What are your opinions regarding fat shaming? How often do people judge each other based on body image?
We live in a society where we tend to start judging people at a very young age. We mock fat people and very thin people and differently-abled people – often involuntarily. This is because we grow up in a culture which is inherently ableist and sexist – even if it is in the smallest of ways. Regardless, this habit of casual sexism and/or body shaming becomes more involuntary and aggressive as we grow up. And while girls are more prone to body image issues, it happens to everyone and affects us all.
Do you think the entertainment industry contributes to this sort of culture?
Yes, definitely. If you look at Hollywood and Bollywood, mainstream cinema follows a trend where the hero is well-built with a six-pack and over-large biceps and the lead actresses are skinny and voluptuous. The hypocrisy is astounding: scantily-clad, sexually-explicit women on screen are a big hit, but the same in real life are seen as an insult to ‘Indian culture’. This obsession with body image issues is often accompanied by the glorification of stalking, eve-teasing, homophobia and other bigotry. It’s portrayed as comedy but it has become such a staple in movies and music that it’s disturbing. This is especially true for Indian cinema.
“Especially true for Indian cinema,” – how so?
Consider Sonakshi Sinha. A very fine actress. But there is so much debate over whether her being ‘fat’ or ‘curvy’ is a good thing or not. I mean, why is that even an issue? Why are we so obsessed about that? If her body shape is so important to us, we need to seriously rethink our attitude towards women and people in general. I remember reading this somewhere: ‘Being fat, like being tall, is not a bad or good thing. It’s just who you are.’ It’s as simple as that.
How can we amend this trend of body shaming?
It’s a very inherent problem, indoctrinated into us from our childhood days. Most of the time, it’s involuntary. Which makes it all the more difficult to combat. Judging people based on their looks is generally considered as wrong, but it doesn’t stop us from widely practicing it. The solution to this is, I think, a combination of time and proper education. We need to also refrain from being influenced by certain sections of society. Take Honey Singh for example, who calls himself an ‘artist’ and makes rap songs which are overly sexist and ableist. Such a hyper-masculine culture which proposes that only those men with abs and biceps and a lot of girlfriends are ‘men’ – it hurts all of us, men and women.
Anything to say in conclusion?
Judging people is something human beings have always done, and will always do. I just think it’s better if we judge each other by our actions rather than our physical appearances. We are so much more than our bodies.
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Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.