August 14, 2009

Prejudice - such a disease!

It is never easy to be purely unprejudiced in any human thought process. Just like sin and lies, one can never say that one has never thought or acted with prejudice. But, prejudice can plague the human mindset in ways we never realize. Prejudice pervades our very vision - what looks good ought to be good, and what looks bad ought to be bad. We associate prejudice with extremes like racism, casteism and religious intolerance, but there are more relevant forms right among us.
Take the case of a Municipality school student boarding a BEST bus. The "Municipality color" of his uniform is instantly repulsive, and the aunties have that all-too-familiar frown on their faces. The bus conductor gets louder and ruder with his "Ticket", and the smile with which the child had entered is suddenly gone. The coins are snatched from the child's hand, the ticket is pushed back, and he is ordered to go ahead, if not pushed.
"चल आगे!! (Move ahead!!)", the conductor thunders.
The child goes and stands in a corner up ahead, quietly waiting for his destination, trying to avoid looking at anyone. He looks up occasionally, but the disgusted look on an aunty's face pushes his head down again.
This is just one example of how much prejudice there is in the modern human mind. And just like in the case of the Municipality student, there's not much logic or reason behind the prejudice,
"He's just sick", they say.
One never realizes how much prejudice has clouded one's mind unless something drastic happens. "Melting pot" Mumbai needed an MNS to make it realize just how much prejudiced it was towards the Marathi language. English is the de facto standard, Hindi is for colloquial and slang, Gujarati is for the Gujaratis, but Marathi is just so "sad". Why?
School admission time for kids and parents ask -
"Where are the English medium schools nearby?"
"But there's a Marathi medium school just across the street!"
"वेडी झाली आहेस का? (Are you mad?)"
Prejudice is such an affliction!

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