Project O- An opinion on opinions

Project O: This is an ambitious little project taken up by Opinionated Man at HarsH ReaLiTy. He intends to explore the vast stretches of the ocean of opinions and the way culture, nationality, country, age, sex and various other factors influence opinions. This is my contribution to his ambitious project. You will be able to see this post on the Project O Director’s blog at some point in the near future.

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

Well, here I am- a proud Mechanical Engineer, just forging words, welding them into phrases and hammering down lines. I work for a multinational company specializing in automotive manufacturing sector. If it’s not for work, then I am just an occasional writer, a lazy thinker and a random traveller. 

Personally, I try my hand at a lot of things- again I am an amateur. Be it a little bit of clicking and capturing moments (which the world broadly calls professionally as “photography”), be it standing at the crossroads and taking a different unexplored route, be it the rush of adrenalin every time I pack my bags to trek or travel, or just the delight of laying down and listening to Ludovico Einaudi or Hans Zimmer or Coldplay – I just own up everything my own way.

Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin.

I currently live in Bangalore, India. Born and brought up in the serene coastal town of Mangalore I have only recently moved to the cosmopolitan hub of India. A working professional, still in his early twenties with bachelors in Engineering and an experience of residence in a couple of countries should sum up my little bio duly here.

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?

This might be a tricky one to answer because we all would have had more than a few such moments but sometimes they just get washed down the drain because then our opinions on the subject matter would be very insignificant and insensible compared to the ones coming from an experienced adult. A couple of incidents do spark up when I was politely asked to “shut up” when things didn’t go too well for the elderly. One such was probably a time when I was hell-bent on proving  the importance of extra-curricular activities in a student life. I was rooting for a balance between education and these activities when all the opinions thrown around me were just saying “yeah you are right but at the end of the day people judge you by measuring where you work, which college you went to and how good you were at your academics”. Well, there is no comeback to it, is there? (Especially when you are being talked down by people who are almost three or four times your own age)

Question 4: What levels of respect were practised around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’am’s,” or some  other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue? Is an honorific given to someone older than you and do you often respect and practice that? How might the culture you were brought up in have affected the growth of your own opinions?

 Before I go any further with this, I would like to clarify that India is a very huge country with a very vast diverse structure. But it all boils down to the same core cultural facts. Me? I was taught to respect elders and everyone who helped me and provided for me. Sitting cross-legged infront of elders for instance is considered a very rude gesture at my place. In the northern parts of India, a suffix “ji” is added while addressing seniors. It indicates respect and has various versions of its own in almost all the other parts as well. These are just the tip of the iceberg but there are a million little aspects of this culture that shower respect and in great ways influence words, thoughts and opinions alike. With the influence of western culture, many things have changed significantly but the strong roots still hold on tight. I am not narrow-minded towards my own culture but I would whole heartedly accept any new ones too.

Question 5:  How travelled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?

I have travelled pretty less though I wish I could travel a lot more if only I had the time and the money. Well, this is just the start of my third decade on this planet and I do hope that I cover atleast 100 countries before I live my last.

I have been around India, though a lot remains to be covered yet. There is still a lot to be learnt in this diverse nation where few hundred kilometers gives rise to new traditions, new cultures, new ethnicities, new languages and a whole new world inside a nation. Apart from my homeland I have had the opportunity to go the little country of Singapore and experience its culture. A three month long internship at the National University of Singapore culminated with deep insight into the way people lived their lives here.

Coming to the aspect of news, well frankly I wish all Indians were well informed. There are a whole lot of people who still don’t have access to a television set let alone the internet. Newspapers do breathe out a lot of the news but the electronic media has turned news to be more of money making venture than put down the true facts as they were. A more detailed account can be read in my post- Death of Real Journalism.

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

It’s a very hard ask to pick just one. Every now and then, I tend to focus and look at this whole world turning on its heels. I feel we are all getting consumed in this wave of inhumanity. Be it the violence in the Middle East, be it the rise in extremism, and be it the dictatorial rules that still exist in many parts of the world or the loss of those innocent lives deprived of freedom and food alike. It all looms so large ahead that I have personally started feeling that we are inching towards a world where inhumanity will be considered as the new being human ( ). 

Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability?

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius.

Well opinions mean a whole bunch of things to me. It means a form of expression, a means of connectivity and a medium that lies hovering somewhere between knowledge and ignorance. It helps me be myself, helps me remain realistic and helps me be diplomatic. As a right, I think the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sums it all up. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?

I am glad to have a right to an opinion. Just flipping the coin over, I know that I need to hear the other person out too. It’s the same lives, same world and the same land that we all live in. Frankly speaking everyone is entitled to his right to an opinion on any issue. But again, hierarchy, fear of reprisal, loyalties, and regulations (to name a few) sometimes could be a major barrier to expressing opinions. Not everything is fair in this world. Is it?

Question 9: The last question, upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?

It was an interesting project to take up in the first place and I appreciate the ideas and innovation of Opinionated Man in coming up with this forum to create an opinion about opinions. It’s a long way to actually judge how it could help the world but yeah, probably it could give insights into the world of opinions and influence of various factors on our thoughts.