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The concept of privilege and how I was blind to it

This is an essay that I wrote as part of my Ashoka University application process. The reason for uploading it is that the concept of privilege that I write about, has impacted me and moulded my political ideology. Do give it a read, it may make you reconsider your opinions too!

Write about an experience from your past, which has significantly shaped you as a person and your perspective(s) on life. Elaborate upon the experience, your personal engagement with it, and the manner in which it has changed you. Provide other relevant details to help us better understand you. (Maximum Word Limit - 450 words) * 

I am born into a family of privilege, and until I undertook courses on sociology and political science, I was blind to it. I reaped the benefits of being privileged – I am a Hindu, male whose family could afford my education and three square meals a day. I have been extensively educated in good private schools, and the opportunity to avail outside help was available. I realised that this privilege shaped my political ideology in which I was blind to the problems that my thinking may create for others. 

For example, a year ago, I would have supported the abrogation of Article 370 and 35(a) in the Indian Constitution because, superficially, it seemed to be beneficial for Kashmir and India. Now, having learnt about Rawl's 'Veil of Ignorance', I can confidently say that I would not support the abrogation was I a Kashmiri Muslim. Nowadays, whenever I find myself in a situation in which I am analysing legislation, a government's stand on a topic and likewise, I hide behind the veil before arriving at a conclusion. This way, I have ensured that my privilege does not shape my opinions and have adverse effects on those who are repeatedly disadvantaged and marginalised. 

In my discussions with friends and family, I noticed a rising trend in India; many people believe that a strong authoritarian leader is a necessity for progress. As a student of history who has studied about Hitler and Mussolini and read about Sukarno and other such figures, I am extremely taken aback when anyone makes such statements. I ask my Brahmin family and upper-class friends, whether they care about minorities. Unsurprisingly, when I talk to members of the Brahmin community, they reply that it is 'fine' if certain 'things happen' for the achievement of the 'greater good', or rather, what they perceive the so-called ‘greater good’ to be. 

A couple of people I know say that the Chinese model of governance which borders on authoritarianism is the only way India will prosper. When I ask them about their thoughts of living in a country that suppresses freedom and democracy, the privileged group respond, saying that democracy and freedom do not matter in a prosperous country like China. I wonder what their response would be if they were hidden behind a veil and had to re-shape their opinion as a Uighur Muslim.

Learning about this principle has radically changed the way I approach critical analysis. In October 2018, I wrote an article on the 'Unsettling Signs of Fascism - India'. Even though I, a Hindu-Brahmin was not one bit affected by what the article mentions, it indicates the extent to which this principle has influenced me.

Comments

  1. The last para just went "gosh you know how much I care about people and understanding privilege because I used that privilege to write a priveleged article where I state facts and say that the government isn't fascist despite of those very facts that highlight how the government kills the less privileged"
    Also your ability to write about grave issues is somehow proof that you're deeply conscious of your privilege, because ofc that's the best use one can make of that privilege, and hell forbid anyone expects any more. Geez dude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The article that is linked in the last paragraph has me clearly say that although I am not yet saying that the government is fascist, they do have fascist tendencies and those signs are unsettling. I also alluded to the example of Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany not being built overnight by a sudden declaration of fascism but by pieces of fascist tendencies being stitched over the course of many years.
      I do not understand what your concern with my article/ the last para therefore is.

      More than my 'ability to write about grave issues' being 'proof' of my 'deeply conscious privilege', the fact that my ideology has been changed after understanding the concept of privilege is firstly the most important point to be noted. Secondly, after having developed this changed ideology, my writing is one of the many ways I can try and convince other people to change their flawed way of thinking too, which is the intention of this article and many others on my blog.
      Thirdly, it is not the 'best use one can make of that privilege', but I never stated that it (writing articles) is the only use of my privilege, but is quite powerful because of the 100s of views I receive in a week and the number of people I, personally, send the links of new articles to. Further, I never stated that people should not expect more from me, but I am of the firm opinion that what I have done so far, however small and inconsequential it may look to you, is honest work done with a purpose of bringing change and awareness. Lastly, something is better than nothing, right?

      Delete
  2. Ad hominem my dear friend. Ad hominem. Breathe, relax and take it easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ad hominem
      /ad ˈhɒmɪnɛm/
      (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

      Now please do impress upon me how anything I said was Ad-hominem, my dear friend :)

      Delete
  3. Ad hominem ad hominem.
    That's all I have to say. Ad hominem

    ReplyDelete

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