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Deprivation and Privilege: The Relative Spectrum

Revisiting the roots, one ray of hope at a time!

06 Oct '23
5 min read


For as long as I can recall, my earliest memory of recognizing deprivation, stems from a neighbourhood where I grew up. Before the psyche of a child understands the various contexts in which ‘deprivation’ is located, the very first introduction to that idea comes through real-life and unfiltered experiences that are both very simple and very complex to comprehend. 

We lived in the housing accommodation for the teaching faculty at the university, my school being approximately some two hundred steps away from home. The neighbourhood was chirpy, inhabited by students, professors and their families from all parts of the country. Like many others, we had a ritual of an evening walk around the neighbourhood food joints and shops for many years, consisting of random visits to the stationery shops, bakeries and ice-cream parlours. Circling back to memories of deprivation around me, I recollect that the locality was surrounded by beggars with a very meagre livelihood. My parents occasionally gave them food or loose change, not being unknown to the complex stories and hypocrisy reigning behind those faces. 

After such exchanges, I remember thinking about the mental place the kid would be in, having to represent and earn for a family, barely trying to survive, in a world that’s far ahead. I can vouch for the fact that a toddler doesn’t understand the terms like ‘empathy’ or ‘responsibility’ but they sure feel those emotions, sometimes more than the adult-folk. As I’ve discovered, these waves of empathetic emotions from childhood, wither into valleys of sympathy, rarely perennial in adults. Those few, who manage to remain close to the ocean, away from the steep trenches, have a new category in which the society, divided by borders, framed them: activists. These ‘activists’ advocating for? The bare minimum of ‘inclusivity’, ‘initiative’ and the long-forgotten ‘empathy’. Little did I know, these exchanges were a mere glimpse into the endless categories and hierarchies in which people as a whole are divided. 

Through all these years, with a closer glance and a clearer vision into the external and internal layered-ness of being, I learnt the ways in which social structures function- the classes, races, ethnicities, gender and economic disparities, severely deep-rooted within and around us, in our values, belief systems and perspectives. The crux of all the layers of these social structures are two ideas held by a common aim: deprivation and its counterpart, privilege. Deprivation in terms of resources, opportunities, inheritance, representation and accessibility to the basics of education, healthcare and employment. And privilege? A life beyond abundance.  

Today, both deprivation and privilege and relative concepts, inferred quantitatively and qualitatively. There are an unfathomable number of loopholes in the cycle of accessibility, like pretentiousness, injustice, biases, greed and egotism. These being mortally created and willingly or knowingly inherited, they lead to agony for future generations, predominantly deprived of resources. Unlike many of the literary comedies, the system of the world and the complex stories of people entwined with it don’t always witness a utopian transformation towards the end. Some stories remain paralyzed without a proper ending, because it is only collectively possible to overthrow the world system in a day. 

Just like it takes two to tango, it takes a globe to initiate change that will last. Global forums and events initiate change, but the situation calls for a change that prevails. Change that does not only require widely acclaimed boardroom meetings, conferences or high-end workshops to reflect. The very point of change is outreach, which needs a space beyond four walls or a rectangular screen to spread its arms. That embrace, the world needs, to elucidate awareness and knowledge to those ignorant and in need. 

Of all the types that deprivation shelters, the most basic is survival and accessibility, to create a level-playing field. The way that I have deemed most efficient is through smaller rays of hope; hope that makes life easier for those working tirelessly and for those who selflessly pour into others. The reform can be a light conversation with a house-help, a small tip to the delivery man or someone waiting on tables. There are some glimpses of reform, in bits and pieces, through people around me. Someone who can’t see children starving near a food joint, someone who has their lunch with the lone security guard in the canteen, someone who makes the house-help a family member for every occasion, and endless incidents that make people smile.  

Having been on both ends of the spectrum, from a kind act on a food joint to an international event for empowerment, I can safely say that the vision on both ends is the same. In a world that taints our faith in the character of people, we need to perceive and encourage acts of kindness like we perceive a social media follower- with hope. In a society that functions on marketing yourself, judged by keywords on a CV, the frame is beyond business, as infinite as your lens is willing to be! 

Category : World


Written by Tanmaya Kshirsagar

Artist | Musician | Writer