In Search Of Peace And Order

Of Balance and Harmony

Sudip Bhattacharyya

In this universe, the multifarious forms and entities often provide accommodation to contradictions: void and content, zero and infinity, static and dynamic, etc. What seems to hold these conflicting things together is the principle of harmony and balance. This guards peace and order.

Despite and in spite of improvement and progress in human civilizations, there are today unfortunately growing intolerance between castes, races, religions, nations and most unfortunately even between individuals.
India is no exception. And this principle of harmony and balance could be the elixir for resolution of all above conflicts.

But can people better understand this principle?

There are two operative words in this: balance and harmony. Former implies middle-road or Madhyapantha; the latter, convergence or reconciliation. Middle road is mostly not in the middle but at a point where reconciliation is happening or very likely. Let us consider two recent happenings, as follows:

One is of a Dalit manual scavenger in Alwar. At the age of 10 she started work as a scavenger for just Rs 10 a day. Over time, she started making jute bags and then pickles and finally even got trained to work in beauty parlors. Now, at the age of 42, she is motivating other Dalit women to learn to do more respectable jobs. The other is the story of a widow in Egypt who disguised herself as a man, by wearing trousers and shaving her head, for 43 years to earn livelihood for three persons, when local culture did not like women at workplace.

These news coverages where these two instances of triumph of poor, of backward caste, of disadvantaged women in most depressing environment have been taken up, act as eye-openers also to general public besides those who take up the cudgel for the oppressed. More heartening is that such success stories of human endeavor to fight against injustice came from the countries like India and Egypt, and not from 'advanced West'.

The Times of India covered these two worthwhile happenings on 6th April, 2015.

Coming back to the point, the two oppressed women showed a balanced approach in analyzing, appreciating and accepting the reality of social impediments and then succeeding to overcome them through a balanced approach and not through energy sapping frontal confrontationist approach.

In both the cases, it seems to be a successful attempt to harmonize an apparently irreconcilable dictum and need, avoiding any head-on confrontation.

On the same day in the same newspaper, Azim Premji is reported to have said that 'ours is a great pluralistic nation and that we must accept our differences'. What he meant is that this greatness lies in accepting differences in India's body politic. As reported in the TOI dated 12/04/2015, A P J A Kalam echoing the same sentiments has said: 'There has to be tolerance for other people's opinions, beliefs and culture'. Ramakrishna Deva had famously declared 'Jata Mata Tata Path' meaning: as there are diverse opinions, so are there diverse paths. Thus one should accept the reality of differences and try towards an optimum progressive harmonization. This is the balanced, analytical and appreciative approach, allowing due respect and recognition to others' views.

Recently, it was in the news that in South Africa, excreta were thrown on the statue of Rhodes as a mark of protest against colonialism and apartheid. One current Indian issue flagged and analyzed on the same day in the TOI is 'Hok Kolorob' Part two in Jadavpur university campus in Kolkata, where the protest slogans written on sanitary napkin were being flaunted and circulated. The main issue in these two cases appeared to be not justifiability of the protests but rather the form of expression of protest. It is the lack of balanced approach, namely no searching for madhyapantha that leads to such unnecessary sensational posturing eventually costing the protest itself.

Recent protests by Siv Sena against Shoba De is unfortunate and the latter is right in announcing that individual right of choice and the need for a level playing field are basic rights. But in doing that, there was no need to refer to Misal and Vada in a provocative way to attract attention. Further a little appreciation of local need and sentiment is also desirable, particularly when similar preferential treatment was meted out to Marathi cinema by Vilas Rao Deshmuk govt. earlier, without any such protest. Well, what is being stated is give and take and reconcile.

Here are some more significant issues of different hues covered in Scroll. in, dated 8/4/2015:
1) "A loyal fan stands up for his small screen hero: 'Arnab is to anchoring a teevee show what Salman Khan is to making a movie:....."'

A bit too harsh, perhaps and the corollary here is that he is an entertainer and not a journalist. But appreciate that scoring TRP is necessary for surviving in media- a reality. So there has to be a reconciliation of free and fair journalism with entertaining viewers, at least in TV media.

2) Girish Sahane says: Take Nigeria, the country at the centre of the outrage caused by an abrupt comment by Giriraj Singh. Over three in four Nigerian women use bleach or other cosmetic products to lighten their skin. Across continents, and across time, a lighter skin tone is prized, and no economic theory or historical evidence comes close to explaining it. As Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, so aptly, said: Racism will never end if people still use black to symbolize bad luck and WHITE for peace! There is no recipe like political revolution for instant cure. So, one has to strike a balance between lofty idealism and feasibility/practicability.

It is balance in mind that keeps madness away. Therefore, right education must ingrain a balanced approach & analysis and the ability to appreciate both within and without.

Vol. 48, No. 2, July 19 - 25, 2015