Peeling up Symbolic Interaction for #Equality

Peeling up Symbolic Interaction for #Equality

by Radha Paudel
Namaskar/Good morning Hajur ! 

Sanchai Hajur (How are you)? 

Hajur in Nepali is very common word and have different actions according to the context such as yes (if someone call your name or hello in telephone), ok (ok in yes and no question), name (your shop or restaurant), respect (use hajur instead of you) etc. This writer is always wondering what meant by Hajur among non Nepali speakers who are headed of almost UN agencies and INGOs in Nepal for equality and promotion of human rights in a way and the other around. Do they aware about its symbolic meaning in Nepali context specially whom they seek changes. In practical sense, if someone use the word Hajur frequently or followed by each statement, Hajur connotes higher or creates hierarchy rather simply yes, ok, or respect. The villagers, poor or powerless people use the word Hajur while interacting landlords, seniors or powerful people for please or respect or expecting some favours indirectly. Such interactions distinguished easily even by lay people. It has deep and wider meaning. By and large, it is being used in royal or elites since history where scholars, activists, called and used as symbol of feudal culture at micro level.

The feudal culture, culture of silence or poor mindset is used as a key challenge by them at their presentation or speech or reports. Sadly, they do not aware that they are playing key role of promotion of feudal culture in very deeper level of human psychology and sociology. Many senior employees who are working or associated with UN agencies and INGOs, self-claimed feminists and women human rights activists are also use the words such as sap or sab for (PhD holders or Doctors or the government authorities) and hajur while passing their comments over social media too. They might disagree that they are promoting anti force as they intended to do through training, workshops etc. but it is bitter reality. If they have problem in using sister, brother, father, mother as Nepali culture has since civilisation, they could use sir and madam for all male and female respectively. Sadly, people called sir for male no matter about the competency and positions whereas called sister or Jee for women. Likewise, many scholars, experts used women when portraying the anger, laughing cartoons, protest, poems etc. They showed women as weak, bad etc.  For instance, Gaijatra.

These words bring so many other words, ideas or practices together that reveals the psychological fear, humiliation, domination, segregation, suppression where very hard to building agency and mutual trust and respect at large. In development discourse, these words are a form of masculine, patriarchal character or possess power. Building mutual trust and respect is the key foundation in order to demystify social norms and values for the social transformation before, during and after entering or interacting with communities.

By considering the progress in policies and activism on equality at all levels and sectors, such words supposed to abolish or minimise in practice because the same personalities are drafting the policies or advocating for change at national and international level as scholars, trainer, delegates etc.  For instance, calling president instead of chairperson or chairman in order to avoid the psychological fear of masculinity and patriarchy or gender discrimination. They also have been working on revising many Nepali proverb, songs for same purpose. Sadly, they are providing training and so on but promoting for same instead of showing role model.

In contrary to the policies, the practices are spreading as an epidemic. The bureaucrats who are leading the implementation of democratic norms and practices, they also heavily started to use such words. The scholars, secretaries, activists, law makers, politicians remained silent in many public forums organised by UN agencies and Ministry of women, Children and Social Welfare where the government officer called Sriman for secretary as like address for chief justice and judges at court. These are very representative examples which is becoming viral and anti-current for equality in Nepali culture. These words sound polite, gentle, positive but they are indicating negative message or opposition for equality simultaneously. The word Sriman was debatable word even in legal institutions due to considering gender bias.

Likewise, many activists, scholars etc. are giving neutral opinions over such practices and words at the name of choice of an individual which is absolutely bad and sad for the equality. For instance, wearing green clothes and bangles during the month of Swran. Every year, it has huge and hot discussions. The individual right or choice could apply if the population is fully educated with rationality. According to the national data, 57 % female are literate in Nepal that doesn’t mean that they could make decision over their ideology and body. Due to serious flaws and transition of entire political process, even the Bachelor or more than that people are not aware on rational over their study or practices and how can they say that it is a matter of individual rights. Without knowing rationales of both sides of coin, how the advocates could leave without interference at the name of choice. In many cases, people are used and enjoying within due to ignorance and tradition. If they claimed that it is matter of choice, why are they educating for re-writing the proverbs. The colours, proverbs, words are imparting the large chunk of people informally as symbolic interactions which are learned and practice than the learning from formal settings. As like action, the word also has significant essence in two ways; whether the word liberate/emancipate or dominate/suppressed to the direct or indirect receivers. Thus, such practices are urgent to unpack and peeling up for equality by leaders who are claiming for advocates for equality and women empowerment. Because the huge portion of population is urged to change and searching role models today.

Many scholars, leaders are saying that the social transformation takes time, it’s not a night business. Indeed, it’s not true at all due to the time is not like 10 years back, Today, even in the rural and poor villages people have mobile phones and few items related with social media. Secondly, today is the era of globalisation, few things beyond the control of individual interest. Thus, the social transformation is faster than earlier but needs to un-peeling and unpack of symbolic interactions which has been floating at micro level largely with scientific basis and evidences.  Additionally, need role models who attempted or best role models from the same context.

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