How I Wonder


Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

Life is full of situations or events that make you wonder how it happens. In India, rich people have everything — good homes, more than enough to eat, lots of warm clothes for the severe winters in north India. Then their celebrations for birthdays, marriage anniversaries, etc. are noisy affairs with music, food and frills.

On the other hand, the poor are bereft of all things mentioned above. One wonders why the rich don’t pass off some things — food, warm clothes, old comfortable shoes etc to the poor. When the rich are eating at various functions, they pick up food on their plates, eat some but throw a lot of food. One wonders why these leftovers could not have been shared with the poor who look at these sights, wonder and feel hunger and sad.

But there are positive things also that make one wonder. How a child of poor parents does so well in the exams that the child has to pass? He did not have many books, no tutoring, little guidance from his poor parents. Then, one sometimes sees a few children performing various acrobatics at school on special days or when politicians organise some road shows.

At some public programs one often sees poor children playing flutes or tabla, or violin. Where did they learn to play these instruments, did they get some guidance from some experts who helped them without any monetary help? Or they picked up playing music listening to songs being played outside in some public events.

There are some Indian states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, etc where many tribal populations live. Some tribals come to big cities — Delhi, Bombay, Nagpur and other towns. They work hard: men in factories or industry; women as maids in large houses. These women look after children, cook delicious food and do other domestic chores. One wonders at the diligence and honesty of these women. Sometimes they even sing with gusto tribal songs which are so pleasant to hear even though we cannot understand their words.

The children who accompany their parents to these big towns go to school and often do very well in studies. One happily wonders at their performance.

India’s western neighbour is Pakistan that was created in 1947 when Britain was forced to give freedom to undivided India. Pakistan is mostly Muslim with small numbers of other faiths — Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others. Today Pakistan is against India in all spheres. They allow cross border activities against India even though it hurts them more than India. One sometimes sees Pakistani army or navy personnel attending some military programs or on special days. Here Indian and Pakistani officers or military personnel come together and dine together.

One wonders at the togetherness of Pakistani officers with Indians in these programs while otherwise they are against India in most other forums. Why there is enmity when they can happily come together. Players from Pakistan sometimes play with Indian counterparts in sports such as cricket and hockey. What pleasure to see them play together!

I end on a personal note. I have been to hospital for my illness and now recuperating at home. Somehow I have acquired the ideas and energy to write the above notes. [The essay was written on 30 Mar 2023]


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.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 22 May 2023.

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