Conveniently Blind

Update: La Tomatina Cancelled! Sanity prevails!

http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/bangalore-s-tomatina-festival-cancelled-134173

Note: The tone of the article is not pleasant. Reflects my frustration. And I took no pain to hide it.

Just spare a thought for that young kid on the road. He hasn’t had anything to eat for the past two days. And now, he stares at people throwing food at each other, food being indiscriminately wasted, food being used for entertainment and ‘celebration’, in the name of La Tomatina.

Celebration of what? A most outrageous, inhuman celebration that smacks of arrogance and ignorance. A pure sadistic pleasure of destroying food that could well have formed somebody’s meal. A reflection of a damnable moral degradation of a society which prides itself on a morally high ‘Civil Society’. It turns out, we are, after all,  a society which prides itself on apathy. Absolute apathy.

Please do not compare it with a holi or diwali or any other traditional festival. Yes, money is spent in every festival, for every celebration. What you do with your money is your sole prerogative. I agree. But to be oblivious, to be conveniently blind, to what our actions could lead to, to be completely irresponsible towards our society does warrant a deep introspection as to what the media (read films) has turned us into.

Let me clarify: I am not against celebration. I am all for celebration. But celebration at what cost? Celebration does not beget sadism. Yes, I also agree that the same kid might stare sadly when other kids of his age celebrate a diwali or a holi. But this pales in comparison to snatching food away from his mouth just because you are better off.

Snatching food way? Yes. Thousands of tonnes of tomatoes will be diverted from the vegetable vendors to the ‘celebration’ vendors. I am assuming every reader to be aware of the consequences. The prices of tomatoes will go up (it is one form of local inflation, for the economically savvy), further taking away the buying power from the poor.

Make no mistake. We live in a country where 836 million people live on less than Rs.20/- a day. THIS IS NO SPAIN, but India. People die of hunger. We live in a country of extreme malnourishment. We are worse off than even sub-saharan countries in terms of child malnourishment. Thousands of farmers commit suicides. Yet, all we care about is posting facebook statuses supporting a cause. We don’t act. And when we act, it is an act of rotten tomatoes.

Be responsible. Please be aware that we live in a more and more connected world. Every action of us will affect something around us. Stop being ignorant. Ignorance is no excuse, especially when you choose to remain ignorant. There is a wealth of information present around you. Try and analyse the consequences of your own actions. Stop pretending to yourself that your actions will impact only you.

And at the end of the ‘festival’, we will all turn a blind eye towards that young kid who, unable to control his hunger, eats the smashed tomatoes.

P.S. There has been a call for La Tomatina in Bangalore on September 18th, 2011. There have been calls elsewhere as well. I urge people to boycott these events.

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Please change the title of ur story.. ppl shud understand in one line what the story is about..

  2. Totally agree with u when it comes to going against such lame ass celebrations in our country… Perfect example of how our Indian film audience is more influenced by movies than ground reality… Immature & foolish are the words to describe the majority of our nation’s audience … Let people celebrate that in Spain .. Imitating that in our country makes no sense

  3. @praveen: I think your opinions are founded on oversimplification. People buying tomatoes(whether in large quantities or not) will affect their prices but they are one of the many other player in the market. Tomatoes have small shelf life and celebrating La Tomatina, assuming many people are celebrating it, may cause the prices of Tomatoes to spike for a short period and that too once a year!!! We have seen instances where many tomato farmers would dump their harvest on road sides or giving away for free to protest for the low prices they are getting in the market. This festival may, as little probable it may be, provide them with fair price. And the festival may generate employment as is the case with many other festivals.
    Just because people are playing with things that are edible doesn’t mean that they are snatching it away from poor people. Can u say for sure that if this festival were not to happen then people are better off?? The problem of malnutrition/starvation in India is the result of deeper systemic flaws. While i empathize with you on the sorry state of people below poverty line i cannot agree with you on most of the arguments.
    Note: I am aware that significant percentage of vegetables and fruits are wasted in the supply chain.

    • @Anil: I agree it is only a temporary inflation of prices. I’m not that naive to expect that such a price rise will continue throughout the year. But a price rise for even one week could cost people their meals.

      And I do agree that malnourishment is the result of a deeper systemic flaws (I did not mention that tomato festivals lead to malnourishment).

      But my question remains the same. Under these circumstances, is it not apathy?

      Employment generation? For a festival that, as you pointed, comes once a year? Is that the trade-off we are willing to pay for our apathy towards the poor?

      I would certainly not say that we would be better off if this festival were not to happen. My whole point was about the apathy. As a human, that’s my first feeling. And I tried to capture that feel with my opening paragraph. And if people can’t empathise with that, then there is something seriously wrong.

      Btw, when I say something seriously wrong, it includes me as well.

      • @Praveen: All i wanted to say was that La Tomatina festival, on second thought(i pointed out few obvious things, which you do know, only to show the possibility of things happening which might be desirable), may not be as bad , as compared to our first visceral reaction(“pales in comparison to snatching food away from his mouth just because you are better off”). You might be right but i think there are many issues more obvious than these as symbols of our indifference…

        • On second though, it still does not pale in comparison to snatching food away.

          I still believe it affects the lives of the poor people. And to be pedantic, yes, affects only temporarily. As a matter of fact, might be only for a couple of days. I’ve my reasoning. The huge demand for tomatoes will alter the supply chain into bringing more tomatoes to the market than usual (which, I believe will be sold at higher rates than usual). Bringing more tomatoes to the market will be at the cost of not bringing the usual quantities of other (essential?) items (rice or wheat, may be?). Which will further drive up the prices of these items for 2-3 days. And for me, that is sufficient enough a reason to evict a visceral reaction.

          But I also agree that there are a lot more symbols of our indifference. But my reactions are based on place and time. (sep 18th is around and there is a call for la tomatino in bangalore).

  4. Srsly of all the issues out thr u point dis out ? 😮 .. Ignorant frm u 😛

    • When there are a hundred news channels out there covering all the ‘issues’, and a hundred thousand facebook status messages supporting the ’cause’, ignorance is not about the so called ‘issues’, but about the not so trivial issues. Trivial issues for some, because ignorance trivialises.

      • IMO, all the news channels cover only one’HOT’ issue at a time ignoring the rest conveniently since public does not care for them ..So thr are many for u to write abt ( in case u want to write abt non-trivial issues ) and i distance myself frm any claims that i was referring to any particular issue .. I felt that the intensity of this ‘issue’ was blown out of proportion and it might not b dat srs a plroblem after all .. May b sumthinz wrong wid me but yeah , i feel i hav the bigger picture ..

        • Yes, there are many other issues that I could have written about. But as I pointed out to Anil, my writings are also a reaction to space-time. Bangalore, Sep 18th is closer than other non-trivial issues that I know of.

          In that, I agree that I am ignorant of closer issues. I’d be glad to be pointed to those issues. And I differ with you on the seriousness of the concerned issue.

  5. hai guyz.. I dont think this festival create so much of influence in our society,as per critics comments..think are we seriously care abt fud.?.as my friend said tomato doesn’t have life morethan two days but thos tomato making a huge value when itz coming these kind of festival b coz the co ordinators also spending money to buy it and i think it will help our farmers and i dont think so any farmer suicided b coz they are cultivating tomatos.and pls protest against the right issues which are facing by farmers

  6. http://unboxedwriters.com/2011/08/squelching-food-for-fun/

    Excellent article!

  7. Do you actually believe that this festival is not going to make much of a difference? This festival is just plain destructive to the society as a whole. Knowing that you spent so much money just to hurl tomatoes at each other and then you actually enjoy the fact that your throwing tomatoes knowing that there are so many people starving to death speaks volumes about your character. It’s true that if this festival never saw the light of day in India it would not have helped the poor in any way. But to support a cause where you’re deliberately causing harm even for two days is just plain wrong. Basically what i’m trying to say is if you do not want to help the poor then don’t do it but don’t give them another reason to suffer even a little at the cost of enjoyment by “throwing tomatoes”.What exactly are you celebrating in India?What is this festival about?
    What is the origin of this “festival” in India? I can only think of the influence of the movie. Therefore are you throwing tomatoes to celebrate the movie?


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