Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prejudices in reasonable minds

It is not uncommon to witness otherwise reasonable minds to vehemently disagree on certain issues of public interest. Yesterday, NDTV presented a discussion featuring Prannoy Roy, Narayana Murthy, Shekhar Gupta (of Indian Express) and Arvind Kejriwal. It was not surprising to hear all of them praise the efforts of Anna Hazare to centrestage the issue of corruption. The first three however took serious exception to Anna's controversial statements like "If Lokpal were in existence, Chidambaram would be in jail" and "Alcoholics may have to be beaten to wean them away from addiction". Since he was in a hopeless minority. Kejriwal could not defend Anna fully. Perhaps one way of looking at the issue is to trace the genesis of such statements to Anna's obsessive sincerity.

No human mind is completely free from bias or prejudice. "Stereotyping" is a bias most of us are prey to. Anna while reforming and transforming Ralegan Siddhi had come across many incorrigible alcoholics and he was privy to the resultant sufferings endured by many women and children. To him. the village was the universe. He formed a stereotype in his mind that consumption of alcohol and family distress go together. Similarly, some of the controversial acts and utterances of Chidambaram made Anna to fit him into the stereotyped version of a politician as a venal, arrogant person. Absence of direct exposure to social evils like alcoholism and its impact on economic conditions has enabled formation of a different kind of prejudice in the minds of PR, NM and SG. Because of inevitability of powerful prejudices like these, the otherwise wise people are forever condemned to disagree among themselves and let the sinister rule the world.

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