Friday, June 22, 2012

Whose Breaking News is it Anyway?

Breakfast time 'Breaking News' and Sunday afternoon 'Shocking Statistics'. 
Children dying of completely preventable causes; women being ill-treated and traumatized; horrendous health; poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, out-of-control crime and corruption, and overall abysmal levels of human existence, let alone development. 
Do any of these constitute a 'breaking news' or a 'shocking story' anymore? Is surprise even the right word for the 'we've seen it all' feeling which emerges when you hear of many children dying to the ineffectiveness of the health system, or when a new mega crore scam emerges? 

Isn't it all very much a part of your and my day, to have the morning cuppa tea with the so called eminent leaders fighting like wild animals (who may be a tad better!) to select a ceremonial head who in all probability would only increase the tax-payers' burden by taking his/her extended family on many 'foren' trips, without adding anything substantial to people's lives? 

Doesn't this then give way to the headlines of the afternoon which are dominated by rape, murder, child abuse, political mud-slinging, preventable-deaths due to health facilities being over-burdened and thus inaccessible, and the same routine of probes, commissions, inquiries, and investigations? In fact one sometimes wonders where the results of ALL these efforts vanish! I in my mind imagine a huge warehouse. Dark, stinky, with that musty smell associated with storing files and folders for a long time. A tap dripping in an unknown corner, and something scurrying in the darkness, trying to nibble and 'make disappear', the result of one more investigation, the testimony of one more witness. 

Of course the evening and the night bring nothing new. More news, more undercover stories. Stories of 'human interest'. BUT who said anything about being human? We are a nation of walking, talking, zombies. Immune and insensitive to anything happening around us. 

A  nation, did I say? Oh sorry! We are a collection of 'regional groups', who care only if the occasional bomb blast is in our city (or state, depending upon allegiance). Otherwise we tweet about it and put it as our facebook status on the 'anniversary' of the blast. We also religiously watch the 'shocking' show that shows us 'shocking' stories of women's abuse, just as the women of our family get berated, everyday, around us. We shed tears when a woman speaks of how she is rejected by society due to her caste which is expected to carry out manual scavenging and yet, when we hate somebody, we say, "Oh, he is such a Bhangi, Choora, Chamar!". We want the health services to improve and be equitable, however, we only want the attention of the BEST super-specialist in town, that too without any wait, when somebody in our family is sick. We abhor female foeticide and the ill-treatment meted out to girls, but still think that our family should have a son to take the family name forward or to light our funeral pyre when we are gone. We are absolutely against regionalism, but still say, 'Chinki' and think loose, or easy. 

We are actually amazing, aren't we. 

We agree that the environment needs to be saved, urgently, but pride ourselves on never having stepped into public transport, and how it is only meant for the mazdoors (laborers) now. We also think it is our right to throw rubbish anywhere, and mark all our travel routes with our piss and our spit. We crib that the law and order situation in the country is rotten, but never turn up to vote, or even dream of taking the administration of this country in our own hands, be it the bureaucracy or politics. In fact, most of us, take immense pride in saying that, 'I maintain my distance from politics'. Well then, you have no right to crib. Because those who do participate in the game, are obviously setting its rules. Just too bad. 

Sitting in our comfortable air-conditioned room, in front of our direct-to-home service connected LCD, we practice, 'the gloved-hand, armchair concern'. An evolved form of social concern, it causes neither dirty-hands, nor worn-out shoes, and is very effective in today's time where stepping out might involve considerable danger. Is it any wonder that we have reached the place where we are today? We deserve to be here, because society is what we make of it. You and me. Together. 

It is an emergency. We need to get our hands dirty. Practice what we preach. NO we do not need to become 'social workers', and NO social concern is not about traveling to rural India and working in the so called, 'God-forsaken' places. Start where you are. Our cities and towns need help too. They need your time and your talent. Your passion and your genuine interest. Your ability to care, and to 'give a damn', even about things that might not affect you directly.


Ranjani Narayanan said...

"I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I’m that somebody"
An excellent quote! If everyone of us realizes our responsibility, instead of blaming others, we can build a better Nation.
I also like your "regional groups..."
Continue your noble cause. Best wishes,

drhimangi said...

Dear Ranjani, thank u so much! It is so good to hear from people who care :) Thanks for reading and appreciating and please stay connected!