Wednesday, December 09, 2020

'You don't look like a Muslim': The oft-repeated line reveals prejudice, generalization and biases


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

I really wonder what's wrong with our society that people look down upon anyone working hard to earn a living. Is dignity of labour, such an alien concept in our society!
Of late, the term 'puncture wala' is so often used to target an entire community in India.

Why this contempt for hard work and labour? Just because people feel lot of Muslims mend tyres, they use the term for Muslims in conversations on social media. In my housing society alone, there are over 50 domestic helps, all of them are Hindu. So should on a limited experience...

....someone can feel that all Hindus are poor? In the several cities, I lived, in localities of all kinds--Hindu majority & Muslim majority, there were always very few Muslim domestic helps. So can on this basis Muslims make conclusion that Hindus are more poor? 

Someone just wants to believe that 'Muslims are backward'. They even know dozens of educated Muslims but still remain so opinionated that when they have educated Muslim friends and acquaintances around but would still call them 'exception' & hence say, 'you don't look like Muslim' because for them others are always backward.

This is what is called as PREJUDICE. You want to believe it, as it gives cheap satisfaction about self worth. You either grew on propaganda, believed these stereotypes or didn't have adequate experience but still want to believe wild things like an entire community is backward & poor. 

Though, you know that both communities are huge, hundreds of millions of poor in each those working hard, self-reliant. Everyone must respect hard work. Also a huge middle-class in each group, similarly rich and educated too. 

Check data or see who are the poorest of poor who die most of malnutrition, who live in countless villages of India, who die most of starvation. Are they Muslims? Just believe 'others are poor' & you feel rich. Convenient for your self-esteem, rather than appreciating hard work

More people who die of hunger or the poor & homeless who die because of natural factors--heat or cold in extreme seasons, while sleeping in the open, are Hindu. 'Not own'! They becomes another category--caste or tribe, not 'Hindus'. Biases are acquired too, from society...

...and in our times, TV & social media. Despite under representation in jobs, large number of Muslims worked really hard, stand on feet, become self-reliant. Perhaps, many get satisfaction to believe that 'I may not be doing great, but the other is doing really bad'.

It's easy to do well when you inherit property or have kin in jobs or parents owning business.The real heroes are those who start from the scratch or those battling all odds--Hindu or Muslim, puncture wallas or road side vendors, anyone who earns with hard work. Respect them.

It's very cheap when you make fun of a person who earns living with hard work. I didn't even like to give the example (at the beginning of this thread) but sometimes, you've to write certain things because 'entitlement' is such that people just grow on biases & 'generalize'

Slightly different but happens that lot of people in North form weird notions about people from certain regions, looks, habits. Can't broaden vision, stubbornly believe, then it's bias. If you haven't seen, met & from firm opinion based on your limited experience, it's your issue.

READ: Why not to judge a person by his name, appearance or shop

Now, if I come from a region, I, of course, may not have great knowledge about other part, but how can I always be so opinionated & generalized sweeping statements that 'entire particular group or section comprising crores are always backward....'.

A guy one day started conversation, said, 'I find many Muslims here having lot of books, personal libraries at homes...' & went on to say a lot. The village he belongs to, had few Muslims & based on this experience & hearsay he made up his mind & got surprised to see opposite.

Remember, another factor is social. That you have mostly met and seen more people from the section of society you come from--class, caste and religion. So you may not have seen lot of 'others'. Try to learn, interact with more people, explore the world before forming such opinions, crude and crass comments.

Photo: Mr Bhavesh Jain, Pexels