Many years ago, I was amused to see the following safety warning on a plastic bag which came from the U.S. It read :"This is not a toy. Keep out of the reach of children." and then there was something more like " Do not place any of the enclosed plastic bags over your head and then tightly wrap duct tape around your neck to shut out the air." I wondered if that was any indication of the manufacturer's assumption about the buyer's intelligence or if it was common practice in that country for plastic bags to be put to such a use. My friend explained that this was necessary to escape law suits and that is why manufacturers assume nothing and try to protect themselves against all possible misuse and abuse of the product and the packaging.
Although the whole point about assumption seemed amusing to me at that time, I kept wondering what would happen if such a stringent legal system were to become a reality in India where many people still cannot read or can only read what is in their mother tongue - would the seller be required to explain the safety instructions and take a declaration from the buyer for having understood them?
How often we take so many things for granted!In spite of illiteracy being such a major issue in the country what steps do we take to make such important messages reach them? We are familiar with the public service advertisement where the doctor asks the young girl to read letters on a board to test her vision while she keeps staring at the letters which she can see but cannot read.
I remember one incident in my life which made me realise how insensitive we are sometime to those that come from social and economic circumstances that are different from ours. For a few days when someone in the family was sick, my maid servant's daughter from the village stayed with me to help out. Often she would disappear into the garden and oneday when I followed her I found she was running to the garden to answer the call of nature. I was appalled and gave her a mouthful of words regarding keeping the environment clean etc.The girl was in tears and finally told me that she did not know how to use the toilet. It had not occured to me at all to explain this to her!
Since then I have learnt not to assume anything or take things for granted.
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