Saturday, March 7, 2009

Give This a Thought...

A group of children are playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child is playing on the disused track, the rest on the operational track. The train comes, and you are just beside the track interchange. You could make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed; or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make.

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess.Exactly, I thought the same way initially because to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place? Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office,community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him. The friend who forwarded me the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens. If the train was diverted, that lone child
would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track!

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.


  1. In any case the better decision would be to let it be because:

    1.)There is a greater chance that one of the kids in the group notice the train in time. trains are big and noisy after all.

    2.)Putting the train on the unused track puts the entire train in danger of derailing.

  2. nice points dude....hadnt thot abt point 2 myself...hats off to u :)

  3. I agree with you saying that the better option would be to not divert the train..However I completely disagree with the analogy you quoted.. Infact I feel whats happening today is quite the opposite of what you claimed is... Going by the assumption that your classification of the majority and MINORITY of the population was based on the caste...that is how we classify it anyways in general..

    Let me give you a better analogy.. You have studied your guts out.(to be more familiar..say for the IIT).. and you got say..a 3k rank.. now comes along a guy from this so called minority u said that is being exploited.. who for the sake of conversation say..had fun..which u sacrificed having in mind a higher goal..

    Now you took the safer and logical option..studied hard for it.. but didnt get through.. But he did... Now.. you tell me... Whoz the kid on the disused railway track..and the hundreds of them happily playing away on the used one... Now GIVE IT A THOUGHT!!!

  4. I liked your counter example Goku...But when I said minorities and majorities wrt a democracy, I did not mean to imply caste based divisions. Although otherwise your argument is irrefutable you misinterpret me by assuming your classifications based on caste...

    What I meant to say was that in a democracy like ours it is only a minority of people who are educated, mature and civilized enough to understand what the country actually needs and who are the politicians who would best serve it! The significant majority of people are concerned with making both ends meet and are easy fodder for the money-for-vote based political games that so often characterize most of the corrupt politicians...

    However by its very definition itself a democracy implies equal rights! Does anyone question the logic of empowering a poor farmer who will definitely sell his vote so that he can support his family (and you cant blame him for this either, there is a limit to how patriotic an average person can be and one has many obligations to one's family) and giving just the same amount of weightage to an educated and self-reliant voter who is under no pressure to sell his vote???

    I am not trying to make an argument against democracy here. We Indians should rightly be proud of our country's position as the world's largest democracy! But we should also remember that democracy in a developing nation like ours has its negative effects too and should try to work towards eliminating those effects!

  5. Like i said...Going by the assumption..If my assumption was wrong, the comment unvalidates itself..

  6. Each year 1000s of students learn to their disgust, that your assumption is a very valid one indeed and the scenario you depicted is damn realistic too!It is just that I meant to confine my classifications wrt democratic India!