Sunday, April 1, 2012

Respect.. Free-will.. Culture..

Few days back I read this interesting post. It was about few blokes who out of respect to elders, don't smoke in their presence.

In another couple of days, saw a similar post on FB. This one had a different flavour. Few young ladies taking a puff - title went 'mulgi shikli, pragati zhali'.. now this particular title is used by Government to promote education of girl child and literally means - If girl child learns (is educated), society will flourish/develop. Obviously, with this picture its plain sarcasm - don't know towards whom.. Government or this young generation of today's progressive India. Below this 'status' were thousands of likes, hundreds of shares and people who had strong opinions also wrote some very fiery comments.. ranging from 'women in India/our culture are treated with respect - daughters, mothers', 'they should not be objects of desire but of respect', and similar sentiments on one side of the spectrum. And in the 'red corner' were champions of free will and equal rights and freedom for smokers. Some were indifferent to the fact that these smokers were females, while others felt strongly that women are being 'singled out'.
The same pictures made round as an email forward some time back in IT circles, blaming IT and ITES sector spoiling the Indian culture.. Thanks to Mr. Mark Z - IT industry now has 'new medium' of forwards ;) and the mails, now thankfully, are just work related.. some time back people used to get upset if they did not received forwards - it was a sign of being a loner.. now that is changed to 'likes and shares'.. let's not get into that .. will mark this topic for future posts..

Now, I have some different views of smoking. I may be an avid fan of Ayn Rand and but wouldn't recommend or share view or agree to her romanticized idea of smoking. However, respect and free-will are different aspects.

I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. But, few of my very close relatives were chain smokers in past. They gave up smoking for their own selves not out of respect for others. You cannot force anyone to quit any of their vices - it has to come from within. I'm, myself, fighting few peronsal battles to give up few 'ugly' things and cultivate few good ones.

I also happen to know few people, who enjoy a puff/kash together with buddies. A drink with ones' dad or mom.. a man to man talk (for guys) or chilling out with mom (for gals). I don't see any harm in that. In fact, its a sign of trust and camaraderie, with of course a dash of 'respect and love' thrown in generous amounts. The people who refrain from smoking in front of 'elders' are doing it not out of respect but guilt that they are in fact doing something wrong. Forget about respecting others, respect your own-self first. Well that's my view.. others may choose to have a different opinion and I 'respect' that. That's respect.

Of course, one is free to do whatever she or he (order really doesn't matter) wants to. People go to any limits, just to exercise their freedom - which is absolutely fine till it is not imposed on others and it does not encroach others freedom. A person who is uncompromising on his own freedom, will never ask anyone else to give up theirs. There will never be any conflict of interests. And there will never be a feeling of guilt. Regret? May be yes. But guilt? Never.. and such people will always respect others and will always be respectable.

There is no doubt that there will always be a cultural conditioning. But these are not restricted or limited by cultures. These are core values of humanity which are universal and will remain so even in next thousand years.

Don't blame IT sector or pull-in Indian Culture into this.

IT has changed the face of India. It definitely has given us a global platform and has enabled many of us to lead a better life. It still is a relatively cleaner domain of work. I don't deny that there's stress and long work hours. But the other things which seemingly contaminate our culture? I don't buy that argument. Don't give me that cultural 'bu!!$hit' unless your fundamentals are clean.

Cultures change .. evolve.. localize .. globalize.. but values remain unchanged .. so even if a lady smokes or dresses 'provocatively' or people of same caste fall in love.. challenging the cultural limits .. that does not give the men the right to 'punish' them because they'll be not going against culture but their own fundamental values. Which is simply not acceptable!

Don't just blindly 'appreciate' other cultures around the world. And call names to our own in the very same breath. There are good things all around us.. set out looking for good and good will definitely come your way, hopefully very nearby!


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  2. Two things Abu. First, Giving up bad habits for the sake of loved ones doesn't mean they are doing this by force. I was the reason for my dad to quit smoking.
    Second is, as you say, giving up for the respect of one self is something of high regard. Appreciate it.
    Agree with you on the topic of culture but again it is highly debatable.

    Thank you for mentioning about a 'post' :)

    Nice write up Abu.

    1. yep... it is highly debatable topic... i've written on this topic is past and might right in future too.. i don't mind appreciating good practices from other parts of the world.. indeed we should be gracious and broad-minded to accept all of them.. but to degrade our own selves by saying 'we indians are like that only' and then praising others boils my blood like anything... the few fortunate ones who travel abroad project a very bad picture of India - the infamous Indian Tourist!! and others, who can't, just keep on glorifying others and talk bad about our own country!!

      Other related posts are:

      Thanks again for taking time to ready my 'rants' and yet make sense out of them and reacting to them ;)

      Warm regards,

  3. Kahaan kho gaye Abu? Visit my blog for something special for you. THank you

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply Maksood... been busy lately... appreciate that you included me in your list :)