Friday, August 6, 2010

The mad rush for respect

‘Respect’ is a beautiful word. It means a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity. Respect is something that has to emanate from the heart. In India respect is demanded, quarreled over, fought about and enveloped in falsehood.

Statues, garlands and posters top the list of means to show ones respect. Every other day it’s the birthday of some leader – freedom fighter, or political leader or a literary genius. We would have politicians thronging the places where their statues are kept. Huge garlands would be put around the statue and there would be big news coverage. Party followers would be shouting slogans in favor the person garlanding. I don’t think statues are given this much hype in any other part of the world. If you really respect the person do something to spread his ideology, start some program to create some awareness about him.

Even Raja Raja Chozhan would not have had so many ‘respectful’ terms behind his name. The posters we see struck everywhere in the city carry so many honorary titles for our ministers. The lower ranked members of the party try to get themselves in the good books of the ministers and in turn a seat in the Assembly by uttering these titles at every possible opportunity and adding a few if possible.

We have the culture of the ministers falling at other minister’s feet. Ask them to give one reason why they are doing it and they would reply that he is a great man. Are we living in a democracy or not? They are just elected members of the community. Why make Gods out of them?

Even doctorate degrees have fallen prey to this game of giving respect. Universities try to get funds and popularity by giving honorary doctorate titles to the most underserved of the lot.

Actors are no exception. In Tamil film industry, an actor who has completed three movies expects a ‘sir’ after his name whenever somebody refers to him. In the Western world actors are treated just as actors and referred to by their first name. I have not seen any actress being referred to as ‘madam’ here. These actors are also crazy after titles. I think we have contenders for almost all the titles in an infantry in our Tamil film industry.

Respect problems start from the family. There are parts of Tamilnadu where the way the banana leaf is folded after a meal indicates respect or the lack of it.
There are families where a marriage invitation carries a thousand names on the ‘With Best Compliments’ list and family feuds result when some name of an nth relative gets missed out. Of all things on earth coffee can be told to cause lack of respect. So often we hear ‘The girl’s side did not even offer proper coffee. They had no respect for the guy’s side.’

In this mad rush for respect so many people who actually deserve respect are forgotten. But they neither ask for it or feel having been denied it. Aged people deserve respect. They are called as ‘perusu’(literally translates to big). People in buses don’t offer them seats. Their age is not given any importance in government offices where they go for something or the other and are still made to undergo torturous hours of waiting and begging. People who do social service without any political motives need respect. The labourers who toil day and night to provide us with all our luxuries need respect. Recently in Singapore in one of the papers I saw that the Govt inspected public toilets and gave away awards to the workers for the best kept public rest rooms.

I feel that we need to respect every individual who ignores society’s ways and gives respect to the deserved in a deserving manner.

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