Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Accepting Differences

My present college, my earlier university and almost all b-schools in the country pride themselves on their student diversity. Infact, as an HR major I’ve read courses in Diversity Management, several hundred papers written about it, that I researched for own my paper. What rings true is even after so many of “I’m different” and “I don’t belong here”, I rarely meet someone I can hardly understand. All diversity means to people is races, ethnicity and languages. But that’s not all, there are economic classes, skin tone bias, accent bias, marital status bias, different schools of thoughts, acceptance of varied value systems, to name a few. And, are any of us skilled to handle that? Anyone ever taught us that? In our well thought approach of talking about everything in a politically correct manner, and our b-school’s proactive approach of giving us a brief on it, before we really face it, the question is we don’t yet recognize the real diversity and the fact that many of us lead our lives in our wonderful confiscated little cocoons, not realizing how royally we screw up in real lives.

Let’s start with a few. The distinction of people belonging to the smokers category. Worse yet, if you’re a girl. The sect cliché for the female smoker group goes: Females who smoke sleep around. Truly, people who smoke all know the health hazards of it already and still choose to do it, there is nothing else common between them. Infact, Smokers are less of a cult than MBAs. MBA league, so called diverse background are relatively a homogenous mix, as compared to smokers. Most smokers have nothing in common: timings, frequency, or even brand, let alone their sexual preferences. Girls who’ve atleast lived in the diverse arrangement once, and smoked would testify. They’re looked down upon, are judged about our relationship status, attitude towards the opposite sex (sometimes even same sex, really). Its more amusing to me than anything else.

Should I start writing about Marital Status? Broken marriages are scary, to anyone, and I don’t deny that. But most people are not equipped enough emotionally to handle it. They either stop talking to divorced people, or spread rumours about their sexual activities, or the assumed past sexual activities, without basis ofcourse. The funny part is, this is not even happening to them, they don’t have to face it. They do not have to face the agony of a past scar so deep that it almost always affects their present lives everyday, they don’t have to face social judgments, they don’t have to face awkwardness of not letting yourself be, the loud smirks your brain and your heart makes inside your head everytime someone mentions the M word. And still, even as an outsider they cant handle their world. And by experience, what have we learned, people who cant do it, stand out and curse it. And again, its more amusing to me than hurtful now.

How many of us are going to be man enough or more aptly woman enough to accept the skin tone bias? Ofcourse, it exists. Not just during love selection, also during roommate selection, while making work group, chum selections, class representative election, choosing Ms. Fresher. Apparently, logic and intelligence only come in handy when you have a skin tone fairer than the rest to go with it.

Language Barrier? Not the usual cross cultural slides we learn in OB. But the true language barrier we face in our country. Most of us MBA’s do not have to face it. Come on! We come through selection tests which marks us on an English scale of a far-fetched high standard, are interviewed and GD-ed and really what do you think are those communication marks for? English. Most of us, taking the worse case, know people who have bad grammar, and that’s all, this is our definition of a not-so-good education. Do either of us have an outlook open enough to know that someone in the present India, who does not speak a word of English is just as smart, or even more? Unfortunate as it may be, I even know people in my own class who think less of others cause they didn’t know who Dylan is.

This is still touching just the brim. There are spending power assumptions, believers are frowned upon more than the non-believers, introverts are taken as stuck up, extrovert females are tagged flirtatious, extrovert boys become Mr. Fresher’s and many more. Ironically, no one judges people with two boyfriends, or un-countable girlfriends, no one thinks less about people who abuse teachers who make you work, noone is held accountable for making stories about others, or about conniving morons who get back at you by asking implausible questions at the end of your presentation.

I’m just let down I guess. I thought elite education gives a certain sophistication of thoughts, and sensitivity in perspective. But maybe not. People are people, no matter what, and no matter where. Even still, does anybody else think it’s so uncanny that as individuals we hate them and as a plural entity we are them. We the people, suck.