How does the mindset of the Indian society operate? Well, let me put it in simple terms. Our society keeps a code of conduct that is used to adjudge the morality of the people. If by chance you fail to follow these rules, then god forbid, you will be torn to pieces. It is truly interesting how we claim to be the “modern lot of the 21st century” but yet we victimize other people for no apparent reason. You must have read innumerable articles on the internet about the “kind of society we Indians have.” Have you ever thought about why people write such stuff about our society? Well, you are about to find it out.
Every story, every instance and every experience has a kernel of truth in it. I came across one such story on Quora that put up a big question mark on the mentality of our society. In this story, the author talks about his encounter with people who harbor the “mentality” that I am mentioning. So, as the author stated– they were a group of three friends where one of them was a girl. They had gone to Kanpur for attending an event in IIT Kanpur and thus had to spend a night in a hotel on the day before the event. When they wanted to take up some rooms, the hotelkeeper obviously questioned them with narrowed eyes and furtive glances towards the girl. When they wanted to discuss something together, the hotelkeeper came to check on them for “wrong actions” and guess what? He found ‘a girl and a boy’ ‘alone’ in ‘one room’, which rifled up his moral code and the rest is history. Slowly, a crowd of orthodox people cornered them and accused them of being immoral and character-less.
This is just one instance out of a thousand, but we still don’t get it, do we? Why are we so concerned with what others are doing? We talk about peace and freedom and all such things, but we don’t understand any of those words. All we know is that we need to judge other people’s character while our insides rot due to our nasty mentality. Out of so many immoral wrongdoings like rape and assault that have plagued our country, we choose to pinpoint the irrelevant ones. Now, of course, our society cannot imagine a girl and a boy being ‘just friends’ because “zamana kharab hai”, right? Wrong! The generation is not bad, but I cannot say the same for the mentality of our society. From ‘Swayamvar’ to ‘Honor Killing’, did we actually become broad-minded or worse than earlier?
In another instance, a girl shared her story on Quora, which talks about how she was discreetly accused of showing inappropriate behavior. This girl had just started jogging on a ground surrounded by residential complexes, where a whole lot of other people also come every day. One fine day, a middle-aged aunty approached her and scolded her saying- “Do you think it is appropriate for females to run like this in public? Men and boys run here, you are a girl; you can walk fast if you want to exercise. You girls these days just want to copy western culture. It’s not correct for a girl to run in public.”
This girl was appalled but eventually she “shrugged it off”. Weird how we all seem to do that- “just shrug it off or forget about it” when these are the things that are wrong in our country. No one should say things like these to anyone. If we call our country to be free, then why do we still judge a girl when she wears shorts and men are seen catcalling and abusing girls for what they wear? Why do we still interfere in someone’s personal space? Where is freedom in India when you need it?
“It was a winter morning. The time was around 9:00. A father was trying to start his bike; his little daughter was laughing, sitting in the back of the bike. Suddenly her laughter stopped when two strangers came near them and started beating up the father”, reports a person on Quora. In the aftermath of this incident, the small girl was perplexed as to why all of this had happened to her dear old dad. I’d say that she is not the only one who is confused by this, we are too. You must be wondering why I stated this issue, so read on.
Let me draw a scenario for you. A father is being physically assaulted in front of everyone and a small girl is screaming with terror. What do the people do? They unabashedly fish out their phones and click pictures and videos of this event and put it up on social media with juicy captions. They reason their actions as “spreading awareness”. Where was the so–called awareness when the father was being beaten up? Couldn’t the people help him at that time instead of ignoring this or making videos about it? We are peace lovers, so we protect our peace of mind by not taking any step to stop the wrong things that happen in front of us. If someone breaks the traffic rules, we call them uneducated and let them get away with it. We deem things wrong but we do nothing about it. Isn’t it time we emerge out of the selfishness that has cocooned us?
Now, I’d like you to picture yet another event. According to another post on Quora, a couple from abroad had come to Goa for a vacation. We Indians think that foreigners are the treasure troves of just about everything and we treat them similarly. Most importantly, they are white, rosy and beautiful. In this particular incident, a group of Indian men in their 40’s approached the foreign woman; and any guess on what they wanted? Pictures of course! Taking pictures and selfies (and money, if you know what I mean) with foreigners is actually a thing in India. Evidently, it isn’t something to be proud of! The woman stated that- “From the time we’ve landed in Goa, people wanted to take pictures with us. Like we’re some sort of aliens. I’ve started to feel uncomfortable with the constant gawking and secretly taking my pictures.”
Don’t you think it’s time to spare the foreigners and stop staring at them? We need to understand that this makes us look like some slimy and sleazy lot of people who do not care about private space! Why do we have to leer and gawk at them, when they are all but humans like us? Now then, the word “space” is tricky in itself. We might say we give people space, but we don’t stop commenting on what they do and what they wear. The only kind of space that is needed currently is widening of the ‘mental space’! What our society needs right now is enlargement of mental horizons. What our society needs right now is a reboot of their mindsets.