Spreading Prejudice

GS PAPER-4, Contributions of Moral Thinkers, Public/Civil Service Values and Ethics in Public Administration: Status and Problems

Source- The Hindu, Pib Indian Express

Introduction-

  • The highest-grossing Bollywood movie in recent years has not been somatic storyline cinema nor a comedy-based script. But it has been ‘Dangal’, the story about girl wrestlers Geeta and Babita. The movie touches on a very familiar but yet very deep issue of prejudice against girls in wrestling and challenges the girls face due to their wrestling training.
  • Even though the girls train in an era of TV, newspaper and radio, still their journey is no more than a vertical uphill on a mountain. So we noticed how hard it is, even today in the age of the internet and information (to fight preconceived notions and prejudices in our society).
  • Prejudice can be defined as a preconceived notion or attitude one has towards someone or something, even though the person may not themselves have seen/experienced the event or person in question. One may believe that in this age of information and internet, people may have developed a deep rational thinking based on facts & trends but the reality is far from it. Even many educated people show heavy prejudices. A survey of fortune 500 companies in 2017 found that employees are 73% more inclined to take a male graduate of similar skill set than a female graduate. Many such companies worked in high end fields such as space, IT or electronics. 
  • Similarly, prejudices based on skin colour are also not uncommon even in advanced and developed countries. The recent attack in the U.S. by a police officer who killed George Floyd is a spine chilling reminder that Xenophobia & racism still runs deep in our society. Insensitivity towards LGBTQ community is also a very common occurence. The recent example being when people refused to board the train on Cochin metro when they found out it was driven by a transgender women.

Smashing the prejudices in the Era of Atoms

  • Since prejudices are something that are created by humans, it is something that needs to be eradicated by human actions.
  • Education can play an active role in minimizing if not completely eradicating prejudices. Education system in NORDIC countries teaches children about ‘Gender studies’.
  • TV shows, radio & newspaper also can help bring huge change. TV shows ‘Satyamev Jayate’ generated widespread social debate on various issues. The Internet and social media has become a tool to reach the last mile. Many civil societies and NGOs are using it to educate masses in general and women in particular. SABLA NGO in Assam has used the internet to teach women about menstruation & HIV AIDS. 
  • Government intervention and policy-making also remain an important avenue to bring active change. INSPIRE scholarship by the government has led to girls actively taking up STEM fields, which has led to many girls topping their class and breaking the age-old prejudice of girls not fit for STEM.
  • Finally, breaking prejudice can only ensure that we are able to achieve inclusive and sustainable development in this era of atoms and sciences. As Margret Thatcher once said, “It is not our physical incapacity that limits us, rather it is the shackles we have in our minds”. It is the time we smash those shackles (prejudice) and let our society develop to the fullest in the era of atoms.