Violence and bitterness in our times


Nisha JamVwal laments over the prevalent aggression and apathy in the country and declares that love, more than punishment, can do wonders

Gloom and doom

Every newspaper I open, I feel a sense of doom for the scandal, cheating, corruption and violence that seem to be predominant themes in the news today. Is it me or is there are a rise in inhuman insensitivity and detachment, apathy in our leadership and acute aggression? Shouldn’t advancements and growth in life sciences, research, knowledge and understanding promote more peace, love and compassion than hatred, rape, animosity, murder, theft and terrorism? Are we regressing as human beings? Breakdown in moral fabric is manifesting in corruption in politics, sport, business, bureaucracy – a cancer eating our country and the world from within. In India, this lack of moral fibre is showing up in rape, violence and mistreatment of women. A nation can either strive to improve its morals or sadly descend into the chaos that comes from a lack of morals where the powerful prey on the weak. Are not corruption and rape two sides of the same behaviour, where you lacerate, brutalise and pillage the weak and helpless and feed your own greed, hunger and self-gratification?

Restitution and retribution

While people speak of fast track courts, changing the policing systems, more law and order and punishments of crime, my mind speaks of love, value systems and inculcating the correct thought at a young age, where you know right from wrong and you have an internal policing system. In a material age, being better than the Joneses and having branded everything from school bags to underwear are more important for many parents in their ambitions for their children. Violence and rape reflect individual psychology and conditioning that are shaped by early inculcation of moral values, positive mentors and role models. If a few sports, film heroes and charismatic folks extol the right, honest, decent way, it would bring about a change. Schools might relook at syllabi. With information a click away, some creative morality classes could be incorporated.

The family as a group is almost going the way of the dinosaur, as is regard and respect for elders. And at no point does this mean that there must not be better law, and stronger, more relevant policing systems than those chugging down from the British era.

The second need is for less bitterness in people, especially in India, with a better quality of life and infrastructure provided to the underprivileged too. I believe that a climate of wellbeing would make for less discontent in society, therefore less pent up frustration rage and consequent violence.

What Western culture?

How conveniently we in India blame the west for the breakdown in culture that India was historically famed for. Unfortunately, that fame now largely belongs in history books with the gloried Asoka, Chandragupta, Kanishka, Buddha, Guru Nanak, Akbar, et al. Rape, violence and blatant dismantling of morality stares us in the face on a daily basis. We cannot pile our lapses onto the ‘Western’ door front; we have to take responsibility for something we don’t seem to be getting right! Good and bad exist in every society, like day and night, but what India faces today seems like an endless dark night fraught with spectres of violence, rape and ghastly vandalism – for example, the recent rape of a five-year-old child amidst the spate that already fills the media; the pestilence of bribery, greed, corruption and fraud; the flourishing of rogue business barons; the match-fixing by sportsmen. Keepers of the law and leaders of governance are brushed in colours of the most bandied about word – bhrashtachar.

The root of rape

Rape, say psychologists, is not primarily about sexual gratification. It is an act of violence and assault stemming from low self-esteem, a perverted need to assert dominance or power (in the typical manner of a bully) over a victim perceived as weaker. A subconscious disregard for the female as an object of less consequence than the male, or subconscious hatred, or some kind of revenge fuels the act. Beneath any variety of reason, it is about lack of impulse control to the degree where consequences and repercussions are lost from the breakdown of better sense. It is a terrible perversion that I cannot understand, considering these demons are born of mothers who nurtured them to the extent of transforming them into hulks!

Don’t merely punish

The means to eradicate this heinous crime entails punishment, public shame and ostracism, of course. But we need a climate that doesn’t breed this ill. It is after all more prevalent in some societies than others. It is said to be not seen much in the southern states, and someone tells me that it is almost absent in certain tribes. It is about an equality of the sexes and an inherent respect for women. Sensitivity can be brought about by training, awareness and better exposure to a civilised way of life. An empathetic awareness brings about a radical change. I do believe that education in the true sense is a refining process that most cultivates empathy for all living beings.

The unlikely criminal

What has me unceasingly amazed is that people who seem to have it all – name, fame, achievement, respect and money enough for generations – commit crimes. What makes them reach the pinnacle and then sink to the depths of embezzlement, fraud and all the ugliness it entails? This trend seems unending as one watches the media uncover a bewildering array of scams every day that involve monies with an equally bewildering array of zeroes behind the numbers! This exists in a country where impoverished farmers commit suicide and homeless children put their heads to rest at night on bare pavements in our metros. This era of the mute prime minister has been called the most corrupt in the history of India. “How can such poverty, corruption and inequality endure in the world’s largest, most diverse democracy?” shouts Timothy Garton Ash from his column in The Guardian. “So I say, come on, India! So far as I’m concerned, you can beat England at cricket in every single Test match for the next 10 years, but on one condition: that you also start beating China at politics. And by politics I mean not the petty competition for power and privilege, but realising the full potential of your youth!”

Who will be the change-maker?

How big is the snowball of corruption going to grow? And is there any force that can curtail it? Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Subramaniam Swami, the media big boys? India has one of the largest youth populations in the world, and as this is the age of digital communication, I write to them. Hopefully youth power will make a collective impact and bring forth a transition to a bright future!  In a country of a billion plus, the other countable names of hope – Shiv Nadar, Azim Premji and Ratan Tata – sparkle like diamonds in the sooty darkness of our coalmine!

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