Musings of a Spectator

Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Friday, May 27, 2005

Ha! there is a stereotype

"Our class's philosopher" - This was how I was introduced very recently by a friend of mine. I just smiled sheepishly, and got going. I am not sure if I am one but then, that put me to thinking. The result? This post.

I've been learning to chat in chat rooms these days, and one of these days,I chatted with this lady from USA. During our conversation, the following things came up:

me: by the way, I am from india - you?
her: United states
her: are you hindu?? of buddhist.. sorry if i'm stereotyping
me: I;m a hindu
me: I like the word that you used "stereotyping"
her: yes i try not to stereotype but it's hard not to genralize
me: but I feel that living with stereotypes yet accepting the other aspects of it is what is important

And yesterday as I was going through The Pioneer online, I found the following quote by Shakira :

The worst thing artists can do is repeat themselves or try to fit an image people have of them
- Colombian pop singer Shakira

I wish to draw the attention to the use of the word "stereotyping" and the latter part of Shakira's quote - "try to fit an image people have of them"

As I brood over each of these, I wish to putforth an argument that in the whole world everyone tries to make a stereotypical image of every other person in the world. As has been pointed out by that lady from the US, it is hard not to generalize. And of course, that is one way of identifying someone too. As we look at the world around, at each and every walk of life, we try to make generalizations (what else can we do - cannot keep everything in one's memory) and especially when it comes to people, this happens more so often. But IMHO, any generalization pertaining to a human, can never give any indication as to what he/she happens to be like.

In the chat conversation, the lady was talking about a "Hindu" or a "Buddhist" - an image of which shall be superimposed on me, as she conversed. And this is one kind of stereotyping that occurs - at a very broad level. Then there is this other kind, like "describing" me as "Class's philosopher" - based on what we know of the person. In the process of such "stereotyping" and "generalization", there are two points that I notice:

a) From the angle of the person who is making a stereotype of someone :
I quote myself (:d) - "I feel that living with stereotypes yet accepting the other aspects of it is what is important"

That is - I would not be able to look and know more about the person, thanks to the stereotypical image I have of him/her - a definite problem.

b) From the angle of the person whose stereotype is made:
Shakira's quote: "...try to fit an image people have of them"

That is - I knowing that people look at me as "someone" try to fit into that image, and might as well forget what I am/ or what I can be.

So what? You may say - ... so much for a simple thought on the introduction given by my friend - and so much for the thought about being a philosopher myself - Ha! There I set myself into the stereotypical image set for me by my classmates - much to my own dismay!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Better blogs eh?

Came across this news item which says : "India to accredit dotcom scribes, bloggers"

Sounded really good. IANS reports:
"India is in the process of framing rules for granting accreditation to Internet journalists and bloggers for the first time, taking a reality check on an evolving world of net writers who could shape opinion and who have already been granted access to official corridors in countries such as the US.

"We are framing the rules for giving accreditation to dotcom journalists, including bloggers," Principle Information Officer Shakuntala Mahawal told the agency.

The first meeting on this was held a fortnight ago, and more are scheduled in the coming days.

"We want an inclusive policy and we want to complete the process as early as possible," Mahawal said.

This augurs well for independent bloggers, or web loggers, who are increasingly being recognised the world over as cyber journalists.

A blog, short for web log, is a personal journal published on a website. Blogs can be musings, opinions and news, and a blogger can have a dedicated daily audience through his postings.

'Blogosphere', as the world of bloggers is popularly known, got a big boost in March when American blogger Garrett M Graff, 23, was given a pass to attend the daily White House briefing.

In India, blogging became popular during the December 26 tsunami disaster last year with countless blogspots soliciting aid as well as reporting from tragedy-struck areas to give eyewitness accounts.

There are an estimated eight million bloggers across the world, some of them professional journalists but quite a few just freelancers.

According to the top press officer, the Government acknowledges that the role of dotcoms is becoming increasingly crucial in opinion making with net surfing becoming a way of life with virtually all of urban India.

For the past few years, Internet journalists and writers in India have fought a tough battle with the official machinery to gain access to government offices and conferences through the mandatory Press Information Bureau (PIB) accreditation.

The battle turned grimmer after the exposé by scam-busting website revealing corruption in defence deals and showing top politicians and officials accepting kickbacks, causing immense embarrassment to the Government.

It was only after the new Congress-led regime took over that the process of granting official access to dotcom writers picked up pace.

"We are looking at various models in other countries and studying rules broadly put in place by organisations like the UN, sports outfits and commonwealth countries," said a senior official of the information and broadcasting ministry.

"The idea is to sequester the genuine from the fraud and acknowledge those who really want to make a difference. They will be given facilities and better access through accreditation."

Online posts are widely read and according to surveys, some 44 per cent of America's young people read blogs. Most readers look at blogs for news, perspective and honesty that they cannot perhaps find in standard news media.

According to Indian officials, blogs are becoming a political statement in many other countries - such as in the US and British elections -- and India needs to prepare for such a situation."

"blogs are becoming a political statement in many countries" - Wow! that's something that I should look for ;)

A small desire :p - I write some good posts and try and present perspectives that people would love to read. In fact, wait for the next post. Then it has an impact on the way in which the decision makers function - decision makers at all levels - I come up with suggestions that are regarded with high esteem - in the process the Govt. of India gives me this accreditation - I become a good freelance writer - and in the process one fine day, I get a call to visit Rashtrapathi Bhawan, 7 Race Course Road for interviewing the people who reside there :) and that too on Policy Issues and ....

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ekla Chalo Re!

In the midst of a conversation with my father a few days ago, I tried to convey that expecting people at large to take up collective social responsibility and do a selfless job is something that is highly improbable (I happen to be an optimist always, I never say impossible) - and inspiring them to do so is even more difficult.

One thing that is within your reach is to take up the responsibility and do a selfless work yourself. And then may be give a clarion call to people around to join you in your efforts for a common good and greater efficiency. The call might end in a no response situation, but that is where you need to move on despite all odds. And this needs a lot of inner motivation... when my father asked me if I knew this famous poem by Rabindranath Tagore (I can only lament that I never happened to pay great attention to literature) - "Ekla Chalo Re" - He, as a matter of fact, gave me the Telugu translation by one Rajani of the first few lines of the poem -

evarU kEkavinI rAkapOyinA sarE
okadave padavOi
okadave okkadave okkadavE
okkadavE, okadave padavOi

He advised me to go and ask any of my Bengali friends. The next day, I ask a friend of mine with whom am working on a project, if he knew any poems by Rabindranath Tagore - lo and behold! Straight comes the reply - "What do you want? "Ekla Chalo Re?" - and he sang it for me :) I kept chanting the verses that day and felt the beauty and the lingering sweetness of Bengali.

The next day, I happened to read this article in a newspaper by Mr T V R Shenoy - who wrote on the innumerable number of Congresses that are shaping out - one in Kerala, the other in Bengal - the splits - and new Congresses - and the title of the article was aptly named - "How many Congresses?" - this one had a very nice ending - let me quote Mr. T V R Shenoy :
" We honour Tagore on his birth anniversary later this week, but there is one piece of advice from him that the Congress High Command must resolutely ignore. As long as it needs the CPM’s crutch in Parliament, there is no question of “Ekla Chalo Re”!"

Ekla Chalo Re! As it is Tagore's birth anniversary on the May 7, I felt like reading the poem, if not the original, at least an English translation - thanks to the new Shyam Benegal film Subhash Chandra Bose, I found a host of links which were talking about the song "Ekla Chalo Re" in the movie. Finally I found a link which had the following English Translation:

If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou of evil luck,
open thy mind and speak out alone.
If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou of evil luck,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.
If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou of evil luck,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.

Call it Serendipity, Call it Coincidence or call it both at various levels - It's amazing to see this happen. This is not my first introduction to Tagore's poetry, but then - it was an interesting experience to get "Ekla Chalo Re" from so many sources.