Tag Archives: socially responsible business

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 Regardless, it does delve into real concerns over the sorely outdated caste system and the plague that it causes on vast populations within India.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.

Mad Skillz….

For Installment 4 I’ve been thinking about all of the skills that I and Nathan have that have been collecting dust in the attic of our minds because life has taken priority for many years. Atira is intended to solve that for us and many others; at least as one of the many facets that the full idea of Atira encompasses. There will be yet more installments to discuss other facets.

For instance, Nathan and I had both learned paper-making, and had incorporated our papers into our artwork. I had grand ideals of always using my own paper for my images. Needless to say only a few have actually accomplished that. The Featured Image is currently on display as a portrait of Nathan for a showing of his Photography at a multipurpose facility in Gladstone, MO. It was done on my handmade heavyweight cold-press cotton linters paper. The drawing itself was a combination of charcoal, Conté, and ink pen. It has always been my favorite piece because I literally made every ounce of it, not to mention it being a representation of My Love. I think that is what I feel is different about  my work.

I always intend to put my love into anything I do. Sometimes I have a bad day, and fail at accomplishing that, but at least I try. I want people to know that I care, that I’m there because I want to help, because I want to make their lives and the world in general a better place. The hardest part for me is never knowing for certain if I ever accomplish it in a meaningful manner for those I work with.

Anyway, tangent aside, I had wanted for Atira to have the tools and equipment in an arts, metals, and paper studio for Nathan and I to fully utilize our skills. I had wanted a facility that rivals some of the smaller post-secondary schools, with everything represented in small scale: print-making equipment, photography (dark-room), paper-making equipment and water supply treated for impurities and pH balance, painting studio, and even jewelry making and ceramics studio space.

This would definitely enable all of our artistic skills. However, 2 people can only spend so much time creating and it would definitely be over kill if it was only for us.

So behind DOOR #2: rent the studio space by the hour, day, week, or month. Essentially tabulating discounts for extended rentals (i.e. the more time you rent the cheaper per unit it becomes), and creating a scheduling system so that each part of the studio space would be comfortably booked. For instance, ceramists tend to only want their pieces in the kiln during a fire, but have no problem sharing table space for working wet. So there would have to be different schedules for each portion of the studio to maximize rental sharing. Thus, we could literally have a dozen or more artists on site each day.

I’ve always dreamt of being able to just pay for the set-up up front, and have everything set for use at the lowest dollar feasible. Artists aren’t known for making big salaries, and obviously this is a bain to many and artists’ existence- pay for food and living expenses, or pay for art supplies and equipment. I know from experience. That is why it has fallen to the way-side for Nathan and I both.

I would love to be able to fix that for us and many many other artists. Help artists actually earn a living doing their chosen work.

Beyond that I would love to bring in some of our mentors from college to teach others what we learned a decade ago. Of course at this point many of my professors have already retired having been close to retirement when I was at the University of Iowa. Yet, I think it might still be possible. I would love to offer through the rehabilitation program the ability to learn how to be a master printer or a master paper-maker. Even better if I could give others the tools to be a jeweler or a metal-smith, which is a quite lucrative field if you can get full instruction and maintain access to proper equipment and foundry. Something I never fully manifested.

I want to give others the peace of mind that they can support themselves, and perhaps a future family, doing something that creates beauty in the world- that they can in turn find joy in. I want to create both sustainable living and sustainable happiness for others that have had a rough road in their lives. I want to be their angel bringing joy, happiness, and the ability to maintain it indefinitely.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.