The statutes need to be carved in citizen-friendly language. The problem with most of the institutions functioning in India is that they have been set up on the patterns evolved by the Britishers. Whether they are elementary guidelines for the smooth functioning of the government run bodies or legal considerations to carry out the business of justice they are more often than not coined in expressions that remain Greek to ordinary citizens.
Their makers simply forget that they are living in a country dominated by rural population. The very fact mocks at obsession to employ bombastic expression to create a statute. In fact this is something which has allowed the lawyers to exploit their clients time an again.
The common man simply choose to grope in ignorance than to get trapped in verbosity of the lawyers which going by the complicity of legal affairs appears to be a greater blunder in the eyes of former. Unless we stop evaluating a man’s standard through the prism of western perceptions nothing exceptional could be achieved.
This realization must dawn upon us that mimicking foreign accent or dealing in complex clauses is not going to benefit the underprivileged. A bond can only be established with them by being honest towards their concerns in a language that gives them the feeling of being part of the whole process in an intimate way.
I am presenting excerpts from a well known writer’s work that will enlighten the readers about categorization of “common man”. It would let you know all why common man has been deliberately kept in ignorance to fulfill the needs of people in power. I had to present these excerpts in order to reveal the prejudices against the common mass and only then we can understand why the road to justice for the common people is full of obstacles.
I also presenting excerpts from another well known writer’s work to establish the Gandhian truth that let’s borrow Western world’s better ideals but let’s not subject our conscience to their rotten beliefs. There is no point in conducting our affairs on borrowed concepts.
These excerpts I am sure would help the esteemed readers to grasp the issue raised in my post quite well.
Democracy was born in the city states of Greece. Athenian democracy has been called a men’s club, because women were excluded from the right to vote. So were slaves. Greek citizens themselves could qualify only if both their parents were Greek. Within these limits, democracy ensured direct participation by the citizen in running the state.
From Greece to post-colonial India, we have come a long way. From Latin we got the phrase, “Vox populi, vox dei”. This was not really a pro-democracy slogan; it was part of a plea to Emperor Charlemagne from one of his associates that he should not trust those who chanted this slogan. As in other parts of the world, society was divided into haves and have-nots. The Romans institutionalized this division by drawing a line between patricians and plebeians. A patrician was one born of a noble father. The plebs were the common people, the artisans, the workers. The dictionary equates plebeian with unrefined, coarse, and vulgar.
France became a bastion of democracy in the days of the 1789 Revolution. In place of patricians, there were the first estate or the nobility and the second estate or the clergy. The common people, including artisans, peasants and the bourgeoisie, formed the third estate. The revolution marked the rise of the third estate.
In the name of democracy, we glorify and sometimes deify the common people. Ironically, we also brand them with new names that express contempt rather than admiration.
In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the the Prince of Arragon, who has to pass a lottery to win Portia’s hand, refuses to be aligned with the common people, “the fool multitude”. He says: “I will not jump with common spirits and rank me with the barbarous multitudes.” Shakespeare brings him down to earth by rewarding him with a fool’s head instead of Portia’s hand.
If you want to pour contempt on people, use a foreign word or phrase. “Hoi polloi” is one such, an exotic-sounding Greek phrase which can be translated as “the many”. But the attitude is the same. The phrase refers condescendingly to the riff-raff or the rabble, who lack education and cultivation. No wonder the snobbish aristocrats said they wanted their children out of the company of the hoi polloi.
The language of deprecation soon came up with a phrase with greater sting in “the great unwashed”, which referred to the multitude. That is as physical as you can get with insulting people. The thesaurus is liberal with synonyms for this expression: base born, ignoble, lowly, vulgar. Unfazed by the social stigma intended by the term, two brothers, David and Hamish Kilgour, named their music band The Great Unwashed!
Like hoi polloi, the word “lumpen” was borrowed from Europe and refers to the mob. The word is a shortened form of the German-French compound, “lumpenproletariat”. Marx used the word to refer to the unemployed and unproductive sections, who lacked class consciousness. Today, the Marxian sense has been diluted into the general sense of “uneducated, unenlightened, unrefined.”
The vocabulary of vilification, expressing our prejudice against the common people, conflicts with our faith in the sovereignty of the people. It was Carl Sandburg, American poet and Pulitzer laureate, who gave the most articulate expression to the disillusionment of the people. In his poem, I am the People, the Mob, he protests the snubs and slights that the common people are exposed to. Speaking for the people, he says: “I am the working man, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes.” In an outburst of anger, he warns that the patience of the people will soon run out. Then “there will be no speaker in all the world/ say the name ‘The People’ with any fleck of a/sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision./The mob—the crowd—the mass—willarrive then.”
Source: V.R. Narayanaswami’s article ” ASK MINT/WORDS TO VILIFY THE COMMON MAN ”
Kishore Madhubani says: ” The Western mind is a huge world, but even in that huge world, you are actually trapped in a mental box. For those who live in the West, you assume that you can understand the world just by looking at it through Western perspectives, which gives you gives you a limited view of the world.”
” Let me give you an example to illustrate what I mean: You recall that one of the most successful essays that appeared immediately after the end of the Cold War was Francis Fukuyama’s essay The End of History. I found it amazing that an idea as absurd as the end of history could become so popular in the Western world. For a start, if you are going to have the thawing of the global order at the end of the Cold War, the logical result would be the return of history, not the end of history. And indeed, in the last ten years, we have seen the resurfacing of historical forces that were buried by forty years of the Cold War. Now, why did the Western mind believe that the rest of the world would transform itself to become carbon-copy replicas of Western liberal democratic societies? This is Francis Fukuyama’s underlying thesis.
But having asserted that the Western mind is trapped in a mental box, how do I document it? ”
” When you live in the West, it’s very hard to understand where the boundaries of the West are, because the natural assumption is that of Francis Fukuyama or V.S. Naipaul, that the West is a universal civilization, that history is a one-way street, that all societies as they grow and evolve will become more and more like the West.
What separates my life from many in the room is that I have heard conversations in Western living rooms about the world, and then I have been in non-Western living rooms, in an Islamic home, in Chinese homes, and I have listened to their conversations and how they see the world. You begin to realize that there are many different perspectives.
If the other societies succeed, what you will see is modernization, but not Westernization, as they grow and change. What exactly will it mean?
In the world of tomorrow, you will wake up and switch your television from one channel that gives you a Western perspective of the world to another which will describe the same events from a completely non-Western view.
Cities like New York City, like London will be the meeting places that bring these perspectives together, and that’s why you feel, ”Hey, there’s no big difference between them.” But if you travel outside and you go into these living rooms, you will find that there are still different worlds out there.”
” On the one hand, as the result of globalization, and the explosive burst of Western technology, we are shrinking the world into a global village, and now we are now sailing in the same boat. Sometimes I mischievously say this boat may perhaps be the Titanic. We have become one world. And yet, on this one ship you have 1 billion people living in first-class cabins, in relative comfort, and 2 or 3 billion people living in various degrees of deprivation, some in hunger and starvation.
I see daily the forces of globalization are generating greater and greater interdependence. Actions in one corner of the can affect a distant corner relatively quickly. Most people living outside the United States can feel and understand the impact of globalization. They feel the loss of autonomy each day. Most Americans do not feel this, or not yet. They live in one of the most powerful countries ever to have existed in the history of man. Sheer power and two huge oceans make Americans unaware of how the world is changing. The great paradox here is that the world’s most open society is among the worst informed on the inevitable impact of global changes. A tidal wave of change is already on its way to American shores.
In the world to come, if any force will save us, it will be the dynamism of Western civilization, which has carried the world to where it is today. All of the advances of human civilization are the result of what has happened in the West. ”
” Let me move on to another example of what I call possible instability in the same world. If we are all in the same boat, it is in our obvious interest to ensure that all the boat’s passengers become stakeholders in peace and prosperity, rather than in misery.
The only question in my mind is: Can a shrinking population of the West, which now makes up about 10 percent of the world’s population, carry the burden of the world on its shoulders? We need to have burden-sharing between the West and other civilizations to have stability. We need a fusion of civilizations rather than a clash of civilizations.”
” I can see the fusion of civilizations taking place in the Asia-Pacific, and my friends here can see it happening daily across the Pacific with East Asia and the United States cooperating in economics, politics and culture. I still haven’t been able to see how we are going to get fusion of civilizations between the West and the Islam, and that is where the problems will lie in the world to come.”
(The views expressed in these excerpts belong to leading thinker KISHORE MADHUBANI )
V.R. Narayanaswami’s article ” ASK MINT/WORDS TO VILIFY THE COMMON MAN ”
Kishore Madhubani’s Article