Overseas education – is it really worth the money and hype?

With the United Kingdom proposing a policy of 3000 pound visa bond and with the falling student enrollment from India, a teacher questions the wisdom of spending money on education in the UK.

Jayalakshmi Jayaraman

Life overseas has a lot of glamour and prestige attached to it in Indian social life. This is not very surprising considering the sorry state of the country today. I know many Indians who made a choice to remain in India 30 years ago because they did not want to leave their families and their country and looked down on their cousins and relatives who chose to emigrate westwards. Many of them now think that their cousins made the smart choice and they have have achieved nothing with their education or in their businesses by staying back in India. Indians who live abroad certainly seem to have a better quality of life than those of us who live here and have to struggle everyday with lack of infrastructure, hours of power cuts, bureaucracy and corruption. So, social status associated with living overseas where life is easier seems all but natural and understandable.

What worries me however is that we seem to be in the middle of an unwritten and maybe unnoticed boom in India for the past few years, which may lead not to a better quality of life overseas but to a lot of money down the drain in a few years! I speak of the current rush to get an overseas education amongst youngsters in India today. There are so many advertisement and so many consultants in this area everywhere in the media today!

An overseas education has always been a chosen route for the affluent sections of Indian society who can well afford the huge cost involved, since many of these students do not face the need to get a return on their investment. But of late, we find many people from the middle and lower classes, putting in hard earned savings, taking educational loans etc to finance an education overseas. I have known people who mortgaged their parents’ homes to study overseas! I recently watched a news item on BBC World about the Indian economy, where a youngster who faces an uncertain job market in India, took an educational loan and went to study abroad in the hope that it would increase his chances in the job market.

But what is the reality of the usefulness of a degree from overseas? Do overseas qualified students find it easier to get jobs overseas or in India? From the recent trends of Western economies and the social problems developing there, there seems to be a huge sentiment against immigration in most countries where qualified Indians have traditionally immigrated. One wonders if our Indian graduates with overseas degrees for which they have invested their parents’ life savings or taken an educational loan that needs to be repaid can actually compete in a labor market where the trend against immigration is so strong. So the advice to students who go overseas to study who are looking to get employed overseas would be to look carefully into the job market for their chosen specialties and not rush blindly into this current fancy for overseas degrees in India, which nobody knows for sure, is leading anywhere.

The second scenario is the job market for overseas qualified Indians in India. From a look at the prospering foreign educated persons in India, one finds that most of them are employed in their own family business or have very good financial backing. To make money out of a foreign MBA or MBBS or engineering degree for a person from a middle class background may take a lot of hard work or just plain luck. The additional expense of an overseas degree may actually add to the stress of the person looking to establish his or her career in India and would like to be paid more than the Indian educated counterparts. There is no evidence that Indian corporate or Indian organizations look favorably on degrees from overseas or pay more for persons educated overseas. The Indian government certainly does not look favorably on degrees from overseas so a person who wants to make a career in the Indian government does not gain any advantage with an overseas degree.

Some of the questions that we need to look into regarding the current fancy for getting an education overseas are:

  • Is it going to yield a financial return? Is it going to boost the career chances of the student concerned? Or is it going to make him overpriced and overqualified in the job market?
  • What are the safety mechanisms for Indian students to safeguard their investment in an UK education that have been set up by universities?
  • I had the personal experience of not being allowed to research a topic that I felt was suited to the needs of the Indian job market, but my college consistently refused to listen to my appeals and wanted me to research something that was totally irrelevant to the situation in India. I was the one who had to give in to protect my investment.
  • Indian students face a lot of cultural as well as academic issues when overseas and there is no support structure that makes life and studying easier overseas. We really need to look into the experiences of people who have studied overseas to understand if they have found that experience useful or overpriced.

With more and more people from middle class families leaving for studies abroad this looks like an area that the Government of India should look into. But we all know that the Government of India only wakes up after a problem becomes severe and cannot be ignored anymore! The writer wants to caution parents and students who are investing lot money with great hopes for the future career of their wards, to make their choices and decisions after sound research. Otherwise, the overseas degree that is supposed to launch the career of your children may well become the stumbling block to their starting a career because of being overpriced in an already dull labour market.

Of wolves and men

BY BADRI RAINA

It is a great mystery to me why wolves should have been saddled with the ill repute of being sexual predators.

My experience of reading about animals and watching with commitment the many excellently researched documentaries about them on the chain of Discovery channels, including the National Geographic, teaches me this: that no animal, the wolf included, ever forces himself upon an unwilling or unready female of his species. Without a single exception.

The only animal that does so with nauseating insistence is the male of the human species. A clear black mark on the theory of evolution it seems.

Among other animals, you will have noticed a skein of honourable recognitions of mutual prowess stretching across gender. The lion knows he is not half the hunter that the lioness is, and thus rarely seek to impose his lugubrious incompetence when the hunt is on. And so on.

Men, fearing the knowledge that more women are, more often than not, more competent and resilient, and thus capable of taking their yard if given an inch, take recourse to that final brute instinct, namely, physical attack. This recourse to bestiality when everything else fails is meant to remind women that god meant them to be, after all, subservient to the muscular segment of the species, and to do their bidding in all things.

Bestiality I said; yet with apologies to non-human animals, it must be said that they make physical attack either for food, or in response to attack, or for the security of the brood, rarely if ever for sectarian dominance. It is as though god had made them more rational than us humans whose violence is almost always gratuitous and indefensible.

And the most rational aspect of non-human animal life must be that its sexuality is never anarchic or indiscriminately obsessive, or directed to ensure the psychological or political dominance of the male. It has a season and it has a purpose, namely the continuance of the species. And in that scheme of things, the male and the female are cognizant participants.

Thus, non-human animals, not excluding wolves, never rape. When the male animal is refused, he has the grace to desist and seek elsewhere, however crestfallen.

Rape thus is never a sexual act. Almost always, it is the confession of the male that he has no other way of overpowering the female into slavery, of keeping her out of the due of equality.

This infernally impotent rage that the essentially weak male invariably experiences in the presence of the female who has a mind — and, by inference, a body — of her own is of course sought, across all cultures of the world, to be legitimized by reference to scriptures that are taught to have divine sanction.

Except, of course, that, to the best of our dispassionate knowledge, those scriptures are, in the first place, products not of any revelatory incantations but of the considered conspiracies of men from the origins of the species.

Give me one single eye-witness account that there was a god who created Eve from Adam’s rib, or that the former first succumbed to the forbidden fruit; or that there was a god or a prophet who decreed that woman must at all times do man’s bidding, be it in the Manusmriti or the Koran. Yet, those interested accounts have been and continue to be relentlessly deployed to render male brutalities “understandable” and, when all is said and done, “excusable” to this day by well-heeled organizations of self-appointed arbiters of “right conduct.”

The battle against those sorts of constructions of “authorized” disequilibriums as between men and women may be said to have been largely won by women in the democratic parts of the western world. Wherever contrary trends are once again visible-red America for one-it is obvious that women in those parts today are willing political partners to such revisionist options rather than coerced collaborators to those dystopias. And anything that issues from voluntary exercises of choice need invoke nobody’s meddling.

However “elitist” the current outcry against rape in India may seem, its intellectual content and exponential possibilities clearly suggest that the good fight has been joined in a concerted manner for the first time. Remarkably, a whole new generation of young Indian males, increasingly wedded to the notion of individual choice in matters of all sorts of productive work and consumption, seem to have made up their minds to join with protesting young women on behalf of gender equality and the right to free exercise of choice.

It will remain to be seen whether or not this point of entry at the call of liberalism is sought to be extended beyond what may be its caste or class configuration to embrace those vast hordes of indigent women who suffer the ignominy and violence of male brutality day in and day out in city, town, district, taluka, village, and outlying shanty, away from recourse to any form of social or official redress.

Caveat: At this pregnant moment, we must also take note that many cabals on the right-wing of our cultural and political life are waiting and eager to press the present outcry into the service of discredited medievalisms. Where it may be their sinister object to use the event to push women back into the suffocating furnace of patriarchy, it must be our endeavour to seek such transformations as enhance women’s natural and constitutional rights to freedom and equality in personal and social life, obliging the state and communities to ensure that such be the case.

In conclusion I may be permitted to recall a few lines from what I had once written in a poem, titled “Our Share of the World”:

Here is what we say:
Recognize the altered night and day;
Men and women must together find
An honest will to put behind
A habitually distorted humankind.
It is much to be hoped that the time has arrived

(Badri Raina is a well-known commentator on politics, culture and society. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

The Bible according to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

BY BADRI RAINA

It is such a relief finally to know why and where rapes take place in this sanaatan land.

They happen because of “Western” influence, and they happen in “India”, not in “Bharat”.

To clarify: “India” is wherever rapes take place; Bharat is where they do not. By the way, not rape but “balatkar” takes place in Bharat; and that is not the same thing, is it?

So, for starters, you might ask the question: do the thousands of Dalit women, agricultural workers, Adivasi women out to gather firewood or water, women out on the call of nature in the open, women who dare to defy custom in the hinterlands, girls who dare go to village schools trudging menacing distances, women who inhabit slums outside city limits who are regularly subjected to rape live in India or in Bharat? And all without any of the redress that may occasionally be available to women who are raped in “India”, since in Bharat there is hardly ever a police thana to go to, or a social organization to seek shelter with, or a hospital or health worker who might record and report those rapes. And of course no “Western” influence there. Only expanding “development” full of predatory robber barons patronized by chief executives replete with good Bharatiya values.

Then there is the claim that women have traditionally been so honoured and safe in Bharat. Consider how Shrupnakha in the Ramayana was honoured by having her nose cut off for expressing an amorous preference; how Dhrupadi in the Mahabharata was likewise honoured by first being staked in gambling by anadarsh husband, and then gleefully disrobed by the male cabal, all friendly family men, to whom she was lost in dice; or how women in a predominant Bharat then were honoured by being required to climb the dead husband’s pyre upon his death; or how they were made safe by being routinely married off as less than nubile children; or being propitiated as “grah lakhshmis” who nonetheless had the privilege of eating last and eating little; or by being burnt  off should her dowry be pitiful; or, more recently, by being killed off in the womb to be utterly and ab initio safe from the outside world. And, altogether, by being held to the so ennobling laws of Manu. All during times when one never as much heard of the “Western” world, which, one must note, was pretty much as enlightened with respect to women as the Bharat barely sketched above.

Now this wretched “Western” world: how the sanaatan Bharatiya right-wing adores its goods and services, its technologies, its finances, its industry, its impulse to dominance, its macho militarism, its market economies and all the chicaneries and corruptions that go with it, but how it abhors its concomitant histories of democracy, freedom, equality. Ergo, as the Hindu right-wing Bible would have it, give us your capitalism, give us the smart phones, give us the unconscionably unethical advertising industry, but leave us our Bharatiya culture at the centre of which is the shackled nari, captive to a plethora of lakhshman rekhas. Let her continue to be the bulwark of family and patriarchy, while Bharatiya men go out to conquer the world.

The plain fact is that, suddenly, India’s prehistoric myth-makers no longer have a leg to stand upon. For too long have they been speaking to cross purposes from each side of a duplicitous mouth. They say they support women’s reservation in Parliament and Legislatures, not to speak of Panchayats and Gram Sabhas, to wit, their role as  social and governmental decision-makers, they adulate foreign women of Indian origins who do heroic deeds as citizens of other countries (Kalpana Chawla or a Sunita Williams), never questioning what they wear or who they go with, but they do not wish any woman at home to be her own person in what she wears, where she goes and at what time of day or night, who she teams up with, what opinion she holds or expresses, or how she might dare challenge the stranglehold of family, custom, maryada, or how she might hold the patriarchal state responsible for ensuring their free movement, their free choice of personal, social, and emotional mobility. They presumably expect even very successful women in offices, corporations, legislatures, educational institutions always to keep in mind that they remain in line with what their fathers, husbands, or brothers would think best for them. And when the fathers, husbands, brothers, or sundry other kin commit rape upon them, maryada enjoins that they do not make such things public. And just to recall: 92% or so rapes in this land of ethics and honour are perpetrated within family circles. Not to speak of the millions of abjectly illiterate and mired women who nonetheless are pressed into productive services in field, factory, shopline at much less the wages at which men might be hired. Those are unmentionable fair game for whatever male happens to take fancy.

Consider this: Hinduism is the only organized faith worldwide that has a goddess of wealth (Lakshmi) who is vigorously worshipped every Diwali day for hefty boons. Yet India’s women own barely 2% of national assets, and even less have bank accounts.

As we write, one prominent godman, by the name of Asaram, who has legions of followers, among them, significantly, legions of women, the sort who routinely inhabit India’s soap operas — comfortably placed, replendantly adorned, and steeped in forms of ritual and superstition handed down by patriarchy — has pronounced that the young lady whose recent brutal rape and subsequent death are now in the eye of the storm may, after all, have been to blame for her fate. Had she but taken “diksha” (religious initiation bestowed by a “guru”) she might have been able to mutter a mantra in her predicament that would have obviated her fatal encounter. Imagine the loads of unnecessary work this would spare the overburdened law enforcement agencies and the legal system were the advice to be adopted as national policy. Indeed, he has gone on to say that had she but held one of the attackers by the wrist and called him brother, and appealed to other “brothers” to come to her rescue, being an “abla” (weak and eligible for male protection, as per traditional construction of women), maybe fallen at their feet, none of what happened might have happened. And, if you have been listening, his fiercest defence has been coming from one of his articulate women devotees.

This has come quickly upon the heals of  yet another discourse, this time on the nature of marriage by the same  Shri Bhagwat of the RSS: marriage, he opines, is a “contract” wherein the wife agrees to keep the husband pleased, and the husband in turn agrees to keep the wife secure and fed. After such knowledge, what forgiveness.

Gloriously, however, there is a new turbulence underway in post-independence India, where what remnants of Bharat there remain — and these are still countless — are sought to be everyday uplifted to a future of reason, dignity, equality; a turbulence which most hearteningly is now being owned and endorsed by a new generation of young males who have seen through the untenable and oppressive formulations of old. Gloriously also, some women who have been objects of gang rapes are today boldly and openly articulate on some media channels, speaking of their ordeals in their own voices, and, most significantly, refusing to project themselves merely as  victims overburdened by the sort of shame and opprobrium that patriarchs would like them to feel. This truly betokens a new episteme in India’s social and gender history, one that seems here to stay. All that in the teeth of right-wing back-to-the-wall resistance from both major communities (notice that Abu Azmi of the Samajwadi Party has said that he finds nothing wrong in what Bhagwat has said; how those seeming opposites are often at bottom one and the same; no wonder that “honour” killings straddle both communities with equal conviction in misogyny and patriarchy) in India who stand  more and more exposed as each day passes.

Which is also the reason why the suggestion made by Shashi Tharoor must be zestfully endorsed, namely, that since it is the perpetrators who ought to feel the shame and not the victim, the deceased young woman who has been the catalyst of the current historic epistemic shift must be honoured by being named, and by having the new laws under contemplation named after her. Indeed, if jurisprudence as at present disallows such a departure in the naming of laws, then amendments may be made. One presses this point in the conviction that such symbolic determinations on behalf of nation-states can often have far-reaching consequence in reshaping inherited habits of thought.

(Badri Raina is a well-known commentator on politics, culture and society. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Did Pataudi derive from Urdu composite culture too?

BY SAEED NAQVI

I thought the din had died, but the memorial meeting in New Delhi triggered some more nostalgia on Tiger Pataudi.

Miliye us shaqsh se ki jo adam hovey,
Naaz apne Kamal par usey kam hovey.
(Meet the person who is, above all, a human being! Who carries his achievements with modesty)

There is no fuss in Mir Taqi Mir’s description of the man he holds in high esteem. Tiger Pataudi is probably chuckling somewhere at this somewhat pretentious reference. But the simple couplet goes some distance in explaining the aura in which Tiger has been shrouded these past few weeks. No fuss: that was the cardinal ingredient in Tiger’s carriage.

In a general sense, a triple hierarchy defines the highest rungs of the Indian elite. The princely order, for one, would come under the broad feudal category. Second, two hundred years of British experience left behind another category – Macaulay’s elite. Third has been the most durable, if not the most glamorous, caste elite.

A combination of the three would appear to be a compelling formula for unbeatable charisma. But, it turns out, mere possession of these attributes does not make for an outright winner. There were other, compulsory pre conditions for a winning combination – good looks, speech, demeanour, carriage and that inexplicable agent of attraction called phiromenes, which some people exude to attract others of their kind.

For all these elements to come together is a rare enough occurrence, but Tiger Pataudi exceeded even this rare configuration. His achievement as a cricketer, youngest ever Indian captain, one who knit together the greatest quartet of spin bowlers in world cricket, authoured the country’s first overseas series win, stroked the ball along a silken carpet and that supple agility in the covers which earned him the title, Tiger.

If this is hyperbole, where does one fit in other details: his sporting lineage, for instance, in addition to the princely one. His father, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, played for England and captained India. He had a gentleman’s disdain for Douglas Jardine’s Bodyline tactics to contain Bradman. “This is not on” he said. “This isn’t cricket.” This lack of obsequiousness was a trait Tiger inherited.

It is so appropriate that Tiger should have held Jawaharlal Nehru as something of a model. They shared several elements in their background – aristocratic demenour, education, achievements in totally diverse fields.

Put it down to my biases, but that extra élan they had, derived from a shared composite Urdu culture.

Pandit Nehru’s “mother” tongue was not Kashmiri: it was Urdu. This, because like hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit families, the Nehrus had settled in Oudh. In fact they played a pioneering role in shaping Urdu literature.

Tiger’s grandmother came from the family of the Nawab of Loharu with which the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib also had links.

The word “Nawab”, unlike “Raja”, reverberates in Urdu. The basic character of Urdu derives not from religious texts, but elegant agnosticism, a certain irreverence bestowed on it by its poets. It is this broad Catholicism which explains Nehru’s aversion to religious rituals at his funeral. He shunned religious rites. Nehru most lyrically wanted his ashes to be sprinkled on the Ganges, the Himalayas.

Did Tiger have any “will”, for his funeral, that he should be buried according to a strict religious code? If I know anything of him, he must have left his family totally confused where to look for a “moulvi” of suitable affiliations to perform the last rites.

In the framework sketched by Urdu poets, a distance from dogma associated with the clergy is an essential pre condition for realization of my Truth. Little wonder, throughout the annals of Urdu poetry there is not a single passage of any note which has a good word for orthodoxy, dogma, wares that the clergy peddle.

I have dwelt on the Urdu component in Tiger’s personality because it also gives him an indigenous platform on which is settled his very anglaise persona, making for an integrated human being, rather like the person he held up as a model. Without the Discovery of India, Nehru would have been something of a rootless person, neither here no there, complaining to his father, Motilal Nehru, that he had made an outrageous mistake in hiring an English governess for his sister, Vijaylaxmi, in total violation of custom prevalent among the British aristocracy which placed a premium on French governesses. Mrs. Vijaylaxmi Pandit told me this story. But proximity to Mahatma Gandhi and the national movement changed all that.

With his insights into the game why did Tiger not commentate more or serve on cricket boards and so on? Also, why did he not join politics? Because he could not. That would involve what the vagabond poet Jafar Zatalli calls, “ghusar phusar”. He told an interviewer “I don’t think I would have achieved very much more by running around”.

Yaas Yagana Changezi warns “Dawar-e-Hashr” or “Creator”, not to lose sight of the profound distinction between “banda-e-naumeed” and “banda-e-beniaz”, a disheartened loser and the elegantly indifferent, one who couldn’t do the “running around” and which others including “Princes” do all their lives for pointless prominence.

(Saeed Naqvi is senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Earthquake: A poem by RSN Singh

An earthquake or any natural disaster has many layers of  human tragedies and stories of irreparable loss and emotional devastation.

The emotional havoc caused by the recent earthquake in Sikkim and other areas needs to be addressed.

The poem below is based on a true incident in the earthquake at Chamoli.

It is written by former military intelligence officer RSN Singh. He has also served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, Singh is also a guest blogger for Canary Trap.

That night with me she snuggled,
‘Papa! Tell me a story’: She chuckled,
The story only half complete,
My little girl went asleep.

The lamp continued to flicker,
Accentuating her serene demeanour,
Overwhelmed, I planted a kiss,
Beside her I lay asleep.

No sound, no rain, no wind,
A disaster does all ‘lulls’ brings?
Ominous signs were there,
But I did not dare to care.

The night blew with a deafening noise,
The earth had lost its poise,
Rocking the bed  like a cradle indeed,
With  innocent  tenacity-
Her heart must have beat

My world began to crumble,
For safety I  scrambled,
Possessed by instinct to live,
I did not contest God’s writ.

The disaster when ebbed away,
Thought of her made way,
Desperately I rummaged the debris,
Hoping to recover my life’s ‘edifice’.

I found my doll still asleep,
Sporting a smile so deep,
Dreaming though the half-story told,
How could I have her care sold?

Instinct to live draws the worst in some,
For fear the inevitability of being undone.
In my now shameful and guilty living,
‘Papa! complete the story’-
She is constantly complaining.

The illusion of being normal

BY SATYEN K. BORDOLOI

Statistics, they say, are like bikinis – they show and titillate, but refuse to reveal the vital. Well, here’s a case where that wisdom is reversed. And the case here is about normality.

Everybody wants to be normal, to blend in, to be like others. Nothing wrong in that after all even monkeys do that and we have the right to deny our evolution and try be like our ancestors. For wanting to be normal is just that, a delusional, paranoid perception of inadequacy that lends itself to behaviour that is self destructive (when you want to be like someone else, you lose what you truly are). Thus in just trying to be normal, you prove that you are abnormal. But we are not talking about that today. We’re talking about those that are ‘not’ normal.

Now let’s see, who’s normal. To do that we need to understand the word. As an adjective, normal is defined as “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected” while as a noun it is meant “The usual, average, or typical state or condition.” Thus it is obvious that It is given that the too old, too young, handicapped, poor and starving, the homosexual, the minority, the aborigines are naturally excluded in this ‘normal’ equation.

Keeping this in mind let us then try and find the normal in India using statistics.

These are some known statistics about India, and define people who are, well, not normal:

  • Over 35% people chronically malnutritioned.
  • Over 15% people are handicapped enough, physically and mentally, for their daily activities to be not ‘normal’.
  • Over 10% people are supposed to be homosexual, either closeted or in the open.
  • Nearly10% people in India are aborigines, tribals.
  • Between 3 to 5% are chronically criminal.
  • Over 20% population are too young, or too old.
  • Over 30% people are minorities, or of lower castes (dalits) and such.
  • … the list can go on for someone much more statistically inclined that I am.

Now if you look at the above and roughly try to eliminate the subsets that overlap in each of these sets, you’ll realize that the number of truly ‘normal’ people would be in single digit percentages. Someone still more statistically inclined would break that up and say that most of them also have some or the other form of minor abnormality (like many of them could be actors ;)) with many either being emotionally, mentally or psychologically abnormal despite symptoms otherwise.

The question thus emerges: WHO THE HELL IN THIS NATION IS NORMAL? The answer, perhaps is that no one is normal and that normality is nothing more than an illusion, perhaps even an utopia.

Another simple fact that thus naturally emerges, is that the ABNORMAL IS ACTUALLY NORMAL, and that perhaps it is absolutely abnormal, to be normal. And that perhaps the most abnormal thing in the world is the desire to be normal (all of us stand accused).

So some simple questions to ask is whether amidst the handicapped, the able bodied is abnormal. Among the malnutritioned the one who eats two meals a day is abnormal. Among the Hindus is a Muslim abnormal and amidst Muslims is a Hindu abnormal. Amidst the atheist is a religions man abnormal. Amidst the homosexual, is the heterosexual abnormal? Amidst a corrupt nation is honesty abnormality. And if it be so, why don’t the abnormal try to be normal, since normal is so important for all of us, the non-existent ideal we are taught to aspire to be?

So why punish someone for being ‘abnormal’ in the first place. Why punish a Muslim for living in a Hindu India by killing him en-masse every once in a while? Why punish the tribal by killing and raping him and taking away his home and his livelihood? Why punish the homosexual by telling him he is unnatural, abnormal? Why punish the handicapped by ensuring that even if he wants to live a self-reliant life, we refuse him that dignity by making our buildings, our shopping malls, and everything unfriendly and unwelcome to him/her?

The solution thus is perhaps to realize that everyone, despite his abnormality, has the right to live and exist with as much dignity. Even the most honestly deviant ones among us as long as that person does not directly or with direct indirectness cause or cause others to cause physical harm to those around. The rest is just a matter of adjustment for others. And do make the effort to adjust, knowing well that there are many others who adjust to your existence and to your ‘abnormality’.

Remember that no matter what you are going through, you can’t even remotely fantasize what being a mother with a disabled child going through the taunts of society for decades could be, or of a farming father who grows food for others but sees his own kids starving to death, or of a tribal child watching his parents shot by or raped for what he does not know, or of a soldier who fought valiantly in war to defend his nation but got his legs blown off and his life being made hell by society’s indifference for him, or the shame of a person who is attracted to his own sex but cannot discuss it with parents or friends for fear of being called ‘abnormal’ or a ‘freak’ etc.

Don’t merely ‘tolerate’ those that are different, for even being tolerant is but being violent, but try and understand them. Adjust to everyone. Include everyone possible and continue expanding your horizon of inclusion, for in true honestly, exclusion for any reason, is the greatest abnormality of them all.

(Satyen K. Bordoloi is a guest writer with Canary Trap. You can read his blog at 0-9 – A-Z. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)