Doesn’t affect me?

Recently, a friend who has been living abroad since a couple of decades, stated that he was shocked and disgusted to know that some relatives in India were not inviting his recently widowed mother home as it is ‘inauspicious’.

Quite a few friends expressed distress about this matter. However, all were relieved after one of his family members clarified that, of the persons who had called on his mother after his father’s death, many had invited her to visit them. Some had not explicitly invited her, but that did not mean she was unwelcome.

I completely agree with him that such behaviour (treating a widow as ‘inauspicious’) is disgusting.

However, I am surprised that he said that he was shocked. While he has been living abroad for over 20+ years, he did live the first 20+ years of his life in India. Surely, he would have observed this kind of behaviour among his relatives, if not his family. At the very least, he would have read about the lousy status of widows in certain communities, including the one he was born into.

One may claim it is possible that a person is actually unaware of certain kinds of discrimination (or social situations) simply due to lack of exposure. For example, people who have always lived in cities and have never been to remote villages would have absolutely no idea there are people living in places without electricity, tap water, toilets, roads, etc., which are taken for granted in cities.

I don’t agree. Even before the advent of internet, well-read people in India were aware of the discrimination faced by coloured people in countries that they had never visited. The term ‘apartheid’ was known. So how can we claim we don’t know about various forms of discrimination that have been going on for centuries in our own backyard?

There are many forms of discrimination being practised around us. Often, when we see some form of discrimination being practised and we know it is wrong, we don’t act or speak against it.
Sometimes, we are indifferent because we think it is harmless.
Sometimes, we are indifferent because we think we cannot make a difference.
Mostly, we are indifferent because we think it doesn’t directly affect us.

But, we are shocked and disgusted when the victim is one of ourselves. That’s when we realise that it’s not harmless and that we should try to make a difference, even if a particular episode doesn’t directly affect us.


6 thoughts on “Doesn’t affect me?

  1. I’m not at all surprised at the sanctimonious attitude of your NRI friend. Because of their standoffish attitude there was a time.earlier when the acronym also was considered to stand for “Not Required” or “Not Reliable Indians”.Now following the meltdown in the US resulting in reverse migration of our US based desis, it has assumed the new dispensation of “Now Returning Indians”.
    Having many close relations abroad and having specialized in professional consultancy advisory practice I’ve had numerous occasions to interact with them closely time and again and it has certainly not been any pleasant to say the least. Whatever Obama may promote our “Indian/Asian-Americans” they are still considered second class citizens by the whites and any offence by them is high lighted – be it Rajat Gupta or Devyani Khobragade (she is no angel, but the way she was treated is something very atrocious) or tax evading doctors who park their monies in tax free Indian NRE/FCNR bank accounts and not include the interest as world income in their US/UK Tax returns only to be hauled up on the coals with high penalties by the US IRS.
    When your friend speaks of others’ attitude towards his widowed mother in India, I’d like to know how many times he has invited her over and showed her round in the US? Or for that matter in India too. Many stay in hotels and not old homes when they visit. Many dump them conveniently in Old Peoples’ Homes!
    One elderly Indian lady said that she belongs to the IAS – “International Ayah Service” – when the daughter delivers the “born US citizen kid” her mother goes there and later she is relieved by the mother-in-law. There are No minimum wages or engagement of ‘illegal alien’ contraventions!

    • Nagesh, you have raised points which apply to some, maybe many, NRIs, but not all.

      In any case, not just NRIs, but most, if not all, of us have been guilty of turning a blind eye to discrimination that we think doesn’t affect us.

  2. Yes, though charges of discrimination equally apply to many back here, it is found to be more pronounced to ‘those who have gone to foreign lands’. These newly few dollar rich folks think no end of themselves – muttering ‘good, good’ for every thing.

  3. Discrimination exists in all parts of the world and in all possible sizes and combinations. In our country, it is freely distributed as ‘ek ke saath ek free’. Nobody and I repeat nobody except the victim is aware of the depth of harm it does to his/her personality. Not everyone is lucky enough to find someone who can pull them out of it. The worst part is some people just do it because someone else was doing it, without even realizing if what they said or did to the victim was right or wrong. As my Dad says, ‘If you can’t say/do anything good, at least don’t attempt to say/do anything at all. That itself will be a great tribute to humanity.’

  4. I think here your NRI was shocked or jolted to find that the bad/discriminatory things can happen to him also. He might have had this notion that those things happened to other people and not to modern people like him.. Many people NRI or RI have such notions it seems.. I see so many around regarding various issues …

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