Inviting a long-term social and cultural disaster - II
   Date :17-Apr-2022

loud thinking
By Vijay Phanshikar:
THERE are several angles to the issue of the right social narrative. If dress is one facet, address is another. And it is in this zone that we appear to be paying least attention -- which should actually be a worrying factor, to say the least. Last week, the issue was related to how many of our young people dress -- scantily and skimpily -- on occasions. This time, the loud-thinker has chosen to raise the issue of address -- not postal address, but the word in its larger meaning. ‘Address’ means how people position themselves in the society or the world. And this position has everything to do with the individual’s inner growth, inner education, inner sense of self-worth. Wise people around the world have often stressed that inner growth depends upon the quality of moral and spiritual education, and not just the academic part of education.
These two aspects -- moral and spiritual -- of education are only partially built in classrooms; those are universally built outside the formal academic education -- in reading of books, in listening to inspiring stories of heroes in all fields. And these accounts of great people are communicated to the young generations through story-telling at home and school and college, also through books and extra-curricular reading, through speeches and plays and even movies. In other words, the larger society presents to its younger generations a range of heroes from diverse fields so that the youngsters feel encouraged and inspired. Those accounts help the youngsters to understand what they themselves are, what they can be, and how to pursue those ideas of their own identity. This process the loud-thinker calls ‘address’. However, in the past some years, a new social trend has emerged, by sway of which stories of business tycoons an their wealth and their material success are told with exaggerated interest to the young people. There should not be any harm in doing this, provided other heroes also are equally highlighted in the process.
There is no doubt that a business leader can be a social hero -- but not just because he has lots of money overflowing from his coffers. The person’s wealth may be one indicator of success. But if the story is told only of his wealth, then there is something amiss in the narrative. For example, let us talk about Mr. Ratan Tata. Is he known only for his money? Not at all. Much to the contrary, Mr. Ratan Tata is known more for his leadership qualities, his humane attributes, his scholarship, his humility, his vision not just for his companies but also for the country and the world. But only rarely are these qualities highlighted in stories to youngsters. The emphasis is more on money Mr. Tata owns. This narrative has something major missing -- the spiritual part of Mr. Tata’s personality. The story of Mr. Tata and his Group’s history are certainly proud parts of the greater Indian narrative -- to which our youngsters are only rarely introduced. The loud-thinker has no objection to any heroes. But he has a small point to make here: May the wise people in our society think a little deeper than they presently do so that they can help change the narrative presented to youngsters by way of inspirational material. When a child -- from age 3 to age 23 -- is learning, what he or she needs is not an emphasis on material aspect of life. What is needed is the emphasis on spiritual core of personality. This should become an integral part of the social address. If we do not do it in right time, then we will only be inviting very serious, long-term social disaster.