Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nothing doing...

As we walked out of our staff meeting today, one of my colleagues turned to me and said – 'Did you notice? Of the ten items on that agenda there wasn't a single new one. At some point, in the last five years, we have discussed it all till we went blue and here we are again. Just talk talk and talk. No concrete solutions. Its ridiculous, don't you think?'

I returned home weathering the late noon traffic as these words buzzed about me like late evening mosquitoes. It was just yesterday that I had seen 'Peepli LIVE' that was talking about pretty much the same thing. A whole lot of cow manure for absolutely nothing. A careless media that uses a hapless farmer's sad plight for its own profit as the country watches, mute with unbridled enthusiasm, at the drama that unfolds on a possible reality television suicide bid. Problems? A million. Solutions? None.

What's worse is while the movie might have gone on to please the audience with its rustic charms, the reality of it is there is not the slightest chance of a change at ground zero. No governing body will suddenly have a major bout of conscience injected into it and no
sarkaari babu will immediately start pushing papers in a fierce resolve to help the down trodden. No. There will not be an atom of a change that will occur in any farmer's life anywhere in India – LIVE or recorded. The rich producers behind the feature will get richer(as I am sure they already have) and the audience at which it was aimed at will go on with their lives as ever before. Status, undeniably, quo. A grandly laid out theatrical production in the garb of 'reality' and 'social cause'.

My colleague's words made me connect the dots between what he was trying to say and what movies like Peepli LIVE are all about. There is so much activity about 'burning issues' on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and even blogs all around the web. Special 'hashtags' are created for important topics that are pushed to the 'trending' categories and online users share it like there is no tomorrow.

But I look around and all I can see is what my colleague was mentioning in exasperation earlier today – talk. People forwarding each other links to some horrifying story of tragic proportions while the rest of us click our tongues and post sad smileys as a sign of 'protest' as smart Alec netizens sit in comfortable spaces of privacy with their stomachs full and opine on human hunger and depravity. We, the content audience that clicks the 'Like' option on Facebook and feels it has done its bit in helping the cause get more awareness. Seriously – its time we stopped kidding ourselves. This meaningless act of self-validation has no effect on either the victims or the consequences that led them to it. They get nothing as respite because some well fed know-it-all egomaniac clicked a link on the Internet and felt good about keeping his/her 'conscience clean'. The grief in this scenario truly transcends words.

Being a perpetrator of such nonsensical atrocities myself, the one thing I have now resolved to do (or not do!) is stop pretending I am helping a society by passing around a reported tale like a golf ball across a neatly manicured piece of online real estate. No more re-tweeting or forwarding links to ghastly acts of human rights violation since I am not a part of the solution. I am not the one dodging naxal bullets while trying to save a child or a dying man's life. I am not the one teaching tribal kids their ABCs and feeding orphans their mid day meal. I am not the one fighting corrupt governing bodies to defend the rights of the weaponless while putting my life at extreme risk. No – I am, sires, no one. It seems true what I had heard in a Kannada proverb once – Doers don't talk, talkers don't do.

If that blessed day does arrive when I actually find a way to apply my efforts in some productive manner that matters the last thing I will probably do is talk about it. We have an offensive overflow of that as it is, don't you think?

8 reflections:

Nona said...

I understand you point. But unless it is talked about, how is the awareness generated? Isn't the awareness the first step in solving any problem?

Shubha said...

Well written Shakri... Actually as my sister says we all belong to NATO.. NO ACTION TALK ONLY category. Sad but it is true.We arent the ones who solve it. But then talking does help in some cases. It creates awareness among the common man. Hopefully helping to resolve the issue some day.

Sandhya said...

Hi Shakri,

A thoughtful post indeed! So true that there are million problems and zero solutions. Where do we begin?

I agree with Nona and Shubha that talking and forwarding messages creates awareness. There is always a hope that there may be good samaritans among the recipients who would take action rather than just talk.


ShaK said...


Agreed. But awareness is being generated at an extremely small level. No obvious changes are taking place due to the advent of technology which IS supposed to be THE vehicle for such changes. This is what bothers me is that there is so much talk about creating awareness but not enough done to make that awareness more public. That - is the need of the hour.


ShaK said...


This is what I was talking about. :) The only words that seem to be popular with raging issues these days is 'awareness' and 'hope'. As common citizens we are given no tools to directly access the system and try to kick start the change regardless of where we live or what we do. How much talk has happened in India about poverty and corruption since 1947? Has anything changed? Rich became mega rich and the middle class became 'Upper Middle Class'. Thats it. The poor are still right they were before. This inconsistency is what bothers me.


ShaK said...


As I said in my response to Shubha's comment, all we ever do is 'hope'. Did what we talked about really go to the ears of those in need? Did what we shared as information really get to the grassroot level realities? No one knows. No other word has been more misused in post-freedom India than this word - hope.


Sandhya said...

Shakri, I am not sure if the word 'hope' is misused. Till date, many people go on with their lives with a 'hope' in whatever meaning - like betterment in life, better job or good life partner etc. I feel if we can make a difference, we go ahead and do the needful. For instance, if one would like to make a difference in a child's life, one can donate to CRY - Child Relief and you. I remember my sister organizing a campaign to collect money for flood relief victims in Karnataka. She and her husband took the initiative of collecting cheques for needy families in the affected areas and the amount indeed reached the needy. A responsible person was assigned to oversee the entire task and he personally made sure the amount was delivered and was used by the needy families. You may have read about the story in which a young man in a jail receives a letter from his father as to how he finds it difficult to plant potatoes as he is too old and frail to dig the land. The man sends a letter to his father asking him to be careful because he had concealed ammunition in that land. The letter lands into hands of the security personnel who go to the old man's house and dig the land and find nothing. The son sends another letter to his father which reads, "Dad, go ahead and plant the potatoes". So whereever we are, if we decide to do something that we would like to, there are no barriers. If one wishes to take an intiative, he/she needs to forge ahead and not be perturbed by any kind of barriers.

Just sharing my thoughts.


ShaK said...


Thank you for the very informative response! I must admit - I was quite impressed with the initiatives your sister and her husband took. We definitely need more people like them - people of ACTION - and that was the point I was trying to make in the blog. Also, when I said 'hope' had been misused, I meant in the concept of rich getting richer, poor remaining hapless context. With every tabloid spill we witness the exposure of crores of rupees that are sitting in the pockets of all the wrong people as they play the game of good and bad while the 'hopeful' public is told that justice will be done. Again - just talk. By the time justice comes to the victims it just doesn't matter anymore.Time and again, this pattern has followed without a break. Folks of action, hence, are a serious minority in our nation. Integral yes, but a woeful minority.