Skip to main content

See oneself in some other’s shoes


Seven or eight years back, while waiting for a pointless editorial meeting to begin, a colleague of mine narrated a horror story of how his family had to literally run away in a single day from their ancestral property in Kashmir. Even now, they haven't returned and their house is occupied by people whom were not given permission and they don't pay any rent. Until then, this event in Kashmir was a fact that resided in my mind, but when I heard it from my former colleague, I put myself in his shoes and truly felt the anguish his family would have felt.
In the last three or four months, I have taken the opportunity of reading and watching stuff related to 1984 anti-Sikh riots and 2002 Gujarat riots. Reading many of the first person accounts made me shudder that the slaughter happened at the very city where I am living right now (1984 riots). Friends and neighbors turned into butchers, and strangers protected families. In both these riots- based on eyewitness accounts as narrated in books/ newspaper reports/ police reports- there are a lot of commonality. First, it was certainly not a spontaneous response. For example, in Delhi when Sikh houses were being burnt, survivors narrate how fuel was arranged systematically. Imagine if anyone decides to burn 10 houses, it's not an easy task to find enough fuel. Second, police turned a blind eye- refusing to take action. There was a delay in recording statements, and in many cases, cases were not recorded. Third, the victims' families have never got the sense of justice to what they gone through. 442 convictions in 1984 riots where nearly 8,000 Sikhs were killed. No top level leaders who were seen as main organisers of the riots are convicted.
This general election has brought out so much hatred. Comments that are clearly divisive, often by Indians living abroad who among them many claim to care more about India than people living in India, and are often laced with half-truths. Such abusive behaviour, I feel, is laying the foundation for future riots. I wish these people take a moment to put themselves in the shoes of people who are affected by violence, and see the vanity of what they are talking.
Amartya Sen in his book "Identity and violence", says the problem is because people identify others with just one identity. In most cases, it is religion. To them, all Muslims are like that or all South Indians behave like that. As a civilization, we need to embrace the varied identities one have (for example, I am an Indian, also a Tamilian, Christian by birth and faith, former Journalist, economist by training, badminton player, father of a 20-month son, data lover, news junkie, likes rock music, and many more). In my life, I find I have more common things with people who love data/ journalists than people from my church. I wish people may see the wonderful diversity we have in a country like India.
And more importantly, I hope people would learn from past violence that have taken away so many lives due to riots, and embrace diversity!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How can you support a publication you like

When I shifted to my half completed (more on this some other time) flat in Gurgaon in 2016, I couldn't locate newspaper distributors for four or five months. Suddenly, from consuming four or five newspapers, I was completely dependent on digital media. I was going less directly to the news source (say, thehindu.com or livemint.com) but was getting my news from Facebook and Twitter, and from apps like Flipboard.

It became an experiment, as I was consuming interesting stuff but I was not necessarily getting informed. People whom I have met once or twice, or have never met are influencing what I was consuming via Facebook. If you're wondering why you often see posts by your most popular friends, that's the way Facebook algorithms work, unless you specify who's feed should come first. If Facebook promotes post of your not-so-popular friends, why would you read!

I searched hard to find a newspaper distributor and found one finally, after four or five months. So now I subsc…

What if government schools and hospitals attract people with money

I had this random thought (and I get this often only when I have 1000 important things to finish!)- what if people who can afford private schools and hospitals find state-run schools and hospitals good enough for them. All of my friends in UK and US don't send their children to private schools (its another matter that location matters on quality of state-run schools there) and those in UK, don't spend money on healthcare.

Just imagine if this can happen in India. People will be left with more surplus that they can save more or spend on something else. School fees in major Indian cities can be as high as Rs 2 lakh per child per year. The sheer confidence that we don't have to spend on medical expenses and the state will take care will give confidence to spend more money.

The multiplier effect of this extra money in the hands of the people will hugely benefit the economy, and can spring creative enterprises.

This level of expenditure (even Rs50,000 per child per year) is si…

Being hopeless....

Three months back when my mom was visiting me, she experience heart palpitations for two consecutive nights. Worried I called my cardiologist friend who asked us to visit him in the government hospital on that day as it was a non-OPD (out patients day) duty for him. Apparently non-OPD days are less crowded. As we sat waiting, we saw many worried parents bringing their just born babies to treat serious heart problems. What struck me were the faces of these parents - a feeling of hopelessness. This was their last hope to treat their infants in a state-run hospital as they don't  have money to take them elsewhere.

Fortunately, the staff at this government hospital were treating patients sympathetically. I hoped the patients would have got the best of treatment available. In comparison, patients were treated as cattle herds at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India's premier hospital. To get an cardio OPD appointment, you will have stand in the line from 5 PM …