During the second year of my Undergrad, I was highly inspired and motivated to do my bit for the society, thanks to the subject Sociology and the compulsory credit courses we had to take up to fulfill the requirements for the award of our degree. Whatever…
Since, Outreach offered maximum credits in minimum time and didn’t involve hours of sitting through painful lectures on weekends, many of us opted for it. I was a highly motivated individual at that time remember? We were sent to BOSCO Mane and those days made me realize how hard it is in reality if you really have to do your bit for the society.
It was during such a phase, in December, I think in commemoration of Human Rights Day, we hostelers were asked to take part in this particular ‘candle light vigil’ organized by some Germany based women’s organization. I don’t even remember the name, it was unheard of till then and unheard of even now, but I remember it rhymed with the word onomatopoeia. We were all asked to wear white for the vigil, which saw many a ‘beg, borrow, steal’ attempts by the ones who wanted to contribute to the well-being of the society.
We had to report at M.G road entrance and the rally was to be held around Cubbon park, the popular venue for any ‘Socially Conscious’ Bangalorean. The organizers distributed some fancy candles and paper cutouts to prevent wax from dripping and burning our hands and spoiling our clothes. After the women had finished air-kissing, hugging and exchanging pleasantries (read the designer for their sari, or where they got their accessories from), putting on that final dab of lip gloss and a brief talk ‘praising the works of their organization, the walk was inaugurated.
The members of the group could be distinctly identified. The white clad supermodels and the ‘hostelers’ like us who were assembled solely with the purpose of ‘aale koottal’ or rather ‘speak volumes’ of their organization. The chiffon clad, stiletto clamped womenfolk started ooh-aahing within 5 minutes of the commencement of the walk. Each five minute break was followed by camera flashes, posing for the press and short page 3 type interviews.
“We’re here to work for the betterment of the Indian woman, who has been suppressed and tortured for years” a fat aunty started off.
“We want these atrocities against women to stop”, another aunty shoved off the fat one and fought for her camera space.
We proceeded, watching this circus and I was ashamed to have walked into this. All that mattered here was not letting your candles blow off, make sure the photographers clicked the right faces and give page 3 type interviews. I had no clue on how I made a ‘difference for the women in this country’ with that namesake of a walk.
That day when I returned to the hostel I was not a content person. This publicity stunt for the ‘sake of oppressed’ women of the Indian Society on World Human Rights Day, left me disgusted. That, I had been part of another venture ‘where people misuse the names of the downtrodden for the sake of showing off their service’ made me cringe. Every bit of motivation and inspiration drained off with the realization that more than 90% of these pseudo-service-minded-people do it only for recognition. For them it was just another gimmick to have their faces plastered on newspapers and magazines.
After that particular incident, I’ve been very apprehensive about taking part in these vigils and rallies. I do agree there are many out there who do whole-hearted service but, these candle-lights and rallies just don’t make sense anymore. A momentary realization, awareness which lasts for like what maximum few hours, the undying spirit of patriotism that arises only during national holidays or terror strikes… and what purpose does it serve?
A few months back, we had this Seminar in college and there were some leftover unopened biscuit packets. We decided to distribute the packets among ourselves. I was traveling home with a friend. We stopped at the signal at Bhasyam circle and saw the bunch of kids who sell some arbitrary hand-made stuff or sometimes come begging. At that moment, we decided to give away the biscuit packets to those kids and I will never forget the smallest kid of the lot who actually smiled and said a ‘thank you’. That day, I was a content person.
I still remain pessimistic about the services rendered and how people go on harping about being the change with just a few rallies and candle-light gimmicks. Poverty, deprivation, hunger, and illiteracy nobody actually knows the way out of it. This is the truth I realized after the invigorating ‘growth and development’ exam yesterday.
Sustainable development, growth, strategic planning, poverty alleviation, integrated measures, objectives, goals, targets, achievements, income gap, human development, equitable distribution, population- environment- development nexus, welfare, efficiency of allocation, optimal utilization, mobilizing resources, knowledge base, inclusive growth, eradication, universal literacy… and many more. All of it makes me puke. Reminds me of the trash I’ve to churn out for the next exam, Indian Eco… Yes, these are stuff just worth putting down on paper.