Thursday, April 5, 2012

Games they play...

I find it quite hilarious when newspapers publish stories about day long or month long endeavors by B-school students into understanding any grassroots problem. The thought being perpetrated is that these guys are making immense sacrifices in their lives to do something great. Sure, they might have great intentions, but:

1. Do they deserve to be recognized solely because they left something prestigious and are now roughing it out temporarily?
2. Are they even doing anything worth talking about? It is their journey of discovery. Let them be. Please don't add complications to that!
3. Why not look at the Anil Sadgopals (http://www.livemint.com/2009/08/13204730/Freedom-to-study--Anil-Sadgop.html), and the Arvind Guptas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arvind_Gupta) of the world and talk more about them?

Why the heck does someone have to be an IIM passout for his efforts to be recognized? It is understandable that the news about the cause needs to be spread and that by publishing such articles a spark could be ignited somewhere in the minds of people that "if them then why not us?". But then, it is about efficiency, and is it really most efficient to try to motivate people who are more or less sold on capitalism in its current flavor and are in fact competing to be in the most rewarding of such institutions? Should not the focus be elsewhere? Is showing a 'sacrifice' the only way to motivate people? And will you motivate anyone but some other B-school students by publishing such reports? Or is it just a case of the institute itself trying to project an image and the newspaper/media house also trying to carry a balance of views and news and hence they have to publish such news irrespective of its merit?

Cases in point:
1) The effort by two individuals to live on Rs. 100 a day (http://rs100aday.com/). Did this really achieve anything? I am seeing consistent and persistent tom-toming of their efforts everywhere, from social networking platforms to newspapers to news channels? What is happening here? Is some ulterior motive being pursued? They are being touted as the people who have brought the issue of the absurdity of living on Rs 32 a day in urban areas into sharp relief. Just read their blog and judge for yourself, the claims that these people have made. Even the usually through Harsh Mander seems to have become a fan (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Harsh_Mander/article2882340.ece)
Edit: Note: No disrespect for these 2 individuals, in fact one of them is an old acquaintance, and a brilliant singer too. But the cause needs critique!
2) Living on Rs. 20 for a day.... yes, for A DAY! (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-07-17/bangalore/29783909_1_iim-b-students-slum-dwellers-bananas) - Need I say more??!!

Instead, I would be much more impressed if the media brought out detailed reports on people/students (from the elite institutions, considering that the media HAVE GOT to focus in these people) who have continued their short struggle and are trying to convert that it into something more sustained. And to make this report complete it is crucial that a balanced counter-view by someone experienced in that domain be published alongwith. This conversion rate and analysis of the work being done would serve the cause better.

All this makes me have immense respect for the tens of thousands of people fighting it out everyday and not yearning for attention for themselves, but for their cause, trying to make India a better place while we sit & relax in the cities and enjoy what we call well-earned comforts, which I believe to be largely ill-earned ones.