Cannot Wipe Even Your Own A** but Will Run the Country

india-10206For the last few days, story of one Komal Ganatra has been making headlines in India. Her dad, now retired, earned his living as a school teacher in India. Five years back, she was married off to an Indian immigrant living in New Zealand, in an arranged marriage. The man threw her out a mere two weeks later, for her parents allegedly could not arrange a dowry. 

Such women grow up in a very strange, Orwellian system, quite divorced from real life. They fail to understand how the world works and principles that govern life, for their parents do not let them go out and test for themselves. They get no real feedback from life. They fail to develop the capacity of discernment. They fail to understand causality. They must rely on a set of rules given to them by their parents, who are themselves utterly unwise. Alas, rules made by others cannot take the place of reason and causality. And of course to fixate rules in the minds of such people, they must be taught about heaven and hell and all the crazy superstitious things that must go along. All this leaves no place or scope for reason and evidence and capacity to connect dots to understand causality.

For such people, in the absence of wisdom attained from living a real life, a set of pseudo-rules provide a framework to understand and interpret life. 

Of course such parents never had wisdom. Had they, they would never have entertained proposal of a stranger they did not know. Were she rational, she would have declined to marry unless she had courted him or at least got to know about his character through someone she could trust. Despite that it is easy to feel sympathy for her, one must ask what her real motivations were when deciding to marry when she had absolutely no spiritual connection with him. Could her interest in him be anything else than materialistic, a way to get to New Zealand with hopes of aplenty?

Why did the parents never learn some basic principles of life, for they went out to earn a living? Not only they had likely gone through the same indoctrination that they put her through, by the time they went out in the world, their understanding of how the world—in terms of superstitions and rulebook—had been fixated in their minds. Even if the society no longer applied pressure on them, they had learned to filter everything based on the way their minds were conditioned to see the world. What did not fit in would have been ignored. Moreover, her dad was a teacher. The way system of schooling works, teachers do not get any feedback, isolating them from real-life feedback. Critical thinking, reflection and questioning is seriously discouraged in government run schools in India.

I have deep sympathy for such women. At first one could blame the parents. But I have very deep sympathies for their parents. I would give them a hug if I had a chance to. I even have swelled eyes when I hear about such people and the pains so many ignorant, innocent, gullible people go through. So much of our pain is so useless. But then I have even deeper sympathies for the kids the dad taught. Did they not learn an irrational thinking pattern? In the end it is all a muddled vicious cycle, in which the victim in the next story easily becomes a carrier of the same virus or a spineless tyrant or an irrational busybody…

I can never shake off the feeling that tyrant and victim often exist as two sides of the same coin. The gullible are often those who would have been the perpetrator were they clever enough. So, what has Komal been up to for the last five years after she was thrown away by her husband? Instead of going out into the world to learn how it works, she decided to study for a job in the government, “to help improve India”. She attempted UPSC, an extremely difficult examination that decides who would be the top bureaucrats in India. After five years of hard work she has now cleared the examination. She will now be one of the chosen few who will run the country.

Komal, still sporting Mangalsutra (the religious symbol of her marriage), now wants to trace her husband and initiate legal action against him. Why suddenly now? Why should she still be “married” when she has known for five years that she had been fooled? Of course she has not learnt that it is she who has been stupid. And still is.

My sympathizes for her have now gone down the toilet. She never learnt any wisdom. She has no experience in life except to pass a multiple choice examination, however difficult it might be. She is as gullible as she ever was. But now she is going to shovel her gullibility down other people’s throat, as one of the top officers in the Indian government. The vicious cycle continues.

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2 Responses to “Cannot Wipe Even Your Own A** but Will Run the Country”

  1. Jayant Bhandari says:

    Mr Howden:

    I fully agree with you. I have nothing against arranged marriages. I mentioned Komal's marriage as a part of the story and to show the context. My key interest was to show the utter and deep irrationality underlying her predicament and how a socialist system makes people so gullible and cemented to irrationality and how that vicious cycle continues.

    A gullible person like her will now directly have a huge influence on millions of people.

    I do very much appreciate your thoughts, for you very nicely show that, per se, there is nothing wrong in arranged marriages (although they must be contrasted with forced marriages, which are still not uncommon).

  2. David Howden says:

    All of my Indian friends looked forward to their arranged marriages, and I don't know of any bad outcomes (yet, at least). Call me naive, but the arranged marriage system seems like a good solution if once assumes that, 1) parents have better judgment than their children as to the important qualities in a suitor, and 2) parents seek to mate their child with the partner that enhances the quality of the family to the full extent. In any case, these parents must have at least as good a judgement of the important qualities for a lasting marriage, than, e.g., the 50% (or whatever the statistic is) of marriages that fail today.

    Marriage is an important social institution, and perhaps more so in developing economies as the gains from trade are more important. (A single mother can raise a child in Canada, but I doubt she could have anywhere near the same quality of life as a single mother in India.) In this way, the insight of a parent is useful in making sure the marriage is a good fit and likely to last.

    On a final note, the arranged marriage is not so different from the tradition of asking the woman's father for permission to wed his daughter. I know of women whose fathers said no, and are today better for it (a little heartbreak at the time being a small price to pay to avoid divorce). I also know women who do not want this to happen today, though the more common reason that I hear is that their fathers were just not a big part of their lives, and hence they are not fit to "give away their daughters". In any case, that is more of an issue of failed parents being unfit for the role, but not against the tradition.

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