Looking Away

Looking Away❮EPUB❯ ✹ Looking Away Author Harsh Mander – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk This feeble blemished light this dawn mangled by night this is not the morning we had all so longed for Faiz Ahmed FaizIn the two decades since the early 1990s when India confirmed its allegiance to t This feeble blemished light this dawn mangled by night this is not the morning we had all so longed for Faiz Ahmed FaizIn the two decades since the early s when India confirmed its allegiance to the Free Market of its citizens have become marginalized than ever before and society has become sharply riven than everIn 'Looking Away' Harsh Mander ranges wide to record and analyse the many different fault lines which crisscross Indian society todayThere is increasing prosperity among the middle classes but also a corresponding intolerance for the less fortunate Poverty and homelessness are also on the rise both in urban and rural settings but not only has the state abandoned its responsibility to provide for those afflicted the middle class too now avoids even the basic impulses of sharing And with the sharp Rightward turn in politics minority communities are under serious threat their very status as citizens in uestion as a belligerent monolithic idea of the nation takes the place of an inclusive tolerant oneHowever as Harsh Mander points out what most stains society today is the erosion in the imperative for sympathy both at the state and individual levels a crumbling that is principally at the base of the vast ineuities which afflict India Exhaustive in its scope impassioned in its arguments and rigorous in its scholarship 'Looking Away' is a sobering checklist of all the things we must collectively get right if India is to become the country that was promised in eual measure to all its citizens. One of the great experts on ineuality It is so trivialising to me when I stumble upon a remarkable book through random library expeditions but find is largely unknown among Goodreads community It is not a book that should be read but must be read He has done to ineuality in India what P Sainath did to farmer's suicide One of the reasons I picked up Harsh Mander’s book “Looking Away” is that I did not resonate with the author’s ideology when I heard his lecture It was difficult for me to believe that someone can operate from a space where he believes that giving and not necessarily enabling is a way to help the underprivileged For the longest time I wasn’t able to come to terms with how I felt after the lecture because it made me challenge my own beliefs that I felt strongly about In my book review I will share a summary of each of the sections and then share how the book shaped new beliefs and reinstated some of the existing beliefsThe book is divided into three sections—the first section talks about the indifference towards the less privileged the second section about the prejudice towards the minorities and the third about compassion as a way to overcome both indifference and prejudice The author starts the book by highlighting the ineuality that exists in India and elucidates with facts Some of the facts that really had me thinking was that India is home to the 5th highest number of billionaires 3rd highest middle class population and paradoxically highest number of poor The author then talks about the indifference towards the less privileged— what he defines as the migrants poor tribals—by the privileged—what he defines as “middle class” He gives anecdotal examples to show that it’s normal for us to look past the slums it’s normal for us to disrespect the maids in the house and it’s normal for us to believe that the reality for the poor is different from ours the middle class in that the dreams hopes of the poor is different from oursThe second part of the book talks about the prejudice that exists in India against minorities including Muslims The author politicises the argument and openly talks about his strong hate towards the current government The author shares that government’s model of economic development isn’t inclusive that the policies implemented by the government are not for the ones who need it the most While this section of the book was interesting I found the entire argument or reasoning extremely political and therefore it was difficult for me to connect with author’s way of thinking The last section of the book suggests a humanistic approach to overcome ineuality which is reflected by our indifferent and prejudiced actions In this section the author compels us to think that one of the strongest ways to overcome ineuality is to empathise He gives an example to define empathy beautifully—empathy starts with the heart—feeling the way others are feeling goes on to the speech—speaking up against injustice—and ends with the hand—by taking action against what’s wrong or what needs to change He goes on to say that to empathise you must imagine—imagine if you can the suffering of others and only then take actionThese three sections combined helped me challenge my existing opinions develop some new and reinstated some of the existing beliefsBefore I read the book I strongly felt that I am where I am today because of the hard work and commitment towards my career and my family I felt so strongly that I took pride in having overcome some of the challenges in my personal life Also it’s because of this struggle that I upheld perseverance as a strong value and didn’t respect anyone who may not operate from the value Therefore I had believed that poor are poor because they are lazy and lack perseverance to achieve their dreamsAfter reading the book I realised that it’s not necessarily the capabilities but the opportunities that determine the future of an individual I am compelled to think what if I were born in a family that did not consider girl education important or where I had no access to basic health or education What if I were born in a slum ? Would have I still been able to achieve all that I have today if I had less opportunities than I do now? I probably know the answer but do not want to fully accept it Accepting the answer also makes me realise how privileged I am Being surrounded by like minded people I had come to imagine that the reality that exists for us is the only reality With that understanding I had completely overlooked that reality that exists for the less privileged—what they struggle with everyday such as basic livelihood education and health is what I had taken for granted Now I am willing to accept that opportunities plays a pivotal role in determining the future of an individualIn continuation with the first belief I was also against affirmative action because I believed that meritocracy can help you get where you want so you don’t necessarily need reservation I now believe that it is not fair to compare the merit of a student who has been born into a family with all privileges such as access to health education and freedom ofchoice to that of a student who was raised in a family where even the basic necessities were not met It’s almost like comparing the capabilities of girl child of a Dalit born in one of the backward districts of UP to a male child born into a family of doctors in Delhi The girl child in this example did not get enough nutrition while growing up which affected her learning outcome; she probably had to walk around 5kms to the school where the teachers didn’t show up most of the days; the girl already expects that she will get married before she turns 18 Given that the opportunities are not the same how can we expect the outcome to be the same Therefore I have changed my perspective to believe that it is important to have euity till we reach eualityThe third and the last shift was reinstating my existing belief that the change must start with the individual My original idea of development aimed at developing a conscious individual and its interconnectedness to other players in the system including the government business markets and the environment I believe that a responsible individual can make the state responsible by practising his rights the business responsible by asking for environment friendly products or processes and the markets by demanding work that meet hisher higher goal Harsh Mander reinstates my belief by stating that the current government acts the way it does because the individuals of the society have accepted it to be so He further suggests that a government that cares can exist only in a society that cares We can imagine a better society only when the ones who are privileged start speaking up or taking action towards the betterment of those who aren’t There is enough scope to find faults with occasionally shoddy editing and the surfeit of statistics But what shines throughout the 400 page tome is the noble vision and the compassionate underpinnings of the writing Harsh Mander writes on almost all social issues affecting India under the sun from prejudice against minorities to the plight of the homeless in New Delhi from domestic workers to farmer suicides He makes a strong case for social solidarity and believes sincerely that a caring and just state is meaningless if it is not set in a caring and just societyFree market advocates have lots to disagree with the solutions given by the author but even they will be forced to accept that this is the work of noble intentions by a gentleman who walks the talk Just remove the anti modi bias this diluted the impact of the book and this is the book I wanted to write This will change the way you look at the poverty and our response to poverty Beyond its panoramic scan of the key social and economic issues confronting India Harsh Mander's un academic yet evidence rich writing reminds us that compassion and dignity are as critical as justice and liberty in addressing them His first hand experience in tribal communities amidst communal carnage and in the worlds of the bureaucracy policy makers and civil society give this book immediacy authenticity and humanity Harsh has probably done the one word that I found scarce in narratives in political discussions around India Its called justice The brilliance of this book is it hits you when he narrates the real life drama I could barely keep it away His casting of middle class as selfish for their own needs is correct The book is replete with facts and figures It has had a profound impact on me Grab a copy of it and just read it I can't say than this Looking Away is undoubtedly one of the most stirring books I’ve ever encountered Every page was wrought with incidents and analysis of the same which managed to jolt my conscience as a reader and a spectator Harsh Mander has managed to pen down a book which is not only simplistic enough for anyone to comprehend but oozes a call for action via compassion He manages to urge his readers into waking up from their slumbers of apathy and to respond to the distress of the underprivileged instead of merely looking away He is a man who is not afraid of the State or the empowered As it is stated in one of the accounts “If you are doing the right thing how can you be afraid ?”The book is not only full of incidents recounting the utmost cruelties that can be inflicted by a human being but also the capacity of the goodness that resides in a person We are capable of invoking either; it is wholly up to us to choose regardless of the society which ends up shaping us I would recommend this book to everyone out there God knows we need a bit of goodness in this climate of hatred PS Anyone countering the book saying that it’s anti Modi propaganda well if that’s your sole takeaway from this then it’s a real pity After reading this book every time you look away you will realize you are looking away Read this book to know how indifferent we are all It is a must read for every Indian It is divided into 3 parts Many exiles of India's poor The legitimization of prejudice The imperative for Public compassion In many exiles of India's poor the author describes how we take poverty for granted There is a paragraph India's poor face many exiles They are exiled from the consciences of people of privilege and wealth They are exiled from media They are exiled from priorities of public spending and government They are exiled from debates in Parliament and offices They are exiled from institutions that could offer some basic security through education healthcare and social security And they are exiled from the hope that their children or grandchildren will one day escape this life of breaking toil and self humiliation and this last is the most profound of their exiles I think this sums it upIn legitimization of prejudice he talks about the prejudice against Muslims Christians and about casteIn the imperative for Public compassion he talks about what can be should be done and from whom we can take inspiration to answer those socio economic ineualitiesThis book is an eye opener for me It made me ask myself why we ignore beggars destitute though they are the ones who need us most It made me ask why a small boy of four when asked to touch feet of elders knows he shouldn't touch feet of domestic help It opened a new perspective for me while mooting about caste reservations It gave me a new way to look at when I am presented with some Muslim brother accused as a terrorist It made me feel that even though it takes some time finally justice will triumph Through this book I came to know why we mustn't ignore poor if we see them on trains pavements etc It made me look at Modi's government from a different angleLeaving that part of Modi this book is an excellent one and I would recommend this for every Indian