Saturday, June 06, 2020

Way ahead for Muslims-1: Be a change maker, stop negativity, lead the society

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

You can't change entire nation over night but you can do it differently--making a start from your region.

Understand how things are controlled, how media narrative is formed and become a change maker, a leader in your region.

States are run from their capitals. If you are able to manage things in capitals, [remember cities are power centres and also perceptions are created from big cities], you can do a lot but it needs a bit of planning and dedicated individuals with perseverance and passion.

It's easy to explain more in interactive sessions (than in FB posts) but let's give some examples. If Mr Siddiqui runs a school or even a coaching institute, he can do a lot along with the institute. What if he decides is that he will hold a small event--say Maths Olympiad or Science Olympiad for your city, at a small scale, annually, and give prizes.

It not only helps in branding but also establishes the person's image as someone connected with science, knowledge, technology and it helps in growth of his/her stature, also perception about person's community in the area.

Within a few years he/she is seen as an asset to the society. Remember, on one hand there is an effort to constantly blame you, link you with social evils, term your entire community backward and brand you, so that not just others consider you 'nobody', but you also feel guilty about it and believe that you are indeed backward.

Hence, all the more, there is need to do your bit, an extra effort to tackle this propaganda. Take for example any state capital, how many Muslims manage to present themselves as experts in diverse fields--history, urban planning, agriculture, arts, science, human rights, education, health, RTI, city heritage and a long list.

If you carefully see, in your town, when you start your day and pick the paper, you will find certain names, individuals. On police atrocities' case, the report will carry a person's quote, on another story about vision of city in 2050 you will find another expert's opinion, on and on.

They may be 25-50 names but they are seen as prominent individuals of the city without whom events are seen incomplete and they are seen and intellectuals, change makers or activists. Representation and view of your community--is through how you and your community are able to present yourself.

It is soft power, cultural power, intellectual power, your activism and leadership in different fields that makes you a force in a region. You may be 30-40% in a city but how much percent you are here on this plane? In fact, it is these people who come out to represent the city.

It doesn't help if you have a degree in history, you teach for years but in the ongoing debate on an issue in city, you never speak. You don't take lead and remain isolated, believing that someone should come to you to seek your opinion or because you are afraid of taking initiative.

Be active in your city, region. And, be expert in at least one field. There is a person who doesn't have a degree but whenever there is case of police brutality in the city, he notes it down, least keeps a record or writes a letter to DGP or Home Minister, demanding inquiry.

As he is doing it regularly, he becomes a 'go to' person for everyone including newsmen. Over a
period, he becomes important and with him, his community also becomes important, the voice is also there.

If you have knowledge or expertise, you need to display it. You must not be shy about it. If you don't have skills, acquire them, be leader in one field. The 'nothing will happen' attitude is extremely damaging and there is need to come out of this syndrome.

If you are interested in a subject, track it and keep noting down things. Recording, documenting, making databases and interacting with others, its the basic job. Once you do it over a period, you have a command, understanding & you can now position yourself as an expert.

Every written communication has some effect. Also, by being a social or community leader, you ensure that others, outsiders, feel that you people do have a presence somewhere in the town, you don't go invisible. If you live in a society, you must be seen as leaders in all fields, not just those who are in complaining or victimhood mode.

It is not population or power but how you present yourself in your region, make yourself appropriate as leaders, prominent people and in a way real inhabitant of the place, that you make your presence strong in the society.

You may have hundreds of experts, educationists, professors but this is an era when you need to come forward and not feel that others will come to you, you have to make yourself seen, heard, learn tricks of PR. There are multiple examples, city to city within India.

How this can help even in law-and-order and dealing with persecution too, where presence of prominent persons, proper activism and a psychological feel has helped tide over the worse situations due to your strength in the region.

[As it is subject that needs deep understanding, it's not easy to explain nuances on social media. Still there is an effort and this is just a part of series of such posts that were earlier shared in Urdu and Hindi in the past]

Photo courtesy: Snapwire, Pexels