“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”-a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt,but how does it stands true.Let us see-
As a sixteen year old kid, Rohan, was beginning to understand and question the nuances of the society. He began to wonder, why his parents forbid him to wash utensils or do household chores or for that matter to dispose of rubbish. He was told that these works are not meant for him and are inferior in nature.
What does this ‘inferiority’ really means? Is it in the eyes of the experience-r in the form of lack of dignity or in the eyes of experience-e, in the form of lack of self-worth? Why those who fail in their actions are considered inferior to the one who succeed? Why do people feel inferior while doing certain things? Is this a universal phenomenon? The questions to his adolescent mind were many, which required answers.
Such dilemmas are faced not only by those who are beginning to understand the world around them but also those who can boast of considerable experience. But, why is this so? The answer to this question is not easy. There are basically two dimensions to it. People may feel inferior when they lack such traits or values like: Money, Power, Recognition, Knowledge, Stature etc., that they hold very highly or when they are made to realize the inferiority of their work by the members of society.
While the inferiority born out of the first case can be resolved by either acquiring the valued traits or by disregarding them and be contended with the one’s the person may possess. While one requires hard-work and dedication, the other requires the feeling of satisfaction and self-worth. The world is full of examples of both the cases. While on one hand we have a “buffoon” who, after being taunted by his wife, went on to become the greatest poet India has ever produced- Kalidasa. On the other hand, we have the example of Karl Marx who discredited wealth as a form of social recognition and brought about a revolution based on the equal status of the mankind.
In the second case of those inflicted the inferiority tag by the society are not so fortunate as their battle is not just limited to themselves but extends to the social system around them. The manifestation of the same can be seen from Vedic times when the society was being divided on the basis of one’s occupation, which crystalline itself on the one based on birth. While those who performed so-called ‘menial’ work were accorded lowest strata in the caste hierarchy than those who were perceived to perform ‘superior’ functions. Such individuals even after gaining self recognition are unable to dispose the tag of inferiority from them.
Every action has a reaction. While, some like Osama bin Laden required a 9/11 attack to respond to the ridicule he faced in the US earlier in his life, or in the form of those who burned Paris in the WW II to take vengeance of the humiliation of Treaty of Versailles. Such actions do not bring the desired solution as fear and violence cannot win one respect and recognition but may further alienate those who feel depressed.
A positive response, therefore is required to treat this pathogenic demon. The solution may be found in following the lives of great leaders who faced the inferior tag of who they were. Gandhi (Indian), Ambedkar (Dalit), Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King (Black). All these individuals in their own way fought against their respective discriminations by fighting against it peacefully to bring about the change in the society’s perspective. Such a change was concrete and long lasting.
When people are made to realize the inferiority of their work by the members of the society ,the external factor is of utmost important in increasing the efficiency of the lower level government employees as they are the implementers of the government initiatives. The recent initiatives taken by government such as: Re-naming of the sanitation workers from “Safai Karmacharis” to “Swatchta Karmcharis” is an important step. This will help in re-aligning their work function as that of “Preventive ” health care workers and induce dignity of labour to them.
Similarly, to cater to the energy of nearly 2 percent of disabled population of the country, various government initiatives like renaming of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities as Divyangjan Sashaktikaran Vibhag” so as to bring about attitudinal change in the perspective of society towards the specially abled. The 3 percent reservations in the central government jobs, incentives to private sector companies who employ 5 % of “specially able” in their total work force are some other steps that will allow these to not to be dependent on the others and lead a life of self worth and dignity and are seen as assets and not liabilities.
Thus, it can be said that, no one can make one feel inferior without one’s consent. However, this may not be true for all kinds of experiences of inferiorities inflicted on a person. While, personal insults based on birth, intelligence etc. can be handled in this manner. However, sense of inferiority inflicted due to the society cannot . If this is done, then it will be like behaving like an Ostrich with his head buried in the sand. For example, A sanitation worker will never be able to out go his inferior status unless the society gives his profession respect and dignity Therefore, external assistance is indeed required in addition to internal feeling of content and will power to remove the tag of social inferiority. Not every individual can be a Buddha. They may be the Gandhis, Ambedkars, Kalidasas or Mandelas who would respond differently to overcome their inferiority status according to their own circumstances and genius.