Racism-the uncouth behaviour!

https://www.indiatoday.in/trending-news/story/conductor-asks-girl-to-get-off-train-in-new-zealand-for-abusing-indian-passenger-speaking-in-hindi-1580618-2019-08-14 

I read this disturbing news in India Today, the other day. A person of Indian origin was travelling on a train in New Zealand. He was speaking on his cell phone to someone in Hindi. A sixteen-year Caucasian girl did not like this and told him, “You go home to your country.” The incident was reported by another passenger to the lady train conductor. The lady reached that compartment. The girl was still ranting. There were arguments, but the conductor was very firm. She made the girl get down mid-way. She also said that the girl might be paying customer, but that does not give the girl a right to misbehave with other passengers. The train was held up for almost twenty minutes, but other passengers did not mind that.  

I had complex thoughts in mind. I was pleased with the approach of the conductor; at the same time, I was distraught with the behaviour of the sixteen-year. The young girl has hardly had any worldly experience, but what made her behave the way she did. In the modern world, we see a lot of immigration. People migrate for better opportunities, or for seeking political asylums. People get posted to different countries on projects for three to six years. But then I realised that there are various  “isms” in our lives since time immemorial. We have casteism; we have “colour” ism!  

The most famous incident of racism was when Mahatma Gandhi was asked to get down from the train in South Africa in 1893 from “whites only” compartment. The event made a remarkable influence on Gandhi’s thinking about racial discrimination. But it took another hundred years for apartheid to end in South Africa. The trouble with these changes is that they sometimes go to other extremes. Cricket team in South Africa must now have a certain percentage of people of colour. The result is that many white players in South Africa now retire at a young age when they see that they may never get to play for the nation and move to England to play county cricket. 

It is very similar to casteism issues in India. But all these isms are there from mythological days in Indian history. The origins of the caste system in India are shrouded, but it seems to have originated more than two thousand years ago. Under this system, which is associated with Hinduism, people were categorised by their occupations. Although originally caste depended upon a person’s work, it soon became hereditary.  

ism1.jpg

All the points mentioned in the above slide are self-explanatory. But I was not aware of the Guild theory.  

The guild is an association of craftsmen or merchants formed for mutual aid and protection and the furtherance of their professional interests. Guilds flourished in Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries and formed an essential part of the economic and social fabric in that era. 

The details of evolutions explain to us how such practices came into existence, but the natural differentiation based on various things were used by some groups of people to their advantage. Some over a period decided that a particular group of people was better than some other groups. A specific trade was thought to be superior to other groups. You had fishmongers and ironsmiths. You had traders, and you had warriors. As time passed, some of these trades started appearing sexy! A warrior was always thought to be superior to most other people. They started looking down at other people. Many things and events were not understood by people due to lack of scientific knowledge. Some people who had better intellect started the concept of God to explain mysterious things in terms of God’s wrath. You had floods, the rain God was angry with you. You had significant fires; fire God must be appeased.  

This concept of God and religion was taken over by some smart people. They learned the written scripts and became priests. Religion and Priests created Brahmins who took the position at the top of the pecking order. They chanted hymns; they had an explanation for unexplained troubles. They were considered one rung below God. Such pecking orders became caste systems and depending on their importance,  the people earned respect 

At some stage, people also started understanding that nature has an evolutionary system. Theory of Darwin, The Survival of the Fittest, began to be recognised by humanity. In some cases, the humans became physically healthy, and in other cases, they became mentally superior.  

The classic definition of Brahmanism is the complex sacrificial religion that emerged in post-Vedic India (900 bc) under the influence of the dominant priesthood (Brahmans), an early stage in the development of Hinduism. 

But any group of people who had better intellect created progeny with even more superior humans as far as intelligence was concerned. It was well explained by Darwin’s theory. Families of warriors produced even better warriors. Families in trade had better traders in the next generation. The evolution continued.  

But worst of the thinking in evolution remained based on colour. The Gods shown in pictures always had fair skin; demons had dark skin. Male Gods were cleanshaven, but the demons had big moustaches! Scientifically, the colour of the skin was explained by the areas where humans lived. Where the Sun was harsher, the more Melanin was present under the human skin. The people living in cold climate had less Melanin as the Sun was rarely harsh. So we have Goras and KalasOn top of this, the white race became meat eaters because of the weather conditions and other circumstances. The eating habits lead to the white race becoming bigger and stronger. The white people because their colour and healthy physique were looked at as a superior race. Let us not forget that the discrimination based on colour is followed everywhere. The Dilliwalas call people from Southern states in India as “Madrasis”, as people from old Madras have been traditionally dark in colour. Ratna Rajaiah, my favourite blogger, who lives in Mysore, has written a funny take on how South Indian ladies use talcum powder to look fairer, called “Ode to Talcum”!  

https://ratnarajaiahblogs.blogspot.com/search?q=let+us+talc 

Will these “isms” ever go away? I don’t think so. After a couple of hundred years after the abolition of slavery in the USA, do you think that thinking about darkskinned people changed in the Southern States of America? In northern states in India, especially in Bihar and Bengal do you think feudalism is dead? No way! You need to go 30 km from major cities, and you would know that things have hardly changed. The hierarchies will continue based on Caste, Colour, Occupation and Religious hierarchy. Mind you, some things never change.  

I will share a story with you. Jaya had led a team of engineers more than 30 years back to the USA. There was one smart engineer who was from the state of Bihar. During training class, he would have his coffee with a loud slurping soundAfter a couple of days, at the hotel, Jaya brought this out in discussion and explained to the gentleman to avoid the noise. He immediately agreed. He said, “Madam, you know that I come from Bihar and nobody ever told us about public manners. But now that you have explained, I will immediately change. For me, coming to Pune for the job itself was like coming to the US! Now in the US, for me, it is like arriving on the Moon. How much can a person change? But I will try my best!”  

But my blog cannot be an ode, but it shows the bad aspects of our beautiful world! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conditions Apply, really!

Conditions apply is a term used while advertising things. Hence some advertisers specifically write, “No conditions apply.” Conditions Apply is a commercial way of saying, “Take it with a pinch of salt”. When I was in school there used to be an advertisement of a radio set. It would say, “Listen to any station in the world”! The cost of the set would be less Rs.100/. I asked someone how is it possible? Not that I was an expert in this but I felt that there was something wrong. That person showed the small print in the advertisement. It said, “When you are at that place”! Small print! Now you know what I mean. That was a radio set which could capture Medium Wave stations when you were at that place.

Does this happen in commercial space only or it happens in our lives too? Yes and no both are the real answers, because life is never defined in Black & White or in 1 & 0. There is always grey shade in all facets of life. The love we get from parents, the love we get from kids, the pets, these are all with “No conditions apply.” This happens in the case of close childhood friends too. But ultimately everything in this world follows a Marathi idiom दिसत तसं नसतं म्हणून सारं जग फसत  which means that the world is not as we see it or as it appears to us! Or “The grass is always greener on the other side!”

Jackfruit, Coconut are typical real-life examples; they are both rough & tough from outside, but when we get through the top layer, inside is sweet, tasty and coconut water is pleasing. Customer is the king is supposedly today’s motto. Today I read an article by an expat professional white Caucasian American lady. She has been living in Pune for last couple of years. She has openly talked about discrimination that happens world over including the US! On the surface we don’t see it. She said that you may think that there is no discrimination in the US but the skin color does play a big part.

She shared a story about an incident in Pune. She and kids were in a departmental store. There was another couple where the lady was Caucasian but her kids had dark skin (mixed marriage). While a service assistant was stocking some bottles in a shelf, she dropped a bottle. She went and told her manager that the dark-skinned kids broke it. He came and told their mother that he would charge her. She was surprised! Our expat friend had seen the incident; she knew the manager and he was the nice guy. But that day she saw the real side of the person. She insisted to show the video, and the truth came out! The service assistant was the culprit. The manager did not even apologize! Real world!

When we go to foreign countries, we see huge Indian diaspora first, second and maybe even third generation variety. They apparently merge quite well with the local society in behavior, dress sense, and discipline. But when some of them come back to Bharat Desh, they are back to their “normal” selves. One of my classmates who lives in Sydney, Australia, has a young desi neighbor, CA by training. The young man once told my friend that he was going on a holiday and looked ecstatic. My friend asked him if there was any specific occasion! The young man said, “ I am looking forward to the moment I land in Delhi, I am going to drive the car. I want to break traffic signals at least 30-40 times! I am feeling claustrophobic in Sydney!” Will his Australian colleagues be able to recognize him when he is in India?

What could be the reason for such two faceted behavior? Is it how we grow up in our young phase? Does the changed environment not have any effect good or bad? Do humans normally behave this way? Is the growth phase so important in life? It is said that human brain grows 90% in first 5 years! Maybe the behavior pattern gets etched in the DNA by that time.

There was an interesting study shared in Readers Digest. They selected about ten cities each in various countries in the world in all the continents. These were from tiny villages to towns, to cities to metropolises. They kept wallets in public places as if somebody had dropped them. Wallets had personal identifications, family photos and tidbits to make them look genuine. Wallets also had money equivalent to US $ 100/ in each wallet, in local currency. There was interesting findings. All the events were captured on video cameras kept at strategic locations for study purpose. 90 to 95 % wallets were returned to authorities in villages. This % started reducing as the population of the place started increasing and was the worst in metropolises, 40/45 %. They concluded that the integrity reduced maybe due to anonymity that humans get in metropolises. This pattern was the same in all continents, across the races! I am quite sure all the persons who kept wallets with themselves, were reasonably normal persons but the circumstances changed them.

We have read from olden times about gurus, mullas and priests taking advantage of the faith people keep in them. We read horror stories about such people who sexually exploit women followers. God’s people and exploitation? Things are not as they look. I have known of people who will always have tika on their forehead, perform Pooja daily for couple of hours but are absolutely corrupt in professional lives. How can we explain their behavior? Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde? We know of doctors who perform illegal tests like sex determination of foetus and on the side are known to be great social workers! A “well-known” industrialist manufactured Gutka in huge quantities in a very modern factory. He never displayed easily visible board of his unit. Minted money, though he obviously knew that Gutka causes cancer. He used to donate huge money for medical cause, opened cancer treatment hospital. Some people sarcastically would call it his “customer complaint center” to handle side effects of his premium product, Gutka!

A well established builder has a similar story. His was a typical rag to riches story and was included in curriculum in commerce college courses. This story was written by a famous management guru. A couple of years back news started trickling in about his cheating in business. He and his family were arrested last year and are in jail. He has ditched thousands of retirees by taking money from them, in the form of fixed deposit and not returning it. He cannot, as his companies which took the money are bankrupt. The family has hidden treasure which police are trying to locate. Of the course one of his sons lives a condo where he pays Rs.4/ lacs per month rent! Doyen of industry!

Are we all this way? Are we waiting for an opportunity to cheat arise? Do we all make a show of how good you are, what a philanthropist you are? I was thinking to myself. Have I ever cheated in the ways explained above, knowingly or purposely? At least I don’t remember doing it. I asked another friend of mine the same question and he also said the same thing. But we have a common friend who was in government service. He must have retired 10 to 12 years back. I know what the salaries were and what the pension is. But he spends money all the time as if the world is going to end tomorrow. We knew that he was one of most corrupt officials. But to others who don’t know him well, he is a god-fearing human being, very pious in life.

I always wonder about such people. There are only two ledgers in this world that every individual has to match. One is your own ledger which you have to match every night, before sleeping and the other is when you meet Him! There is a solution. If you find that your ledger on the earth does not match every night (obviously you can’t sleep well!) Amend your ways while you have the opportunity.  But once you take the final journey and meet Him, how can you mend your ways? You have a non- return valve on your way back! Choice is yours!

Bring Back the Woman Power!

I read a story about a couple who were entering a garden after their lunch, in Malaysia. They were Caucasians. Vendors at the gate offered to sell them peanuts. Couple said they were full, thank you! But the vendor said that the peanuts were for monkeys that are there in the Garden. Couple bought a few pouches. They started their stroll and saw a group of monkeys. When they saw the monkeys, they were happy that they can feed peanuts. When the group was about ten feet away, a monkey jumped very swiftly, pinched a couple of pouches from them. Couple was a bit scared, woman had a minor scratch on her hand. Man was disgusted, felt offended and was boiling. How can the monkey pinch the peanuts from their hands which they had bought for monkeys? It was so much against the normal way of life of the couple!

We humans are so naïve that we think only about orderly way of life, especially westerners, they generally have a much more disciplined society and such occurrences are almost unheard of, except for one minor detail. The other party was a monkey. I am 100% sure that even in Asian countries humans will be as disciplined as in western hemisphere. Our friend wanted to take revenge, he was mentally prepared and they moved further. Another ten minutes, they saw another group of monkeys. Monkeys in that Garden must be used to pinching from humans. Twenty feet away from the group, our friend was ready and as soon the monkey started towards him, he started shouting loudly and made some menacing actions, bared his teeth. Monkey was surprised, he stopped, almost gave him a smile and walked away. Our friend was elated and almost made a victory dance! His primal instincts still intact and kicking.

He simply forgot that this is nature. The law of nature is fight or flight! In the first case our friend used the flight mode and in second case the monkey. It was no big deal for monkey, I am sure. It is us humans who have created many rules, laws of social behavior, egos and have gone away from nature. I am sure that in second case monkey was not fuming and upset like our friend. If opponent is strong, take a step back. Simple! Humans are engrossed in their own lives, as they are today, we obviously don’t remember how life was about 100 centuries back i.e. 10000 years ago. How was the human society then? What made it change over a period and took shape of “organized” society with rules and regulations and discipline!

In those times and before, there was no agriculture, no organized living. Humans were a nomadic, foraging animals like other species. Things really started to change when human race started agriculture. For agriculture humans had to stay at one place, sow the seeds and cultivate the crop. This led to the concept of ownership. So and so land belongs to person A, land on the other side of that hill belongs to person B and so on. Then ownership became single, co ownership, joint ownership and different ways of handling the situation.

Before this period everything was shared. A group of people would live together but groups were quite scattered. Hunt, gather berries, firewood and later cook, share and eat food together. At night, they probably slept in a huddle for the safety of the group, safety from other species not humans. Man and woman shared ALL the responsibilities. Except of course bearing the child! There was no concept of family, only man and woman. They had different sex partners, I am sure there must have been some laws for this but since nobody owned anything, there was no need to prove paternity of the child born. Child was owned by the mother. I am sure the group of humans in those days had predominantly matriarchal rules. All of us read stories that even today in certain tribal areas in deep jungles, women give birth to the child, clean the things and start moving out to collect food and wood for fire! An unheard of concept in modern world.

In fact woman must have been considered stronger than man for her additional ability to bear children. Agriculture and ownership changed all these concepts on head! People started defining boundaries, then everything was “mine”. Lake, canal, hut, crop, wife, children. Probably this was the beginning of nuclear family as we know today. Pre farming, it was a group of humans sharing everything equally including food and relationships between man and woman. I am sure there must have been occasional fights but survival was more important hence probably they adopted to “shared” way of life. During all these changes one important but unfortunate development took place; woman’s importance in the society reduced, she was confined to home, child bearing and cooking.

We get used to things so quickly and fast that we forget things were quite different, only some years back. Look at internet, where was internet 20 years back? Can we do without it? Look at cars, in last 100 plus years our method of personal transportation has changed so much that we can’t imagine that everybody used to travel in carts! Look at the global travel, advent of Jet planes has totally changed the concept of our travel. With supersonic jets we can be from London to New York in three hours. The list will go on and on!

Coming to my original story, we are all so much used to be away from nature that we are not able to understand the laws of nature. We go for a picnic in hills but we are so busy clicking photos that we forget why we have gone there. We forget so much that sometimes people die while clicking selfies instead of enjoying nature! Once while I was in Boston with my son, I saw some homes which were 150 years old. I was just wondering how they must been living in those times without proper insulation and heating in Boston winter! Today we go to Mumbai in the afternoon and attend to something and come back in the evening to Pune, thanks to modern cars and expressway. But even 25 years back it would take hours!

Let us not forget the laws of nature where men and women were not only considered equal but they were equal. 10000 years in our earth’s history is equivalent of day before yesterday! The changes made day before yesterday can always be modified or changed. This recent thought process came by forming new laws, new rules and norms.  During last fifty years the correction in giving importance to improving status of women is happening. My thinking is that if a woman could handle herself 10000 years back in primitive conditions, she will be able to do much better in today’s environs and backing of the society. Making some positive rules to help women in handling the way their bodies are made, their tough times during child bearing is a must by the society which has made rules to ensure that they remained home bound! Women need empathy not sympathy! So let’s go back to situation of 10000 years ago where women were equal, with advantages of 21st century! I won’t be surprised if we read every day, in coming years,  that a woman climbed the Mount Everest, which anyway she does in different fields in spite of obstacles!