“ I want to work for the society, for the marginalised,” said Vinod. Mr. Chopra looked at his son curiously and said “Son, philosophy exists as long as you have
a hearty meal,”clearly disappointed with his son’s absurd dreams.
Three weeks later, Vinod was in Oragadam, an industrial hub in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Oragadam now popularly known as Tamil Nadu’s Detroit bears the testimony to India’s ‘growth story.’ Vast swathes of greenery have been lost to the clutches of development and industrialisation. Once a small village of ponds and agricultural lands, it is now home to the swanky plants of Renault-Nissan and Daimler. The transition also had a profound impact on its demography. A serene village of farmers has been transformed into a labour camp. Oragadam is now home to thousands of migrant workers who are the nerve centre of the automobile industry. Men from Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, Bengal rush here in search of a livelihood and live in thatched roof huts, often in unimaginable living conditions.
Vinod and his friends went to such a hut to meet Rajesh, a cheerful middle aged Oriyayouth. His cheerful face suggested nothing of the detrimental conditions he faces every day in life. While his fellow mate had got married and had a dream like any other youth, Rajesh never intends to marry and settle. “I want to help the destitutes, the needy.” Vinod was amazed. This man’s eyes spoke of a dream which can only be dreamt if you have no constraints in life, if all your fundamental needs are satisfied.
Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist proposed the ‘Hierarchy of Needs.’ According to him, only if the basic physiological needs of a man are essentially fulfilled, he can attain self-actualisation or he can focus on problems outside himself and are not bound strictly by social conventions. Here, in a tiny village of India, a man who is barely able to make his ends meet, was proving Maslow wrong. He struggles hard to manage three square meals a day, does not have any security about his job; yet with a supreme confidence he proclaims his wish to serve the society, and be a ‘sanyasi.’ At the same time, he is well aware of hisresponsibility towards his family. “ I have to repay a loan and I will work hard to do that,”said Rajesh.The loan was taken for his mother’s treatment. Instantly, he struck a chord with Vinod who lost his mother a few months back. In the absence of his mother, Vinod is expected to get a job, take care of his father which he felt came in the way of his dream of becoming a social crusader. Rajesh dreamt the same dream, but he was well aware of his mundane responsibilities.
After an hour of conversation, Vinod came out, a lot more enlightened, and inspired. He wanted to call his father and say to him, “Dad you were wrong; philosophy is not a subject only for the privileged.”
Arindam Majumder, student, Asian College of Journalism, 26/10/2013