The societal rot we grow and feed

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Article Date: 
Nov 28 2012, 2132

Here is an incident reflective of the degeneration of our society. You must be aware of similar incidents and even if not, it is easy to digest in the sense that it has become both possible and extremely plausible today. More than the incident, it is our ‘acceptance’ that is a far greater sign of our own tacit support to a degenerate system where those with power know they can get away with anything. It may not have happened to you and I hope it never does, but that’s wishful thinking unless we create a society based on respect and lack of greed. In other words, a society where we learn to be equals.
Recently, a woman bought a flat in a posh society in Hyderabad’s upcoming area near the police academy. It was a ready-to-move-in apartment. There were some problems with the flooring that the builder agreed to resolve within a week. She paid the entire amount and completed the registration hoping to get the house soon. And with that, began her ordeal.
The handing over of the flat kept getting delayed because the work on floor was still on. A couple of months passed. She had to plead her landlord for extending the stay in the rented house which she had otherwise planned to vacate on account of the new flat. More time flew. Her calls and emails began to go unanswered by the builder. Finally, she penned her complaints on a webpage run by the company. That spurred an immediate response. She was called to take her flat. However, the repair work for which they delayed handing over the flat by six months was shabby and the floor had a leveling problem too. She pointed it to the company representatives who agreed and asked her to meet the senior management.
The executive director, initially coaxed her to take the flat, but when he couldn’t succeed, he sent everyone outside to talk to her on a one-to-one basis. His tone and demeanor changed. He began with a “Do you know who I am?” and elaborated on his status and the goons he connects with. Then in Bollywood style, came the hard-to-refuse offer of taking the flat (as it is) or her money and leave. He also challenged her to take whatever legal action she wanted.
Left with barely a couple of weeks to vacate the rented accommodation and feeling violated as a woman, she wondered if the builder’s entire act of intimidation originated from the fact that he knew she was a single mother. Period!
Where does this brazen abuse of a sense of power come from? In this particular case, a huge dollop of masculinity also seemed to play a big part. The audacity to challenge her to go to the courts, reflects how a person with money and clout thinks today about our legal system too, that is supposed to provide justice. What should she do now? What would you do in a similar situation? The person in question surely knows that his actions amount to what is termed as ‘dadagiri’ (bullying). However, what is reflective of our society (you, me and all of us) is the amount of confidence such people have of getting away with everything. And then they visit temples; offer their gods money, they thus earn; perform pujas at the launch of every construction…for what? Are they fooling someone or has it become a way to wipe of our guilt and continue to suck others blood with ease?
Forget the plight of this single mother, who is now thinking about her next step, but, is this really how rotten we have become as a society?

(The writer is a filmmaker, traveller and doctor)