Do Indians Hate Air Conditioners?

How often have you heard the following on Facebook, or the comment sections of blogs:

“You’re sitting in an air conditioned room and passing judgment”


“People are passing comments from their A/C rooms, without understanding anything”



At first, I was puzzled by this constant reference to air conditioners and ACs. Do we Indians despise ACs? Clearly it’s not meant to be a symbol of affluence, otherwise the same would apply to cars, big houses, etc. But after thinking about it for a while, the reason is obvious. Air conditioners symbolize a separation from the nitty gritties of the real world.

Because in India, the “real world” is messy, dusty, hot, and noisy. Like everyone else, I’ve experienced the sheer joy of stepping into an AC room after spending some time outside. The sudden quiet. The cool air. The separation from the “outside”. And the outside is what is perceived as “real”. Those in AC rooms are deemed to be cut off from the realities of India.

This has now become a metaphor. I can guarantee, that most people complaining about people sitting in A/C rooms are in one themselves. With Internet connectivity. But such is the power of the AC in India to create an illusion of safety from the outside world, that the metaphor persists.

For me, an air conditioner in India is an absolute necessity. I am never again returning to my poor college days when I wake up with my sweat drenching the bed sheets. I can finally be beyond all that…until the power goes off. But I’ve just answered my own question. I have the money to use an AC. To separate myself from the chaos outside. And so the idea of the air conditioner symbolizing a detachment from reality goes on…

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11 thoughts on “Do Indians Hate Air Conditioners?”

  1. Air conditioners, like many other things, became a symbol that only the babus in Communist India used to have. That’s why people talk of them the way they do. Affluence was seen as something that would forever be beyond reach…and the Nehruvians convinced the people that there was something even immoral about affluence. The result of Nehruvian economics was of course blamed on Hindus and the outcome was labelled “Hindu rate of growth”.


    • In reply to AB

      In all fairness, at that time it was impossible to predict the disaster that socialism/communism would become. It seems pretty obvious to us now looking back at the collapse of the Soviet Union, the woes of Argentina, Greece etc. But in the 1940s, it was a struggle between the two economic systems of capitalism and socialism – championed by the USA and the USSR.

      I often feel people judge the economic decisions of the past too harshly with 20/20 hindsight. The politicians of that time had to pick a side. And they picked the wrong one.

      At least at that time, politicians had some vision. They were in general educated, had some kind of principles (right or wrong), were articulate and were less petty than the guys we see around us today. This is not me praising the “good old days”. It’s the nature of democracy to ultimately cater to the lowest common denominator. Given enough time, the quality of politicians will sink to the lowest base value. Even in the US, there are no longer politicians of the caliber of Emerson, Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln etc. Like India, the politicians there have come down to the basest they can get away with – à là Trump.

      Things always start out good and with the best of intentions. I’m sure that when it started, communism was wonderfully idealistic. Unfortunately, it failed to account for the natural human tendency to look out for themselves. That’s not a bad thing. I do it too. I put myself before everyone else first. And any system that expects otherwise is doomed to failure.


      • In reply to bhagwad


        “In all fairness…”

        “I’m sure that when it started, communism was wonderfully idealistic…”

        There is something about needling the great “Chacha jaan” that brings out the deep seated sense of “fairness” in ever liberal :)


      • In reply to bhagwad

        Some trivia, btw. Pull out that $20 bill, everyone’s favorite. Whose face do you see? A certain Andrew Jackson, perhaps? Do you know that when Jackson was running against John Adams for president, the latter created posters and planted news items that Jackson was an “adulterer”. At some point, perhaps earlier, Jackson’s mother had been described by an opponent as a prostitute brought along by British soldiers… And also check out the attacks on the sexual history of Jackson’s wife…lol


  2. yes well said….all of us who can afford them use them….to keep comfortable..and escape from the reality of whats going on “out there “..and thats a must too..1 am over here…i’ve got.AC and internet….what more can one wish for ? ..oh yes one more thing…an emergency light and generator ….but..make sure the light is charged and the generator is working and topped up with petrol..


  3. Yea it’s so hot in India. Totally agree – A/C is a necessity. I remember when I went to India years ago, and the places you didn’t have A/C, you had to have like 5 fans blasting.


  4. People who write such comments do not have Air-conditioners . It just indicates that AC is still a luxury in India. Not all people have Air-Conditioners. Many people still use Air-coolers that feed on water.


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