Saturday, July 26, 2008

Should we always take a side?

In the times we live in, we are fed with information and news from several quarters and sources that sometimes it does appear like overload of information and people rarely say, they don't have an opinion on an issue. It has become fashionable to defend one's point of view. Hence, all too often, people readily take sides and argue for their side. But there are numerous questions in the public sphere that warrant saying "I don't know"! This post is all about those questions. While media, both print and electronic and our own blogs have done their bit to reach out and increase people's awareness on issues, they have done almost nothing towards fostering and encouarging quality debates on topics of the day so much so that there is ignorance or to put it more point-of-factly, confusion...
Ponder over the questions that follow...To me, they confuse and perplex; one can argue for "yes" as well as for "no" with equal vehemence but not with equal conviction. These questions are not specific to particular areas, rather they span across areas but are limited to current concerns that need to be addressed and are very much relevant. If one thinks them over, one finds that there has to be a balance somewhere that needs to be followed. Can't we sit on the fence in that case? Should we necessarily jump to either side?

Should terrorism be an election issue?
Yes - Political parties have every right to campaign for votes promising more security. No - This issue merits attention across political parties. What is needed is not finger-pointing but concrete actions that yield actual results!

Should capital punishment be done away with?
Yes - It is inhuman. By awarding death penalties, we are overriding God's will. No - It must be persisted with to instill a sense of fear in the minds of criminals and will definitely serve as deterrent.

Should there be laws like POTA?
Yes - They will go a long way towards bringing downterrorist activities. No - they are inhuman where the victim doesn't get adequate voice; existing laws will suffice.

Should petrol and diesel prices be hiked more and oil companies saved?
Yes - It will help in bringing down demand. Prices should be driven by forces of suply and demand. No - It will lead to more burden and increase in inflation due to associated increase in transportaion costs.

How far should the benefits of reservation extend? Can it be extended to any X and Y caste that agitates tomorrow?
Yes - If a commitee is formed and finds merit in the arguments of X and Y. If the members of X and Y go on an indefinite agitation cutting off essential supplies. No - There must be a limit to extending benefits in the name of affirmative action. A group already enjoying reservation can only move up the social ladder, not down.

How far does creative expression extend? Does it extend to painting godesses in nude?
Yes - It must be seen from the eyes of the artist. One can't anyways and always please all sections of the society. Moreover, our temples have those kind of paintings. Hence, it is not new at all. No - One must be sensitive to religious sentiments and operate within certain limits. But again, what are those limits? Can they be defined and drawn?

Are teenagers mature enough to decide what to wear when they enter colleges?
Yes - Most certainly. After all, they are considered mature enough to select the leaders of the country. No - They aren't. Responsibility should be within some limits of freedom. Again, what are the limits? Don't the definitions of "decency" and "appearance" differ for Tom and Dick?

Can a TV channel do sting operations?
Yes - It can, if it serves to expose culprits and enemies of society. No - It can't, it violates the fundamental right to privacy.

Can the media influence the judiciary?
Yes - It can, if it feels that it is batting for the innocent victim and the public, the consumers of the media echo the same sentiments. It would serve to speed up justice. No - It can't; Judges should judge cases purely on available evidence and not get influenced by a TV studio's comments.

Is a thing like IPL good for a game like cricket?
Yes - It is; it makes the game professional. It increases competition and fitness levels of players. No - It ruins the traditional form of the game. Too much money will spoil youngsters and ruin their careers.

Are our politicians truly representing the people of this country?
Yes - We elected them, didn't we? So why should we complain when they behave unruly in the parliament. No - Most of the educated public are too busy to vote. Most politicians are 'like that" either way!

Should the Government ban smoking in public and in offices?
Yes - It should; the non smoking public suffer for no mistake of theirs. No - A smoker who is educated smokes in spite of knowing that smoking is injuriuos to health. He must be left to exercise his choice.

There are many more questions like this for which there are no black and white answers. In such cases, shouldn't there be forums to debate and decide? Is the Indian informed enough to take sides? Your thoughts...


natrajan said...

if we want everything to be straight, then yes we must always take a side, but let that side should not be only beneficial to us but to all.

monica said...

We must definitely have an answer YES or NO to all the issues. I don't know merely exhibits one's lack of knowledge or interest in the issues. Probably if something is of no interest to you there is nothing wrong in forming a diplomatic opinion on it. But if it is a YES or NO then it should be close to a favourable decision for the majority of the people.

shiva said...

I have the interest but don't have sufficient knowledge because we as a society are bothered more about taking either side than about analyzing pros and cons of each side and then deciding. Ultimately, with less quality information, we are forced to choose...
We want the people to decide whether a thing like the nuclear deal is good or not but most people don't know what pros and cons would come out of it, but nevertheless jump in and take a side..we have numerous tv channels but without requisite quality to help us take meaningful positions by educating the public sufficiently!

The Layman said...

hey saw some of your posts on mutiny...good job man...:-)

And about taking sides..
Agree completely with you...

Most of the times we choose a side although we don't have quality knowledge on the subject.. worst part is mst of the times emotion gets the better of reason..and people start fighting for their sides..Even without fully knowing whether their side is right or wrong!!
We humans are really strange..

a very timely post!

shiva said...

Thanks, Layman :-)

Jennifer said...

Maybe not in direct relation to the issues you pose here, but there is one concern I have with someone defending a position. If this defense is done to drown out new ideas or brainstorming, this type of defense must be realized because once we shut down to other possibilities and see things from only one angle, resolutions may not be so cut and dry.

shiva said...


Couldn't agree with you more...we shut down our minds to opposite points of view...