Hypocrisy – the real hazard

I was traveling by public transport (bus) in an Indian city. A man opposite me accidentally brushed his foot against mine. It was only a gentle touch, but the man immediately touched my knee and then his own chest with his right hand – Indian gesture of an apology. Everyone in the bus looked very polite, sharing, respectful and caring, towards one another. This politeness infuriated me. Just a few seconds ago, there had been a violent scramble to board the bus. It seemed absolutely hypocritical for them to show such concern over a nudge when in fact, seconds ago, they had pushed one another, stamped each other’s foot, elbowed one another, hurt and cursed each other to get into the public transport. Before the bus arrived people were gearing up to board the bus. While boarding they had no concern for each other. After the bus started moving, their concern about a nudge was quite annoying!
I got back home and was furious at the hypocrisy. It is absolutely inhuman – if you think about it. I had to devise a theory for such behavior. Either something was wrong with me or something about them needed correction. Later that day, I realized that both the fighting and the concern later were expressions of the same philosophy called “Doctrine of Necessity.” The amount of violence necessary to board the bus, was equal to the amount of politeness and consideration required to make the cramped journey as pleasant as possible. I thought about the philosophy. It made absolute sense. In India people always take care of their families first. Once they know their families are safe, they then share all that’s plenty with every one else. That’s precisely a true trait of an Indian. The passengers who boarded the bus were looking to find places for their family members first. Once they knew that the bus was on the move, their next concern was to make sure their onward journey was as smooth as possible. So, the philosophy made sense – for both the fighting before boarding and the concern there after.
So, what is necessary in India? That is the unspoken but implied question. When I understood the philosophy, a lot more of the complex Indian system became clear to me, like –

1) The acceptance of slums,
2) The freedom of cows to roam in the city
3) Tolerance of beggars at traffic lights and temples
4) The accommodation of thousands of refugees, from neighboring countries, in a country that is already too crowded to meet its own needs.
5) The annoyance of tour guides at tourist spots

The philosophy clearly states that it is important to share anything one might have in surplus. That is precisely what is being followed by the lower middle class to below poverty levels, in India.
So, considering the above, what’s the hazard amongst today’s youth then?

The hypocrisy! Let me explain:
If a youth belongs to a well-to-do or upper middle class family, he will not understand the double stands I explained above. He will probably not be willing to understand the reasoning behind this philosophy. This means that the one who is being a hypocrite is really not the people who scrambled and then apologized later, but, the hypocrite is really  the youth who refuses to understand the reasoning for such  behavior, of his/her own country men. So, the hazard today is the hypocrisy in the eyes and minds and criticisms of those who come from lands of plenty, where no-one had to fight for a seat on a bus. It is becoming more and more important to understand people of different classes and more so, it is important to bridge the gap between the different strata of today’s society. The even bigger hazard today, in India, is that there are too many people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. What’s in store for the future? Time will tell.

Prasanna Rengarajan

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