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You and I

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By Pooja Marwah

What started off as a routine night time conversation with my daughters, ended with opening up my entire perspective. I have to admit that my first introduction to diversity and inclusion was through that conversation and, believe me, it created quite a stir.

Yes, I was proud to have children who are empathetic and understanding of the world around them.

Yes, I was overjoyed to learn that they take pride in supporting what we Indians loosely refer to as ‘the other people.’

But living in a smaller town, however educated we may be, we still have a second thought on ableism. We do rethink before hiring someone differently abled or even accepting them as people.

To include diversity and inclusion in life, I think we first need to rewire the way we view the internet, especially Instagram. Social media is a very powerful tool and we can use it to make a world of difference but sadly all it propagates today are mannerisms, beauty and fashion. The humour is mindless, the reels matter of fact. The content is superfluous and most of the videos portray frivolous acts.

If the average person spends 3 hours scrolling down memes, videos and the like; just imagine the power we would have if we shifted our focus to relevant social issues! What if we had influencers who actually cared about diversity and inclusion to talk about it? What if we could help make influencers out of the people whom we regard as diverse?

Diversity and Inclusion, broadly put, refers to equality amongst humans. It means a world wherein everyone is regarded with the same respect, irrespective of how they look or which country they are from. And I don’t mean to just associate to include them in your workspace. What I am implying is to give them a position of power if they deserve it, to give them a feeling of honour, should they command it.

And this starts in kindergarten; it begins at home where the adults take charge and open up to equality. We talk of diversity and inclusion and it feels good but in reality when it comes to giving a glass of water to our sweeper, we also are the first to hand it in a plastic cup as opposed to a glass from our home!

India sadly still lives under the hierarchy of the caste system. And it is the educated society that allows for it. I can say with certain assurance that a majority of people in the cities and high rises don’t even care to want to make a change. If they converse or propagate it, it is mostly in public view where they want to be seen and heard as open minded. A recent conversation at a formal dinner only further proved my point.

A group of very affluent industrialists were discussing diversity and inclusion at their workplace, when I asked what their individual perceptions were. One of them perkily said, ‘We do have people differently abled as well as from south of India. But you know, they can’t really get past the basic secretarial jobs. We can’t have a senior manager with you know ..”

“Well, I really know don’t know. Please complete your sentence!” But a shrug is all I got, after which they steered clear of me all evening.

Perhaps it is time we reboot and restart a world we want. It begins with you and I!

(Pooja Poddar Marwah is an award winning author and Blogger. She writes on contemporary living and offers incisive reflections on the world around us. Her blog, Random Conversations is a go to guide to deal with the myriad struggles we face each day.)