While thinking of blindness, many terms such as total blindness, partial blindness, colour blindness and night blindness come to mind. But a term that’s not normally discussed is “inattentional blindness”. It can be categorised as an “attentional” error and is no way associated with any vision deficit! This, according to me, comes close to the “blind-eyed” attitude we see everywhere, nowadays!

Let me quote just two examples of such “inattentional blindness”. The first is the collapse of a seven-storeyed building in Mumbra.  This building came up, out of nothing, and, that too, in less than three months. There was no architect, no structural engineer and no legal permission. It killed 75 people and made many homeless. Surprisingly, nobody “knew” about this illegal building and when it collapsed on April 4, 2013, everybody “knew” it was illegal.

The second example is a news item I read on April 8, 2013, barely 10 days before World Heritage Day. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) admitted that they have no clue where 35 protected monuments have “disappeared”. The ASI has declared these 35 monuments (which were permanent structures) “untraceable.” Although everybody “knows” that they were very much there, nobody “knows” where they have vanished.

These two incidents create worries about the blind–eyed approach of our politicians and bureaucrats, and remind me of Duryodhana‘s famous lines in the Mahabharata:

…¢Ý¢ç}¢ {}¢ü}¢ì Ý ™ }¢ï Ðí±ë眢:
…¢Ý¢ç}¢ ¥{}¢ü}¢ì Ý ™ }¢ï çݱë眢:

I know what is dharma (virtue), yet I can’t follow it;  
I know what is adharma (vice) and yet, I can’t leave it.

I am not sure, whether those in power and in charge are blindly following Duryodhana, but what is happening everywhere compels many to believe this as the bitter truth.

At the same time, the public at large can’t escape from its responsibility for turning  “blind eyes” for such critical issues.  Thanks to social media, we know what is happening in the Antarctic or Azerbaijan, but the irony is that we simply don’t know what is happening next door. Whether one calls it blind eyes, escapism or inattentional blindness, the fact remains that it is making the victory of vices over virtues rather easy. Isn’t it a tragedy that Indians who are active online are becoming inactive offline? Isn’t it sad that the virtual world is becoming more active in comparison to real world? Isn’t it alarming that we are becoming good netizens but bad citizens? Let’s try to find the answers on Google : )

 

KAMAL KHOKHANI
Publisher - INSITE