The 'trappings' of Power

'I’ve thought about that night many times. I still feel frustrated that the young man wasn’t taking control of his life. But I also remember the brief sense of how one’s will can be broken by feeling powerless. The issue of power is a complex subject with multiple dimensions, but the situation with the young man is a classic example of two types of power — one, the power for one’s own actions, or “power within”; and two, the power over the actions of others, or “power over”: the power of governments over citizens; Brahmins over Dalits; teachers over students; husbands over wives. The power of a domineering boss over a hapless pani puri vendor.

Changing this power relationship is incredibly difficult. Getting people to see and exercise the power within — getting empowered — is like opening a Pandora’s box, a process ridden with conflict and pain. It needs courage on the part of the oppressed, and also facilitators, to help in the transition. The sad fact is that there are millions of Indians who are caught in such power traps, each one a painful Pandora’s box waiting to be opened.'

- Ramesh Ramanathan; 'Millions of pandora’s boxes'.


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