Erecting walls of exclusion in housing apartments creates a sense of happiness which is ”unstable”, and cannot help in maintaining the wellbeing of a person, a Harvard university professor has said.
In the comments that come amid a raft of reports about people being discriminated against on the basis of their faith or eating habits even in an otherwise cosmopolitan city like Mumbai, Robert Waldinger opined against any kind of polarisation or ghettoisation.
”…we can wall ourselves off. But it’s unstable because it decreases understanding of people who are different and have different habits and different beliefs,” Waldinger, who is the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said.
”So the more we wall ourselves off, the less likely we’re gonna be, I think (in) long term, we’re going to be able to maintain those walls and maintain our wellbeing. That’s why this polarisation is so worrying,” he told PTI, answering a specific question on whether the discriminatory practices can lead to happiness.
Despite a lot of criticism of such practices, there are often reports of Muslims or meat eaters finding it difficult to get apartments on rent or for sale because of their beliefs and choices. The previous state government had also warned the realty developers against following such practices.
Waldinger said polarisation usually happens in times of social upheaval where people turn on each other, and cited the experiences during the pandemic as a case in point where people got frightened and began ”finding enemies”.
Rather than curbing such fears, politicians capitalise on them to grow their base, he rued.
”…the problem is that many of our leaders use that. Because you can get people, you can play on people’s fears to make them more afraid of each other. And it’s one of the things that’s the most dangerous trend going on,” he said.
Waldinger, who has been heading a study on happiness in communities started at the reputed varsity in 1938, said communities play a very important role in maintaining happiness for a person.
The professor is in the financial capital for working with realty developer Rustomjee Group, which is associated with projects across the financial capital.
Rustomjee’s chairman and managing director Boman Irani made it clear that the group is against any ghettoism and exclusionary ideas.
The realty group said it has appointed Waldinger as a consultant on design to elevate the sense of community across Rustomjee projects.
It plans to conduct ‘circle of happiness’, a three-day festival this weekend, to celebrate the power of human connections, collaboration and community, as per an official statement.