How can we become better in understanding others?
We, the great Indian nation people, have many faces. We have so many languages and so many cultures. We have our own identities and we also have a huge pride in preserving these identities. We fail to understand that if one tries to impose some culture or some habit on others, there is bound to be resistance.
Be that as it may, in sheer economic terms, we now have fights that seem to be reaching the boiling point. Particularly those involving sharing of river waters is becoming a huge headache for all common people, and our petty politicians regularly rake up non issues for their own selfish ends.
The key question is: How can be become better in understanding others, given certain ground realities?
The answers to the aforesaid question are very complex indeed and involve deep introspection at every stage. Furthermore, they require a deep thought process that needs to cut across borders of State, across politicians and other people capable of creating trouble, for their own selfish ends.
The best way to understand others is by understanding different cultures and appreciating the finer aspects of different cultures, without ever harming any aspect of such cultures or creating trouble by imposing alien things like trying to create new cultures where none exist. If people adapt to new cultures on their own, without any external force, and it becomes a natural process, then things are fine. The seeds of understanding others are sown in a big way.
For example, in Chennai, the grooming industry has been vastly influenced by fashions imported from the North of India, in particular, from New Delhi and Mumbai. Such new fashions have found favor with the young and there is no stopping anyone at any stage.
So, something that happens naturally can be a very useful point for understanding others.
However, at the individual level, and even at the collective level, viewpoints about how a central issue affects or is bound to affect, becomes a threat that firmly gets implanted in minds. This becomes a bigger problem, and becomes a very complex problem to solve.
For example, let us take the Mulliperiyar dam issue. Those from Kerala firmly believe that the dam is unsafe and there is absolutely no truth in claiming that the dam is safe, even if the Supreme Court of India says so, with solid documented evidence. Passions run high, and politicians fuel the so-called insecurity.
Those in Tamil Nadu, fear that a new dam that Kerala is now talking of building, will effectively stop whatever water they are now getting, for generations to come.
The answer would be a new dam in the Kerala side, with enough precautions to safeguard Tamil Nadu's interests. How can this win-win situation come about?
It can come about if people on either side gather together, use the social media to garner support and sort out the matter through better understanding. The politicians should be forced to play second fiddle.
It may sound childish or even utopian. But the truth of the matter is different. A situation like this is eminently possible if people on either side take the help of retired judges, social scientists, environmentalists and so son, who would work for the welfare of people of both States, and not for any one. What we need to understand is that such win-win situations need to be brought about, as an imperative, as a matter of compulsory choice and not mere choice.
There is no other alternative, and we all need to understand this.
Secondly, it ought to be realized that very sensitive issues involve emotions and feelings and can disturb and disrupt cultural harmony and peace. The language issue is a very important issue here.
Hindi is sought to be projected as the sole National Language. Even a ten year old, who can read the Constitution, will easily tell you that the so-called National Languages are more than ten, and these are listed in the Constitution. Hindi, along with English, is supposed to be the official language of the Nation.
But Hindi also happens to be the mother tongue of a huge number of Hindiwallahs who have settled down in the Cow belt of UP, MP, Rajasthan and Bihar and other States carved out of these States.
Unfortunately, people in South India, more so in Tamil Nadu, do not see how Hindi can become more superior to their own languages. Even Bengalis and Gujarathis and of course, the Maharashtrians have always felt so. The Shiv Sena openly speaks about Marathi superiority.
The Hindi fanatics should realize that it is futile to argue that only Hindi is superior. Instead, if they promote a gradual and natural growth of the language, it will find acceptance. However, even here, it is ridiculous to argue that Hindi should be the sole language of study. A third language should be compulsorily taught and those who cannot understand even basic English, will be left far behind.
So,the problem is more of understanding. More of accommodating and not forcing one's views on others. Much less a language. Hindi will gradually be accepted as a link language, but to argue that everyone should speak in that language only, or at most times, is absolutely ridiculous.
Apart from language, what needs to be understood is that the root cause of any issue is the emotions and the feelings of people. One has to give due respect to these. Only when these emotions and feelings are not respected, the entire exercise of getting across to people and creating win-win situations becomes an utter failure.
Social scientists, lawyers, retired judges, social activists, journalists and so on, who have a huge national interest at heart in any matter, should be encouraged to initiate and sustain public debates through the media. Once this happens, the chances of such debates taking a healthy turn with a maximum percentage of people of target populations taking active part, is eminently possible. Once this happens, the rest, as they say, is history.
People will appreciate the larger issues involved and come together and sit and talk. However, such a climate should also be characterized by a huge amount of give and take in which all people who are concerned do not take dogmatic positions, but are more open to suggestions from all quarters.
One is seeing this happening on a larger scale, in India, than ever before. In the years to come, let us hope that our understanding of others will be far better, leading to social harmony than ever before.