*) - Indian Society
(# 12 - Shivam Pandya)
Before embarking on the adventurous exploration of a multi-hued entity such as the Indian society, let us see what a ‘society’ constitutes. The word is bandied about so freely that it can mean virtually anything, right from our immediate neighbors to some unknown person sitting thousands of miles away. It is supposed to be a group of people who are so concerned about us that our every step is supposed to elicit a reaction from them. We all think, before doing anything, “What will the society think?” So, a society is our invisible censor, our unseen reviewer and an indiscernible rewarder.
Our own society, remember, is much more than that. It is the way we think, our psyche, a mirror to our own selves. Our society is a reflection of who we really are. And that might not always be a pretty picture. From what we have observed recently, there is a lot of pervasive negativism. Our list of celebrities includes a porn star, an ex-moll of a gangster, a neurotic and a stripper. Soon, probably a match-fixer will join in. We accept anyone, as far as they do not affect us directly. So, watching Sunny Leone gyrate on vulgar songs is acceptable, but talking about sex education is a taboo. We are a society that bans young girls from wearing jeans because it entices men to rape, but gleefully ogle at the latest Poonam pandey video. We are a society that has the cleanest homes and the dirtiest streets. Metaphorical? Probably.
But, there must be something good about our society, right? Otherwise, how would anyone explain its massive stature, its power to dictate our actions and its ruthlessness in ostracizing those who do not toe its line? The ‘good’ here refers to the comfort of the majority. The Indian society functions on the perceived majority opinion. So, anyone who obeys the conventional, the traditional is a part of the society, and anyone who doesn’t is a rebel, a rotten apple or a bad fish. But, as Henrik Ibsen would tell you in An enemy of people, “The majority is never right. Never, I tell you. That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population- the intelligent ones or the foolish?” Probably he is right. Perhaps not. But, in order to understand the psyche of Indian society, one must try to decode how it functions.
A lot of people say that India is a cultural melting pot. This is where they are wrong. In a melting pot, all the ingredients lose their flavor to become one, to taste the same. And that taste might be absolutely delicious, but nobody will know which ingredient contributed what. India, actually, is like a salad bowl. Its every ingredient retains its distinct flavor and yet the taste of the full dish is equally delicious. So, a society that accepts Sunny Leone is also the same that accepts two great contemporary Pakistani singers- Atif Aslam and Adnan Sami! For now, let us observe some of the quirks that set us apart from the rest of the world.
An interesting mirror to any society in the world, and including our own, is its cinema. Over the decades, our cinema, and more importantly, the antagonist of our movies has been a mirror to our societal trends. So, from 50s to 90s, the archetypical villain ranged from a greedy landlord to wealthy industrialist to a mafia don to ‘rich’ parents. All through, one thread was common- the villain was never poor. It indicates a general mistrust of us Indians towards the rich. We felt so angry and disillusioned when the recent match fixing scandal came up. Most of us said that the ‘money’ was the root of all evils, no matter how clichéd it sounded. But the same people never hesitate to offer or receive a bribe. But it’s acceptable as the amount exchanged is relatively paltry. When people are doing scams of hundreds of millions, where does a hundred rupee bribe hurt? So, we explore another side- our society can accept evil, depending upon the magnitude.
While we are exploring foundations, let’s explore another fascinating facet- religion. The word tends to evoke extreme reactions from all quarters. The atheists will be condemned by the believers who will condemn each other for believing in a God different from theirs. Yes, we all Indians have our own Gods. And we all have our own rituals to appease our Gods. And no matter how much we hold Them in reverence, They are also our favorite punching bag when things go wrong. Why do we tend to accuse the same One whom we pray fervently? Is it because we need someone to blame for our failures? If it’s true, then who better than God, whom nobody has seen, at least physically? But, there is something about religion that attracts us all. And that is something we all crave for- peace of mind. And that is the biggest strength of our society. We have Someone to turn to in the times of distress. We know there is Someone who will hold our hands and guide us, should we fall wayward. And that is the biggest strength of our society, perhaps the superglue that holds us all. A belief in the power that is beyond us. In India, our religion decides our name. Our religion decides our marriage. And our religion decides what will happen to us after we die. The very identity of most Indians is their religion, and that gives a distinct flavor to every Indian.
From the highs of heaven to a mystifying malady that we all suffer from- Akinetic mutism. No, not the actual medical syndrome, but just a curious variant of the same. In the original disease, a person can hear, see everything, but lacks the ability to mount a response. In the variant, people drive by someone who is injured on the road, and don’t do anything about it. People who didn’t rush to help a rape victim suffered from it. People who don’t raise their voice when subject to injustice suffer from it. And our society is full of such silent sufferers. The reason afforded is often that one should ‘adjust’ and move on. This curious case of every Indian is the reason that we have crimes against women, corrupt leaders and arrogant administrators. Because everyone who commits a crime, knows he can get away scot-free, since the people will be too busy being busy. Napoleon was right on target when he said that “The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of the good.” And, the values of non-violence being instilled in our veins, we always remain ‘good’, and let the evil rear its ugly head, praying that we be spared.
Our society needs change. And that change will not come from a superhero, but from within. We need to accept that our society, while being great, is far from perfect, and as its future components, we have to make sure it changes for the better. George Bernard Shaw echoes a similar sentiment when he says, “We must reform society before we can reform ourselves.”
*) - No entry submitted by # 53 Dhruv Jain
Judging not apllicable.
Result - Shivam Pandya is the winner of the match by walkover win and Dhruv Jain is assigned to parallel league.
*This is third walk-over victory of this round.