Sunday, November 2, 2008

Scars Unseen

“Children of god” is such a clichéd term that it has lost its significance. It no longer stands for even a sliver of what it used to. It may be one of the few terms in English that can be translated into any other language and still hold its value.

Before you think that I have lost my sanity, let me tell you where this is coming from.

Sat through two lectures of Society and Business Management and conducted one session as a group assignment. The research involved made me realize that what we believe is no longer what we practice. We found some startling facts about the real India and what really goes on inside people’s head.

We conducted numerous interviews. Everyone from “chhotu” to “Mr. Joe Regular”.

The First.
We met a small girl who was a snake charmer. The question –
Why she did what she did?
The reply?
“Because I believe this is what god wants me to do”

This is possible the most outlandish reasoning I have heard in my life. Granted that she was an innocent, but nonetheless this is what people are telling their kids these days.

The Second.
This was a “chai-wala”. Looked no more than 12, but had an electrifying smile and may just make you believe that he’s an actual adult.
Same question.
“Dad told me to.”
Next - What does dad do?
“He’s a farmer in UP.”

This is the perennial vicious cycle. Dad worked as a child. Makes son work as a child. Grandson ends up working as a child. It is just too difficult to find the breaking link.

The Third.
This girl was managing the shop while her mother was at home. She doesn’t have a father. She goes to school in the morning, comes back to work at the shop and studies in the evening. She had wisdom beyond her years – something you wish you could sometime see in some college grads.

So that’s what has been bothering me all week. How can any parent allow their kid to work?
But more importantly, how can we just standby and do nothing?

I have no foundation to even attempt to understand the logic behind this. But I know that it is wrong. Every person of sound mind should be against this. It should be so preposterous that it stimulates us to action.

But that’s where the problem lies. ACTION.

We asked a person buying fire crackers on diwali what he thought about the child labour involved in manufacturing those crackers. He simply replied that it was the government s job to stop the law-breakers, not his. He further explained away his situation by saying that he was restricting himself to a minimum of crackers for this diwali.

Can we actually get any more insensitive?

One of my classmates has taken an initiative to teach poor kids here at the college. We were sceptical and found all the right reasons for him to be wrong. We came up with all excuses such as - “attention grabber”, “marks-oriented”, “will-never-go-through-with-it guy”.

But this is what I realised. I have no right to criticize him. Why?

Because I have not spent five minutes even thinking about those kids and their situation.

Does that mean that I’m an awful person? No. It simply means I don’t give a damn.

We have become so involved in our own lives we find it difficult to empathize with anyone. We distance ourselves from any crisis that doesn’t concern us.

So is that what we are? Self-centred, narcissistic, indifferent, arrogant?

I honestly hope not. Someone please prove me wrong.

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