Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pariah - The Real Issue

Most Non-Indians do not and cannot understand the sensitivities with the word Pariah within the Indian communities. At least not the way our brother and sister Indians do.

This is because the real issue with what is Pariah and what is not is an internal Indian problem. In fact, in the Indian community the issue is not just ‘what’ a pariah is, but more so ‘who’ is a pariah.

Let me explain.

While Non-Indians may use the word in a spate of anger, by calling someone a Pariah, the term has a larger and deeper import when used by Indians.

My late father for example will shout ‘Hindu Pariah’ when he is angry at an Indian cutting in into his lane while driving regardless if he is a Brahmin or a Pariah – it cuts across the community - Chinese and Malays too are not spared. But that was about it. It does not go any further than that spate of anger. In fact my late father will call anyone pariah even Muslim religious leaders as long as they screwed up or angered him.

The term Pariah is basically thrown to anyone who does not meet expectations. In fact the term pariah can also be used to a country; a pariah state -a country whose activities is out of line with international norms.

But within the Indian community, Pariah has deeper undertones and meaning. It means that you are by natural order has no right to marry my children, dirty, outcast by birth. In fact till today you will find non-Pariahs who will not even eat anything that is cooked or served in utensils used by a pariah.

It is not uncommon when a non-Pariah and Pariah were to fall in love, their goal to be together will be a fight till the end. They may lose their family ties, outcast and left all alone to fend for themselves.

It is within this context that we need to understand the current issues with regards to Interlok. I highly suggest you read Dr Chandra’s recommendation here and here.

We need to allow our Indian brothers and sisters time to solve this ‘internal’ issues. We must not use the word Pariah within the context of the Indian community. The real issue is not so much about Indians and non-Indians but more so an intra-Indian concern.

I find it sad that this issue has slipped into a race issue again – where a certain segment of Malaysians even good intentioned educated ones see it fit to pit the problem as though it is a fight between a Malay bureaucracy and the Indian community.

I suggest my Indian brothers and sisters to look within, while the rest of us non-Indians must practice empathy.

My Indian brothers and sisters, kindly note that if a non-Indian girl were to bring home a boy from the Pariah caste – the initial resistance by the parents is because he is an Indian – not a Pariah.

Until we are true to ourselves, we cannot be true to others. Gandhi tried to solve this Indian issue, we should follow suit.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti .


Anonymous said...

I think it got to do with caste system, i read somewhere that the system was banned but reality it is still practise in India. The'untouchable' still untouchable, in fact ,also read that to get out of the stigma, they convert to christianity or islam.I agree, 30 years ago the word'pariah' is more expression of anger rather than demeaning a person, those days ppl not so sensitive about it. Nowadays, mindset has changed, everything can be politicised, ppl are more uptight abt race and remark, they all talk abt defending rights and territory.PPl are so caught up with their own sensitivity that they are not aware of other ppl sensitivity.I always argue that policies of a nation can effect human behaviour, look how singaporean behave, how north korean and south korean behave, how present chinese behave compared to Chairman Mao 's era.ponder abt it!

Anonymous said...

It was many years later after novel huckleberry finn was published ,the blacks came to realise and got upset about the word 'nigger' was referring to them, they find it derogatory.How ironical the perception can change from benign to offensive with time?

Anonymous said...

I would like to draw similarities between the word pariahs and thugs, both words originally derived from the Indian language & now widely used in the English language. The early colonial masters of India, the British found that there was a large population of lower caste of Indians, the Thugis whose Modus Operandi was robbery & murder. The British in the effort to decrease the population of Thugis and to bring law & order to the continent adopted a policy of seperation within males & females within the caste. The word 'thugs' was eventually adopted to describe all people of similiar criminal habits. Although the Thugis still exist as a caste today, I do not believe that the caste itself is largely made up of criminals. If given a chance to be financially rewarded through hard work and diligence instead of crime, people will change & adopt the latter. It is only thru the the stigmatisation and lack of resources that exist in certain societies even today, that people will be driven by desperation & thus crime. Regards, Mikey

patungcendana said...

:-) have a great year.

Uthaya Sankar SB said...

Yes, "empathy" was also what I stressed upon during "Taklimat Khas Kavyan Mengenai Interlok Edisi Murid" on 16 January 2011 in Shah Alam. For the non-Indians to feel "empathy" (not "sympathy") in this whole issue. But of course, not many people understand what "empathy" is ...