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03 March 2024

Most NRIs only exist, they do not live: author Chetan Bhagat

By Nisha Sanjeev and video interview by Veathika Jain

India’s widely read banker-turned contemporary writer Chetan Bhagat, who boasts an unrivalled fan following in millions, was in Dubai early this week to ‘inspire’ non-resident Indians on living life better.

“NRIs just exist, they do not live life,” said the author, columnist and speaker.

Majority of expats claim to be happy based on factors such as an annually increasing bank balance, bigger homes and seeing kids in good educational institutions that they forget to ‘live’ life.

Settling down into thus they begin to ‘fade’ away with no enthusiasm to be alive, he opined.

Quoting extensively from his own experiences to validate his opinions, Bhagat claimed that he hates giving advice, especially to a crowd comprising Dubai expats.

“If you can afford to be here, you don’t require my advice,” was his opening line of the talk titled – ‘An Inspirational evening by Chetan Bhagat’ - before generously suggesting dos and don’ts.

Challenging Indian politics, its social and cultural mindset, the speaker urged NRIs to live life, take risks and pursue ones dreams. But when posed a direct query – should one chase dreams ignoring relationships?

“Well, relationships are equally important. It’s good to find a balance,” he clarified and quickly added, “family is the base for him” and even confessed about his dream of being a househusband, which he lives without regret today.

“Keeping ones ego low is a secret to a happy life,” he shared.

So what was new in the talk that called to ‘inspire’ the audience?

Probably facts from his life and his secret of success - a habit of asking ‘what next’ and challenging himself.

From one book to five bestsellers, three Bollywood movies, columns and playing a TV host, he continues to challenge himself the moment he feels ‘settled’.

About 2.3million Twitter followers and 4.2 million Facebook fans, Bhagat is, indeed, a voice to reckon with the masses, as he rightly calls himself a ‘populist person’.

He claims to take the responsibility that comes with success seriously.

He travels to the inner pockets of India and attempts to change their way of thinking, which he believes is the crux of change in any society.

However, until factories are set up in rural India, change will be minimal, he fears.

Progress is not about a hand-full of students in chosen institutes making a mark, rather it’s when the chunk of middle class Indian kids get quality education and their standards are comparable to that of the West.

Unfortunately it is a long way to go.

Meanwhile, he keeps ‘himself busy’ interacting with people the most, speaking his mind and seeking the change he wants to see.

“Be so busy improving yourself that you have no time left to criticise others!”