OK, make that second most ignorant in the world… a London based research firm MORI, conducted a survey that found India and Indians to be the most ignorant in the world; second only to Mexico. The poll conducted across 33 countries found that on matters such as obesity, immigration, non-religious populations, female employment, rural living and internet access, we are the second most ignorant in the world. What price our ancient wisdom then!
What exactly were they measuring?
People being surveyed were asked questions on several key issues – how much money do the richest Indians have? What percentage of Indian women are employed? People were asked how many people in India are non-religious; they answered 33% when in fact that figure is lower than 1%. Less than 20% Indians have access to the internet; respondents to the survey thought that about 60% Indians have access. When asked what is the proportion of women in politics is, Indian respondents as well as those from Brazil, Russia, and Columbia were way off the mark.
What exactly does this say about us?
This tells us that we actually underestimate the problems that we have here in our country. We think things are better than they are. We unfortunately have the habit of putting a positive spin on things; the habit of patting ourselves on the back for nonexistent accomplishments or glossing over the many problems that do exist.
There is another reason that fuels our ignorance, and that is our indifference. If it doesn’t affect us directly, if it doesn’t impinge upon our own smug reality, we are not really bothered about it. Our complacency is perfectly content for status quo to be maintained; even if that is at the cost of other far less fortunate souls. If we are able to convince ourselves that the situation is better than it is in reality, we don’t feel compelled to do anything about it; don’t feel the need to move out of our respective comfort zones to actually do something to improve the lot of others.
The fact is that ignorance is not about what you study, for how long and how well. It is about awareness of the problems that surround us; a willingness to recognize them for what they are and a readiness to make the changes at a personal level that will bring out social change.