Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dumb and dumber

"Remember", the instructor said to the class,"a 35 year old American's brain and IQ is the same as a 10 year old Indian's brain.... Americans are dumb, just accept it. "

- pg 53, One Night in a Call Centre

Yeah right. Much as I would like to revel in the idea of Indians being mentally superior, tuning into Go 92.5 FM's morning show over the last week has brought home this sobering reality.

We Indians are right up there when it comes to "dumb". How else would you explain the pathetic performance of listener after listener in Go's '30 ka 30' contest (30 foreign holidays to be won in 30 days!)

The questions are absolutely junta-level and yet, contestants struggle and squirm.

Q: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of which US state?
Ans: Minnesota?

Q: In which country is carmaker Hyundai based?
Ans: Japan?

Q: Complete the book title: Zen and the Art of _______ Maintenance
Ans: Could you repeat the question, please?

Competition is stiff. There have been instances where answering just 1 out of 4 such questions wins you that free trip. Sometimes both people get that 1 answer right and there is a 'tie-breaker'.

RJ Taraana herself got exasperated and had to clarify: It's luck, pure luck, who gets selected. So there. Don't blame us - we don't have a rigorous screening procedure. Boo hoo hoo to that!

Now you might argue 'low IQ' and 'poor GK' are two different things. Perhaps.

But Go 92.5 is aimed at people whom advertisers refer to as SEC (Socio-Economic Classification) A/ A1 category of listeners. The padha-likha class.

Lagta hai sab class mein chain ki neend so rahe the... !


  1. Hay, still in 99% of schools/colleges people graduate without having aquired written/verbal english skills leave about knowledge of Arnold Schwarzenegger and likes. and i dont think it is necessary to know this. so people can be padhe likhe without knowing answers of questions you mentioned.
    also leave about world an average american does not know about america itself.

  2. A Chartered Accountant I know was recently asked this question: What did Mahatma Gandhi stand for? Pat camw his reply: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi!

    ...I think we can excuse these listeners of Go 92.5 FM.

  3. Correct me if I am wrong-most of the inventions including computers were made by westerners-Also all the operating systems were invented by americans-so calling americans dumb and Indians as intelligent is just an escape mechanism.

  4. To be frank I don't like both the argument. The Instructor is just trying to boost the moral of the trainees. As for you I am sure only a select few in India would have really identified the correct answers. Even if I ask you to name some guy, Chief minister of some State I am sure there will be instances U will get confused. As for answers of these queries......even the best quizzers may get confused. Prepare right set of question for the kind of people you are targetting at. Need not say study prefrences of the so called A class people......u will get ur questions correct.

  5. The "elite" ya know the kind that read this blog...are few and far between.. ;-)) Prolly a few thousands out of the 100 crore Indian population. One of the tragedies of being well read and well educated is that we assume everyone's like us. But that's not how its in the real world you see. You have all sorts of people with all sorts of different aspirations and this is true across countries ....India, America wherever...

  6. dont agree with this article and Pentium77 is right.............u just cannot categorise a country of more than 110 crore people , not everyone can be well informed , well educated , well read is more than "one night at call centre".....a world where survival and daily chores of work take precedence these things hardly matter...we all must have known many people who have no knowledge about wats going on in the world but still are very sucessful.....IQ or EQ , Arnold or doesnt matter, wat matters is survival...please dont compare us with English, Americans , Japanese as our human spirit is far more superior than anything aross the world.........we have our flaws but the spirit survives and triumphs.

  7. Next time when I come to India, I will surely take part in such a quiz and win a foreign holiday. I dont think that 35 & 10 yr old wala funda is to be believed that easily. It just depends who is the person in context. Mostly in IS people just know what they are doing /what they are supposed to do. When it comes to computers or other gazette related stuff, people usually want to go through the easiest way, i.e calling call center rather than fiddling with the stuff.

  8. This is a big myth and I thought at least you Rashmi would not be having it. I came here in U.S with the same misconception that an average american is dumb. But that is far from true. I have found them to be very smart and intelligent people. And they know what they are doing and why they are doing it. The most important thing is they can think independently and "out of the box".Thats why as vasanthi said they are at the forefront of all the latest inventions in technology and we just keep "understanding" and mastering there invented stuff and be happy with the misconception that we are very smart.

  9. The Americans must be REALLY dumb.

  10. Now Rashmi, this post of yours really disappointed me (generally an admirer of your posts). Here is my bit -

    I guess general awareness and aptitude are two different issues (though not completely isolated). A farmer from a village might look blankly at us if one poses those questions to him. However deal with him on real life business he might turn out to (and often turns out to) be a most shrewd trader.

    Intelligence is something beyond knowledge or data.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. lol

    Maybe you shouldn't let a small quiz bother you about the IQ of Indians. Lets face it, everyone needs a holiday. The dumb need it more as you can very well see...

    Oh, re: the Americans. Not that I have any bias towards their favour. I know a few Americans and they aren't so bad. They aren't dumb for sure. But I do associate 'Ignoramus' with them, very accurately indeed. Although they do bitch about India and blame Call centers for job losses, they fcking can't pinpoint us on an Atlas. Less than 5% Americans bother to get a Passport.

    On the flip side, we Indians at home tend to isolate the 'goras' in to the dumb category, tend to be 'Ignoramus' as well and applaud our H1-B visa desi successfully patenting for IBM. Major parody, I'd say! What Ash is saying is true... They aren't dumb. They are draining our intellectual capital by using excuses and boosting the already balooning Indian egos. Right said, Vasanthi Emmauel

    Btw, I concur thoroughly with Aks's posting: Intelligence is something beyond knowledge or data.


  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. Lack of general awareness cannot be called dumbness, but it does shock you if someone doesn't know a thing you'd have thought the whole world knows----I recently met a lady who didn't know what I.I.T was!To give her the benefit of the doubt, she is 55plus, and belongs to a 'business family'.

  16. I have to disagree...

    "Now you might argue 'low IQ' and 'poor GK' are two different things", you said it. The question is not of IQ, but of maybe computing skills and quicker thinking. We here are less used to calculators than our American counterparts, and hence we tend to do more mental arithmetic in our day-to-day situations than them. Maybe that quicker arithmetic percolates to other fields, both academic and industry-related, but the general awareness, etc. are a different story.

    However, I too am amused about the kind of GK the 'A/A1' category of listeners possess. Maybe they could hold a contest titled, "Dumb and dumber" :)

  17. My line of thought: always blame Americans for thinking we are a land of snakecharmers etc, that they are like ostriches who know not much about how the rest of the world lives. We aren't that different!

    There were two different arguments here... one abt 'dumbness' in the sense the book was referring to. And second, about lack of awareness or GK.

    I didn't write this as a meaningful, insightful or significant post - more in a light hearted vein... Please mujhe se har baar chaand-taarey na expect kijiye.

    Lastly, the foreign trips are mainly Bangkok-Pattaya type so don't feel too bad. It's cheaper to fly to Thailand than Delhi on some days. We cna do it on our own steam.

    Now if those trips were to Sweden or Rio de Janeiro or some such exotic destination I might've exerted myself a bit more to keep dialling in!

  18. Oh!!! Guess the Americans must be even bad..

  19. Analysis of a person who analyses the Indian youth.

    "But Go 92.5 is aimed at people whom advertisers refer to as SEC (Socio-Economic Classification) A/ A1 category of listeners. The padha-likha class. "

    --> I wonder why Americans had to be brought into the picture in the first place. Let us look at the mindset.

    1. "Indians are dumb to not know these answers"

    2. "We stereotype Americans to be dumb, look at desis, they don't even know answers to these, so we must be dumb"

    Notice the common "stereotype" theme in the above statements.

    "But Go 92.5 is aimed at people whom advertisers refer to as SEC (Socio-Economic Classification) A/ A1 category of listeners. The padha-likha class."

    --> What exactly does it mean to be a "padha-likha" aadmi these days? Do all "padha-likha" folks have to know about Robert Pirsig?

    "Now if those trips were to Sweden or Rio de Janeiro or some such exotic destination I might've exerted myself a bit more to keep dialling in! "

    ---> whoa... so the Bangkok-Pattaya types(not my usage) are not exotic enough? Familiarity Breeds Contempt?

    I know I am being a pain-in-the-ass but hey, who said you can't.

  20. i guess your post really touched a nerve, rashmi!

    this radio quiz reminds me of a segment on a Jay Leno show... same GK type questions you'd think are so easy people would laugh at his face, except there were enough who didn't have a clue to make the asking funny.
    the difference though is this - while the radio questions expect the world news section of a newspaper to be read at least infrequently, sample the Jay L questions: Name three oceans... which war did george washington fight...
    blank faces all round. "I studied Literature in college, so wouldn't know," says one padha-likha type girl.
    I guess she'd have known the Motorcycle Maintenance answer...

  21. kudos to the "finding smart people to work with you" Bit, in ur profile!
    Cheers & Luck

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