A nation is often defined by how it treats its most marginalised, and I don’t think it is a surprise in how and where India stands in this regard. Two contrasting events a couple of weeks ago left me thinking though.
I’d gone shopping with my mother to Lifestyle near Richmond Road and was pleasantly surprised to find young and energetic Yuvraj at the cash counter, with a badge that said, I only speak sign language. He was all welcoming and efficient. I insisted on not entering my phone number into their system, but without it I could not get a discount. Rather than pass the job to someone else who could discuss it with me, he worked patiently at it and found a solution. All without a word being exchanged, only smiles and nods. Kudos to both Yuvraj and Lifestyle.
The following day, I was driving down one of our busiest roads, Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi. Even though the pavement was about four feet wide, it was piled high with construction debris outside the Institution of Engineers. A blind man had step off the pavement on to the road into an aggressive and indifferent traffic to make his way. No elite athlete has ever faced a tougher and more life-threatening challenge than he did at that moment and navigated it with absolute calm. I was transfixed. And only because they happened in near time; the two situations were juxtaposed in my mind.
So how do we move this discussion into action?
As individuals: Take a moment out of your busy routine to practice kindness to those who need it most: a seat to a tired senior citizen, help a person across the road etc. We’re so often involved in our screens, that we don’t look around to actively help anymore. Change that with kindness. As entrepreneurs: create solutions for the most marginal in our society; don’t think of them as too small a population to serve. Instant food in sealed packs was originally created only for the army, but now is now a mainstream business for food companies. What technology or solution can you create which will make their life easier and can also be leveraged for larger populations? For our institutions: Be like Lifestyle. Give Yurajs a chance to make more people smile. And our Government: You have the policies on paper; action them and reward both corporates and institutions who create more Yuvrajs, including yourselves.
These of course, are my thoughts and call to action. What are yours? What ideas do you have to include the marginalised at any or all of these levels? Or do you have a completely different approach? Would love to hear from you.
Devika Devaiah, Anarva
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