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Thursday, June 20, 2013

On June 28, make compassion your passion

 As our lives get more fast-paced and frenetic, we are paying a cost we don't need to pay: increasing disconnection
from our fellow citizens and human beings. A startling ima
ge of such disconnection was played out on national television a couple of months back—when Kanhaiya Lal Raiger's motorbike was hit by a truck inside a road tunnel in Jaipur. His wife and infant daughter lay on the road while Kanhaiya Lal nursed his sobbing five-year-old son and begged passersby for help—to no avail as cars zipped past.
    Those chilling TV images capture a paradox. On the one hand, our communications technology is powerful enough to make millions of people feel
empathy for the unfortunate victims. But on the other, that didn't suffice to get them help in time. Can we do something to bridge this divide? To go beyond the merely transactional and instrumental quality of our relationships to a more caring and humane society that enriches all our lives and makes our public spaces less hostile? And do we in the media have a special responsibility for this? It's what led us to propose, as part of TOI's 'I Lead India' campaign, setting aside June 28—a week from now—as Compassion Day.
    Given the busy lives we lead, all of us may not be able to reach out to the stranger in the street. But a journey of athousand miles can begin with a single step. What about helping out those with whom our daily lives intersect—domestic help, office peons, drivers, security guards, babysitters, gardeners and so on? Can we help them in opening bank accounts or purchasing medical insurance, facilitate a good education for their children, assist them in pursuing a healthy lifestyle?

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