We are losing it

When the Chief Minister of a State questioned by a reporter about the terrible assault on a 6 year old inside her school quips: Is this the only news we have? you know something is terribly wrong. It almost seems as if India is loosing it, insidiously, surreptitiously but losing to nevertheless. When 3 blind kids under the age of 10 are brutally caned by their blind teacher gleefully assisted by the Principal, something is terribly wrong. When a 29 year old is beaten to death in what is called a case of road rage in our capital city then you know things are not what they should be. And when the Governor of a state where rapes occur with impunity says: Even if the entire world's police force is put on duty, rapes can probably be prevented only if the gods come down from heaven, then we have lost it. There is something terribly wrong in the state of India. We have become a nation that has to constantly hang its head in shame.

After the horrific Badaun rapes where two girls were found hanging from a mango tree, a rape that was reported the whole over, we as usual went into band aid damage control mode and a slew of measures were announced. One of them was the building of toilets in the village of the victims as the young girls met their horrendous end as they had to go to the field to relieve themselves. It was announced that 100 toilets would be built. Two months down the line they lie unfinished and unusable. I would not be surprised if they remain so. That is a snapshot of what we as a nation have become. We make promises, money is raised, work begins and ends. I guess some pockets have become richer at best.

Toilets were built for the Commonwealth Games at astronomical prices but remain shut and are falling apart. Wonder what happened there. DIMTS the ones who run the (in)famous BRT, built much needed toilets @ of 15 lacs rupees but they are locked and unused. A friend told me that some 'dry' toilets - for males only - had been made in an swanky market but clogged on day one. He was told in confidence by the contractor who built them that so much many had to be given to grease plans, that the toilets could not be properly completed and hence would get clogged and hence someone will make more money. There are millions of unfinished toilets across India, each with a story to tell. Maybe there is material for a book, and sadly, not a funny one. It is time we the tax payer should ask where all the money earmarked for loos went!

Just like the loos meant to prevent rapes have not taken off, if one is to go by precedent, then the man who assaulter the little six year old will walk the streets sooner than one can think as the man who raped a seven year old in a city school in the same city two years back is out on bail. The brutalised child however will carry her scars to the end.

As for the blind children who were brutally caned, the explanation the perpetrators give is that they were told to do so by the parents. Oh yes I believe it, as this is what parents tell schools in India where children are beaten in their homes with alacrity and impunity. Our parents too do but then we try and counsel the parents and explain to them how beating children is bad for the child and that they should not do so. In project why no child is beaten. Two teachers lost their jobs for having slapped a child. The rage that is visible in the video of the beating of the blind kids is not just giving a little rap on the fingers but is manic. It seems more like the child bearing the brunt of the lifetime frustration of the teacher.

In the last three decades I have witnessed how violence has become an almost acceptable norm of life. The rage we see in all incidents, even mundane ones, is unhealthy and dangerous. It is a seething anger that may grow into something momentous and apocalyptic if we do not check it. India is losing it slowly but surely. I do not anticipate a French or Russian Revolution kind of thing, but perhaps the emergence of a vigilante society or an increase in violence without appropriate reason.

Who or what  do you blame it on? Some politicians blamed it on migrants and maybe rightly so as ever willing to accept the extra and cheaper hands, this city never bothered to give them the respect and dignity they were and are entitled to. This picture is proof of that. What you see is the home of a second generation migrant family. This boy is 10 or so and he is as tall as his house. I assure at least 6 if not more people liven this house that is sunk in. Imagine what happens if it rains and I do not want to begin to tell you what flows by the drain outside: chemicals from the factories whose walls give support for these tenements. And of course all adult members have voting cards as everyone wants their votes. I am sure that some day in the near future these people will ask for their long due pound of flesh. I do not know whether the animal is night's dinner? Not much meet on those bones. This little boy is at presently in school and comes to project why. His smile shows that he is a happy kid in the circumstances he lives in. One of the reason for our opening a centre in the midst of a garbage dump was that most children dropped out school and joined drug running and other mafias. But I fear for their future. It would take a minute incident for them to lose it.

What has shocked me over the past 30 years is how the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer, both in the most visible way possible. How long do we expect a little boy like the one in the picture to keep on accepting living in a hole before his smouldering anger turns into rage and he too loses it. Who is to blame. Our hubris? Our lack of compassion? Our deafening silence? Our indifference? It is time we took stock of the situation before it is too late.