Tag Archives: society

Sprituality in abuse.

I was watching the India-Australia quarter-finals of the ICC World Cup 2011 at a lounge bar with a group of friends. Seated not very far was a group of four – 2 young couples who had also come to enjoy the match on the big screen, as everyone else in the bar that evening.

Both the boys seated together on a sofa, across the girls, however, were engrossed with their mobile phones.  The girls kept watching the match, chatted intermittently. Finally however, one of the girls, asked the boys “Why come here if you wanted to be the phone?”.

The boys ignored the question, prompting the girl to share a meaningful smile with the other, accompanied by “#@#*#&e (hindi expletive) hain”. How it was said was priceless.

The other girl laughed. Boys continued…on their phones.

The words seemed mildly inappropriate, coming from a beautiful girl, but brought a brief smile on my face even at that time.The meaning however is deeper.

Things that we were meant to enjoy go wasted, as we busy ourselves with nonsense.

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Context of culture – changing beliefs about rituals.

It was at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, on the eve of 26/11 that the thought first struck me about our changing attitude towards ‘frisking’ in semi-public spaces, particularly ones patronized by the privileged like us.
My friend Devdutt Pattnaik has written about rituals impacting beliefs.
Set in a changed context, beliefs around a ritual also change.
The act of being frisked has been frowned upon by all of us, a violation of personal space – our mind yelling “You don’t trust me?”. Security barricades and frisking at luxury hotels, or similar spaces, would be a complete no-no, a discourtesy, just a couple of years ago. However, in a changed context post 26/11, Mumbai (not that these were the first terrorist attacks, but the first impacting the elite), frisking, coupled with enhanced security and scanning devices, has come to be seen as an assurance – the mind giving a comforting “I think I can trust you!” signal.
This is perhaps how, over a period in time, culture is shaped.

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Recent attack against Indian students in Australia, bring out fear of a different kind in my mind.

UPDATED 11 June, 2009 – 10.25 am – Even as I decided to unpublish the post, within minutes of it being published, many had already read it. Next morning the newspapers carried an item on the front page about an alleged retaliatory attack against perpetrator of the first attack against an Indian citizen in Australia. Some people have requested me to publish the post again and I am doing so now…
The original post is below:
The recent racial attacks against Indian students in Australia had me searching for this insight that I had shared in focus group, a few months ago.
India and Indian have, for centuries, been victims of racial discrimination . When it wasn’t the colour of the skin, the accent of its people gave them away. As a poor, third-world country with a large illiterate population its people suffered meekly for decades.
However, advent of satellite television; urbanization of landscape and changed demographics with a large youth population coupled with rapid economic growth that put India amongst one of the fastest growing economies in the world (even after the slow-down from which India too is impacted) have led to a new, confident Indian, which is good.
Slowing economies in the developed world, jobs lost to India and elsewhere have polarized the populace in some way, sometimes leading people to react there the way they previously may have – discriminate based on race – e.g. Outburst again Indian outsourcing (abuse that BPO employees face).
India’s youth however is not prepared to take it lying down anymore – he/ she is turning brash too. Today they simply quit jobs where they face abuse, tomorrow they might turn back and respond.
Should we fear reverse racialism?
It is difficult to predict impact yet but clearly this is not a face of Indian youth known to the world:

  1. Indians are considered a hospitable community and that feeling may take a dent
  2. Can impact cultural relations between populations of countries: India Vs Australia cricket series (Symonds versus Harbhajan, or the other way round) soured relationship, even though it was limited to cricket grounds

Indians are at the receiving end again. And it only adds to my fear, and forbid were that scenario were to ever emerge, it would be truly sad.
Please note: I will be strictly moderating all comments on this post, so please stick to the subject of societal impact and do not deviate from the purpose of social studies. Thanks in advance.

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