Safety and Indians: a parallax (?)
In a country with 29 states, more than 800 dialects, more than a score major cities and thousands of villages, where the way a language is spoken changes every few kilometers, is it possible to expect a consensus on a nationwide issue? I doubt. What a Himachali may consider mundane may be blasphemy for the Tamilian, and what the Manipuri considers palatable may be not even worth sniffing to the Gujarati. There is though a common thread running through the psyche of the second most populous nation in the world. Amidst the sea of diversity that is our Hindustan, there are some common themes, mainly moralistic and psychological, which serve to bind us together, despite our differences.
The rigors of surviving and earning our daily bread may have necessitated a detour from the path of virtue extolled to us since childhood, but the response to certain situations merits a closer look than simply waving it off with a – “Hum toh hain hi aise” (“We are like this only”, in a stereotypical transliteration of English directly from the vernacular without interpreting in terms of the former’s context). When we think of responses to certain societal stimuli, the issue of safety is highly controversial.
Is the end nigh?
How many of you have seen somebody run over a pedestrian and not stop to take him to the hospital? To burn the rubber without a helmet, lower limbs akimbo in an exaggeration of a front wheelie? Anyone has a neighbor throwing glass shards on the road?
So has suddenly everything gone that bad? Are we living in an age where law and order is just a metaphorical sovereign figurehead? Is there no feel good news that the channels can fuel their TRPs with? Is this the prelude to the apocalypse?
I did not mean to bombard you with such a slew of questions. It is just a reflection of what I myself think just as I open my morning newspaper. Or a laptop or a Kindle, in other cases. What disturbs me most though, is none of these questions. It is something that is at the very root of the way we perceive society. The question of whether it ‘is’ bad or ‘is made to look’ bad.
Spare the “DESI” some thought
You can almost hear your grandma muttering ‘Ghor Kalyug’ under her raspy breathing, saying that the “world is going to the dogs” more often than not, and how the world was literally paradise when she was younger. If we ever do want to address the issue of safety, it must first be from the personal and then from the societal angle.
As much as we would love to imagine that we are outside the very frame of reference on which we so lavishly slather critique, we make up the very society we live in. Each one of us is as much responsible for lawlessness and disorder as actors driving BMWs drunk, or politicians staging “dharnas”, or even common men jumping red-lights!
I gave that “autowallah” more than his due one rainy night when I was in a hurry, and now I curse him when he overcharges. I did not bother to talk to my son’s best friend’s parents when he used to drive his bike at break neck speed, and today he is killing homeless people at the intersection with his ‘Fotuner’. I need to give up this habit of cursing the rest of the world, when I should have nipped it at the bud with a little more effort and selflessness. This is basically the fountainhead of the ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude, this fact that the world is mean so I shouldn’t and wouldn’t care, or it is not happening to me anyways; I tried being nice but all I got was a sore backside. I better stop complaining.
On to the second category. WHY did my son’s best friend run over pedestrians at the intersection? Is he a cold blooded psychopath? NO. Does he not care a hoot for somebody’s life? NO. He is just a normal guy trying to show off a pseudo ego in a society that rubs down ‘soft’ people’s noses to the ground. This is his way of surviving with some respect. In some cases, he may just be so drunk trying to drown out the sorrow of seeing his parents endlessly bicker over how their marriage was made in hell, that his inebriation was his only refuge. We go hankering for the latest mobile device, but forget how one day some youth without friends will kill himself or herself when the realization hits home – that they are only fit for company in virtual space. In real life they can’t even befriend a mangy mongrel.
How do you help it then, when you are forced to be a non-emotional bounty hunter who has no choice in a corporate scenario? When the media supplies you with stuff aimed to excite your primeval survival instincts and keep you glued and hankering for more? When people around you cannot accept you for what you are and you constantly strive for an ideal that is like a mirage, you cope unconventionally, often with disastrous consequences.
The bottom line – nobody is born a bandit, and nobody wishes to grow up to be a murderer. But before you hang me on the repercussions of my statement- the conversation is not yet over.
Nothing justifies harming others, or the self
I make a statue; I can break it when I want. I earn a million bucks, I can spend it on whatever I want. I am depressed, I can harm whosoever I want; it’s not affecting me, I can do it. NO, NAHI, NYET, NADA.
There is a reason why altruism helps make you a healthier person. There is a reason why moral principles evolved, and are still revered today, despite whatever. They are the reason we have parables, courts, the constitution and the Police. Order typifies our state of existence. We tend to be ordered in the face of trying to coexist under such tremendous pressure of a burgeoning population.
Speaking like a blunt rationalist, it is anyways profitable to be good, as it does come back to you in some way or the other. It is our way of increasing the probability that we may live with the minimum possible friction between ourselves, by adhering to the path of least resistance.
Daring to be the proselyte, my advice for our teeming masses would be – follow the rules. Care about your fellow being, and you will benefit by living a less chaotic life in the end.
Share what you think? Do you also have this mindset?
(My Best…. Vikas Bagaria)
The above article is taken from linkedin, published by Vikas Bagaria
(Image Courtesy: vgtmanagement.com & google image)