Monday, April 13, 2020

Majority Vs Minority: How majoritarian tendencies change societies, affect perceptions, damage nations

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Is the world, all about 'majority' and the majoritarian privilege--majority deciding what's good for itself and the country and minority accepting a second class status despite laws and all rights on paper?

It is a strange phenomenon but it is clearly at work in our supposedly 'modern' societies, and in democratic countries as well.

Laws are there but the people who have the power to use or misuse laws are also humans and prone to social changes, perceptions, tendencies and biases.

In many democratic societies, despite equality and law, a 'minority' is always seen as the 'other'.
If one person or an organisation belonging to a minority community, makes a mistake, then it is not seen as an individual mistake, rather, it puts all the people belonging to the community in the dock.

It happens so easily because media that has the power to create perception, and it too has similar majoritarian tendencies, is able to whip up such sentiments. Street thug level louts sitting in the studios, who shout and scream against the minority, are responsible for it.

They paint all with same brush! Else, an incident is just an incident, and ignored. The rot in the society when one group tries to dominate the others, completely. We see it more in some countries, less in some other but this is a harsh reality.

Majoritarian feeling of 'entitlement', expecting surrender of 'other'. In some countries, it is to a lesser extent, while in others that have crumbling systems, it goes to the extreme level. If polity, executive and judiciary fail, then the situation deteriorates even faster.

A slip and you'll be hauled over coals. There is another aspect. Majority never wants to own up any mistake, it can never be wrong. It doesn't need to explain itself. Minority must ensure they're all sages, good and clean at all times, helping, one mistake and the media-politicians-society is ready to pounce upon them.

The minority doesn't understand why it happens to it. On the other hand, the majority despite holding key positions and all the power, looks at minority population, as if the latter are 'troublemakers'. Of course, politics and media play an important role in creating this perception.

While organised groups may persecute or lynch minority, the majority would still feel that the minority is too dominant and creates problems, even if these problems are a figment of imagination or a result of false propaganda.

One negative incident in which a person belonging to minority is found involved and everyone among the minority is expected to condemn and appear as 'apology personified'. This pressure is created.

No one should force, put onus on me to condemn or laud a particular incident or statement. I must have the liberty to speak the day I feel like. That should be my decision, totally. No one should ever  expect something from me or judge me for what any individual does!

Simple, isn't it. But no. Not in real life. The harsh reality is that even in democracies, it is the rule of those who are more in population--religion, language or a bigger community. The impact is more or less in different places, varies from country to country.

When you control all and despite being a majority get persecution complex, then it's even more laughable. Solution: To improve it--ensure rule of law in real sense, rein in your extremist groups, de-link religion from lot of things around, treat people in more just, similar manner.

PHOTO: Mr Anugrah Lohiya, Pexels