Perspectives – Personality Inverted

What we perceive is not necessarily what we give to the world outside. Almost all of us have two sides of personality.  In matters of caste, religion, gender, rich-poor class, region, literate-illiterate, good education-bad education, employed-unemployed, good job-bad job, human beings-other creatures, etc., we will behave in one way when we are with our own such cohort and in a diametrically opposite way when we are in a different company. To say something is one thing but to do the same is another.

High Caste – Low Caste

When we are with persons of our own caste, we will flow with the idea of self-appreciation of our caste identity and give it a thumbs up when someone extols the good virtues of our caste at the expense of other castes. This further gets accentuated when we are born in a so-called high class and sitting with a same set of people. They will throw caste slurs to those who are low in the social order and make it a point to look inwards to the superiority of their own caste while agreeing with others either silently or vociferously.

If, for example, if you are a member of low caste in India, the best way to make your point in any such formal or informal caste meetings is to show how the high caste people are exploiting them and not allowing them to ascend up the social ladder.

Now suppose you, as a member of your caste (low or high), are a speaker at a public platform on caste discrimination; you will without doubt switch gear and speak about how we should remain as brothers and sisters of a country where numerous castes abound. And how we can strengthen the national social fabric by welcoming every caste with open arms. We, all in all, suddenly become nationalists and start finding flaws in the caste system itself.

Good Religion – Bad Religion

Religion, the other determinant of our identity, is another reflection of our bipolar personality. We love to state that we are a religion that is far superior to our neighbor’s who belongs to some other religion. Again, we mostly attempt to gather in a group of co-religionists and uncompromisingly feel comfortable in such grouping. When discussing one’s religion in such a group, we not only feel at ease in praising but also don’t mind criticizing or condemning certain parts of it which we don’t like. Here, we also don’t care if somehow the talks meander into finding vices of the religious practices of other communities.

Take some time to think when you are in a group of multi-faith people. You not only are extremely cautious not to put heaps of praise on the religion to which you belong but also feel shy and undervalued to discuss certain objectionable points of your faith which you would have otherwise done in a small private group of your co-religionists. “Why should they (of other religion) know what we don’t like about our religious practices”, we will say to ourselves.

This, we believe, only opens up the ‘other’ person to carry that critical point further to their private discussion groups. Moreover, in discussions on religion involving a larger grouping such as seminars or symposium again shakes us from within to perform our best and give our religion the maximum marks devoid of any deductions. This, despite knowing the best, that every religion has its vices and virtues that nevertheless makes it great and a living tradition. So, what we perceive is not what we give.

Male-Female and Other Gender

Gender groupings again lift our thoughts to another level. We often talk of respect to the other gender, we marry and live our lives with the other gender, but still we have gender stereotypes that we carry and find opportunity to spill them over to the opposite sex. Indeed, personality differences are acceptable. Each one is a different personality – man, woman, or the third gender.

However, male gender as a whole has a special perception about how female genders behave; female genders have an particular understanding on how males behave and these both genders unite with a divine right to find imperfections (mostly invented) in the third gender. All this while, we all are aware that every individual is like the other in terms of emotions, thought processes and abilities with intra-gender and inter-gender shortcomings that can be accepted wholeheartedly in a society.

Then again, ask these individuals what is their idea about a perfect society and what they will support, the ones with the greatest biased thoughts will take up that occasions to make their points persuasively regarding how respectful they are to the other gender in all multifarious ways.

For example, wife-beaters and abusers will not let it go that they are the biggest supporters and admirers of the female gender and no one can come closer. While, in reality, all their lives they fail to understand why should they behave respectfully with their wives and female gender in general and that why these “second-class” citizens have to be mistreated, maltreated and abused on all occasions they find it convenient.

Rich – Poor

When a well-to-do person meets a not-so-well-to-do human being, the general facial expression is of derision and superiority of wealth, opportunity and capabilities. Even when some deeply-ingrained strain of thought tells them to pity the hapless person, it mostly fails to translate into a genuine feeling of pity or help for most of them. It usually gets toppled by the feeling of keeping that other person away from our daily lives and not giving him or her that level within our personal or social space that we will otherwise give to other fortunate affluent persons that we encounter. 

Usually, privileged circumstances and affluence drives us within our cocoons of material possessions which we use to isolate and insulate us from other not-so-fortunate people. We profess to love them publicly but shun them privately. Have-nots give us perfect moments of manifestations of our dual personality and we fail to change ourselves through education or social understanding, unless, of course, these disadvantaged sections somehow rise up the social scale and claim to rub shoulders with their brethren who have loved to hate them all this while.

Developed Regions – Undeveloped Regions

Regional biases make for a long story. In the Indian context, north India competes with the south, east India competes with the west to make it a multi-cornered rivalry of superiority and one-upmanship. We, the people here, give our regional differences a stamp of approval in terms of wealth, education, industrialization, employment opportunities and human abilities in general. Places which have not been able to rise up to the acceptable levels of development in the country are given the image of the land of mendicants in the public mind.

In public perception, they are thought to belong to a land of deprived and miserable individuals that have descended on regions which have comparatively raced ahead in development path to claim a pie that rightly belongs to the latter. A sense of pride and contempt welcome these unwelcome people who cannot find enough opportunities to survive in their own region while they find something to do in parts which actually offer them openings of survival. Regionalism thrives, depriving the dignity of labour to the working class who are as hard working as any local in a so-called regionally superior place in the same country.

This incomparability of wealth and economic opportunities breeds arrogance that further makes these individuals of the country look like children of a lesser God. This creates a lasting impression that certain regions are hopelessly beyond repair and renovation and people of these regions are even culturally inferior in mannerism and etiquettes. States fortify themselves against these ‘unauthorized’ job-seekers and workers by reserving white-collar jobs for their own state citizens and leaving the rest, mainly-menial and hard manual work, to the people of these deprived states who will anyhow want to take any work offered to them due to extreme necessity of livelihood.

But again, confront these fellow citizens of any so-called advanced, economically well-off states regarding not helping their fellow countrymen by allowing them an equal standing socially and economically, they will hardly acknowledge that such is the case. Against the reality, they will go on ranting the constitutional republic that we are and how important it is for one fellow countryman to help each other. While underdevelopment is a scourge in India, regional imbalance in terms of socio-economic inequality only accentuates the issue dramatically.

Here again, at a personal level, we all are dead against anyone usurping or even claiming to usurp the inborn right of the native of the region or state to grab the most prestigious job openings around them. Being scornful, hateful and making a fun of other person’s concern, in such circumstances, then becomes routine. Here, we even miss a reality. Looking at the big picture, this regional bias is more or less akin to the scorn and neglect that an Indian might sometimes face as they jump to grab the very first opportunity of  a greener pastures in developed countries. Still, regionalism prospers and makes you take notice time and again.


Literacy empowers and provides an obvious edge to the educated. A life of opportunities and better living, however, eludes a host of people who remain uneducated lifelong. Economic misery forms the bulk of reasons which deprive a person of education or good education. Likewise, it creates a divide between literates and illiterates.

We may see a kid on the street – possibly a rag picker – adorned in rags itself, pity about him or her while keeping a safe distance, but do nothing about it. It’s not hard to guess the circumstances and it’s not tough to estimate the literacy status of that kid. Rickshaw pullers, handcart pullers, the general labor class and the like don’t have to tell that they are uneducated.

We know that by the very first glance. Some of us indeed take some stride to help them but a large mass simply doesn’t care and let them be as they are. Again, when asked about the virtues of education and why all of our fellow citizens need to be literate, we will never shy away from forcing our point through debates, discussions and seminars on the issue.

Similarly, how many of us write these long passages in journals, books and newspaper and genuinely come out in the open to help the illiterate get the gift of education? Meanwhile, the learning divide lingers, hardly shaking the conscience of many of our policy-makers, government agencies, speech-makers, etc., on this important issue that is directly liked to skill and employment.

The issue of education or the lack of it is a major social divider, with people in possession of learning preferring to remain aloof from those who don’t have them, disdainful of the latter’s shortcoming and proud of their value possessed. Another dimension of this issue is the phenomenon of good education vs. bad education.

Those who can afford costly, first-rate, English-medium education in premium schools somehow grow up to assume a mindset of self-importance quite distinct from those who are taught in a resource-deficient, charity-dependent government schools of our era.

Neither of the two complain but the perception says it all. Children of private, premium schools and colleges are thought to be of elitist, intellectual and scholarly outlook not fit enough to mix with those who could not afford the luxury. But yes, we love to make everyone believe from the nearest social platform that we all are “educationally” equal and after all the capabilities engendered and served in either of these learning centers make us a better citizen and that there is no inequality of academic opportunities, no constraints, deficiencies anywhere. Overall an atmosphere of aloofness is a cause of concern to many.

Employed – Unemployed

Joblessness to the needy is a curse. A person wanting to work and not getting the same according to his/her capabilities is a traumatic experience. A prolonged condition like this only accentuates the trauma. The hapless guy frets and fights to remedy this state of uncertainty, but mostly gets a blunt reaction from those on the other side of the spectrum – the employed ones.

This presents the unceremonious scenario of the employed vs. the unemployed – a socio-economic state that only worsens this condition of continued trouble for the job-seeker. While the employed enjoy their status of recognition in society, they often choose to cock a snook at these troubled people living around them. This way, for such out of work individuals, a major psychological challenge comes up to surmount sometimes leading to such tragic incidences as suicides and other psychopathic behavior that only makes things worse.

The economically and socially advantaged sections help little by the flashy display of their mark of employment such as badges, I-cards, vehicles, etc. right in the face of the disfavored jobless to make a point that they are special in every sense than them who cannot lay their hands on such visible signs of men at work.

This is not to say that these laboring and usefully employed individuals have not gained their place in the socio-economic firmament without their merit, grit and labor. They indeed deserve to be the proud owners of their badges and insignia of merit. However, a little bit of consideration and empathy, with a direct assistance to get them usefully engaged, will make life easier for those wanting and laboring hard to make it to the hall of merit of the gainfully employed.

Human beings – Other creatures

We all are creation’s gift to this earth. Be it human beings or non-human beings. We live and love and a time comes when we have to end our existence. But as long as we live and love we also learn to hate each other equally vehemently. Hatred or dislike is subtle or overt but it comes naturally to us as we grow up. Dislike between one being and another has different manifestations. Human beings versus human beings is what hits us directly.

This is most true because we are a species set apart as best-equipped with intelligence and cognitive powers to be the authors of this aversion between us as well as between our fellow species. We create and disseminate this hatred reasoned out of various issues that surround us as beings of society. Then, we extend this feeling of abhorrence to the other species around us.

This, undoubtedly, stems from a natural feeling of dominance against these living creatures who don’t read or write, who don’t build houses as we build, who don’t engineer canals, buildings and bridges, or who can’t design clothes with which we adorn our bodies. True, we have lived with them for millennia, exploited and domesticated them as pack animals, as sources of milk, meat, medicine and leather and for various other purposes. Yet, their categorization in our minds as non-intelligent beings gives us this unwarranted license to hate them, beat them or kill them at our whims and fancies.

Yes, they are loved, celebrated and even worshipped by us. But this does not come to us naturally. We only love to care about other species of animals and plants as long as we find some utility for us in them. Thus a horse was loved in pre-industrial societies because they were chief means of transportation. A milch breed is cared for and venerated as a source of milk and also because its skin turns into leather post death.

There are millions of plant species that we consume to nourish our bodies. This is not to deny the fact that to live we have to eat living things. But, this is also undeniable that human greed for variety is vast and insatiable. We need to pluck cotton from plants to clothe ourselves. But we also need to kill silkworms for a better quality of fabric, shave sheep and goat to get wool, pull away the skin of dead animals to get leather, etc. We kill all sorts of animals and birds to procure an assortment of meat varieties in an effort to please our senses with various tastes.

Now, while we care to torment them and kill them to satisfy our voracious desires of ‘necessities’ and comfort, how much do we give them back in return? When cars came, horses were discarded. Similarly, human beings’ quest for variety in their lives for fashion and food lead to mass killings of other species without showing any degree of compassion on the principles of ‘live and let live’. Since we are in command with superior intelligence and weapons, we find ourselves in total control to destroy everything in order to satisfy our endless wants.

If, for instance, we could learn to live with a bit less varieties in our lives and curtail our desire for that ‘one more’ new thing, this planet would be more fuller and colorful with less extinction of species around us. This can be achieved if we have or we are made to understand a decent respect for non-human life around us for a better environment and biodiversity and a cooler earth as well. A little concern is needed that other things of creation were also made to live on this earth with equal standing. We know this better than any species around us.