While waiting for traffic signal at any large junction, one comes across a far too familiar sight. Just when the signal turns red, the motorists are surrounded by a hoard of people including third genders and children clamouring for money. People even beg in God’s name! There are children, who are supposed to be getting schooling, roaming around the streets asking for alms.

While personally I am against beggary, I cannot help but think of the number of people in this country who have to beg to stay alive. The number is just enormous! To give an idea of how large the number is, consider this simple fact. We have the largest railway network in the world, and this kind of beggary takes place in almost all the trains all across India. I don’t like encouraging beggary, but to simply ignore it would only be because of Schadenfreude.

Simply put, Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This German word is used as a loanword in English. Probably most of these people begging on the streets and trains are a part of a much bigger racket. Nevertheless, they still are less fortunate than most of us and in the bigger picture, ignoring the root causes that are the unemployment rates, crime rates and corruption present in this country is just plainly Schadenfreude. Saying it’s “because of the population of India” is just an excuse. The responsibility to wipe out these rackets and give free education to all those children falls to the nation as a whole, but we’ve elected a set of people to do the work of improving the nation. Sadly though, the so-called “concerned authorities” are much too involved in growing rich instead of sparing some time to empathize with such a large number of people.

This country is bogged down with many such problems and even though we are making excellent progress in military and science, the simple lack of empathy among the “concerned” people is hindering progress. These “concerned” people may not derive pleasure per-se from the problems of the many thousands of less-fortunate people, but there is no arguing the fact that they do monetarily prosper from the underlying corruption. The reason Schadenfreude seems to be the appropriate term for it is the very fact that these less fortunate people continue to be in the state they are in mostly because of the lack of action from the people responsible.

Like in most languages, there are so many words that sound great but have a negative meaning. Take ‘melancholy’, for example. ‘Schadenfreude’ also sounds really nice to say out loud but it does have a dark meaning to it.