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    Charlotte Kay

    -Add your selected Image to the topic:

    -Objectively describe the image. What do you see?
    A boy, aged around 9-13 (in my opinion) stands underneath a cow as it urinates, showering the boy. The boy splashes the urine across his head.

    -How does the picture make you feel? Write your emotions.
    Having lived in India for some time, the topic of cows and in particular cow urine is a contentious one, even within India itself. While I, before having lived there, would be disgusted, even think “Do they have no water?” and wonder about the lack of hygiene, lack of access to water, poverty and religious devotion that takes place in India which is very different for someone who has grown up in a moderately, for the most part, secular society with plenty of access to hygiene and clean running water. It might make me feel disgusted and also sorry for the young child who has to go through with this. When you first learn that cow urine, for a particular set of people who are Hindu, is sacred and is considered ‘healthy’, seen almost like our version of holy water; they actually actually bottle, bathe and even drink cows’ urine. At first you might be disgusted, wonder about the hygiene of it, wonder about the place of science within religion, wonder about the spread of misinformation, wonder about the lack of educational resources to the poor – and feel pity. If you see this image with no further information, you might also think, everyone in India does this, reinforcing some pretty negative stereotypes on India’s struggles for hygiene, as well as misinformation of the religion of Hinduism.
    When you learn that, it is only a particular group of Hindus who do this, that there is a very large section of Hindus who condemn this, who have tried through PSAs to inform the uneducated, the poor, those cut off from the modern cities; that this is an unhealthy practice, as well as deconstructing the idea that it is blessed; knowing this, really makes you start to understand the difference between what we have stereotypical learnt about developing nations, and what is actually happening on ground zero. This furthers your pity, your compassion, as well as makes you understand that there is a huge issue in developing countries of the large gap between the wealthy/rich/educated classes and those who are poor. This issue is a universal one; we can think of huge gaps between the wealthy and poor in every country. The topic of religion is also a good starting point for tackling prejudice. Knowing that there are a million different practices under a same religion, allows us to take a step back from our initial prejudice. We know that even in the richest of nations, religion still finds a way to a child’s textbook, e.g. creationism. Misinformation, different religious practices that impress upon cultural beliefs, are not isolated to one part of the world, nor to one country.

    -What values does the picture tackle?
    I’m not sure I could say which values; perhaps inadvertently, the themes I see arising are those of: hygiene practices, religious customs, symbolic practices.

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