IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 17th Oct 2020
You don’t need to be better than anyone else, you just need to be better than you used to be.– Wayne Dyer
EDITORIAL HUNT #194 :“The Roots of Discrimination | UPSC”
D. Shyam Babu
The Roots of Discrimination | UPSC
D. Shyam Babu is Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
Tackling the roots of discrimination
It is imperative to establish both individual culpability and institutional accountability
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Society
What is discrimination ? How to end this social stratification ? Comment -(GS 1)
- Way Forward
- Ram Vilas Paswan earned many distinctions.
- He was the only leader to be a Central Minister under six Prime Ministers.
- His eclecticism in ideology and dexterity in politics could only be a dream for many a politician.
- Such a feat required of him to be an agnostic in his identity as well.
- He couldn’t help being a Dalit and he didn’t hide it, either.
- But for most of the media, Paswan died a Dalit.
- He was a Dalit icon.(This is the time we start discrimination)
DISCRIMINATION STANDS UPTO
- NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES : These experiences lead to poorer physical health, and more chronic illness and changes in health behaviour .
- DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS : Indeed, exposure to racial/ethnic discrimination is perceived as traumatic and stressful—leading to higher anxiety, feelings of hopeless and helplessness.
CREATING PICTURES IN OUR HEAD
- TAGGING IDENTITIES : From Ambedkar to Paswan, most of the media clubs Dalits’ caste identity with their accomplishments.
- CULTURAL REFLEX : But when was the last time the media reported on a national leader as a Brahmin icon or a Bania face?
- CREATING STEREOTYPES : Sections of the media are complicit in creating and stereotyping what the American abolitionist Frederick Douglass called the “pictures in our head.”
ROOTS OF DISCRIMINATION
- VIRTUAL AND NATURAL WORLD : The human brain naturally puts things in categories to make sense of the world.
- YOUTH-HOOD : Very young children quickly learn the difference between boys and girls, for instance.
- HUMAN VALUES : But the values we place on different categories are learned – from our parents, our peers and the observations we make about how the world works.
- BIRTH OF DISCRIMINATION : Often, discrimination stems from fear and misunderstanding.
- This year we have witnessed many incidents of violence, inhumanity and blatant discrimination .
- This highlight how the problems of caste, race and gender remain intractable.
LET US EXAMINE
- GEORGE FLOYD ISSUE : The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white policeman in the U.S. has forever damaged its reputation as a city on a hill.
- AIIMS DOCTOR CASE : A female Dalit doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, found the harassment by her upper caste senior so unbearable that she tried to end her life. Fortunately, she failed in the attempt.
- CISCO SYSTEM CASE : A Dalit employee of Cisco Systems was discriminated against by upper caste supervisors in the company’s American headquarters and the same is testified by a California government’s lawsuit.
- MAXIMUM CRUELTY : By no means are these acts of cruelty mindless.
- VULNERABLE : Nor are they to be ignored as some kind of clash between two parties, where one of them just happened to be from a minority group.
- MEMORIES : The trail of death and destruction these acts leave goes beyond the immediate context.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT : In addition to harming its victim, an act of discrimination does something far more insidious and long-lasting.
- SOCIETY : It reinforces rules, norms and customs that allow or sanction such crimes.
- INSTITUTIONAL HEADS : The ones who should be in the dock are, in addition to the accused, those who head the institutions where acts of discrimination take place.
LIKE A RATTLESNAKE
- ACCOUNTABILITY : Therefore, institutions must be made accountable.
- STRICT ACTIONS : A simple police investigation would unearth wrongdoing by several top functionaries at AIIMS to subvert the law.
- JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED : Each act of hatred and violence deserves its own justice. But we must treat them as mere symptoms and look for the real factors that keep hatred and discrimination enduring and pervasive.
Caste and race, like a rattlesnake, distract us by their myriad and daily abominations and we hardly notice their bite.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | The Roots of Discrimination | UPSC