Thursday, September 11, 2014

Power and Prejudice


India is governed by a political party which draws its sustenance from the Us-Them divisiveness.  From the infamous Gujarat riots onwards, India witnessed about 7000 incidents of communal violence engendered by the Us-Them thinking.

The Us-Them thinking is as old as known human history.  Every people always loved to make some distinctions between themselves and the perceived others.  Look at our movies and you will see how people belonging to other cultures or speaking other languages are made to look like either fools or villains. 

Such division achieves many purposes at the same time.  One, it enhances our own sense of identity.  Our group identity becomes stronger when the rival group is portrayed as weak, illiterate, villainous, etc.  Two, it tilts the struggle for the limited resources in our favour.  We turn the tables so that the resources will fall to our side.  Three, it prepares the members of the community to fight against perceived threats from the others.  Four, Our self-esteem is enhanced.  Denigration of the other is elevation of the self.

India is a country with 1600 languages, 3000 communities differentiated by castes and jatis, 350 tribes and 8 major religions (4 of which originated in the country itself).  Is it advisable to flatten all those differences with one hammer blow as Mohan Bhagwat is trying to do by claiming that every Indian should accept one particular brand name?  Is it advisable to spread communal passions as Yogi Adityanath is doing in UP? 

Now that the party is already securely ensconced on the throne in Indraprastha, it would be advisable for it to draw its sustenance from something other than hatred and conflicts.  The party should rein in people like Yogi Adityanath who make provocative statements every now and then.

Prejudices are too deeply entrenched to be removed even by political power.  Psychologist Gordon Allport illustrated the Western prejudice with the following anecdote.  Some white men travelling through Rhodesia saw a group of native people idling away time.  “Lazy brutes,” remarked the white men.  As they drove on they saw another group of native men carrying on their backs grain bags weighing 100 kg each.  “Savages!  See how much load they can carry!” was the white men’s remark. 

Some prejudices in India are getting more and more deeply entrenched in the country’s majority psyche, and new ones are being created.  Deification of a leader and then using him as the reason for creating and propagating prejudices and hatred can be disastrous for a country like India. 


If we want to foster harmony among different people, they have to be encouraged to come together in closer contacts, given equal status, encouraged to work for common goals requiring cooperation, and be supported by broader social norms.  What many emerging leaders are doing is just the opposite.  Hitler had given rise to a lot of such leaders and eventually the history of the world acquired much red colour. 

A very interesting link related to the last point: Sikh24

6 comments:

  1. True Matheikal, most of the forces seem to be obliterating the idea of tolerance which can be the only solution for the entire set of problems that surface. And instead of promoting that the blame game goes on which is really a pathetic way :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is really pathetic is that the party need not play this game now that it enjoys all the power required to bring about whatever positive changes it envisages. It is time to stop thinking in the all the way and start implementing its vision. Otherwise the party will end up wasting a historical opportunity.

      Delete
  2. I absolutely agree to this article right from the title to the gist of it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chaitali. Why politics has to be so negative is something we may never understand.

      Delete
  3. This is exactly why I hate politics.....the most dirty thing man has invented ...or I think ..it's in the blood of everyone...in some way or other...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Maniparna, it's in our blood, in all of us. Some of us learn to keep it under control while others play games with it...

      Delete

The group is always right

While having a frugal breakfast of dosa with chutney, I watched my wife’s face.   Pain was writ large on it.   Two days of struggle ...