© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Is Our Culture = Hypocrisy ?

I know that I am touching a raw nerve here! Much has been talked about the Indian culture in the global context and there is no doubt – we are all proud of what we are. But in the past few months (well, more than a few) when I see the stuff going around me, I tend to believe that we are slowing transforming into a big bunch of Hypocrites!

While I started writing this post I looked up on Wiki (being my favorite source of information) for a definition of a Hypocrite/Hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy (or the state of being a hypocrite) is the act of preaching a certain belief or way of life, but not, in fact, holding these same virtues oneself. For example, an adult telling children not to smoke cigarettes, even though the adult smokes

Now let’s try to look a few examples from the various facets of our day to day life.

1. I don’t have any issues….
I have married outside my ‘religion’ and that had created a lot of hullabaloos in my family when I announced my decision. I had heard stories from my mom on how she had been subjected to insult by the extended family by means of sarcastic comments & statements during family gatherings. Over a period of time, things got evened out because people had new stories to talk about – but the bitterness with quite a lot of the extended family continued. As an effort to straighten out things, I started reaching out to the people to understand what their problem was & to initiate dialogue to sort out things.

And to my surprise, nobody had any problem! And then who had the problem all these days? I guess it was me then… J. Being bitchy about somebody at their back, but start buttering out while you see them face on – And believe me, I personally know a lot my friends who had similar experiences in their lives... more than once!

2. Worshipped woman
Woman is worshipped – according to our culture. ‘Amma’ is widely considered the embodiment of the god that you can see, feel & touch.

I remember reading a few articles on the internet last year about the increasing divorce rates among the IT workers in India. The authors go on claiming that it has got to do more with the sedentary lifestyle & ‘viewing the computer for a long time’ that an IT professional normally does that leads to impotency which in turn results in divorces. Somebody even goes to the level of mentioning that the exposure to the western culture that IT brings is leading to a loose lifestyle.

I am not challenging the risks involved with leading a sedentary lifestyle, but I personally think that the increasing divorce rate has more to do with financial independence. The new arena of work opportunities has given the women the financial independence – which they never had earlier – to walk out of an abusive relationship. So, the couples (man or woman) do not necessarily have to put up (guilt/dependency) with the abusive nature of the partner.

So, two questions here – Are women REALLY worshipped? Second, do they still behave WORTHY enough for worship? – Some food for thought.

But no matter what, when some discussions happen about cultures, we still have our blood boiling about our ‘respect for woman’.

3. That is not OUR culture!
This one is my favorite! – Come Feb 14th every year, you find arson, stoning and all sort of things going on in pockets of India – protest against the Valentine’s Day! The main argument here is that this celebration is against our culture! To celebrate or not is a personal choice & I don’t intent to make any comments on that here.

But I personally know a little girl near my house in my home village who was just 16 years old while she committed suicide by drinking a bottle of pesticide – And she was 6 months pregnant! When it came to a situation that she can’t hide her growing belly anymore, she decided to end her life. Had she been educated of the pitfalls of engaging in unsafe & prenatal sex, had her parents been more open to talk about these things to her instead of considering that a taboo, I feel it would have turned out to be a different story. And many such stories does not even come out, if the parents are financially sound.

My point is that such things happen everywhere. Instead of pretending that this does not happen because it is not our culture, parents should take necessary steps in creating that bond with the children to have free dialogue & educate them. Leaving it to the culture could be a disaster - because it is not as it is perceived to be!

My daughter would be 3 in October this year & I was awed to hear from one of the parent in the school that in the curriculum for the Kindergarten they have a lesson on ‘Touch’. Helping the children to identify the different ‘touches’ and help them to realize what is appropriate & what is not.

So, isn’t providing the education right at the beginning & enable the children to deal with the world rather than playing the moral police of arson & stoning shops a better option? Why do we fail to see the obvious?

4. I am the perfect – all others are sloppy!
This is another that I see at my work place & constantly deals with on a day to day basis. We talk so much about separating the 'problem' from the 'personnel' while you have an issue to deal with. 80% of the people whom I deal with have some or other excuse of not having completed a particular work item. “ABC was supposed to give that component & I can only start after that, he has not completed yet” OR “PQR had a delay, so I am delayed” – The surprising factor is that it is never because of ME! I am the perfect man & nothing can be delayed or go wrong because of ME.

And the same people if they have something delayed from somebody else, you can hear statements like… “You know what? He is lazy. You can’t expect a timely delivery from him”… It was so easy to box somebody because of an instance… Couldn’t that ABC person or the PQR component be applicable to him too?

5. “I just had my tea”
I should say that this one is very specific to malayalis. You are visiting a friend’s house & as it is in the common tradition, they are offering you a drink – cold beverage or tea/coffee - & is asking for you if you have a specific liking for any of the choice. The immediate response (most common) is “We just had our tea a few minutes back”. And the fact might be that you had not had a chance to drink even a glass of water since you had your breakfast! I had raised eyebrows within my family when I say “Yes, I prefer tea, but I like to have a plain glass of water first!”. My question is that why do we need to show that formality? At least while we are with friends?

I don’t know – May be our 'unsaid culture' is to be hypocritical!

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