Sunday, August 14, 2022

Socio-cultural sensitivity

One day, a student asked me what the most beautiful thing about our country was. I pondered a while then replied that ours was the only country where we coexisted with almost all religions of the world.
Ours is a country where all the festivals of the world are celebrated with the same fervor. It is the country where the largest number of languages are being spoken. Since time immemorial our ancestors nurtured social and cultural sensitivity in our society. They taught us the need to recognize social and cultural differences. And in society, an understanding was made of different races, ethnicity, language, religions, morals, values, and ethical behaviour. If today we are celebrating the range of social and cultural diversity in our country the credit goes to our forefathers who sowed the seeds of tolerance and social harmony. Fissiparous tendencies had always been shunned in ancient Indian culture.
Over time, we forgot this sensitivity. It is the need of the hour to develop socio-cultural sensitivity once again. We mustn’t make any assumptions about the persons belonging to another caste, religion, or ethnicity. Many times we pass our judgments on certain historic personalities without knowing the cultural, social, and historic perspectives of their actions. It develops intolerance and the harmonious environment of society gets shattered.
Cultural awareness begins with self-awareness. “What are my cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes?” “How are these elements of my culture reflected in my behavior?” and “How adaptable and tolerant am I?” We should try to observe intently not just our actions that could be culturally imbibed, but also the actions of others. This helps us in responding to others rationally. Being socially and culturally sensitive will help us in developing empathy, becoming inclusive, and embracing diversity. This enables us to make informed decisions in all spheres of our social life.
It is pertinent to mention here that everyone has some unconscious biases, but they can create a lot of problems when they surface in our daily life and lead to unfair decisions. Social and cultural sensitivity makes us aware of biases embedded in our psychology and also helps to get rid of this negativity. To accept diversity, it is necessary to appreciate, recognize and be aware of ourselves and others. If we are not culturally and socially sensitive and unwilling to admit differences and diversity, conflict is likely to happen and it is dangerous for everyone.
Some people are culturally intolerant, perhaps because they suffer from a sense of cultural superiority. Cultural intolerance is the root cause of xenophobia, racism, and unilateralism, and thus often leads to regional and global tensions and conflicts. Cultural and social inclusiveness and tolerance can play a crucial role in bringing people closer who speak different languages, practice different religions, follow different customs, believe in different values, and therefore promote harmony. Being socially and culturally sensitive does not mean compromising our own culture or sacrificing our values or identity for others. This skill simply helps us to understand how we can best adapt our approach, thoughts and decision to maintain harmony. It is about respecting others’ social and cultural concerns as well as our own. It is accepting the differences and focusing on similarities is key to building stronger relationships in society.
Dr. Sanjeev Gandhi, Associate Professor, Government
College Radaur

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