Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Pontification 6. The end of Nirbhay (Fearlessness)... Time for a Personal Fear (Responsibility)?

A little girl died today. We hope we will remember her because of the fight she put up to survive and LIVE life in capital letters. 

She was called Nirbhay, perhaps because of this will to live. I will accept this name for that reason, even if it is given by the Times of India group, whose sensationalized pages have the maximum number of money-making, money-enforcing advertisements.

We hope we will not remember her for the other macabre details that caused/preceded her death. 

We also would like to remember her for her family and their values. I think, the speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumari made a point very tellingly on television. This is a family, she said, which sold off their family land to give their daughter what they thought is the best education they could give... a medical profession. 

Indeed, this would be the aspect that should make us most proud. 
India has finally reached a state where a father is not afraid to let his daughter study, simply because it is her  her right. This father did not succumb to the pressures of a medieval society which is famous for its female foeticide. 

The death of Nirbhay implies an ominous death of fearlessness. It will be required of the youth to resurrect Nirbhay

To begin with, let the young protesters dedicate the day of her death as a day following which the girls and boys  will not marry if dowry is required. 

I am also proud that of all the so-called leaders who made statements on this incident, the one that made the most impact was made by Meira Kumari, the daughter of our own Jagjivan Ram, who hailed from a family of so-called untouchables. One has to be careful in reminding ourselves that, after all, given all the so-called advanced or westernized education, the people who make the most sense are those --- the so-called harijans or adivasis --- that are first and foremost rooted in our own civilization/ They do not have to light candles and march when they have been lighting diyas  in folded banana leaves and floating them down streams for so many many many many eons. 

We seem to forget this in our ephemeral public consciousness generated by our media hep and hype.  

The youth are absolutely right in expressing concern for the nature of the crime in the way they did  The policing authorities deserve a real kick in their butts. This, the police will forget soon.

But where do the youth go from here? Surely, it cannot be only for the denting and the painting!

A typical blogger ( would for instance blog
 "A 23 year old girl, who was gang raped and brutally assaulted in Delhi bus, now fighting for life, finally lost the battle. It is sad news and shocked us. At the same time, it made us to think, how long it will go. CAN we do something to change the system so that such cases do not happen again"

What the blogger and his protesting ilks probably have in mind is that they have a right to a security that will allow them the freedom to do what they would like to do. For, after all, they live in a democracy. They require being assured that they have the right to participate in every multi-media merriment without being morally parented through them and without being threatened by others no matter how these others are provoked.  

Their arguments are simple. They are in a democracy, they say, and therefore they are free to do what they like and they should be protected.

I think, by saying so, the youth have missed the whole point. I may even think that they have been pampered for so long that they cannot think beyond their nose. All they can see is themselves and their rights. They do not have other responsibilities. 

In one of my earlier pontification (at > 70 one could pontificate) blogs (Just Pontification 5: Occupy an Occupation, not Wall Street of 16 Oct 2011) I had stressed the importance of looking inwards for answers to social problems instead of  looking for societal scapegoats. 

The youth have the energy and the inexperience to be fearless (Nirbhay). There are so many causes that they can take up!. 

These are not causes which other people (especially news channels) may encourage just to benefit from the negative aspects. 

What one has to fight for are those one feels personally about. These are what could be called the "ekla chalo re". types ("Walk alone if they dont follow you"). After all the fight against corruption can be won if people are individually not corruptible. The aim would be to be personally (by one's value system) incorruptible, 

If one is looking for a heart-rending case, such as the Nirbhay one, one could as well take up the issue of the Muslim girl from Mumbra, Ishrat Jehan, who was "encounter-killed" by policemen from Narendra Modi's Gujarat. If one is afraid of fighting so-called communal issues one could take up the issues of honour-killing that some panchayaats encourage. One could even take up the way out-of-class  tuitions are taken by school and college teachers for all kinds of exams, thereby defeating the very purpose of education --- to think for one's self when ready answers are not available. Why should a young man or woman require a capitation fee to get into a course for which he actually has no heart for? Why should a young man or woman require a reservation based on his birth accident to get an admission into a certification course he has no appetite for?

The most important of these is the personal honesty of the youth. They have to get out of their parental pampering brought about by their expressions of unhappiness when they perceive their peers to have material advantage. Such perceptions are heightened by advertisements which impress upon the youth  all the things they do not have, 

The youth should be able to look at themselves in the mirror and ask the one important question. Are they worth it, after all? 

Because of societal reasons there is a difference between the days of my youth (more than fifty years ago) and the youth of present times, in the responsibilities of the youth with respect to their role in society . Fifty years ago there were social issues which had to be corrected. They though they corrected them by providing social security, health benefits, unemployment insurance, free education. This was achieved in the western world who encouraged the workers to benefit from ideas from the liberal arts and social sciences. This dreamy Utopian (possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities) world has collapsed in the western worlds. They have not yet really begun in India; or even in China. 

The large (greater than 25%) unemployment among the youth raises an important question. Is there any ethical/moral basis for profit-oriented societies to look after the dispensable, inexperienced youth? Is it only necessary to postpone problems by mollycoddling (being  overprotective and indulgent toward) temporarily to their instant non-contemplated gratifications (football, cricket, item numbers, rave parties and their attendant ills)? 

 Is the society (by which one means the government, corporate de jure or de facto) responsible for finding employment, security for all? Or is there an inevitable way that redundancy (unemployment) is taken care of in a natural (say Malthusian) way?: Or simply by variations of ethnic cleansing? Clockwork Orange?

The point I am trying to make is that is ay seem straight-forward to young people who consider themselves to be free citizens of a democracy to demand protection rights. It is necessary to show to themselves that they deserve this right, They would have to show that living life fully is to work hard with organic hands in an organic non-digital way.  In the end, it is the people who can survive on their own wits and imagination will be the eventual winners. At least they should be for they would be living life with Nirbhay --- living life fearlessly; treating every uncertainty as a new learning experience. 

The youth will be sorely tempted to believe that they have mattered. A few could be indeed hung. They will be told that they mattered, The youth could soon find out that they have only deluded themselves if they are quickly satisfied. This they will be when they are part of the mollycoddling game 

In another part of the world there was the death of another Nirbhay.
"The end of the self-styled Veerappan of UP, Nirbhay Singh Gujjar, has come as a relief for the Mulayam Yadav government. The dreaded dacoit, active in the ravines near the CM's native Etawah, recently even proclaimed his proximity to the SP leaders: "Mulayam and Amar Singh are my elder brothers." Needless to say, Mulayam was more than a bit perturbed by this. The brigand was shot dead in an encounter by the UP Special Task Force on November 7. Gujjar was involved in over 200 cases of kidnapping, murder and loot. Active for over three decades in Kanpur, Etawah and Mainpuri districts of UP and Bhind, Morena and Gwalior of MP, Nirbhay, 47, carried a reward of Rs 2.5 lakh—from the UP and MP governments—on his head. He also led a lavish life, armed with sophisticated guns and the latest gizmos. He was also a ladies man, marrying four of his women gang members."

This killing is another brutal story. There will be no candle light procession ordained for this Nirbhay. 

Will we care?