The most abiding fashion attitude among intellectual types nowadays is "pulp activism".
Our post modernist hero wearing a look of sincerity and a tone dripping pathos and self-righteous indignation which is so admired by the "common man", he ventures forth to slay the ogres, destroy the evil, and bring justice to whom justice has been denied.
As far as drama goes, this is a guaranteed success, playing as it does on eternal themes of justice and retribution. Unfortunately, beyond that this doesn't achieve a lot.
Consider the cases of Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo, what happened to them was heinous, the way justice was denied more so, and one has nothing but admiration for the activism of media.
But the question to ask is ; Is this enough ? Can we go back now, watch our daily dose of soap with our conscience at rest. If the answer is yes, think again.
By any stretch of imagination the justice was not denied for the first time to the victims when lower courts acquitted the accused.
The justice was miscarried when police botched the investigation, when eye witnesses retracted their accounts. It was travesty of justice when these cases dragged for years, It was denied during the life of victims, when police turned a blind eye to Priyadarshini's complaints because the accused was son of Inspector General of Police. It was denied when Manu Sharma fired the fatal bullet, confident all the time that he could not be harmed by the law of land.
This is the honest truth, in the end Mattoo and Lall were also killed by apathy of the system,those decent folks who refused to intervene, those who watched in other words, us, as by the actual killers.
And this is, by no means exception, but the rule; not the malice, but merely its symptom.
Citizen of India live in a society dictated by power of muscle, and influence wielded by thugs of worst kind, yet we continue to ignore the bleak reality.
Part of this is simply lacuna and other part is that beneath the garb of middle class respectability, we are actually petrified and intimidated by the power displayed by people with "connections". We obey law, remain on the right side not because it is respectable, but because out of fear of what the high and the mighty can wreak on us.
Sure media activism will ensure justice to both the victims in these cases, but what about other Lalls and Mattos ? For the simple fact is, it is impossible to rally public opinion on each atrocity that happens, because there are too many cases of brutalities and time is limited. Then, after a period fatigue sets in and we become inured to outrages (it is not callousness, rather it is a defense mechanism of human psyche). Simply put the current quantum of injustice is too overwhelming to deal on case by case basis.
Our energy, our collective effort will be better utilized, if we make an attempt to address the "root causes" (yes, the worn out phrase). To identify the factors which result in such utter disregard and contempt for law, which encourage the abuse of muscle, the conditions which give license to those with influence.
Also, to suggest proposals which will rectify these conditions and maladjustment.
This is not to say that solution will be instant, the present sorry state that we find ourselves in,
is not an act of God, but a result of years of neglect and callousness on our part.
It is possible to have a just society, where people respect each other instead of being afraid, but it will take time and it will take collective effort, and even this is possible only if make an attempt to think.
Afterthought: I hated this post by Arnab, because it was so true.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006