Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dalit Identity

Dalit Identity

I am not for hiding identity in professional life, but for notharping/emphasising it over the professional identity. In all therelevant formal documents, or in any appropriate personal situationsoccuring in office, it is important to represent our personalidentities correctly. E.g. sometimes coffee table politicaldiscussions and in my case one of the group discussions in anemployment selection process explicitly focussed on a topic relatedto caste. In such case, we certainly should represent ourcommunities, since everyone is representing theirs. Secondly I seeno harm in personalizing our office spaces with other ethnicidentities, other than inviting unwelcome pre-judice, since it isnot intrusive.In this matter, I merely advise the younger lot that till they arewell established in their professional careers, this kind of overemphasis, may lead to prejudice and hidden conscious or unconsciousaction against you, since it says that you want people to see youfirst as a dalit and then as a professional. And since you want themto see you that way, they will see you value the profession lessanyway, so will feel justified in acting against you. So my myadvice is to do this ... once you are better established in yourprofessional careers.That said, it is very important for the well establishedprofessionals from our community to be very open in broadcastingtheir identities in professional places without being intrusive inany way. The above method (personalizing work space) is one of thebest method if it suits the person. It is only if they are fullycomfortable with themselves and yet are well admired professionalsthat we would have laid the foundation of lasting changes inperceptions. But even these well established professional folkshould act first as professionals and then as per their ethnicidentities. The hippocratic oath of doctors is a case in point. Itis only by "correctly" managing our total identities that we canimprove the perception of our dalit identities. Even if we hadidentities which could not be hidden, the point remains that inmulti-cultural situations, work ethics demands putting theprofessional common-ness before the individual ethnic differences.I carry around notebooks with Buddha on it, myself and willcertainly use any good computer wall paper containing buddhisticons. Since I do not have a stable workspace, I cannot personalizeit. While I have'nt done it yet, I guess, based on my learnings fromthis discussion, I will personalize my workspace to show case myidentity non intrusively, since I am now a well establishedprofessional. BTW, having become a vegetarian and having a namecommon among brahmins, people ask me at professional lunches,whether I am a brahmin. I enjoy telling them at such times that I ama buddhist. And if they poke further, I have told them more. SoSantosh et al, I see where you folks are coming from and actually domyself behave that way. I will certainly increase my own behavior inthis manner. But lets not be intrusive and lets not insist thateveryone should do it all the time. Doing it rightly is important toensure that it is safe and non-intrusive and has the right effect.If anyone has good computer wall paper, please share them. Goodbuddhist email signatures also seem ok, since email is kind-of lessintrusive than phone calls or actual conversation. So any greatbuddhist email signatures are also welcome.
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