Wednesday, April 12, 2006

to talk about it? or not to?


a month ago, i had made a call to my apartment office... the lady who picked up the phone, asked me how she could help me... i told her that one of the ladies at the apartment administrative office was handling my new lease application, and that i was calling in to follow-up with her... then, after a moment of silence, i could not believe what i heard... the lady in all coolness and totally no realization of the impact of her statement, asked me 'is she black or white'... i was extremely shocked by her question, and chose (rightly i think) not to respond to that question... i did tell her that there were only 3 ladies at the small leasing office, so it had to be one of them... i did eventually get through the line and complete the purpose of my call, but what happened in this phone call started making me wonder about a lot of things that go on everyday that people dont even stop for a moment to think about...

the fact that 'black or white' popped up in a casual conversation was not the only bothering issue for me (irrespective of who mentions it), but the fact that the sensitivity of this issue was not even on the mind of the person who told me made me realize that its still inside all people who claim to be 'irrespective of' to have a classification in their psyche 'on the basis of'... i thought of it to be completely disgusting...

a good friend of mine from Texas (back in the days when i was at grad school), now is the vice-president of 'Race and Ethnic Studies' at Texas A&M University, and i remember clearly about her mentioning some of the distinct challenges in such a position at such a State with history, present and potential future filled with lots and lots of people with prejudices and patterns (genetic or otherwise)...

along these lines, it is extremely saddening to note that, in a country like India filled with intellectuals at every level, a hopelessly cheap and political-benefit-only acts like the quota system... the concept provided by people who implement such things is that they want to reduce the gap between the different sections of the cultural divisions... but thinking about it, rather than reducing, it only emphasized the fact that there is a split in the sections... on the basis of merit, and merit alone, reservations could be made, but not on any other factor... just because someone is born in a certain family should not, and must not make it easier or harder for them to get admitted into an educational institution... it would be a shame if we are to see a day when the country is burning the rage of castismic evil... education is the heart and essence of the shape of an induvidual's personality, and it is unfair to set a quota based on caste, or for any other factor other than academic merit...

even a country like the u.s. of a. took its own time to sort out fundamental issues of segregration at the big level... and for a rapidly changing and urbanizing India, it will only be fair to hope... to hope that the sun will rise, for one and all irrespective of caste, color, religion, sex or any other factor... infact, some words like black, white, caste, etc should be eradicated from the dictionary...

3 comments:

rohan said...

Arvind, I totally agree with your views regarding the existing race/caste issue..However, I must share with you that the question you faced from the lady is not a first ..I have been asked the same question when I was a returning customer at a furniture store, pharmacy..I guess people use it to narrow down your search very quickly (to save time for you and them)and at the same time its hard to be subtle about it too.

Sriram P said...

I find that it is a sensitive topic when it comes esp. to the US, addressing people by the color.. In the Europe, nobody calls anybody African European or something to that extent. They just simply address them by the color... Probly this is more sensitive in the US due to the discrimination as late as Dr. Martin Luther King's era... So Dont be shocked when u hear the same word to describe a set of people in the "Rest of the world". Well you can argue if they mean any disrespect by that, but we can only hope that all that and descrimination is behind us though some of it still exist in the form of Caste system in some places in India.

Arun said...

dude......... was wondering what happened to teh regular blogger... I started readin it... and u vanish..