Are we living in 1984?

Are we living in 1984?


Are we beginning to live in 1984? This fear has been present in my mind ever since there has been an increased disturbance all across India, my home. Those of you who have read 1984, the classic novel by George Orwell (published in 1949), will be able to relate why it is a ‘fear’ in my mind and not just a simple thought. It is not only about the government’s new policies and the way they have been articulated, and misarticulated, that is disappointing, it is also the general state of affairs (rapes, riots, apathy) and the violent public response to everything around us that seems to be breaking the system, the harmony, and to be preventing any kind of slow healing that may have been possible in the same scenario.

More and more we see an increasing retaliation to everything, without even seeing the complete picture or without waiting for the results of the first few steps that have been taken/introduced in the name of development. While I do not understand why the Government of India failed to articulate its new policies well for clear understanding in a nation that is as diverse and large as ours, I detest the violent retaliation countrywide without giving a benefit of the doubt or inviting a debate on the matter. Violence can never be the path to peace and no dialogue can be achieved with a sword in hand.

With all the disturbance going on, my mind has been constantly drawing parallel to 1984. Seeing the way things are in the country today, at times I feel we are living in 1984 … I wish it never happens in real for it is a fearful thought. For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s a spoiler alert: It is an unpleasant read but it is also a classic for many reasons, as you can sense from this article.

Here are some quotes from the book 1984 that, I feel, hint at the state of affairs that have been existing in the country for years, something only imagined by George Orwell in the 1940s.

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

“Big Brother is Watching You.”

“Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist.”

“The masses never revolt of their own accord, and they never revolt merely because they are oppressed. Indeed, so long as they are not permitted to have standards of comparison, they never even become aware that they are oppressed.”

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

“Inequality was the price of civilization.”

“A loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”

“Life, if you looked about you, bore no resemblance not only to the lies that streamed out of the telescreens, but even to the ideals that the Party was trying to achieve.”

“nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws.”

“The more the Party is powerful, the less it will be tolerant: the weaker the opposition, the tighter the despotism.”

“I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY”

“Stupidity was as necessary as intelligence, and as difficult to attain.”

“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.”

The quotes above are very contextual today in the way we and our thinking are being ‘managed’ by all sorts of politicians, in and out of power. There is a strong need for every Indian to rise above individual, and community, mindset and see ourself as a citizen of a great nation first. We must realize our national interest, our potential as a great nation, our unity in diversity, and our deep-rooted culture of acceptance of all faiths. Irrespective of who represents us in the Parliament, citizens need to unite to be able to manage who represents us than allow it to happen vice versa.

I hope that Orwell’s fiction remains a fiction, forever.

Why always bad news?

Why always bad news?


It’s been quite a while that I have been observing, and have been disappointed as well, about the manner in which news in India is being reported through different channels, such as, television, online apps, Web, print, etc. Why always bad news? Is India only about sad issues? No. Since the purpose of journalism is to report noteworthy information as is, and perhaps at times validate or criticize it with a viewpoint, shouldn’t good and bad news be equally reported? I feel increasingly Indian media/news channels have become a medium to promote and propagate bad news, and bad behavior.

Whatever news medium you access, the channels are either reporting bad news (murders, rape, torture, theft, accidents, deaths, crises, violence, deceit, abusive behavior, corruption, lies) or they are reporting community/interest-specific news (about NGOs, sports, business, science, relationships, debates, indifferent view of incidents, travel, etc.). After consuming news for years, I have begun to question this now because I am observing that reading and listening to news now makes me feel as if more and more people in India are turning into bad people, with sad attitude and zero values.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Why not report good behavior, children’s positive actions, good news, courteous gestures by governments, the brotherhood between communities, actions made by love and affection, positive impacts made by people in small and big ways?

I believe Indian media plays a big role in shaping the country’s culture and the next generation’s thinking, and hence behavior. I am sure subconsciously we feel different when we watch bad and good news. Are we not making people too comfortable with all kinds of bad behavior by feeding them 24×7 with negativity? Also, whenever such things are reported, there is no follow up with positivity where a person can see right/good behavior and how it can make the world a better place or positively impact someone. For example, while a news medium reports a theft, supplementing such news with two positive ones where people have helped someone, or created something good, would neutralize the shock/apathy generated by the former article and rather would infuse a positive sentiment with the latter.

India and Indians aren’t as bad as we read/see about it in the news. There are several people in the country who are contributing in meaningful ways in making their surroundings better, in elevating lives, and in spreading positive actions/thinking. Several such efforts are made even though these people go through their own struggles of life. But the spirit remains positive and that’s something that needs to be acknowledged and promoted. Positive behavior will bear positive results only when people are trained to see that effect. With constant evil feed, people in India are increasingly forgetting how to behave nicely and how a smile needs to be responded to.

It’s time media becomes a medium to shape India’s culture into a highly positive, good, healthy, spirited one. It’s time for a goodnews.in.

I wish for a world of empathy

I wish for a world of empathy


Disability
Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

My recent and the first tour to the US opened my eyes to a whole new world which was so fantastically friendly for the differently-abled. I wonder why we in India cannot make it the same! It is not so much about the economy or the wealth a nation has. I am sure it has more to do with the culture itself  —  with the way we think and look towards the differently-abled.

Nearly everyone I crossed on the streets of America – in the shops, on the ship, in the desert — everywhere — had the same regard for the disabled and gave way for priority access to them at the cost of waiting a little more for their turn. It was one of the most humbling experiences in my life.

I am thankful to all those people for the courtesy they extended and made my wheelchair-bound mother feel equal in every way.

It was the tourist season at the time when we were there and therefore many times we were part of large groups at entry and exit points of tourist spots. People from all over the world were there and yet everyone was polite to the differently-abled and extended a helping hand whenever they felt that someone requires assistance.

I feel sad to see the state of things at home, in my country. We have somehow forgotten our basic culture of being courteous and to respect everyone.

The attitude towards this small group of society (of the differently-abled) is of neglect, ignorance, and indifference. Shameful to say the least! While towns are turning into cities, businesses are willing to spend millions on lavish decor and swanky lifts but not on creating ramps and easy access for the differently-abled in their offices, shops, or malls.

It is nearly impossible for a differently-abled or a wheelchair-bound to navigate in India – we do not have proper pavements, roads are uneven, there is absolutely no way they can cross a road and get onto a pavement safely (we do not have those wheelchair ramps on any traffic light), most malls and shops have stairs at the entrance as the initial access point, and certainly no one wants to wait or give way to the differently-abled. In fact, most people take advantage of the slow speed of such a lot and run ahead of them to save their spot. That’s sheer apathy in action.

I am not sure how we Indians will ever change and imbibe empathy. I am not even sure how to make my countrymen understand the importance of being nice and being considerate towards the differently-abled. A minuscule percentage of people/not-for-profit organizations work towards helping the differently-abled but no one ever demands an equal place for them, an equal infrastructure for them. The efforts are clearly unable to move the needle. All of them, including the state governments, seem to be busy attaining something except cleanliness, hygiene, health, quality of life, ease of access, and empathy.

The difference between us and America is that there it is a law to create ease of access for the differently-abled and that law applies to governments, shop owners, infrastructure agencies who build roads, hospitality industry, everyone. So every service is meant first for the differently-abled and then made available for the able folks. The key is – the law is enforced to the core. Honestly. The intent is to make everyone in society feel equal and safe and nearly everyone works towards it, together.

Will any government in India ever be able to enforce such a law and lead that change? Will my people ever realise what society they are creating by choosing apathy over empathy? I love my country and I wish that someday this world of mine becomes equally safe and accessible for the differently-abled.

Freedom to work is one of the best motivators at a workplace

Freedom to work is one of the best motivators at a workplace


Freedom to operate or function at work is one of the best motivators for most people to not only perform well, but also to stay with a company for a longer duration. Do you agree? Do share your comments. I would be happy to read what you have to say about this topic.

Workplace_
Photo by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash

I met a friend this evening over tea and we ended up discussing how different countries encourage different workplace cultures. We both talked about how freedom from a restrictive workplace culture —  such as an organization’s expectation of you to work for a set number of hours, the limitation to allow you to work from the location of your choice, the environment that demands you to be always available for work  —  can be so important to a person’s aspirations to perform well and to do good. A trusting environment not only ensures the workforce feels respected, but also that they feel more inclined to be loyal to the business that is helping them lead a good quality of life.

Companies that allow trust and empathy to thrive will certainly attract better talent than the organizations that encourage control.

There are companies which are progressive and change with the times to offer the new workforce an environment that helps them to express more, do better, and work passionately. We need more such workplaces. Life is short and precious  —  let everyone enjoy their share : )

Power of giving

Power of giving


It’s strange how our emotions surface whenever we give or receive gifts. Yes, today I was blessed to receive two gifts in a day! A beautiful, delicate dragonfly brooch from the US and a pair of earrings from Russia : )

Gifts

While the gifts made my day, it also made me wonder about the power of giving  —  the idea of someone actually giving a careful thought for buying or saving something for someone is so pure, affectionate, and generous that it leaves the receiver not only happy and smiling, but also deeply touched and loved.

Giving is one of the powerful ways of expression — it bridges distances, shows care, and no matter how the two people feel about each other, it always makes a gentle, loving impact, paving way for a better bond. I am blessed to have received innumerable gifts all my life and today I really thank every giver of those gifts from the bottom of my heart : )