Beyond Reminder Day

The various shreds which our ‘civil society’ is divided into nowadays, ensure that no cause, supposedly common to all humans, goes unnoticed. Any such issue that is seen as being obliterated by the marching forces of materialism and apathy gets raked up at regular intervals. Common causes like Environment, Old age, Human Rights, Child Welfare, Gender Empowerment etc, all have their set of votaries clamouring for attention. Organisations as well as governments keep on trying various permutations and possibilities to alleviate the miseries humankind is faced with; through awareness and sometimes even through action!
These causes are initially, painstakingly brought into the horizons of our collective conscience by outstanding minds and concerned souls who are genuinely worried about the imminent plight of this planet and its inhabitants.
But quite appallingly, the vortex of triviality draws in all these causes to an ignoble fate, transforming the real into the surreal and gobbling even those who stand or claim to stand against it. It is interesting to see how the issues of primary importance get relegated behind the fanfare of promoting those issues itself. How the execution of the ‘event’ gets far more importance than the objective of the event. How the presentation of the message gets a preference over the message itself.
Therefore, even if we have scores of ”days” to commemorate various issues and to draw the attention of common people towards the burning problems facing the planet, all such days, though, are just a one-day affair. The Water Day, The Arbor day, The Wildlife day, the Girl Child Day, No smoking day, the Women’s day— to name a few all aimed at promoting noble causes, thus, follow a similar pattern.
Once commemorations are planned, trivialities come centre stage and the ‘burning issues’ turn to embers only to be inflagrated by the speeches and messages of experts and ‘VIPs’ on the D-day. Long and winding messages by people’s representatives, turned deadly boring through years of reuse and recycling, find a prominent place in the newspapers. Organising functions by government departments and non governmental organizations follow suit. A painting, writing or debating competition of children is invariably thrown in to add a bit of punch and color. And a symbolic act by a VVIP under the media glare implicitly announces the grand finale of the grand day. And of the grand cause as well!
A few years back I became friendly with a very jolly but poor man in one of the eastern states of India. His smile was as infectious as his company was enjoyable. He was, though, a so called schedule-caste. On the death of his brother he was supposedly tormented by the Brahmins performing his brother’s last rites.
They had apparently asked for a long list of things to be sent to the departed soul which the poor man found difficult to afford. The poor fellow had a strong grouse against them. One day he told me that he was fed up and was seriously thinking “ki lotey mein tonti laga dun taa ki in panditun se chutkara miley (I would prefer fitting my water mug with a nozzle to get rid of the pandits).
He had infact in his sheer desperation made a profound statement. Unable to bear the financial burden of filling the pundits’ coffers in the name of religion, he was talking of changing his religion. Yes! Muslims and Hindus in India are -amongst other things- differentiated by their water pots which they use for ablutions. The Hindus invariably use the Nozzle-less small pot called ‘Ghadwi’ and the Muslims don’t use anything except the one with a nozzle, the Naari.
Use of a Naari has its advantages. The most conspicuous being that it helps save water. The narrow nozzle ensures that water flows out from the pot in a continuous stream without spilling over.
Were not the ‘Haeskars’ (The Elephant- trunk shaped water taps), for that matter, used not so long before, in our washrooms, an eco friendly accessory which helped prudent use of water. By just one stroke of even a finger, the tap could be opened or turned off. Every drop of water could thus be used properly.
To build a just society, two elements are necessary. Any society having them automatically incorporates lifestyles which are friendly not only towards nature but also towards fellow human beings. Such a society needs less of demagoguery, doesn’t require celebration of ‘Reminder Days’ and practices lifestyles that are full of virtue and high on worthiness.
Those two elements unarguably are: 1) The belief that Somebody supreme and omnipresent is watching all of your actions and 2) Everybody is accountable for all of his deeds. A sense of accountability irrespective of the law catching up with you or not making supermen out of ordinary mortals. Societies and civilizations bereft of such beliefs are lost in the vortex of trivia while the earth and its inhabitants suffer and badly so.


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