Monday, 24 December 2012

Be a part of the Change

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" - MK Gandhi

"Anger at this crime is justified but violence will serve no purpose. ", said the Prime Minister of the country in a speech which was badly written, had little relevance in terms of making impact, offered no solutions, assured none and showed school level oratory skills. At the end of it all Dr. Singh messed it up by asking "Theek Hai?" while still on camera. Public speaking and handling the press conferences better are surely two things which he can ask tips on from Mr. Narendra Modi. While it is not a good approach to judge and have so many adjectives to offer to some one as learned as our Prime Minister, but the instinctive reaction can not always be contained.

 My instinctive reaction after watching the conference was "Kuch Theek nahi hai PM saab" which came out spontaneously of my mouth. Further the reaction was to switch off the TV and focus on my work. It worked for the short term. It made an immediate impact and I was able to work. 

In the evening, the same press conference flashed again but I wasn't as impulsive as I was in the morning. Don't know why but I gave my attention to it for the second time in the day. This time my instinct was quieter and my reaction was "Everything ain't alright.". This time my brain, may be not as genius as smart people's was looking for reasons. It wasn't impulsive. It was not looking for immediate action.

The criminal act of violence which happened in Delhi last week should be condemned in every possible manner. Unfortunately, the case is not the only incident of its kind. There are so many which have been reported and are awaiting some kind of justice. There are many more which have never been reported. Few even took place after the highlighted case in Delhi. Hearing to people on news channels and in our social circles it seems women are more unsafe than they ever were. Yes, they are. Eve teasing, lewd comments, harassment at work place, etc. are only a few examples but the list keeps going on. Security thus being a major issue which needs to acted upon.

It is heartening to see so many young people coming out collectively for a cause. In spite of police retaliation and breakdown, struggle continues to support the cause for not the justice alone but for the future too. The demands of capital punishment like death penalties, castration are personal point of views. It is obvious that there is a lot of anger in the people who are out there protesting and millions who can not be there for some reason. While demanding a quick response and punishment they have put enormous pressure on the government, police and judiciary which is commendable. This will not go in vain and I am sure with the right help from media, the victim will get justice in getting the culprits punished. The police, government and judiciary all have acted much faster in this case than in other similar cases. This has been the direct result of anger which brought the people out. 

The issues today are romanticized and made too excited by today's TRP driven media. Showing half truth helps media to keep the excitement up. The people have to be smart enough not to be just driven by rage but keep their rationale in these times of 24 x 7 news channels and paid news era. Media, some political groups and other hooligans have also played a role in inciting people.

Agreeing to what people are speaking on the TV and whatever kind of impact they have been able to make, I dare to differ to the manner they have spoken things in. It is the verbal and mental violence which is visible. Just like the gloomiest of weather have a ray of hope in it, the poor speech of our Prime Minister had a valid point which is anger is justified but violence isn't. Where are we heading to this way? Violence for violence, just of different kind will bring what change? There is an old saying, "there are no shortcuts to success and no alternative for hard work." It goes in pretty well in this situation as it does in  most. 

Understandably, there is a need of very swift action from the government and police. That is something which this movement has been able to trigger. But in long term will  castration, death penalty, fast track courts and super fine policing alone be able to prevent rapes, molestation, violence and harassment of women. I strictly do not think these alone will be enough. 

It has to be a decent mix of system, governance, policing, judiciary reforms along with major cultural and social reforms which will help us give our selves a better place to live. We need to give government and others some time to bring in new policy and reforms. There is a need to setting up institutions which will help in these matters. There have to be some sort of independence given to police with accountability. Institutions which can conduct study and research on why violence (including violence on women and men ) happens and how can it be prevented. Fast track courts and sensitizing the police towards the general public may be another suggestion added to that list.  These will surely take time if things move at the pace they have been moving in our system. Even if the speed of work is raised by the government, it will take time to prepare various policies. 

Though it seems very easy to say that bring in the new law that will safe guard women, it is essential in today's age to make it in a way that the law itself doesn't become a weapon of aggression and misuse and become its own very enemy. The very example is the dowry act's IPC Section 498a which  has been largely misused by women. Again it is very easy and exciting to think that public prosecution, castration will curb the crime but I do not think so. The demand of capital punishments and harsher penalties rests on the concept of fear. Fear in my view is something which can only bare superstition and can not be a pillar for some permanent change. I agree that initially something on this line may help reduce the number of cases but if people start losing the fear of punishment which I am sure will happen with some the reasoning fails here. We youth are looking for fear to solve the problem for us because that is the way most of us have learned to do things in our childhood. Our parents, teachers and elders taught us to be afraid of so many things, God being the prime of them. How many of us were taught to love God? Or to love our school work? Remember all those days when you felt now you are not with your parents you will do things which they couldn't convince you not to do but for your fear you did them. Though it is needed for stringent punishment but it may not be a preventive solution.

There are so many things which the government needs to do and we can only put pressure on them with the protests. It is applaudable the amount of energy people have spent in this protest. The pressure they have created on the government. The distance they have walked in the marches. But also they have wasted an opportunity where they could have aware themselves and many others. When people talk of being Gandhian, thus peaceful protest marches and gatherings, it inspires me more to bring the change in myself. "Be the change that you wish to see in the world", resonates in my brain.The protest marches solved two purposes in the times of Gandhi. One they were marches to spread awareness and ask people to change themselves. Second, to join hands together unitedly in walking and reach a venue where the activists gathered to meet and discuss. There was never a pressure strategy in it as it is today. I am in agreement with the pressure strategy today with the protests that take place. On the other hand I am saddened to see the more important part of it missing. Purification and asking self to change was the soul of the protest marches. Saluting, the spirits of so many protestors who  hail Gandhi and want to to do it his way, I appeal them to do it more Gandhi way. The pressure they create this way will help in bringing system reforms but more importantly an opportunity which may help trigger the much needed social and cultural change should be used.

The state of women at their homes is the worst. We move out in  protests and cry out loud but is women really happy at home. Does she feel safe? A general answer will be Yes. I may be in minority here but no, the women are most harassed at their homes. I am sure in some way or the other every one of us have contributed in it. There is a discrimination between daughters and sons. It is not abuse which starts here. It is the basic discrimination which everyone of us has witnessed. The major things like not sending girl child to school and so on are apparent. There are many things though which are less apparent, happen more often and perhaps make the most impact of them all. One example may be not letting a girl child pursue out door sports.

There are many more small little ways a girl child is treated differently than a boy. Sometimes the girl child is more pampered than the boy. In our Indian society its not uncommon to beat up a child. In the higher middle class families a sorts of discrimination is not to beat a girl but a son may get the bashing. Though it looks good at sight that girl is being respected but the depth of brain clearly says that there is a discrimination in mind. These are just few examples. This kind of discrimination needs to be done away with. A government can never bring this but it is us who will bring this change. Though it will be gradual and slow, yet it will make a big impact.

Similarly education plays a big role. It is not only uneducated people who rape but education is much more than what is taught in school. It is the parents who can teach an adolescent teenager to differentiate between good and bad touch. The way the father treats his mother can play a major role in the thinking of both a son or a daughter. Parents need to realize and make their children understand that do not just go to school to get good grades. Do not just learn to get good jobs in future but learn to be educated.

Education systems it self needs a big change. In the times when technology is so close to us, the rise of it has helped in reducing the moral values. It is simpler, easier and more 'comfortable' to say that put on cctv cameras etc and track rather than tackle with the various factors inside the human mind that initiate the crime. Technology has brought us to a time when we want to live more comfortable life. But there is no comfort in not facing reality and escaping hard work.There has to be more emphasis on moral and civic values when the learning makes the most impact.
I know every one can not be an activist or a saint, but every one I am sure strives to improve his skills or life. Adding a bit of moral values to it should not be very difficult. If one can strive for skills why not to become a better person.  One of the best teachings that my father gave me when I was a kid was the pledge. Do not look too far away in future and life when you pledge. It will seem difficult and sometimes impossible to keep up the promise. Just do a simple thing, every morning pledge for the day about what you want to achieve and not to do something wrong. And every night think if you were successful in your pledge. That is the most important thing.

Social and cultural change, with a mix of governance, policy, police, judiciary and institutional reforms together can only be the long term solution. We along with the government need to bring the change. Stricter punishment and harsh decisions are the need of the hour for immediate needs but fear can never have the permanence that love can.

This is on the philosophical note but true in all sense backed with few of my favorite lines -

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
 -- Rabindranath Tagore

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