Are we truly a culture of many thousand years? This is a question that comes to mind when we observe recent happenings. The Nirbhaya case remains a festering wound on the country’s conscience and is scraped open every now and then. An incident in Haryana is the latest such and has sent more worrying signals. The police had a couple of days ago found the body of a 15-year-old girl that bore signs of deliberate mutilation of private parts and internal organs. More shockingly, a minor, a class XII student, is the chief suspect in the case and there are indications that more people were involved in the abduction of the girl. Closer home in Mayurbhanj, a woman who was allegedly set ablaze by her father-in-law after he raped her, succumbed to burns. The case brought to light a sordid saga of harassment of the woman who it is alleged had been forced to keep mum about the sexual abuse. Such cases have become more common in recent times, with varying degrees of violence. The annals of crime in any country will not be free of those rarest of rare cases that exceed others in brutality; but then the excess of violent crime that can make us inured to them is a worrying factor. The situation needs to change. And it cannot be addressed merely by creating more laws to punish offenders. States such as Haryana offer perfect case studies for social conditions that can lead to violent crimes. The state has in the past, too, seen such crimes. For instance, a young woman in Sonepat was abducted, raped and murdered and her head smashed in using a blunt object and then crushed under the wheels of a vehicle. Men who had been stalking her were arrested in connection with the case. The list of such crimes appears to be endless and the kind of violence perpetrated is appalling and seems to be getting more brutal by the day.
Not the system but society will have to get to the roots of the problem before a solution can be found. One chief reason for the issue could be that the country has taken away more freedoms from its people in replicating the practices and patterns that other countries have followed in their path to success. The same recipe of success is undoubtedly not working well for India. The rich-poor divide is widening and there are pockets where excess of wealth gained in a short while is leaving the doors open to negative expressions of human energies. There are other instances where abuse suffered from one source may be passed on to another for the sake of some form of closure. But it is only creating cycles of violence afresh. The country is also going through a cultural shift, in which the old is resisting the new, fearing for its own existence. One effect of this change is also that it has created a section of people who confuse permissiveness and promiscuity with extreme perversion. Such confusions are bound to well up and are finding expression in the most undesirable and grotesque of forms. The situation calls for change at the individual and family levels, where the culture of respect for each other irrespective of gender should be cultivated. An intervention in this regard by the government cannot make individuals change.
To get back to our original query, where is the so-called culture of India that we all are being forced to recite? What meaning does Hindooism, Islam or for that matter any other religion hold for a woman being stalked, raped and her head smashed on a rock? The greatness in a culture comes only when we feel for the other person next to us. The absurd absence of basic human qualities among Indians is visible. There is no meaning in saying we feel proud for our Constitution, a Flag, a National Anthem or our glorious Past if the present belongs to a bunch of demons who do not bother to respect their own mother, sister, daughter or wife. All this economic development, political rhetoric or world power claims are hollow and inhuman.
Indians have to decide where they want to go!