So am I Malaysian? Am I Indian? Where is the line drawn? Should I be embarrassed at being one at the cost of the other? I don’t think so.
(Video of 13 year old Street vendor is played)
Now do you want to talk about the Indians in this country? If we sit there waiting with our palms open, then we’ll be waiting for a long time. My grandfather used to say, (Translated from Tamil) “If you’re going to work, do it with a clenched fist, not an open palm, or else we’ll be waiting for handouts all the time.” Maybe all we need to do is be pushed a little bit closer, a little bit harder, to who we can really be. That child you saw in the video doesn’t go to school and speaks in 11 different languages. To me it’s a shame, look at the boy, he’s an entrepreneur. If we’re willing to work, we can learn.