Saturday, May 15, 2021

OP-ED

Reel or Real Life

The Ascent Claims no Ownership over this Image

By Diya Barmecha

Cinema, something that is used for pure entertainment has now slowly but surely changed its roots to educating and persuading. The Bollywood industry is known for its “masala” or pure entertainment movies. Many have even commented and joked saying you should watch these movies after leaving your brains at home. Biologically not possible but it is necessary to do this because some comedy movies make no sense but with blinds to our eyes we tend to believe it is true. However, there are many movies that educate the audience on what happens in our world. Movies like Panipat, Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and others show us what has happened in our world. 

Even though these movies aim to teach the audience and tell them a true story. The main reason for the movie to exist is to entertain. This is why movies say “Based on a real story” and never “A real story” There are many films that have added facts or hidden some facts to make the story more enjoyable. A recent movie Gunjan Saxena is one such example. This movie that aired on Netflix was the most popular drama movie in 2020, competing with other popular films and series like Masaba Masaba, Emily in Paris, etc. The movie followed the life of Gunjan Saxena as she went ahead to become a pilot at a time where it wasn’t common for women to be pilots. It showed how her aspirations and belief made it possible. It demonstrated her work for the Kargil war and other significant moments in her life. 

However loved this movie was by the audience, the film itself had many facts twisted and changed. This flaw was pointed out by many including the real Kargil Girl, Gunjan Saxena. Facts like she was the first girl in Kargil or that the gender disparity was so magnified were exaggerated. However, like the Kargil Girl said in real life, “The intention of the movie was to inspire people to chase their dreams with hope and positivity, the way I chased mine.”

The movie aimed to inspire and tell the story of a female pilot and it did just that. Hiding behind the creative license the creators of this movie are entitled to do as they please. Since this is a movie and said to entertain they can twist facts as they please even if they give misinformation. Historical movies like Panipat, and Padmaavat also have an exaggerated love story to it so that it intrigues and appeals to the majority of the audience. 

Like many have posed the question, I do so myself and ask, is this moral? Is it right to tell the story of another while twisting the facts? 

The most we as the public can do is to point these mistakes out. After pointing it out and posting about it on social media, the directors, actors, and producers can view your take on their creation. Hopefully, they can make changes accordingly. However legal it is to twist facts due to the creative license it is not right to do so. Narrating the story of a person is a great honour. However when facts are twisted it is not right. Blockbuster movies like Mary Kom and Pad Man have reached great heights and even if they portrayed the story with not much change, it would have had similar viewership. 

The power lies in our hands. At the end of the day, movies are made for audiences like you and me. The only way we will stop getting movies with twisting facts is when we stop watching movies like this. We are left in a world where we are doubting if this is real life or reel life.

Angels And Demons – A Review

Source - https://www.amazon.in/Angels-Demons-Dan-Brown/dp/0552150738

by Tara Hebbar

A 616 page that took me 1 day to read. That sentence itself explains the gripping nature of the book by Dan Brown. Angels and Demons has a fast paced story line and it’s intriguing developments and characters are just some of the jewels in this thriller. Starring Robert Langdon, who is  the protagonist in many of Dan Brown’s books this book not only was a delectable story but also a mini encyclopedia into ancient beliefs and religious wars. 

Set at the CERN, one of the world’s largest physics centers in Geneva Switzerland, the story follows Robert Langdon who is called upon to investigate the mysterious deaths of one of the most reputable scientists at the CERN. Robert Langdon is an iconology and symbology professor at Harvard. While investigating, along with the scientist’s daughter, Robert Langdon gets pulled into a race with time as they look to save the Vatican City and the world’s popes from a  disaster. With near death experiences, kidnappings, threats, deaths, combat, it is almost impossible to put this book down. Each chapter leaves you with no choice but to turn the page. 

My favourite thing about this book is the inclusion of history with religious conspiracies and facts. The mixture of the two seemed so natural and flowed very easily. Together, it weaved the perfect storyline! There was never a moment when something seemed unbelievable and everyone one was to make an assumption, Dan Brown would be sure to disprove it within the next couple of pages. Hence, not allowing the reader to find the book repetitive or over extended by any means. It provided me with a fast paced thriller, but additionally provided me with tidbits of knowledge in a field of learning – Iconology which I don’t come across very often. It explains a lot of things we’ve heard in the past and the things we continue to see and experience in the present.

The only criticism I can give the book is the confusion on the readers part on what is and isn’t fiction. There are a lot of facts that seem real but aren’t. This is a problem I constantly faced while reading and after reading this book. It is hard to differentiate between the two, and with many facts that seem real turning out not to be. Therefore, if one is reading this book, I would recommend fact checking information as they go along. Not everything but facts that they think they will remember and use in the future.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery or thriller because this is the paragon of one. It leaves you dizzy with realization and thoughts, and makes you friends and enemies, according to the interests of the protagonists . The book has been written with so much detail and the scenes described so well that I felt as thought I had taken the flight with Robert Langdon, witnessed the murder, fought the antagonists and visited the Vatican myself. Hence, for all the above mentioned reasons, this is a book that would go on the top of my recommendation list for every avid reader.

Turning Trash To Ash!

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Source - http://www.ft.lk/Opinion-and-Issues/Integrated-thinking-Solid-waste-management-in-Singapore/14-672327

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

India, a country filled with diversity and even more people. Our country’s waste is majorly dumped in landfills. On the brink of urbanization and other projects in planning, there is hardly enough space for landfills. In India, 94% of the waste is dumped in landfills while only 5% is composted and recycled. This margin compared to other countries in the world is very minimal.  One of the mains reasons for this is because 70% of all plastic is discarded. With so much trash and such little space to store it, this system is not effective. Reducing waste has not worked as year after year the waste in this country is only increasing. More than 20% of India’s methane emissions is only due to its landfills. 

On the other hand, we have Singapore, whose waste management system allows most of the country’s wastage to be externally eradicated or converted into reusable energy. The system works this way – all the waste is first sent to the Waste – To – Energy  plants based in the country. Here the waste is incinerated in bulk, reducing it’s volume by approximately 90%. The heat released during this process is used in the country’s sophisticated central heating systems. To avoid odours from escaping, the plant’s air is kept below atmospheric pressure. An effective cleaning system with electrostatic precipitators, dosing of lime powder and catalytic bag filter eliminates the pollutants and dust from the gas before it is released into the air via chimneys. Hence, the air released is cleaner than normal air. This first step on it’s own eliminates the need for major and industrial landfills and allows for clean and pure air and extermination of bulk trash. A byproduct of the first step, is ash left over. This ash and non-incinerable waste is brought to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station, a facility that allows the waste to be transported to the Semakau Landfill. The transport vehicles are weighed to determine the weight of trash. The measures taken during the construction process of the landfill ensures that the wildlife and coral reefs along the shore remain intact and healthy. This entire process is an extremely conscious and comprehensive one that allows Singapore to be as environmentally friendly and clean as it is. The compact and conscious population of this country makes this process easy and successful. To know more about the process you could watch a video by Nas Daily.

For India to adopt a system like Singapore’s is going to be beneficial. Like an expert at the Center of Science and Environment said, “Instead of constructing new landfill sites, the government should be really looking into innovative methods to dispose and recycle its waste.” This idea seems plausible in India since these factories could be built where the current landfills are resided, these factories could first work on reducing the large heaps of garbage in the landfill and then move on to everyday garbage disposal. These factories could work in metropolitan cities since those are where most of the countries waste comes from. There is minimal labour needed in this process and does not allow the emission of harmful gases which is why it is a safe option. If India does manage to implement this idea, it will make its compost and recycling waste percentage increase as well as make the villages next to landfills better to live in. The four bin system and segregating waste in this country hardly works due to only around 77% of India is literate. With that system gone, one of the only ways India can have a more efficient trash disposal system is to burn it, in a safe manner.

Although can’t be deemed impossible, India may be posed with some serious problems when trying to implement Singapore’s waste management techniques. Some of them could possibly be, the fact that most of the citizens are not conscious enough. Having a supportive and environmentally conscious citizens base is essential for the success of the implementation of such techniques. In India, where large populations are poverty stricken, the environment is not the biggest of issues, though it may be the most important and dire. Most people are not aware of the necessity of composting, reusing and segregating their waste, without which this system will fail miserably. Secondly, we have such a large population, large amounts of extra waste therefore we would need several more and larger plants and facilities to implement the same system. The government neither has the money nor the initiative to fund such a large, demanding and expensive system that might not even work as desired. Thirdly, most Indian households do not house central heating systems and neither do our public places. Is India a country that requires this the most? Yes, of course. However, the real question is, is it feasible for our country to invest in such a system?

To conclude, in a country as small as Singapore and with a public as conscious as theirs, they are able to dispose of their trash very effectively and reduce it by 90%. However, in India where people aren’t that mindful of their trash and segregation, this system will not be successful. In Singapore since they have a lesser amount of people and much less waste, it is easier for them to pull off a system like this. However, in a country as big as India and with the level of wastage so high, there are going to be much more challenges. It is vital for the citizens to be conscious and aware not only about the system installed by also what they can contribute to its success. This could possibly include the segregation of waste and not throwing waste on the road. All in all, maybe changing the system minimally and educating people about the importance of segregating waste and reducing it could be one step in the right direction to a much more efficient trash disposal system.

Benefits Of Debate

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Source - https://www.asf.edu.mx/learning/events/asomex-debate-tournament/debating

By Aahana Khemani 

Debate has become an extremely popular activity, be it between politic definers, or academic achievers. There are over thousands and thousands of people who debate all for different reasons! Other than serving as a great hobby, debate also has multiple other benefits which we will be exploring. 

Research is one of the key factors when it comes to debating. In my opinion, without research, the debate becomes extremely dry. In order to make it challenging for the opponent, debaters have to research. With research comes a lot more knowledge, so naturally you learn more while taking part in debates. 

One of the other benefits of debate is a great increase in communication skills. While defending your affirmative side, and delivering your points, it is very important to communicate well. Debating opens boundaries and gets you out of your comfort zone when it comes to communicating with others!

Last but definitely not least, debate increases confidence and self esteem. Research shows that debaters have 15% higher self esteem. By the constant affirmation needed in your team and side of the debate, you tend to gain more confidence and self esteem in what you’re saying. In order to be a master at whatever you do, it is extremely important to have a high self esteem and high confidence, which is something debating can help with. 

In conclusion, debate is a great activity and has multiple benefits! It is a very important skill that is quite required in various aspects of life, whether you decide to become the president of a country, or a salesperson. 

Bollywood’s ‘Bomb’

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By Diya Barmecha

Laxmii starring Akshay Kumar has faced a long road of hardships before being introduced to viewers on 9th November on Disney+Hotstar. The movie, formerly called, movie Laxmmi Bomb is a remake of the original 2011 Tamil version called Kanchana. Both movies are directed by Raghava Lawrence. 

The film had to halt shooting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amidst all this confusion the film has had its own boycott movement by net citizens on twitter. This movement caused the team to change the title of the film to Laxmii. Several Hindu groups disliked the name and claimed that it was “hurting religious sentiments’ ‘ because of using a derogatory term like bomb with the name of a Hindu goddess. The director thought the name “Laxmmi Bomb” fit the movie perfectly as it was was saying that “a dhamaka of Laxmmi Bomb cannot be missed”. He further explained that the transgender lead character is radiant and strong which is why the name fits perfectly. 

The transgender coommunity has only been recently recognised and their struggle is still present and evident. It is one thing to be recognised on paper by the government. But it is a whole different story to earn the respect accepted in the real world. This was reiterated in the film by the portrayal of Laxmi (Sharad Kelkar). The message of the movie is quite clear. They want love and acceptance for all transgenders. They call for equal opportunities and they want a chance to make their country proud, just like anyone else. This horror-comedy film also incorporates light humor to keep their viewers entertained. It goes on to engage its audience with a slight aspect of horror.  Despite my opinion of it being a movie that I greatly enjoyed, there are many that feel it “was a waste of time”.

In a review posted by The Indian Express, it said, “Somewhere deep inside the mess that’s Laxmii, is the kernel of a solid idea: to give us the story of a transgender person, with empathy and sympathy.” They are criticizing the movie for being the  first to have a star like Akshay Kumar play a transgender, something we thought we would never see. Although the movie may not show a trangender as a main character of the movie and say lines like “they clap their hands’. By demonstrating what they actually are helps us understand them. Although they may be “different” they should be respected for what they are. The movie highlights things that are typically done by women and shows the reaction of the family in the movie. This is very similar to how a typical orthodox Indian family would react to these situations as well. For example a male draping a saree in a store.  This movie is one of a kind. Even if the movie didn’t show a lot about the transgender community, t highlighted the fact that they could be portrayed in movies by actors and it could be normalised. 

In summary, the plot of this movie is that Asif (Akshay Kumar) and his wife Rashmi (Kiara Advani) go to Rashmi’s house and in some unexpected events a spirit possesses Asif. The movie shows the  typical religious things done to “banish the spirit”. This movie highlights the Hindu-Muslim conflict since Asif and Rashmi are from different communities. At the start of the move Rashmi’s father was not supportive of her husband. But as the movie progresses this dynamic changes.

This movie encompasses a variety of songs as well There is a typical bollywood peppy love song called “Burj Khalifa” that is trending on various platforms.It makes a person tap their feet and sway their head. . There is “Start Stop attracting people  with its catchy title and chorus. Added to the mix they have “Bam Bholle,” which is once again a powerful song that demonstrates Akshay Kumar’s great acting as he dances in the role of a transgender. There is a fire in the center while multiple people dance around it, clearly showing their powerful feelings.

All in all, I think the movie discusses different social issues present in India and tries to normalise it by showing it in a manner that the common person can resonate with. . From the changing of the name to the hate they are getting from net citizens need to open their minds and allow new forms of entertainment to arise . There are always people who comment and say bollywood loves to add the “spicy masala” to each movie but that is what the majority of the public wants. Irrespective of the movie having “masala” the movie is a blockbuster. That makes people who watched the movie hypocritical. To allow many people to watch the film and then blaming the movie for changing plotlines and not portraying the correct image.

In my opinion, Laxmii is a movie the first of its kind but there will be many more like this that will discuss social issues. The trangender community may be recognized by the government but they are yet to be respected which is what the movie aims to inculcate. I think the director was justified in saying that this is definitely a movie worthy of the term, “Bomb!”

Ziva Dhoni – Rape Threats

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Source - https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/papa-you-are-getting-older-ziva-sings-for-dad-dhoni-on-37th-birthday/articleshow/64897528.cms

by Aryaah Lodha

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of India’s best cricket players has had a poor performance in the IPL this season. Because of this, his 5 year old daughter, Ziva Dhoni has been receiving rape threats. This outraged hundreds of thousands of people, including myself. Many Celebrities like Ranganathan Madhavan and Irfan Pathan have spoken out on this matter and are demanding justice for Ziva. The person sending these rape threats was a teenager, was 16 years old. Regardless of age, no one should ever even have the thought that it is right to do something like this. The tweet from the user “troll M.S dhoni” was giving Ziva rape and death threats. The threats were sent on Sakshi Dhoni, (M.S Dhoni’s wifes) Instagram account, which caused her to limit comments on all of her social media profiles/platforms. Just because somebody didn’t perform to your expectations is utterly no reason to give RAPE threats to anyone. There is never a reason to give rape threats. This has to stop. Clearly, 5 year old girls, or even children,  are no exception to the sickening things going on in today’s world. 

The levels that social media is stooping to these days is absolutely disgusting. People think that with fake and anonymous accounts, they can do anything and get away with it. Thankfully, The Ranchi Police were quick to take action against this, and managed to get the boy who had issued the threats. “We detained him for questioning after Ranchi police informed us that the accused hails from Mundra in Kutch district. We have confirmed that the boy is the same who had posted the message.” are the words of a Ranchi Police officer working on the case. The mentality of many teenagers in India is clearly not in the right place, and this has been reflected through acts such as this which are truly revolting. However, Ziva is not the only one getting rape threats, such as the twins of Karan Johar have recieved numerous threats for rape, death and abuse. The things that children have to go through at such a young age are so repulgent and gross.

You can help by signing petitions like this, which have managed to get almost 160,000 signatures, which is addressed to the government of India to have bigger consequences and forces to help get justice for those who need it. Let’s help make India a better place! Together we must all come together and protest to help the thousands of people with no voice get their deserved justice. 

#StopRape #SafeIndia #JusticeForAll

Abetting a crime or a bet on justice?

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By Tara Hebbar

Across the world, several countries consider suicide a crime including India by section 309 which criminilizes the act. India  shares a unique defination of abetting the suicide. Abetting means to assist.  In most countries aiding and abetting the act of suicide means the act of directly assiting the “act”. Helping set it up, handing them the gun etc. However, in countries like India, by section 306 which states that “driving” the victim to suicide is aiding them.This can include several external reasons, that indirectly “might” have caused them pain.

According to me, this isn’t a fair system whatsoever due to the fact that logically, it can do more harm than good. It can cause everyone to be more apprehensive in anticipation of their clients, family members, lovers causing their own death. For example could be the fact that if a person is knee deep in debt and is unable to pay it back, handle the mental pulls that come with it, and ends their life, the finger is pointed at the bank or money lender. This can lead to a plethora of instances that harm more than just 1 party or entity that is involved. This can lead to the destruction of lives, of not only the dead but the ones who are living. 

This also can make for some very vengeful and elaborate revenge plans. Though it might not be the direct “drive”, a person who commits suicide can misuse this act in their favour as to get even with thoes who haven’tdone them good. Though in some cases this might be well deserved, it still isn’t justice to get penalized for an act that you have no relation to. 

This can additionally carry a heavy emotional weightage for the accused, if they haven’t done what they’ve been accused off. Especially if the death was one of their loved ones. Imagine the feeling of guilt that might be felt by someone if they were accused of being the reason for the death of someone to whom they mean no harm. For these reasons this system is not serving justice, when imposed, like the intention. 

Lastly, as we see India viewing many of these cases, such as Arnab Goswami, the imposition of this law, can stump the exercising of other rights that a citizen holds. In Arnab Goswamis case, he was taken to court due to the fact that a person to whom he owed money committed suicide.  A crime that you haven’t committed, can be held against you. It needs to be viewed from not only the side of the “victim” but additionally that of the “accused.” This can have a lot of psychological, mental and law issues, and it needs to be specially understood that in many of these cases, the accused has no relation to the death of the victim.”

 We as a nation need to realise that we cannot always point a finger at something or somebody. We need to accept ideas such a suicide, and accept that though it shouldn’t be happening, it does. It is harsh but it is reality, destroying other lives cannot bring back one, how much ever we may want it. Although it is also justice that if a person is harmed and therefore feels the need to commit suicide, more likely than not, people are falsely accused of abetting suicide.  When we accuse someone of allegedly abetting a crime, are we betting on our justice system?

Lie Tree Tells Us The Harsh Truth

By Tara Hebbar

Lie Tree, a book that follows 14 year old Faith Sunderly as her family moves to the male dominated Victorian Island, Vane. When her father is discovered dead under suspicious circumstances, Faith uses her femininity and disadvantages in her favour to keep secrets, that if uncovered could lead to disastrous circumstances. When I first read the blurb of the book, it didn’t strike me as an orthodox mystery novel, but as I sat captivated by each page, this book was so much more than a mystery. It holds several not so subtle messages regarding women in the field of science and the gender in general is made to hide their true wits.

Vane is an excavation site, dominated by male natural science who all share the belief that women have no place in the field of natural science due to their “ignorance and small brain size.” “Large people tend to have large heads. Men are no cleverer than we are, Miss Sunderly. Just taller.” Faith always wanted to tear apart from that stereotype, and had a hunger for knowledge that was discouraged by her family members. “There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too.” Faith’s mother was severely mistreated by both her husband and brother, who considered her only expertise in raising children and maintaining the household. As the book proceeds, we indeed see otherwise, as she rescues her family from dire situations and proves her quick wittedness more than once. On the island, there were several women, who all shared the same intelligence but were all forced to hide it, as not to anger their husbands. “Here in the drawing room, each lady quietly relaxed and became more real, expanding into the space left by the men. Without visibly changing, they unfolded, like flowers, or knives.” 

Now, we see our world much changed, a world where women actually can be considered as smart and the other gender. Earlier, anything remotely intellectual was considered the domain and territory of men. Faith had always had this scientific curiosity and talent, but this was never allowed to grow and be nurtured. As the novel begins near it’s ending, Faith proves herself to be smarter than most natural scientists as she takes on the most dangerous of them all and earns the respect of all the townspeople. “She felt utterly crushed and betrayed. Science had betrayed her. She had always believed deep down that science would not judge her, even if people did. Her father’s books had opened to her touch easily enough. His journals had not flinched from her all too female gaze. But it seemed that science had weighed her, labelled her and found her wanting. Science had decreed that she could not be clever… and that if by some miracle she was clever, it meant that there was something terribly wrong with her.” She is the paragon of a girl who is undermined but unafraid. Her sudden realisation of her place can resonate with us all, science the one subject she thought belonged to everyone, regardless of their gender suddenly wasn;t neutral. This is what happens to so many women when they venture out, and suddenly are shunned away from something that belongs to them equally. Hence, this book is a great read for all those, who need that extra affirmation that they can do whatever they please, and the other gender cannot stop them.

This book took me through a brilliantly remarkable journey and gave me the sad realization that though the battle is being fought, we still haven’t reached that level of equilibrium between the genders. In so many fields, women aren’t given their due credit or aren’t allowed to do what they have a passion for. And those who have broken these barriers successfully, haven’t gotten it easy in the least. Men dominate fields in which women would prosper equally well. We as a gender cannot take it quietly, we must all follow our passion and hearts no matter who stops us, for we all like Faith can outsmart anyone, no matter what anyone does or says.

Hidden Behind A Screen

Source - https://www.amazon.com/

by Diya Barmecha

The internet has allowed people to hide behind a screen. This anonymity has given people, especially teenagers anew found confidence that they can do whatever they want without getting consequences. Knowing that no one can know their true identity from the game because of the username features, players can get even more nasty as compared to what they wouldn have when meeting someone face to face. This confidence from anonymity is also the main reason for cyberbullying. There has always been a problem with the language used in games while they play. With the function of live chat and sometimes voice chat, players can talk to complete strangers. 

This issue has sparked the interest of Amazon as they are always looking for a new venture. They are currently working on an algorithm that will aim to pair such “toxic” people with like minded people. There are some people who are okay to use bad language whereas others aren’t. While playing a game, many would prefer to play with friends rather than complete strangers and the main reason behind that is the comfort in knowing that your friends are like you and to some extent think like you. This algorithm would do just that. 

Amazon filed a patent for the same in december 2017. However, it had only gotten approved in the past few months. It says that, “One mechanism for dealing with such players is to isolate all ‘toxic’ players into a separate player pool, such that one toxic player is paired only with other toxic players”.

This is similar to a MOBA title by Valve called DOTA 2 or Defense of the Ancients 2. In their game, players have a ‘behaviour score’ attached with their other player information. This behavior score fluctuates depending on a player’s performance in a game. Players with a low behaviour score are paired with people like them. Your Behaviour score is decided on how often you use a select database of words and other trigger markers. 

One of the hardest parts of this would be to define a ‘toxic’ player and a ‘non-toxic’ player. It is easy for a human to access who could be compatible with who. However, it is harder for a computer algorithm to understand and implement this. This is because ‘toxic’ behaviour is a very broad category. Some players find it ‘toxic’ if a player quits a game between the match while others find swearing and using bad language as ‘toxic’.

The patent further describes that players will be able to choose behavior preferences so that their game goes smoothly. For example a player who swears a lot may be matched with other players who swear. Whereas players who quit mid-match will be matched and lobbied with other players who quit mid-match. In doing so, they are letting a computer define some players as toxic when they might not be as toxic in real life as they seem behind a computer screen. All in all, this new venture seems exciting to Amazon, it may not be as attainable as it seems to us.

The Firm Anchor

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The Ascent Claims No Ownership Over This Image

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

We occupy a world in which change is a constant that people aren’t afraid to change and persuade others in following their example. Old beliefs are discarded faster than new ones being made. Most people part of the newer generation have no trouble keeping up with these changes. However, in today’s article we would like to switch the perspective and look at it from the point of view of those who have lived with certain beliefs throughout their lives. When we grow up, our surroundings and environment is a large deciding factor in our beliefs. Is it really fair to expect people to suddenly have to change ideologies overnight? Ideologies that have had the time to deeply engrave themselves? What really is the psychological perspective of changing long held beliefs?

Mukesh Khanna, a veteran actor, best known for his work as a superhero in children’s television show “Shaktimaan” and Bhishma Pitamaha in the television series “Mahabharata,” has been getting criticized for the statements he has recently publicly made. He released a video stating that “The #MeToo movement began when women stepped out of their homes and started working.” He further said that, “Men and women are different. Women are supposed to take care of the household.” These statements are highly misogynistic but his thinking behind it is simple, though not justified. He believes that, “The first person who suffers is the child because he doesn’t have a mother (around him at home), and that she/he sits and watches TV with his nanny all day.” He also believes that this is the reason for the #MeToo like movements globally. The actor is receiving backlash on social media applications like Twitter and Instagram for making these highly sexist and stereotypical statements. This 62-year-old has a fixed and closed mindset, which is more stubborn at that age thus to change is harder than we can possibly imagine. 

Psychology says that our opinions aren’t based on facts but on emotion and group afflictions. One of the main reasons why it is hard to change people’s beliefs is because our pre-existing beliefs are like anchors that pull us down harder, with time. They become like explanations. When we are presented with a problem we connect it and try to make sense of it by relating it to our pre-existing beliefs. Psychological terms like the confirmation bias is one such example. This means that once you believe something any other new facts will be filtered while that belief is kept in mind. Therefore at the end there is a clear path of what they believe. For example, if a person believes that every person with long fingers are artistically inclined, everytime they see someone both artistically inclined and with long fingers they will register that and remember it as “evidence.” However, when they encounter someone that doesn’t fit in their belief they will disregard the same and call it an exception, even if the exceptions are in majority. Another relevant term while talking about this is cognitive dissonance. This means that there are contradictory ideas or theories but a person tends to side with the one they prefer. For example, most of the smokers know that smoking can cause cancer and it is bad for health. They know this from the day they start smoking till the day they stop. However, it takes more than knowing that it is wrong. They may believe that this may not affect them. 

An alternate explanation for the Mukesh Khanna case could be the backlash effect. When his mind was presented with a problem there was a paradoxical effect on him and his pre-existing beliefs grew stronger. People love to be right and in some scenarios they create a situation where they are right. Even if at times they are proved wrong, their belief that they are wrong takes much more time to fade away. To make a person believe something different then what they have been thinking for a long time is like unlocking a series of locks until you reach the start of the belief. Before penalising someone for their belief we have to try to understand where they are coming from and try to relate to them. For Mukesh Khanna, the world he grew up and lived in is very different from the world we currently live in.

From the #blacklivesmatter movement to so many others, we see reforms and pleas for change. Even though we couldn’t agree with it more, we have had the privilege of holding these opinions for as long as we have lived. Additionally, most of the people around us share the same beliefs or let us have our own in the case that they do not. We need to see the sides of those who aren’t given the same liberty. In households where the children have been constantly told otherwise, it might take longer, but in the influence of friends, and being children, they can change their opinion far quicker and more easily. The real problem that needs to be recognized is that of people such as Mukesh Khanna, who have lived long enough, without recognizing the problem for their ideas to manifest and marinate to a point where there’s no going back. There are so many such people, who may be stunting social justice and development with such an opinion, but is it fair to blame them? We all expect change to manifest itself overnight, but the harsh truth is that it might happen in a year, decade or even centuries. 

We need to continue fighting and presenting facts to influence their mind in another way. Instead of trying to change the opinions of those who have allowed the marination, we must work on the younger generation. They have more open mindsets regardless of the beliefs of those around them. Instead of trying so hard to change opinion, and penalizing those who can’t, we must first empathize with the other side, and reform what is in our hands before working on others. If the majority of the younger generation shares the same modern ideas, very soon, we will have a population that will all be on the same page and hopefully work together to slowly but steadily work on the world’s ideas and development. At the same time, however, it is of utmost importance to respect the views of those who do not agree with you. It takes more patience to do this. To change fixed mindsets takes persuasion, which comes only by recognizing their situation and where they are coming from. This is like a disease, it spreads but with one cure, although people might have succumbed it shows that there’s hope and will help so many. If we directly give up on those, or don’t treat those who we aren’t fond of, this will further increase the spread. Therefore, let us eradicate this so-called “disease” using the treatment that we’d want ourselves.

Conclusively, though it is never an option to halt change and though we collectively believe that these people aren’t in the right, we also believe that it isn’t completely fair to blame them for something that has been imposed on them from a young age. After all, they’ve learned and taken these beliefs from us, just as everyone has adopted something from others. It is also necessary to change this and not accept it but we also cannot expect it to happen over the duration of a night, fortnight or even years. It will take patience, but so does every other obstacle people have faced. We have achieved so much as a world in so many moral fields and although we haven’t reached the destination yet, we must look at the past, not only the successes but the failures, and how there were successes that came out of that as well.

We can’t get everything we want, and expect instant gratification, change takes time, there will be challenges, cries, and  fights, but in the end this is life, we can’t expect anything easier.

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