July 15, 2012

Why I Am Unmoved By Molestation


No well-known person or personality would perhaps say what I’m going to say here.

It’s merely stating the obvious to say that the world of Kabir Bedi does not exemplify the life of the average Indian.

I am all for live-in relationships.

Some talked about ‘blowing the brains off’ of the perpetrators. It’s worrying to see such over-the-top reactions.

Is it too much to expect that people react calmly and in a measured way? What gave the incident prominence was clearly the fact that it was caught on video. We do not have video footage of those incidents of rape in moving cars and elsewhere. Imagine what the reaction would be if there was.

Much killing of various sorts happened in Punjab in the 1980s and in Kashmir in the 1990s. But none of that was captured on video. Unmarked graves and skeletons are all that still give mute testimony to some of the chilling reality of Kashmir. The lack of video footage from inside the death chambers of Auschwitz and elsewhere do not make the Holocaust any less real.

We live in a society where religious assholery is not only not frowned upon or laughed at – it is tolerated, respected and even encouraged.

I remember all my interactions with child laborers – the street-side tea stall staff, the waiting or dish washing staff at a roadside dhaba, the kid beggars I met on a short train journey who were only too happy to pose for me when I took out my camera.

The WSJ India Real Time blog talked about how Indians are bystanders.

But we stand by when a lot of stuff happen. We are happy to stand by and let kids work as rag pickers and domestic servants and as cheap labor in various commercial establishments.

The NYT India Ink blog talked about online vigilantism. The WSJ blog also dutifully reported the predictable reactions of shock.

I am all for catching the culprits in this particular incident. But there are far bigger charlatans out there. Who will take them on?




We are seeing a proliferation of god-men. The astonishing marvel of science & technology that is the medium of television has been appropriated by third-rate people spreading religious nonsense. What is the way to capture these rascals?

People will say there’s no coercion involved if millions of people choose to be devotees of any of these weird people. Well, if people of India are so easy to fool and so willing to be fed nonsense, then surely there is not much hope.

What is the link between religious nonsense and sexual violence? I can only try to show that such a link exists. We have a rather skewed sex ratio here in India. This is a product of a preference for boys rooted in 19th century mindsets. The same mindset keeps the girls mostly at home.

And Indians have too many babies overall leading to an absurd state of overpopulation.

So we have a scenario where there are too many young men around – men who are sexually deprived. It’s no wonder that when they have access to the female body, they will make use of it.

You want to punish such males? Sure. And we will see one more such instance after a while. Then one more. It is just that I don’t want to be seeing the same sort of incidents repeating themselves and the same outrage being expressed 10 or 20 years from now.

It’s like the tale of the familiar religious charlatan. You hear of some god-man who it turns out was busy raping the female devotees. The sordid saga comes out into the open at times and the god-man might be arrested or be down and out for a while. But the devotion of the astonishingly stupid illiterate people of India is such – they have such a limited worldview – that people may not be willing to let go of such a god-man even after he turns out to be a rapist.

What more can be expected after all from people who are willing to be so stupid as to perhaps believe that if they are suffering from some illness, the mere touch of a specific god-man would cure them of the illness – may be cancer.

So the ecosystem of stupidity of Indians is quite breathtaking. People of India are happy to live lies and contradictions.

The power of religion to deceive people is extraordinary. In a nation like America where we are told that people are in general educated, we recently saw the case of a six-year-old boy who wrote a book – and it went on to become a No. 1 bestseller too – detailing when he was dead for a while and went to heaven and met Jesus and his dead grandfather.

We in India surely must be capable of creating and tolerating bigger nonsense than Americans. I can only think of a story from about 20 years back in which a girl in Puri was said to be able to cure people just by her mere touch. The story soon spread like wildfire and the ill came from near and far.

It was revealed in due course to be a fraudulent money-making scheme being run by the kid’s father.

And these patterns repeat themselves after a while – may be 10 years or so. Perhaps India is vast and opportunities are always there for enterprising charlatans to become entrepreneurs and deceive stupid people in different regions of the country.

I don’t want that my life as an adult stretching over may be 40 years by the time I am old should lapse while the same shameful stuff merely repeat themselves every decade. I am not ok with letting god-men have a free reign spreading stupidity among gullible followers. I want stronger action against them.

We need to eradicate religion – and start with eradicating the god-men.

And as for molestation or rape, sure, we need to start with the basics – such as the police doing their job by arresting the perpetrators and the courts awarding adequate punishment. Society can come to a conclusion about what is the right quantum of punishment for molestation or rape.

I don’t mind if females are allowed to carry side arms to shoot anyone who attacks them. That is certainly more feasible than expecting that the already overstretched police force will be able to provide protection to all women.

But when women howl in unison when these minor incidents happen, I will point every time to kids having to work rather than going to school. Some of the howlers themselves might be employing kids full time at home – as maids or nannies. But I don’t have solid statistical data. The anecdotal evidence would appear to show that women can be given to a somewhat luxurious appreciation about themselves.

And about those tight jeans. Females might just as well not wear them. I look forward to the fashion evolution when those jeans will be replaced by something transparent which will provide the needed protection from the environment without obstructing the view.

Thankfully Shah Rukh Khan in that stadium incident was involved with other males. Imagine if he got into some incident involving a female – the resulting howl would be more deafening than a jumbo jet taking off.

Ok. I’ll go back inside my igloo now and worry about the seven minutes of terror involving the Curiosity Mars landing.

1 comment:

  1. Sachi, your blog is interesting, but it leaves me with a feeling that you are too self centered and often have too little respect for others views and preferences in life. I am not refering to this particular post in my above statements. You wondering, why people do not care about a Mars landing etc. , I think is strange. Life and universe will always remain a mystery (even if they find the secrets of the Higgs Boson)and different people pursue truth in different ways and some, do not care atall. It is not up to you to judge them as long as their behaviour is causing no harm to others. Personally, i do believe that most religions need to update and modernise. Religion may be a absurd concept, but in many ways religions do teach morality. If religions are to be abolished, then we have to find a way where morality can be tought in a more effective way and i am not going to assume that it will be easy. It is a dangerous and risky path to follow (that should not stop us from thinking aloud). Those godmen must be procecuted and most of those places serve no purpose. Who is upto the task of educating th masses that follow these godmen? There are so many well educated people following these baba's/mullahs/whatever.
    As far as this molestation incident is concerned, it was the violence that was shocking and needed to be condemned. We can only be sure about what we see with our own eyes and hence that outrage. I am not sure, how well thought, your comments on chld labour are. I hope, you actually spent time on reserching the issue and not merely passing judgement like many others (specially westerners). While it is unfortunate that child labour exists, what is the alternative for the child? Blaming people for employing children is easy. What happens to the child if he is not employed? What future do they have if the parents abandon them or if they simply can not afford to send them to school? They can atleast learn many of the harsh realities of this word quiet early in life and may be, adapt to such reality. I am by no means supporting child labour here, i am wondering about what alternatives did we, as a society, provide (also wondering if such help is always good. Does that help, create a sense of entitlement). I am sure about only one thing. I believe that we as a society must insist on humane treatment of our fellow humans. Most problems in India exist because of high levels of violence in our society. This violence is what prevents good people from taking up active roles in politics etc. It could be direct violence or indirect (like filing police cases, economic pressure etc) on people who work towards making change happen.

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