Social justice meets Bollywood

I have been following a new blog by  Deeply Shredded and one of his recent posts recommended watching “AArakshan” a Bollywood film.

It has been a long while since I have watched a full length Bollywood film. This was a long one, so it took me 2 days to watch it in 20 min increments, around my work. I had totally forgotten how much like our American made Musicals they are. The musical moments in this film reminded me of the over-the-top numbers of the likes of “Moulin Rouge” or “Chicago”. Very entertaining, though I was aware very quickly that this movie was about far more than entertainment.

It was intended to bring to light social inequalities and it is unclear to me if the events that had occurred in the movie were based on actual historical events or if it was more of a docu-drama more loosely based in reality. Regardless, it does delve into real concerns over the sorely outdated caste system and the plague that it causes on vast populations within India. More specifically it looks at how the lower casts have had to struggle for even the right to basic education.

Their terminology used for a law was Reservation, as in we are reserving these spaces for the lower casts. It directly reminded me of our own Affirmative Action here in the United States and also the Desegregation of schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and resulting busing in the 1970’s.

Though my life is not that of a lower cast Indian, I found I could relate on some level. I grew up with a father that could not stand Affirmative Action, because it did nothing for him. He was angry that our family had come to America as indentured servants, yet were not afforded any ‘compensation’ as the blacks were. As a child I could remember him ranting about Affirmative Action and how it was keeping him from getting jobs. Yet he could not see that the major difference for him was that he was a grown white male with a college degree in engineering and a European name. I never understood why he felt that way. I could see that he looked like everyone else he worked with, literally every office he ever worked in was old white men with the random black person or woman.  I could see that regardless of whether Affirmative Action was in place, my father was never in jeopardy of having a job unless it was by his own mis-step or mis-fortune. Essentially, my father had the rights and privileges that those of black skin or female gender did not. (He was equivalent to the upper cast in India, and Blacks/Women the lower cast.)

This movie was making the same point. The upper casts by birth were showered with rights, privileges and resources that lowers casts simply didn’t even have access to. The turning point was when the Principle pointed out that the rich boy with low scores could hardly be compared to the poor child with the same scores, for the rich child had all of the resources needed to learn properly and succeed. If the child with all of the resources was still failing it was simply a reflection of their ability or desire to do well, and that should not allow them to take precedent over the child that managed just as well with nothing and no support.

I really understood when the Principle initially refused to agree with the Reservation law. I understood that he had wished for there to be simple equality where a person’s results were balanced against their resources and assistance. That he wish for no more than for the cast system to be acknowledged as obsolete by everyone, and that both sides could see the other. {BTW I totally agree, I wish all of society functioned that way. I too wish that we could stop labeling and putting factions of our world population down for just their mere existence.}

Alas, as is often the case in this world, the greedy were the privileged. They were the ones with access to the controlling mechanisms and all of the resources, and the idea of others encroaching on that made them react in fear of loss. They simply can’t bear to share anything. The ‘mastermind’ of the movie was intelligent and well connected, and made all of the right moves to make sure everyone was afraid of him. He took the Principle out and took his home and pushed him down as far as he possibly could.

In the end the Principle rebuilt on his own, teaching for free. He was still successful earning the trust of thousands of families. When everything came to a head and the greedy parties threatened to do physical harm and destroy what was rebuilt, a high government official stepped in. She stopped the battle before it was started and gave the principle a new remedial school to continue to run for the free education of the poor casts. He was rewarded as the hero of education.

I must say that I have several thoughts on this matter:

  1. Intelligence is not the only thing you need to earn the respect of a community at large. Intelligence must be accompanied by heart and wisdom. That is why the Principle was the hero, and why the greedy parties were only able to strike fear in the people. The same with money: money is only good if accompanied by heart and wisdom. I am reminded of our own Rockefeller Family especially SR vs JR and the mindset difference between them. Today we can still see this dichotomy play out with examples like Trump vs. Oprah/Paul Newman/Branson/Warren Buffet (the billionaires club being invaluable to good deeds these days).
  2. All humans do deserve an education. That is a basic right, and I am glad that the Principle was able to win the war. Since those rich people wish to separate themselves so badly, let them have their private paid schools and continue to coast through life, while the rest of us do the real work to ensure humanity continues to thrive.
  3. I too wish that this world could finally move past outdated useless ideas and find the ideal of equality. These battles have been raging for centuries and they have yet to solve anything for anyone. I genuinely wish that my generation and those younger than me, can come together for once and for all, and put an end to all of this bullshit. We all have hearts and lungs and flowing blood. We all need to eat and drink, and we should all be able to live in this world with less fear induced by others of our own species.  There is no reason to perpetuate this fucked up idea that any one group is better than or lesser than another. Treat each other as the humans we are. Be Kind damnit!
  4. Finally, you reap what you sow. If you are deceptive, deceitful, greedy and hateful, you are likely to get put in your place by the end of your life. If you genuinely strive to do better, be a better person, and do good in this world, eventually you will find reward of one kind or another. Nathan and I like to refer to that as Universal Law or God Law. Humans can attempt to make rules, laws, regulations to dictate what is good and what is bad, but we are merely attempting to put words and labels on something you just know when you see it. Lets all aim for the positive side of the scale. Be Kind, Be Good, Be Caring, Be Helpful.
    • Be the Change You Wish To See in the World! ~Ghandi

Thank you for reading my rants and rambles. May you all find your light in this world and feel safe and respected. May you all have your basic rights honored and find a way to a prosperous life.

As Above, So Below, So Mote it Be.

Dhanyavadam. Siva Hir Su.

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