Amid the pandemic, quintessential fate of my dissent

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These days, we all are wading through uncertain times combating COVID-19 outbreak. Governments around the world are scrambling to get a grip on the pandemic. It seems increasingly clear that, with covid-19, much of global commerce has already ground to a halt. Firms in every industry are desperate to count when the pandemic ebbs. Being part of the operations team in my current organization, I doff my cap to business leaders and professionals who are pulling all the stops in rolling out measures for uninterrupted delivery without compromising their associates’ health.

Sailing through initial hiccups, right from arranging necessary infrastructure, software, and connectivity, by and large, companies from my domain/ ITES are now able to continue their services pitching on their ‘work from home’ model. Even this Sunday while observing ‘Janta Curfew’, virtually we brainstormed sustenance challenges of small firms with National Association of Software and Service Companies, as demand collapses, their cash inflows would fall, impairing their ability to pay their employees and suppliers. Originally, we are foreseeing more incipient scenarios and challenges. Hence, it is imperative that compassion remains the cornerstone of all our responses to tide over this emergency that is upon us now.

Having said this, for a moment, I will digress to mention that among all these business, anxiety and dread, last week hardly I got time to check and respond to my personal emails, text and WhatsApp messages. While travelling back to my home, one day I noticed a bizarre message popping up in one of my benign and vigorous WhatsApp groups. It’s a very dear group of my ex-colleagues and friends, all are minimum, at least engineers, mostly from the premier institutes and many of them are currently holding senior management positions in sundry marquee organizations. Almost always, the quality of the posts in this group is exceptionally well.

But the forenamed message clearly rattled me on that day. This message was posted by a group member perhaps who is currently located in Minnesota. His message was accompanied by a crowd-funding website link urging people to support the families of Delhi Violence. So far so good. Out of curiosity, I logged in to that website to know more about its content and the fundraiser. It made me sick to my stomach when I noticed that the campaign was managed by a group of volunteers claiming working with one of the people, against whom Court has asked police to file an FIR for inflammatory speeches.

Also, it was interesting to browse the names of the victims mentioned there, belonging to only one community for whom they were organizing this fundraising campaign. Other trailing messages from the same person were reeking of negativity to others and full of communal vitriol lamenting persecution of people by monotheistic religions etc. The jeremiad and opprobrium on that website were apparently alluding to a particular community.

In my view, such virulent messages should not be glossed over. Selecting first of these messages, I posted, “Folks, I am surprised to see this fundraiser promotion in our group. I am assuming, our friend has not gone through the contents of the websites he shared the links. All of us would agree, this group is not the right place to promote such biased crowd-funding programs.”

Further, for his information, I shared a link of the news where Delhi High Court has directed the police to register an FIR for those people allegedly making inflammatory speeches and wrote, “Friend, it seems you stay abroad but in India, most of us have followed this episode. So my humble request to you, please avoid this kind of controversial, one-sided sensitive forwards in this diverse group.”

I posted the above message and moved on. After a couple of days, I had something to post in that group but was shocked to notice that I had been removed from that group by the same person. Was that the fate of my dissent – a quid pro quo with a negative sign!

His ham-fisted and small-minded response certainly tormented me. I decided to inform my exclusion from the group to another group admin, who immediately added me to the group and posted a stinker to that person asking the reason for my removal from the group. Post my reintegration, I also directly wrote to him to know his intention of my removal. Thus far, his perpetuating off-the-cuff forwards are on and still, I am waiting for his reply with bated breath. Also, I felt rather dismayed by our fellow group members. So I posted a serious note to all some two hundred members of that group, “Dear friends, this is unfortunate that I had to call and enquire about my exclusion though all of you have received the intimation that ‘… has removed (my name)’. None of you cared to ask why?”

After reading my post, many of the group members exonerating themselves expressed their ignorance about the issue. Some of them tried to placate me and also felt sorry but the majority of the members were inclined to play truant. They might have thought that I was being high- strung and over sensitive.

Indeed, we are not bothered by what is happening around unless that happens to us. We may talk lofty about ethical values but when it comes to the crunch, always our moral compass goes out of the window. We can take a cue from the news when we initially read about coronavirus affecting China in December’19 and our complacent response to the impending crisis.

Thus, the framing of our response must be always carefully thought through.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views or opinions of TheRationalDaily in any manner.

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