Dignity lies in our attitude
Dec 31 2012
— Nelson Mandela
The Mayan prophesies of doomsday did come true for India — however, December 16 will be marked as a doomsday in Indian history. This is the day the soul of India died. With the death of the Delhi gang rape victim, humanity has suffered a loss. Reports speak about her courage and fortitude and I salute her spirit.
All talk of economic progress and becoming a global force is a waste if we cannot demonstrate basic human values. Today I question the values of the society that we live in. This country that worships goddesses, does not know how to treat a women. There is no progress in India — we are living in the dark ages where the macho man is the ruler and the woman an object — to be possessed, controlled and used at will. This needs to stop.
There is a larger issue here that stares us in the face — a gross transgression of human rights. Man or woman, no one deserves to be treated this way. Let us accept that that we live in feudal society and there is no value for human life. Spirituality is a farce — a charade that we have been deluding ourselves with. We have become so materialistic that the only lives that have any value are of those who have either wealth or power. That is why we are calm about terrorist attacks, murders and cases of genocide, rape and molestation. No one cares.
The politicians are now claiming that there will be justice — but what justice can anyone offer to the girl now? Justice delayed is justice denied — let us accept that. Nothing will bring her back to life or fill the void in her family’s hearts. However, my only ray of hope is that she may not have died in vain. Maybe this is the tipping point for change in India.
The long-term solution is a change in mindset. But immediate measures are equally important. The primary one being the revamp of our judicial system; starting from policing the streets of India, to catching criminals and punishing them. The immediate attitude change that is needed is in the police department. Do they even understand that their responsibility is to serve public not exhibit their perceived power over them? Harassment of women at the hands of police is normal. They seem to be protecting the criminals and attacking the people that they are supposed to protect. With only 13 judges per million of population, cases go unresolved for years. This has to change.
Criminals need to be punished and the severity of punishment should equal the severity of the crime. Why is the government protecting the identities of the criminals, the owner of the bus? This again shows lack of attitude and will. Why should they not be paraded around the country and shamed? Their punishment should send out the message that India will have zero tolerance to sexual violence of any kind from now on.
Let this also become the point from which we all take a pledge to change attitudes around us — we have to start somewhere. Let us start from our homes and our workplaces. Let us treat people around us as human beings — irrespective of gender, caste or creed. Let us also take a pledge to rise in protest if we see someone being victimised. It is our problem. Let us stop turning a blind eye to abuse around us. Silence is not going to help us.
“Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonour and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash: your picture in the paper nor money in the back either. Just refuse to bear them.”
— William Faulkner
Media today plays a big role in society. They reflect the attitudes and aspirations of people, but media can also be a game changer. Social media has played a huge role in the Arab uprising and I have no doubt that the youth of this country will channelise social media towards change. But television media, that enters into the heart of our society and into our homes, needs to rise to the occasion. They have the power to start changing the thought process of our country. They need to start leading societal trends rather than playing to the lowest denominator. News networks are carrying nonstop coverage, debates and discussions on the rape case. Anchors are bellowing at politicians and policemen. Have TV networks, which own these channels, thought about a blackout of entertainment across the country as a mark of respect to the braveheart?
There are protest marches happening everywhere, I hope that this sombre mood will carry through to December 31 where celebrations are subdued due to a death in the family. We need to start putting our money where our mouth is.
“Once you make the unequivocal internal commitment to do something — when you absolutely know this is the time and the place to act — the world around you will shift in all sorts of apparently miraculous ways to make it happen.”
— Sarah Susanka
Today, let us believe that each us have the power to change the world. So let us all dedicate 2013 to change that starts with ourselves. I wish all my readers a peaceful new year; a year of hope in India where laws will change and criminals will be prosecuted and convicted; where human life will be valued and where women will be respected. It is time for India to wake up and strive to be the nation that our forefathers dreamed about.
“Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high...where the words come out from the depth of truth...into that heaven of freedom my father, let my
— Rabindaranath Tagore
(The writer is CEO of KPMG India)