Comment, Satire

Collaborative collapse

Every time I step out on to the street in Mumbai my inner sociologist marvels.

A city teeming with people in every nook and corner, Mumbai has much to offer to the observant eye. I am, however, going to focus once again on the traffic in the city. Only this time I want to share what it tells me about the prevalent individual and collective mindset.

The first thing one sees in the city is the lets-get-this-done attitude which many before me have witnessed. This is evident in the scores of people pouring onto the streets to get to work even when it is, literally, pouring outside.

As someone who has grown up in Mumbai I find the level of rage on every other face on the roads, however, alarming. This is because such a collective attitude can result in a total breakdown of law and order.

And it does. It is evident in the screeching cacophony of car horns on a road where traffic has not moved for hours. It is seen in the critical mass of people needed for an individual to safely cross the road. It is visible in the crass consumerism abundant in the city as the country rediscovers its wealth after the shattering  economic impact of colonization and decolonization.

But most frightening, and criminologically engaging, is the blatant disregard for any rules that inconveniences an individual, rich or poor. Almost everyone turns a blind eye to the traffic signals, crossing the road can occasionally turn into mudslinging matches between drivers and pedestrians and the mob appears to cherish a chance to display its might.

Its almost as if every individual has signed a social contract with the state to disregard the law in return for its protection.

Excuse the deliberate, alternate application of Thomas Hobbes’ ideas,will you?

Comment, Uncategorized

The Non-Stop Tragedy

Recently I saw a televised news report about an American tourist’s experience in what we would all like to believe is “Incredible India”. The lady stated that India was “a traveler’s heaven and a woman’s nightmare” and judging by the horrific increase in apparently unceasing rape cases she is right.

So I switched on the television, scoured the internet for more information and was deeply disgusted by the response of the “authorities” who simply used their extensive vocabulary of “heinous crime”, “tragic” and “unpardonable” and did nothing (as usual).¬†My anger did not abate for weeks and I went on abusing the authorities, social norms and political apathy to vent my frustration.

However when my rage had (finally) subsided I began to wonder what exactly the men were thinking? I wondered whether if it ever registered in the collective Indian male psyche that A WOMAN NEVER ASKS TO BE RAPED, WHATEVER SHE WEARS. It is like any other crime: a murdered person never asks to be murdered and no one issues public invitations to robbers for them to break in and steal. Yet the habit of blaming the victim continues to dominate the Indian mindset(both men and sadly, women). For example, after Delhi’s horrific gang rape a certain magazine delved deeper and asked men what they thought. Now while it gives one hope that men protested alongside women at India Gate last December, many of them publicly condemning rape and starting organizations to spread awareness among themselves as many men went with the aforementioned “she asked for it” argument. Most of these came from rural back grounds yet the rising number of crime against women in cities, especially the metropolises, suggest that this attitude is pervasive in “Big Cities” as well.

I’m going to play the eternal cynic here. What else can be expected in a country where the moral police brigade overworks itself and stops couples from… wait for it…holding hands in public and legions of clearly desperate men invade pubs and harass the women there. Add to this fine mix, complete politicization of rape cases and an administration that, as mentioned previously, does nothing but “expresses regret”. The point is we’re beating behind the bush on issues that DESPERATELY NEED to be addressed, creating issues out of nothing worthwhile (Eg. Re-naming train stations and imprisoning cartoonists) and as tradition dictates, blaming the victim.

So as the protests grow in numbers, people take to the street and the political class re-iterates its apathy, repeatedly highlighting that their mentality regarding women still resides in 1000 A.D I want to know what the men think and what they plan to do about the present extremely frightening (and disgusting) situation. Women are yelling louder and louder with each passing day.

Are the men listening?