Curiosity Education Cat Died Nobly

Curiosity — Where art thou?

(This article was written last summer (2015) for my then college’s department magazine. The events referred to are a little dated but still, I believe, relevant.)
Curiosity might have killed the cat but it is the lack of curiosity that might prove to be our undoing.
Curiosity Killed the Cat
Credit: quoteaddicts.com

Because…

In late 2013, reports of Bihar going crazy over a misreported scarcity of salt created such pandemonium in Nagaland that grocery shops even in remote villages — as a result of panic buying — reportedly ran out of stock within hours. Many foxy dealers cashed in on the confusion. Yes, we cracked jokes and laughed at ourselves over the following days but our folly had unwittingly been exposed.

And…

The incident, while relatively harmless in itself, betray a pitiable weakness of gullibility on our part. That’s because we are too ignorant – only that can explain why the ridiculous rumour of an impending salt crisis found the number of takers that it did. But worse still, we are too credulous or lazy or both to take up a questioning stance. In this case, a simple exercise in common sense (or a single Google search) would have been sufficient to extinguish the tall flames of a purported salt scarcity. We are needlessly alarmed by misinformation.

So…

Is this something we should be worried about? Definitely. Not just because we don’t know (I hope we do now) that salt is, for all practical purposes, an inexhaustible resource; but importantly because the attitude of accepting things as they are (or, more frequently these days, as they are shared on social media or forwarded on Whatsapp) without question, an utter lack of curiosity in other words, permeates and endangers other important spheres of our personal and public lives.

For instance…

The recent March 5 incident is a good if unfortunate illustration of what uninformed frenzy can lead to. How easily swayed we are by disinformation! I personally think that few among the protesters, and none of those who participated in the lynching, cared to read the facts of the case as they appeared in the dailies — to say little or nothing of critically examining the integrity of the allegations. Now, what we are left with is a disturbed conscience, a damaged image and no mobile internet.

Also…

Meek compliance to societal prescription appears to be an unwritten rule. Most degree students have been launched into the same fixed trajectory that will one day inject only a few of them into stable orbits around NL 10s. This is madness engineered by a perverted society that has, for reasons that escape me, chosen to accord esteem and reverence disproportionately to high administrative officers, engineers and doctors. Isn’t this pushing us into an unsustainable future? I’d argue it already has.

Now…

It requires no mentioning that a vigilant, well informed and, to a certain extent, even suspicious citizenry is vital for any healthy society. This is of even greater consequence in our context for it is a time of great uncertainty in which we are living. We are surrounded by a deluge of pressing issues – the overwhelming incidence of corruption at all levels of the government machinery which has disheartened and disgusted one and all, the Naga political movement which has left many of us confused about the present and concerned of the future, the question of commercial development vis-à-vis traditional ownership rights and many more. During such a crucial time, shall we remain uninformed and unwary? We can ill afford to.

Therefore…

What we need is a revival of the human spirit – the spirit of enquiry or ‘the scientific temper’, to use a Nehruvian phrase. Only the curious have things to find and learn. As the foundation of tomorrow’s society, we have to be curious – about our history, culture, attitudes and indeed about everything under the sun. Only then will we be in a position to develop our own ideas and opinions. Be nosey; ask questions; be skeptical.  By doing so, not only will we prevent the occurrence of shameful incidents like the one that just transpired but we will also be building up a secure intellectual foundation on which the grand social edifices of progress and prosperity may be firmly erected.

Curiosity Education Cat Died Nobly

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