Categories
Awareness

The Malfunctioning Fourth Pillar of Indian Democracy

Indian democracy stands on four pillars – the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Media. Media has been given such importance because it acts as a medium of communication between the other three pillars and the ‘fifth pillar’ of the Indian democracy, viz., the Citizens of this country.  It is an open secret that in any democracy laws govern the country; laws are governed by the politicians; politicians are controlled by the voters; voters are controlled by opinions; opinions are controlled by the media. Media then becomes the master of the democracy. The duty of the media is to bridge the gap between the three other pillars and the people, so that fair opinions are formed and the deserving people come to power. But, what is happening at present?

Everything was fine till a person called Abhishek Singh made some serious allegations against the media regarding the recent Unnao and Kathua case. However, he refuses to mention proper sources, making it difficult to examine the credibility of the shocking facts that he revealed.

One of those allegations he made is that in both the cases, rape never happened. According to him, the allegation of rape in the Kathua Case is simply made up by the media and in the Unnao case, the accusation of rape is made up by the victim, over some family and property dispute, just to nail the MLA. The arrest of two BJP MLAs does ring the bell, given this the time of elections, but this factor does not negate the possibility of the cases being true. The discussion here is definitely not whether the cases are true or not, but if these allegations are true, it raises serious questions on the ethics and the reliability of media. Is it just that they simply twist cases to something else and broadcast them and the people, like fools will follow them and grow their sentiments based on this news, whether real or fake? Unfortunately, this is the present scenarios. The common man is just being viewed as a receptor of the facts that media shows and expected not to raise any questions on their credibility or to just keep quiet. Is this not the exact opposite of the qualities that a democratic system expects from the citizens?

Social Media –The Stage for Endless Rumours

This reminds of a game played back in school.  The teacher would say a story to one student of the class. That student narrates the same story to another and this chain continues till the very last student is told the story. The last student who heard the story should narrate it openly to the entire class. There are a few rules – there should be no repetition of the story to a single person, one person should not narrate the story to more than one person and nobody should overhear the story. We remember having a hearty laugh after hearing the story from the mouth of the last student, which used to be a hilarious version, completely different from the first story. This activity was for fun, but this demonstrates the way rumours spread, going off the track from person to person.

The same applies to social media as well, the difference is that the same posts are shared by a chain of people. Anybody familiar with the social media like Facebook, twitter, to name a few, are generally aware how easily a viral post can be created, without even a speck of truth. To name a few, fake news about death of celebrities (who then post saying, “I am still alive!”) or those photos of the war aftermath which are photoshopped to gain the sympathy of the people and gain maximum circulation, this list goes on growing.

Social media is an excellent platform which enables each citizen to be both a reporter and a reader, reaching out to a large audience. This helps people get firsthand information about any case (This could have been used as a tool in exposing the truths of the Kathua and Unnao cases, where the locals would just have posted the true facts). But unfortunately, this platform is being misused by people who want to manipulate the public opinion to carry out their political intentions.

People should be sensitive, at least with regard to such sensitive cases like rape or murder and should not help spread such news, without knowing the credibility of the facts. If they are not sure whether the case is true, they can simply refrain from sharing the posts or mentioning specifically that he/she does not know if the incident is true and asking the others to confirm if they have any leads about the case. This can be a constructive use of the social media.

The Print and the Electronic Media

It is astonishing that most of the newspapers and the news channels are either partially or fully owned by the politicians. So, quite obviously, it cannot be expected that they give unbiased news. There are a few channels that claim that they give unbiased news, let us get into little further details. They are privately owned, not by anybody in politics. In the beginning, they do give somewhat unbiased news, but they soon lose their share of TRP and then they start selling advertisement slots for survival.  These advertisements, again will be about the politicians. If the channel somehow survives and gets a wide viewership, its owners and the reporters are often threatened and/or assaulted by the ‘victims’ of their coverage (politicians).

Another astonishing fact is that the debates or panel discussions held in some of the news channels, which aim at providing quality facts of particular issue, with various points of view, often end up in endless loops and shouts. Instead of brining a clearer picture to the viewer, they often confuse him.

The newspapers can be classified based on their guest columns because there is nothing much they can manipulate, except the editorial columns, because the news has already spread through the electronic media and social media.

Responsibility of Media

Indian media has had great journalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, and many more who started newspapers as a service instead as a business. They put in their everything to start newspapers and even staked their lives and prestige for the cause of enlightening the common man.

Unfortunately, today, most of the newspapers and the news channels are business ventures, focusing on making profits, rather as responsible institutions aimed at creating a well-educated and a well aware public. Media now –a-days seem to have forgotten what their purpose is and the ethics that they are expected to imbibe in them.

What needs to Be Done Next?

There are a few steps that could be taken to minimise this manipulation of news by the media:

  • Any person involved in political activities should be barred from owning any newspapers or news channels or involving himself in any affairs regarding those organisations.
  • Strict regulations should be passed to punish the media organisations for hiding the facts or manipulating them in the news they cover. They are to be mandated to show the evidences to the claims they make openly available to the public through their websites.
  • Social media users should be cautious about the news they hear and cross verify it before    sharing it.
  • Common people, who are at the receiving end of the news, should try to keep aside their emotions while receiving the news and should try to analyse the news as unbiased as possible, like a third person.
  • Those in possession of the first hand true information about the case should share the same with documentary evidences, so that right information is available freely to all.

Final Appeal to the Media and the Public

First, to the media: Please do not manipulate the facts to serve the interests of a few. Remind yourselves about your ethical responsibilities and try to give the true information about any incident with documentary evidences. If people find out that your channels / newspapers are unbiased, your viewership will definitely grow substantially. No human on this Earth wants to be told false facts. All want to know the truth. Please do not come in the way of the truth. Let truth alone prevail.

To the Public: Please keep aside your emotions while seeing the news or reading news in a newspaper. Keep aside your political interests, aspirations and become responsible citizens of India, building a stronger India with true and fair opinion as a strong foundation. Then alone will India will be the world’s first biggest and successful democracy. Then alone will the dreams of our forefathers and those who sacrificed their all for the cause of the nation will come true. Only then will we be eligible to reap the fruits of their selfless sacrifice.

Sources:

Author: Ms. Nayana M R

Categories
Awareness

A Letter to Parents from a Juvenile Guilty of Murder

This hypothetical letter is based on the Ryan Murder case of 2017. This letter is an attempt to get into the shoes of the juvenile who is guilty of murdering a first standard student of his own school. This is a warning to all the parents, teachers and the society teaching what can happen if the young people (especially adolescents) are not monitored and guided properly.  The generation now a days is becoming very sensitive and aggressive. So it is the duty of the parents and teachers to guide it properly. Now over to Adit (name changed).

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hope you are well. I know I don’t deserve to even call you my father and mother. But I had a few things to say to you. Now that I am nearly eighteen, I am understanding a few things about myself, after a lot of introspection. There are a few things that I, as your son always wished you knew, but you never understood. Now that I am in the worst of the worst situations ever a boy of 17 could be, I wish to tell this to you before I face more punishment.

Ever since I remember, both of you were very loving and caring towards me. My home was a heaven to me. There was mom who used to run behind me feeding me and I used to wait for dad to come home from his office, getting chocolates and toys for me. I used to wait to hug him.

I remember when I lost my teeth for the first time, I was crying helplessly. I was afraid that my tooth will never grow again. Both of you had a hearty laugh and convinced me that the teeth will grow again. I was not at all convinced but I ended up believing it because my parents told me. When teeth actually started to grow, that was a magic. My parents became gods who just knew everything and could do anything. My life was simply a heaven.

Suddenly, one day when I was seven, I heard a loud noise from the living room while I was sleeping. That was probably of a glass breaking against the floor. Then I heard you two shouting to each other in angry voices. I was struck with fear. I slowly and stealthily came out of the room and for the first time saw the devil avatars of my angel parents. That was very scary. You did not notice me coming there, you were lost in your fight. I frightfully ran to my room and hid under the bed. I was very scared. I was crying out of fear – the fear of my own parents. From then on, I lost interest in just everything. My grades went down. For this, both of you started blaming each other. Did you ever ask me the reason?

You often found my soft toys stabbed and torn into pieces, and also killed cockroaches and rats. Even Pinky, our little puppy was found killed. This was a mystery, right? I was the one who did all this. I could find no way to put out my frustration, nor there was any other person who could listen to me. My friends started going away since my grades were going down. I became lonely even while with my own parents. This made me pour out my frustration on such dumb, innocent things. And both of you thought that the other person was responsible for all this, you never asked me. I think all you needed was a reason to fight.

Even at school, I did not have that a good environment. I could not concentrate in the class and could not answer any questions of my teachers and often I was sent out of the class and laughed at by my classmates. This would anger me and I used to often hit them when the teachers were not present.  They used to call both of you to school. You used to come, pretending to be the ‘perfect’ couple, listen to what teachers say and scold me and punish me at home. Never did you try once to find out the reason of my behaviour. I also started back answering the teachers, just because they could not understand me and always complained about me

As I grew up, my study load grew up and you found less and less time for me. Both of you were focused on your respective careers. You never thought about mine. There was nobody to teach me at home. No one to drop me to school and pick me up from school. Do you know one thing, I often used to run to the washroom in tears when I used to see the parents of my classmates coming to pick them up with all love and care. I used to see my classmates hug their parents and think I never did that.

I grew immune to all this as I grew up. But my academic load kept on increasing with not a letter getting into my head and there were a lot of confusion, a lot of chaos as I reached my thirteenth year. Many new questions came into my head causing a lot of dilemma, which I could not discuss with anybody. I wanted to talk to you, but you thought I had grown up enough to take care of myself and started to be more serious about your careers. Both of you left home before I woke up and returned late after I slept. My parents just used to vanish from my sight in the weekdays. I used to see both of you at home only on Sundays, just shouting at each other. But both of you were sweeter than ever to me. You provided me with whatever I asked – laptop, mobile phone, play station, and what not?

To avoid seeing this war-like situation, I took up piano class Sundays. There was this boy Vivan, who was a very young boy, studying in his kindergarten. Incidentally, he happened to be studying in our school. Both of us became close friends. I used to meet him near the school gate and drop him off to his class. Even in the evening, I used to drop him off to school gate. He was the only friend I had in our big school with hundreds of people.

I was in my eleventh standard and he in his first standard. My grades were really poor and there was a parent-teacher meeting scheduled the next day and an examination in the coming week. I was afraid of both. Both of them feared me to death. So, I thought,” The school usually cancels the meetings and postpones the exams if a student dies. And if things go as expected, the school will be closed, no classes, no teachers, no homework, no exams, no parent-teacher meeting. “. The dreadful thought came to my mind. Vivan was the only one who trusted me in the entire school. Not that I did not feel guilty about this, but the exams and the meeting had to be cancelled somehow, or I would be screwed again to death. So, as usual, I picked him off from the gate and asked him to come to the restroom with me. There, I slit his throat and he lay there, motionless. I was very guilty about this but, the exams were post poned, this satisfied me. As I expected, the school was held responsible and with all the police investigation, the school was shut for a week. Driver Anand was accused for this. I was relaxed. But one day, the principal called both of you to come to school with me. We did go to school, this was the first time after my kindergarten that we were going to school together, but I was in no mood to enjoy. The principal and the police officers showed us the footage of me and Vivan near the corridor of the restroom, going inside it. Without delay, I confessed my crime and I was immediately taken into custody. There were multiple inquiries and strong evidence was found against me. I was produced to the court and sent to remand home. Here, as I am writing this letter, I feel better than our home where I don’t have my parents shouting at each other, nobody forcing me to study. But I feel very deep guilt for killing my only trusting friend, Vivan. I often see him, with his throat slit and bleeding everywhere and this scares me. I also have thought of giving this life, but I don’t have the guts to. I am dying every day.

Now, dad and mom, tell me who is responsible for this state of mine? Is it you who, instead of monitoring my behaviour, were lost in your own fights and career? Is it my teachers who could not make out changes in my behaviour and do the needful to change my behaviour? Is it my classmates who did not make friends with me? It is Vivan who trusted me to be a friend or is it the society that nudged me every time I scored less marks? Is it the school which conducts exams? Or Is it me for taking birth into this world? Please convey my deepest sorry to Vivan’s parents. I know what I have taken from their lives with my own hands.. Uncle, Aunt… I am very sorry… Please forgive me if possible.

Yours Lovingly,

Adit

Sources:

  1. https://www.firstpost.com/india/ryan-international-school-murder-case-live-updates-cbi-charges-class-xi-boy-for-killing-seven-year-old-pradhyuman-minor-detained-4198901.html
  2. https://www.livemint.com/Politics/acQQwygFhJcUqOdo2VkrbM/Ryan-School-murder-Accused-Class-XI-student-admits-killing.html
  3. Image Source: https://www.amarujala.com/delhi-ncr/pradyuman-murder-case-court-orders-juvenile-accused-to-be-consider-as-adult

Author: Ms. Nayana M R

Categories
Awareness

The Science Behind Superstition

Illustrative Stories

Story 1 : A priest was once in a beach.   He was wearing a dhoti with all his tilaks everywhere on his body, looking just like a saint. He was carrying a pot with him. There were other people with similar pots with them. They saw our priest, touched his feet and took his blessings. Then, he filled his pot with some sand ( itwas empty before) , kept it on the shore and went to take a bath. After his bath, he returns to the place where he had kept his pot and what does he see? There are hundreds of pots filled with sand! Which one was his? He had filled his pot with sand to recognize it and there was no tantras or mantras involved in it. People did not reason out for a moment why he had done this. 

Story 2 : Somebody went to the house of  alady for lunch. She had kept a stick right in front of the dining table. The guest asked her the reason. She told, ” I don’t know, my mother used to keep a smaller stick whenever a guest came for lunch.” The same guest visited her mother’s house. She also served lunch. As expected, there was a stick, the size of a tiny branch right in front of the dining table. This guest was curious. She asked this lady also the reason for the stick being present. Even she did not know and told that her mother used to keep a small, tiny stick of the size of the little finger on the dining table. The mystery of the dining stick had to be solved. Luckily, the mother of the second lady was still alive living with her daughter. The guest asked her the reason. Guess what? The small stick on the dining table was meant to be a toothpick. 

What Are Superstitions? 

Oxford dictionary defines superstition as “A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.”( Oxfordonline). It is something that exists only in the minds of the humans. Events may just occur as co incidences for a few times and they become connected to each other. 

Classical Conditioning to be Blamed 

In the first story, people are conditioned to follow what the priest or holy people do. They follow him without nowingthe reason for what he does. 

In the second story, both the daughters have associated lunch with a guest with the stick nearby. So, without even contemplating the reason or the usefulness of the stick, they followed their mother. What more, they even improvised it. They simply paired lunch with stick. In these cases, a psychological process called classical conditioning is  involved. 

What is Classical Conditioning?

Classical Conditioning is basically a psychological phenomenon where a person or an animal connects two events. Ivan Pavlov’s experiment on a dog is a classic experiment demonstrating classical conditioning. Here, Pavlov taught a dog to salivate to the ring of a bell. For many times (“Trials” for nerds), he rang a bell before feeding the dog. After some time with such trails, dog, which did not salivate to the bell before now salivates to the bell without food given. This is because the dog has paired the food with the ring of the bell. Pavlov also demonstrated that this conditioning can be continued with a bell, then a light and so on. Food is something that gives pleasure to the dog. It can also be replaced with something that gives it pain, for example, an electric shock.                   

This is exactly what happens to humans. If, for example, a cat crosses the road of a person and he/she misses the bus, and this happens multiple times, cat will be considered the reason for missing the bus, where the cat does not stop he/she from catching the bus. 

The same principle applies when people conduct marriages of frogs and donkeys to get rains, slaughter animals in the name of the deity, fearing that the deity may become angry if they do not offer animals and a lot many more.  

Why do people do this? 

Pain and pleasure are the two forces that motivate a man. Nobody wants to have a bad day or even a bad moment. If somebody has had a bad moment or a bad day, he reasons it out. Obviously, people who blame everything except themselves tend to have more superstitious beliefs. Before getting into details, let us look into some of the weird and funny superstitions. 

Weird superstitions 

  • It is believed that if somebody crosses a person, who is lying or sitting, it stunts their growth. What if the person drinks Complan?
  • A black cat should not cross the road while someone is on the way to his work. Now, the cat thinks the.”I crossed a human while searching for food..I found nothing..meaww!!”
  • If someone sneezes once or thrice before another person nearby leaves, something bad will happen to the leaving person. Who can control sneezes?
  • If somebody chokes while eating or drinking, somebody must be cursing them.
  • One is not supposed to cut nails or have a nail cut after 6 in the evening.
  • One should not take a shower after 12 in the noon. Or else somebody will die in the house.

Tens and hundreds of such blind beliefs can be seen. There are a variety of such beliefs which differ from place to place. 

Daniel Kahneman’s Systems 

In 2013, a psychologist called Daniel Kaghnemanpublished a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. In this book, he puts forward his theory explaining why people tend to think in superstitious way.  

        According to him, there are two systems of thought in people. The first of them, System 1, represents our immediate reactions to the world. This is the part which makes us give snap judgements. In case of superstitions, there are a few things that this system does. 

  • Establish the cause and effect relationship

This is thinking like, ” My exams went well because I wore my lucky shirt.” 

  • Threatens Not to tempt fate

System 1 come up with the worst scenario for our actions. It makes us think like,” If I don’t wear my lucky shirt, my exam will not go well.”          

  • Creates Confirmation Bias

System 1 comes up with past experiences to testify such thoughts. For example, ” Last year when I had exams, I wore my lucky shirt. Most of my friends flunked, but I passed, what a magic!” 

        System 2, in contrast to system 1, is the slower rational brain. It jumps in to tell us,” Don’t be stupid. Shirts don’t matter in the exams but your hard work does.” 

        The problem here is that we most often tend to ignore the System 2 because we are evolutionarily made to think less.(lessen the Cognitive Load and go for the simplest  of things). That is, we tend to think in a superstitious way even when we know that it sillogical.  

        One study clearly shows this. The participants were rewarded for throwing darts at a board. In spite of the rewards, they found it difficult to dart at the board when there was a photo of a baby on it  thanwhen there was a photo of Hitler on the board. It is evident that the participants know that it does not harm either baby or Hitler. 

Why do we resort to System 1? 

In Riesen’s view, why we go for system 1 of thinking is because superstition is less costly than the unfavourableoutcome. For example, not washing the lucky shirt is not a big issue when compared to exams not going well. 

        “Even people who report that a magic spell cannot cause damage are less willing to allow an experimenter to say a magic spell if their hand is at risk than if some other, less valuable object is at risk,” Risen writes.            

If the worst of the worst scenarios is really easy to think of, and really hard to ignore, then superstitions come up. If a person knows his exams weren’t really well for many years, it is easy to think that he will fail again, but the consequences cannot be ignored.    

 Another theory which appeals to the common sense of a lay person is that superstitions comfort us. It feels better to have superstitions despite of knowing that they are meaningless. Life and world is so unpredictable, so that is a comfort which cannot be resisted. Superstitions are what make us humans.         

Food for Thought

Did you know that humans are not the only ones to show superstitious behaviour? Pigeons also exhibit superstitiousbehaviour. B.F.Skinner, the Father of operant conditioning, after training the pigeon to operate a lever to get food pellets. Then, he started putting the food pellets randomly. The pigeon operated the lever even without getting the food pellets hoping that it will get pellets sometime. It knew that the food pellets do not come every time it operates the lever, yet it operated it. 

Author: Ms. Nayana M R

Categories
Awareness

Eradicate Child Labour And Aspire A Better Future

Children should be making sand castles not bricks

Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on a part- or full-time basis.According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines the term child labour as, “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children, or work whose schedule interferes with their ability to attend regular school, or work that affects in any manner their ability to focus during school or experience a healthy childhood.

The eminent English writer Charles Dickens helped publicize the evils of child labor with his novel Oliver Twist.

Due to lack of modern machinery, child labour is extensively used. Economic factors are also one of the reasons for child labour. As the employers have to pay more to the adult workers. Poverty forces parents to send their children to work outside.  .

Due to this child labour:

  • Children are deprived of their education and mental and physical development .
  • Physical injuries and death are caused by badly maintained machinery on farms and in factories.
  • Long-term health problems, such as respiratory disease, asbestosis and a variety of cancers.
  • Exhaustion and malnutrition are a result of underdeveloped children performing heavy manual labour, working long hours in unbearable conditions and not earning enough to feed themselves adequately.

Sherin a young orphan girl from Durgapur was taken by a couple to Titagarh to do all domestic service as well as baby sitting. She was not being paid for her work. The plight took a new turn when she was accused of stealing money from the piggy bank. She was threatened, beaten and at the end she was dragged to the open air terrace to spend the night in the biting cold. She was shivering and crouching in the cold. Seeing her condition the neighbour called CHILDLINE for help.

CHILDLINE immediately went there to verify the authencity of the complaint. The very next day they took local police with them to rescue Sherin. She was seriously injured and was taken to B.N Bose road hospital. “I was punishable for every small mistakes and the lady of the house often used to beat me” told Sherin. The childline team filed a FIR against the couple under Juvenile Justice Act, The Child Labour Act 1986 and The Indian Penal code.

The truth behind beautifully embroidered sarees is a child’s little hands working day and night to make a living. This is one such story.

In a tip off received by CHILDLINE  Jaipur, a large number of children were believed to be working in small dingy rooms with no light or ventilation. These small rooms were homes as well as workplaces for children trafficked from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. On receiving this information, CHILDLINE Jaipur conducted a raid and rescue operation of 150 child labourers working in zari units with help from the police. The children were made to work for more than 12-14 hours a day without a break, for a minimum salary of Rs. 200 per month. Today, 10 people have been arrested and booked under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJB) for the illegal use of children. According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act , 1986, zari making has been classified as a hazardous form of child labour in India.

The Current State of Child Labor

  1. In the world

The latest ILO estimates indicate that 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide. Seventy-one per cent of children in child labour work in the agricultural sector and 69 per cent work within their own family unit. Nearly half of all those in child labour – 73 million children in absolute terms – are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development. 20 million child workers are employed in factories that make garments, carpets, toys, matches and hand-rolled cigarettes.

  1. In India
  • One in every 11 children in India is working.
  • More boys (38.7 million) than girls (8.8 million) are involved in hazardous work.

Children are engaged in every sector of economy like match stick making, fireworks, domestic labour, construction, carpet making industry, brick kilns, etc. One of the places where child labour is experienced the most is Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu.

Today, there are sufficient statutes condemning and prohibiting child labour such as:

The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.

The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine. Mining being one of the most dangerous occuptions, which in the past has led to many major accidents taking life of children is completely banned for them.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage. This act provides punishment to those who act in contravention to the previous acts by employing children to work.

AMENDMENT:

The government last month amended child labour laws allowing children under 14 years to work in family business and entertainment business ( except circus)

While the challenge is still great, we are clearly moving in the right direction. The 2016 results show that child labour has again declined worldwide, continuing a trend seen since the publication of the Global Estimates of Child Labour in 2000. The 16-year period starting in 2000 saw a net reduction of 94 million in children in child labour. The number of children in hazardous work fell by more than half over the same period. There were almost 134 million fewer children in employment in 2016 than in 2000.

Children constitute the nation’s valuable human resources. So it is the duty of the society to look after every child with a view to assuring full development of its personality. Various organisations in the area of child labour are tasking effort to protect and eradicate the same, and to make the parents aware that temporary is not a helpful to the family. Thus, if awareness about the cons of child labour is spread across the nation and strict policing of implementation of existing laws are done; India can combat the issue of Child Labour.

Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is a stake here. A lot of work still remains, but I will see the end of CHILD LABOUR in my life time.

Reference links:

  1. http://childlineindia.org.in/child-labour-india.htm
  2. https://www.importantindia.com/25558/child-labour-meaning-causes-effects-solution/
  3. http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/21/Child-Labour
  4. https://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-related-child-labour-india/
  5. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/ZPALzwgvOLhyMfxWsobcHM/10-alarming-statistics-on-child-labour-in-India.html
  6. http://indiaeducationdiary.in/global-conventions-child-labour/

Author: Ms. Souromita Chatterjee

Categories
Awareness

The Mirage of Secularism in Indian Democracy

Before defining secularism, let us look into how various religions and castes evolved in India. ‘Religion’ is defined as ” the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” Even before religion came up, man, who was just evolving from apes was frightened by natural phenomenon like lightening, thunder, thunder storms, rains, the cycle of day and night, death and so on. The rational man started to reason out why all these happen. But, his limited knowledge could not be successful in this. So, he thought there is some power out of his cognition that does all such things. Thus, he started to worship nature to spare him from these disasters. This is how the concept of God came up. This perception of God and method of worship varied from place to place from civilisation to civilisation. This is why there are a variety of gods all over the globe.

The earliest traces of worship in India is found in the seals of the Indus Valley Civilisation. They worshipped the goddess fertility and a bull. Then came the Aryans who worshipped nature. They came up with various practices and the division of the society was initially based on the occupation. There were four divisions – the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. It is noteworthy that this system was flexible and any willing person could change his occupation, hence could change his caste. During the later Vedic period, this division became watertight and a person’s occupation was decided by his father’s occupation. This is how the concept of castes came up. There was only one religion that existed – the Vedic religion with its divisions. However, there was trade and cultural contact with other cultures and countries.

India, being a diverse country, has castes and subcastes varying from place to place. That is why there are many religions, castes and sub castes in India. A single religion will have various subcastes, differing from region to region. So, no two castes in India, though of the same religion and some even of the same name are exact replica of each other.

Secularism is defined as “The principle of separation of the state from religious institutions.”. This simply means that the government of a state is not recognised by the religion of the persons working in it and it does not consider the religion of the citizens while taking any citizens or providing with state aid to them. In the Vedic times and later, there was a separate class of people (Kshatriyas) who could become rulers and nobody else from any other class of people could be rulers. So, there was no chance of rulers being influenced by the religion of their subjects. As time went by, the Brahmins came to have more and more influence on the rulers. Then, after the Muslim invasion into India, Muslim rulers started giving Musilms more preference in the administrative posts and discriminated between their subjects based on religion to the extent that they even taxed the non-Muslims. Later, the Europeans did not consider religion because their main focus was money making. They did trust Europeans over Indians for administrative posts. No where do we see Europeans preferring Christians over others to work in their government.

Post independence, we claim to be a secular country. Are we really a secular country? That is a complicated question to answer. You ask any lay person who he is going to vote. He will say, ” I vote for our people”. This “our people” does not mean that there are his relatives contesting in the elections. It means that people from his caste or community is contesting in the elections, and irrespective of the merits and demerits of the candidate, he will get a vote, just because he is born into such and such a caste. Ask the same person why he will vote for a person of his own community, his answer will somewhat say he expects favours from the elected person because he is from that community. This means the person elected to power provides favours based on the community. Is this not the exact opposite of the vey term “secularism”?         

A keen observer may also observe certain subtle facts that this also have a great influence over the decisions of the government. If a left-wing party comes to power, their decisions will mainly target to please the non-Hindus and if a right wing party comes to power, the decisions will focus on the pleasing of Hindus. If a Dalit comes to power, he will tend to do favours for people of the Dalit community. This is the harsh reality and the hands of the invisible ghost called ‘caste’ which runs democracy in India. Take for example the issue of Ayodhya. If pro-Hindu party comes to power, it promises that the Ram Mandir will be built there. If an anti-Hindu party comes to power, it promises that the Babri Masjid will be built there. But till date, the case is still in the Supreme Court and it is impossible that a person could influence the decisions of the Apex Court. It is highly incomprehensible how they make such claims.

Communalism to Blame

Any Indian, while conversing with a stranger, often asks this question while having a casual talk – “Which community do you belong to?”. There is nothing that anybody gains or loses if that person is from the community of the first person or not, it is simply that the conduct of the first person with him depends on the caste of the second person. Thankfully, things are changing with more and more educated and conscious younger generations.

The British sowed the seeds of communalism to divide the Indians and carry their rule on forever. After they left, the powerful use the crops of the same seed to get power and make money. The person in power himself will not be that passionate about his religion but his hands (close associates) and supportors will be very passionate about their religion and caste and will be ready to die and/or kill for the cause of their religion. Such people should remind themselves that there is nothing valuable that they or their communities get from such passion but shame.

Rays of Hope for a better future

There are two deadly diseases that need to be eradicated for India to become developed and a successful democracy in the true sense. First, corruption, which takes years of thorough education for decades to get rid of. The second is Communalism. This seems to be a Herculan task, because caste and religion are so stuck to our personalities right from womb all the way to grave. The society as a whole, needs to be awakened and educated about how a democracy should function and what are the parameters they should consider before voting for a candidate or a party and most importantly, caste is definitely NOT one of those parameters. We must educate our children and the society to keep castes and religion confined to their personal lives and not let them out to affect the social life and its peace and harmony, which are the rights of each and every person in the society, no matter whether is a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or a Jew. All have the right to fair treatment by the Government and the facilities provided by it.

Sources:

  1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/secularism
  2. https://qz.com/1199361/babri-masjid-ayodhya-dispute-the-supreme-court-verdict-can-shake-the-very-foundations-of-india/
  3. http://www.indiacelebrating.com/essay/social-issues-and-social-awareness-essay/
  4. Image Source: indiafact.org

Author: Ms. Nayana M R