The stigma of stereotypes

The story of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan is one that I love narrating during my training program. After one of the sessions this week, a Kashmiri student walked up to me, and wanted to talk. He was genuinely troubled by my Ghaffar Khan example. I was surprised that any Muslim could be offended by my glowing reference to Ghaffar Khan. In Kamal style, I thought I deserved some biryani for telling that tale.

Then I understood. I had used the term ‘Non-violent Pathan’ on a slide to describe Ghaffar Khan. He said, it reinforces the perception that all other Pathans are violent. Stepping into the shoes of this 17/18 year old boy, who has already been through too much in life, I could see where he was coming from.

I felt quite troubled to hear about his childhood experience of watching sexual assaults in his village, by ‘men in boots’. On the other hand, this opinion also bothered me : ‘India is spoiling our youth by luring them with unnecessary things like cricket and music.’

We live in very complex times indeed.


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