The Inequities of this world — in Life, in Death
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 2 Sep 2019
We are born, live in this unequal world and then die. There are inequities staring at us in this world — social, economic, religious, educational, racial and of other kinds, both in life and in death.
We see the wealthy, the elite living in big villas, dining, wining beyond their requirements and beyond their bodies’ necessities. They have more clothes and footwear which they use a few times and then throw away, or perhaps keep on storing them in their huge cupboards or storehouses. It was said that an important political personality (I need not mention her name) had more than four thousand pairs of footwear. It must have been difficult to choose what to wear on a particular day.
Similarly, fashionable female actors and elite women have hundreds of dresses to wear. Lo and behold, the shock they receive if they go to a party or an event and find another woman wearing a similar type of dress.
Besides these factors, the rich and the socially or politically mighty persons have more avenues for living gorgeous lives — be it in the wealthy objects they accrue, the fancy expensive resorts and cruises they have vacations in, the fashionable exotic places where their children get married, and countless other comforts they indulge in.
If they are politically active, the welcome and publicity they receive on birthdays or any special events they participate in, is unbelievably loud and pompous. Gifts and the feigned adulation showered on them is again incredible. It is said that in Hinduism, the several Gods and Goddesses that were representative of knowledge, wisdom, strength, wealth, peace, harmony etc could not have received the type of adulation and apparent respect that the modern political heavy weights receive today. So what? Someone may exclaim.
If we compare the life styles of these wealthy elites with the lives of poor in many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, one feels shocked and saddened. One can see children begging on the streets, children doing acrobatics again on the streets of some crowded parts of major towns to earn some small amount of money to feed themselves and their old parents.
Equally shocking is the sight of rag pickers scrounging for some rotten food thrown in dustbins or on the pavements and competing with dogs, cows and monkeys for the leftovers of some rich families.
Because of their poverty and misery, some people commit crimes — indulging in alcoholism and beating their wives or children when they go hungry and start crying. Sometimes they may get some money to kill some opponent of a politician or businessman. Sexual assaults and rapes are often committed by such characters.
What I have written above is all well known. What is the remedy to uplift the marginalised sections and reduce the widening gulf between the two economic, social extremes of people? This question is difficult to answer; communism, socialism, capitalism, welfare policies have all tried and not completely succeeded despite the claims of these different ideologies.
Another aspect that shocks a sensitive person is at death. The relatives of business or political associates of the rich and mighty persons who have passed away publish their photographs in newspapers, extolling their virtues and achievements and have elaborate condolence events. Contrast this with a poor family who does not have enough resources to properly cremate their dead.
A worse situation, a person hit by a speeding car and bleeding on the pavement and onlookers taking pictures on their smartphones, of the dying person without calling the police or ambulance.
The poor do not have dignity even in death.
Think about this iniquitous world and let us, on an individual level, do something to bring justice, peace and harmony to the poor and helpless citizens of this planet.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Sep 2019.
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