Opinion: Activism or unnecessary hype?

Sanjana Iyer is a sophomore fashion merchandising major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.  Contact her at [email protected]

Sanjana Iyer

As an international student, I feel it is important to point out that much of what is published about other nations is the exaggerated work of the media. In matters of religion, culture and social matters, what reaches us is often a drastically modified version of the truth.

For instance, I have come across a few people who have preconceived opinions about the caste system in India. The media has led them to believe that India is still dominated by the Hindu caste system, where the upper castes are given unfair and unnecessary privileges.

As a citizen of India who has lived there for a majority of her life, I can’t exactly deny that the caste system isn’t in operation — it definitely still exists but not in the same state and form as it did when it first originated or even when the British colonized us.

Right now, the state of the caste system is completely different, in the sense that caste has nothing to do with religion anymore, despite the fact that it found its origins in Hinduism.

Since 1950, the Indian government implemented numerous laws and took measures to eradicate the negative effects of the caste system. It recognizes the discrimination that took place in previous centuries and has taken initiative to improve the socio-economic conditions of the lower castes.

For example, the education system in India has a marked quota for lower castes, ensuring that they get a fair chance to earn an education and employment.

While the country is still recovering from this caste hierarchy, it is sheer ignorance to claim that the caste system exists is in its full-fledged form as it did many decades ago.

 This is just one among many examples to highlight the remarkable ignorance that currently exists within the masses when it comes to the social status of other nations. It is completely justifiable that acquiring complete and in-depth knowledge about the state of affairs in another nation is impossible.

However, it is also unnecessary for self-proclaimed “activists” to create hype around an issue that doesn’t really exist to begin with. When this turns into an issue of cultural or religious relevance, it can create controversies that could have been avoided altogether.

 It doesn’t hurt to get your facts together before making your opinion public and spreading it among social networking websites.

What we need more than anything right now is to act as a world community and promote goodwill rather than start picking out flaws that once existed in every country. The path forward will cease to exist if our minds continue to dwell on preconceived notions toward different cultures.

Contact Sanjana Iyer at [email protected].