The Prince Effect

In July 2006 an infant named Prince fell into a 55-foot deep hole and 24×7 media attention ensued. I don’t remember if it was the first ever of its kind but it was at least in my memory. We all prayed while being shown every moment from the rescue site. You can imagine the scale of importance when even DD News was covering it live. He was rescued after spending 48 hours in the claustrophobic hole.In the coming months we saw multiple reports of kids falling in borewells and holes. Some rescues successful like Prince’s while some weren’t.

Recently, we witnessed some appalling imagery. An Odisha man, Dana Manjhi was forced to carry his deceased wife’s body on shoulders for 10 kilometers because an ambulance couldn’t be arranged. It’s shameful as much as it is shocking. In the days that have followed there has been multiplicity of reports of people in backward areas being deprived of basic amenities. People carrying a dead body for her last rites in MP were not allowed to pass through fields as they belonged to the dalit social strata. Eventually the body had to be taken through a pond instead. Another deplorable incident from Madhya Pradesh came to light when a man was forced off a bus and left stranded after his sick wife died during the journey to a hospital.

Today, there are 3-4 new stories. Familiar ones, a father carrying his dying son on his shoulders, begging for help and ending up with just his cadaver when it’s too late. More and more stories of lack of basic medical care and ambulances are being brought up every day.

It makes one think. A lot about administrative apathy in the 7th richest country in the world but more so about how these stories would never be known if not for Dana Manjhi’s dead wife. Media attention to this issue is tremendous at this point and that’s the reason this heart wrenching stream of incidences is becoming staple. Just like no one cared about children falling into borewells before Prince fell into one, so many people have died undignified deaths and many will in future.

What concerns me more is that few months or even an year after Prince’s rescue the reports of kids falling into ditches and their rescue stopped. Similarly, we are going to milk the issue of a dead body being carried on a man’s shoulder for weeks, or maybe months and then go on with our usual uninformed lives because the topic died out or isn’t ‘hot’ anymore. The number of kids falling or the people dying were, and are, the same. It’s just that our collective conscience is woken up from its sweet slumber momentarily by what I call ‘The prince effect’. And then it goes back to sleep.

Who will guard the guards?

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.

-Immanuel Kant
We are growing up in a time when every time something happens society looks for someone to blame. The scapegoat society. Anti-India slogans? JNU is bad, shut them down. Beef ban? RSS is bad, shut them down. Rapes? Chowmein is bad (Hi Delhi Police!). Are our choices limited to binary? Is their just a good side and a bad side and we are supposed to take one of them? In case you try taking a middle route, you will be somehow pushed to one side by those who see things as just good and bad.

 

January 30, 2016. Mahatma Gandhi’s Death Anniversary. Hindu Mahasabha celebrated the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Distributed sweets and wowed to make India a Hindu nation. In their own words-

“We do not believe in the idea of a secular Constitution. When India officially declares itself a Hindu Rashtra, Godse will be declared its hero and Gandhi’s assassination would be declared a national festival,” Pandit Sharma said.

How is worshiping the assassin of the Father of Nation not a wrong that is as bad as calling Afzal Guru a martyr?

Justifying one wrong with someone else’s wrong is has become the society’s tendency. I am not here to justify, just to ask why was it not termed inflammatory or even seditious if we look from the recent narrow perspective of the authorities.

I was informed by people claiming to be RSS supporters that Nathuram Godse was a hero. He did it for the nation. Further, Gandhi was tagged as British appeasing, biased, sociopath, bootlicker, racist, castiest, pervert, traitor and inhuman. Further abuses can be read as articulated in this picture below.God Se

Just wait a minute. Don’t be outraged over the fact that this might not be the philosophy or thinking of every RSS supporting person. I am aware, I am absolutely aware. But why we as a society are not aware that similarly, few students shouting anti-India slogans does not make the whole Institute anti-India.

If glorifying Nathuram Godse is nationalism, then no one has the right to object if I start worshipping Indira Gandhi’s assassins or maybe Afzal Guru. Every criminal justifies his acts, in their mind they are correct. Don’t make us read Nathuram Godse’s statements in court and his diaries to justify Gandhi’s killing. Killing someone is not your right, howsoever bad the person was. If I don’t agree with your opinion, doesn’t mean I am going to kill you and justify it later.

My blood too boils when I hear people shouting slogans like “Bharat tere tukde honge..”. But taking law in your own hands just because you prematurely adjudged someone as a traitor. How justified is that?

You saw it, I saw it, everyone saw it. OP Sharma, an MLA from Delhi beating a person on the apprehension that he belonged to the JNU. Police personnel duly watching from the sidelines with their hands in pockets, as the new vigilante took birth, cleaning the supposed scum of the nation from the streets. And the FIR finds no mention of his name. Squeaky clean.

You have the custody of an alleged traitor. His past court appearances have been eventful with mobs thrashing media personnel in court premises last time it happened. Supreme Court has issued guidelines to make things better in this appearance. After all these arrangements, few supposedly nationalistic lawyers, with tri-colour in their hands breach your futile arrangements and manage to hit Kanhaiya Kumar. You had one job mate.

Just having a tri-colour in your hand or saying bharat mata ki jai before you kill or hit someone doesn’t justify it. Are we still raising Nathuram Godses today, who kill or hit someone when they think it’s justified to do so?

Dissent is essential. Without dissent there can be no dialogue, no democracy. Remember emergency? I recall my dad telling me how all non-congress stalwarts we see to today, be it Lalu Prasad Yadav, Atal Bihari Vajpayi or  Parkash Singh Badal, all were put in jail for having their own views. The views that the government didn’t like. Being an offshoot of the anti-emergency alliance, atleast BJP must realise how important free speech and restricting police action is. Government is correct in my honest opinion to arrest someone and look out for others. That’s their job. Here we as a society are failing when we are branding everyone from JNU as anti-national, every person conforming to left ideology is being seen suspiciously. You might not be falling for such far fetched allegations, but I have a general idea of it. Go to any news site with news about Lawyers beating Kanhaiya. Read those wonderful comments. They all are happy and celebrating that a person was beaten in public. They are endorsing mob justice. #ShutDownJNU is trending, because why not. After all everyone there, is a traitor.

I am not critical of government or students or the police or media. I am here on the sidelines, looking at this circus. Looking at how everyone is trying to maximize their benefit from a situation. Right winged institutions having an opportunity to show supposedly left university as anti-national (remember West Bengal and Kerala polls are coming?). Congress and left trying to show solidarity with the student community for political goodwill. Mainstream Media calling JNU students and bashing them, because all hail mob justice!(hi Arnab!). Delhi Police showing how ruling party bashing a person in public is a minor incident and how tough it is to spell OP Sharma in an FIR. I am too writing this post trying to get the Certificate of Nationalism from the right as well as left school of thoughts by trying to tread on a neutral line.

Blind folded police, with their hands tied behind their back, silently watching as a mob comes and beats up a person who was in their custody, looking over a man taking law in his own hands, beating a person just because his ‘blood boiled’. Not a pretty picture. In the end the question remains, Who will guard the guards?