Tag Archives: crime control

Thoughts on Crime Control – II (Hindu Outlook to Nature and Woman)

The recent public protests and media debates around rising crime in India have been, as expected, quite superficial. They hardly go into the root of the issue – because the protesting layman is only concerned about his safety and not roots of the problem, and the media is not equipped with the understanding of Hindu society, its outlook, its workings, its problems or solutions. So when people cannot talk of the source of problem or solution, easy way is to make noise and divert attention. While media appeared to be honest in the first couple weeks, its true colors came out nonetheless – trying to blame the “retrograde” Hindutva folks for “not being able to digest” woman’s empowerment in the “evolving” world culture, giving publicity to distorted statements of popular leaders etc.

But as we discussed in the previous write up, the problem is not limited to assaults on women, nor is it about empowerment of women. Statistically rise in crime has to do with tendency towards crime and opportunity for the offender, and is hardly related to woman’s empowerment or any other genuinely progressive change. In fact whenever a progressive change was proposed, Bharatiya people accepted it way faster than any other society, given factors like its size, complexity, awakening time etc.

Fact remains that there have been stray publications in the media, mostly sloganeering, saying woman should not be treated “as an object”, woman “deserves her social space, freedom and protection”, woman “is equal to man” and so on. There is however no serious thinking or worthwhile analysis on this topic from media, state or secularists. The job is attempted by those Hindutva folks only – they are the ones trying to see *why it is happening* instead of merely shouting “it should not happen”. This means they are not, unlike the others, standing outside the sphere of the problem to shout slogans but have owned up the problem of the society. And whatever statements they gave out in public, show their attempts as responsible citizens and not their escapism. On the other hand congress and media tried to keep out of the dirt, and kept throwing mud at these people whenever possible – sometimes calling them foolish, sometimes calling them retrograde, sometimes “sexist” and sometimes “outrageous”.

Let us consider two out of the many statements that media chose to rake controversy about, and move on.

  1. Mohanji Bhagavat’s message, calling to restore the native ethos of this nation where woman always held a respectable position. Saying that India that is always in a cultural conflict with native Bharatiya values, he said rise in crime happens in India but not in Bharat where the native ethos are respected. In short, the more westernized India is becoming, the more it is exposing itself to crime. Media pretended to not understand this, and interpreted this with all negative connotations possible. Media also pretended to not understand the simplest statement that marriage is a social contract and ran a negative campaign for days – do such people deserve to run media?
  2. One BJP MP said “badoun ke saath tho samajh mein aata hai, lekin nabalik bacchoun ke saath… phaansi deni chahiye”. Any sane individual can understand this – that rape on an adult woman is at least imaginable, but people who attempt abuse of children is incomprehensible and needs severest possible action. Now this gets interpreted as he is saying it is “understandable” that adult women are raped, and then articles get published saying he calls it “understandable”, people interpret as condoning, worse promoting such crime. Does the translator deserve the benefit of doubt that he did not understand what the MP said? If yes, does he deserve a place in national media?

Worst part is, it has become a sort of crime to advice caution on the part of victim – an indication of how directionless and jingoistic our media is. Any measures suggested for women to protect themselves are met with an allegation of misogyny. Well, there are thefts on rise in many places and police issued public welfare notices indicating the precautions people should take to avoid theft. When an old man is robbed in broad daylight, people could not help but ask how he could carry cash alone without protection. Bank folks do not carry cash to ATM without protection. But it is an “insult to womanhood” to ask for proper caution to ensure safety!

So as always, how much ever maligned, it is the same Hindutva folks who search for solutions – with whatever success does not matter. At least, they are not like those who actively participate in creating the problem (as was discussed in the previous part).

While media tried actively to read ill-treatment of woman as a part of Hindutva, a few guys went way too far – calling for an undoing of the macho-masculinity of Hindutva movement! Of course, the same newspaper had to tender an apology and publish a countering article. But in reality, where is machoism and anti-feminine masculinity presented in India? The most of it comes from bollywood-gym culture where the macho figures are publicized along with flocking semi-nude heroines. But this is only an aside.

The Theory

Broadly there are two planes or consciousness frames – bhoga (enjoying) and jnAna (knowing). As a man evolves into the higher reaches of consciousness, from gross to subtle, he also gradually evolves from the bhoga to the jnAna. This evolution also involves a lot of parallel changes – from personal to impersonal awareness, from individual to selfless pursuits etc. So to say, as a man moves up in the Maslow pyramid, he becomes less outwardly enjoyment-centric and becomes knowledge-centric (or inwardly enjoyment-centric). So synthesis of knowledge happens from evolved men, as knowledge is their object of enjoyment. In a society that understands and encourages this kind of evolution, there is development of the technical and philosophical nature of subjects. In a society that loses this vision, there is a consumption of the results of knowledge but lack of knowledge synthesis.

When the outlook changes from enjoyment to knowledge, man looks at nature as a teacher rather than as a repository of pleasure. He sees the experiences of nature, both pain and pleasure as means to the synthesis of knowledge, and thus nature as a teacher and a provider who confers knowledge and provides the means and experiences for the knowledge. Thus he evolves respect for nature, as the impersonal and eternal teacher and mother. When this kind of vision underlies the founding principles of a society, it would learn to worship nature than abuse it. Whether it is the general Hindu approach of worshiping natural phenomena or treating nature, earth as mother, the respect towards nature is pervasive.

In a society that is evolved and civilized, the flow of thought descends from jnana to bhoga, involving the necessary outlook. A man in jnana bhumi tries to fix his mind on jnana. A man in bhoga bhumi still has his mind on bhoga and not jnana. But with the above aesthetic backdrop, even the layman in bhoga bhumi derives bhoga not with the sense that he is enjoying nature but with the sense that mother nature is giving him sources of enjoyment – a subtle but very important difference (for people who think Veda is for the priest and layman is off of it, this stands a big counter example as of how the Hindu layman’s view of life and nature takes the same backdrop as that of a scholar). This makes all the difference between treating nature as a conquered object and as a providing mother. It is not limited to some esoteric reverence – but affects the way nature is conserved or disturbed. While the word “conservative” is made synonymous to “retrograde” and “closed” in popular discourse today, fact remains that with permanent things like nature being conservative is the only way mankind can survive long. Extinction of several species, loss of ecological balance etc are major concerns today, though it is much less advertised at common man level.

The Hindu view of women derives from the same view of nature. This is the reason Hindu outlook places woman in a much better position than any other society/outlook. Woman is nature herself, and one who respects nature would also respect woman. This thought is sinking very slowly into western thought, but is pervasive in Hindu thought. Since primitive times, woman’s contribution to Hindu knowledge is not random but fundamental. Right from the reflective observation of natural phenomena and cycles to profound spiritual concepts like feminine notion of bhakti.

That feminist movement is not as rampant in India as it was in west, is not because of Indian resistance but because India never put woman in that miserable state as west did in the past. People who quote examples like sati or niyoga or child marriage fail to see how the practices came in time and went in time – demanded by the situation but not eternal features of Hinduism.

Current Situation  

So when the “Hindutva” leaders ask for restoration of woman’s position, they know exactly what they are saying – that the secondary treatment or disrespect of woman is a consequence of utilitarian worldview India is absorbing, which is in total contrast to the way Hindu society always treated women. Of course, there are aberrations during external aggressions – again what we see there is a sense of possession and protection of something precious than a “secondary” treatment which is more definable on ego grounds.

Today the challenge is not with empowerment of woman but of her self-discovery. Hindu society never defined womanhood with respect to a man, and recognized her uniqueness – something that is lost in the modern parlance. No amount of “equality” argument is going to allow that self-discovery, as long as that equality is defined as equality with respect to man. What is required is the freedom for woman to identify herself in her own image – something that is totally lost in the west and hence being lost in India.

Woman is always treated as the center of family, and as Sister Nivedita puts it, she is “The Web of Indian Life” (title of her book itself) – the one that holds the society safe and intact. The deterioration of woman’s position in society is hence directly related to (1) rise of utilitarian view of life (2) deterioration of family and society and rise in individualism. Identification of male-female relation within the fold of family is not equal to limiting woman to family role, but realizing her uniqueness. As mentioned earlier, when Hindu society was healthy and both these aspects were in balance woman’s role in the society was not limited to household. A society that is healthy and civilized, is not merely sustained but held intact by empowered and capable woman. The development of refined aspects of civilization can come only by the identification of feminine principle as unique in itself.

Today the Bharatiya society has to suit itself, and identify ways to prevent this degradation. It is not contrary to, but a part of the overall revival of the civilization under constant attack. The present lack of self-confidence and superimposition of individualistic definition and a loss of macro perspective need to be overcome.

Thoughts on Crime Control – I

We are coming across a lot of crime news of late, not just of incidence of crime but also on the crime laws, their fairness and effectiveness.  There have also been cases where laws themselves are debated for their consequences in human suffering.

While we are concerned mainly about crime in India, there is a striking difference we need to note between crime in the west and India. In the west crime is largely a result of broken society and weakening of self-regulation in the society, and happens in spite of state and security. In India it is partly the reverse – crime happens in spite of society’s self regulation and because of the failure of state. This is an important bottom line for going about control of crime.

The recent assault on a woman in a moving bus resulted in huge furor and protests in the country. But as expected, and quite similar to the anti-corruption protests, it is primarily people’s frustration with the situation resulting in protests on the road. In a democracy this is an easy outlet governments can give people, without doing much about them in the long term. At most there would be promises and short-term steps like aggressive police activity and quicker judicial process. But overall, nothing would change in the system that keeps causing the crime.

In the recent case there are reactions from probably all sections in India. Some point to woman’s vulnerable position Delhi, some point to police not doing their duty, some point to weak punishment code that does not deter criminals, some point to lethargic judicial process etc. But by and large most of them seem to ignore the basic premises that underlie all this – the crime and its cause itself.

Who is to be blamed?

There are two aspects – morality and legality. As a matter of fact, no amount of diligent police or judiciary can eradicate crime in a billion strong society – it is just not possible. They can only handle the exceptions or fringe cases that happen outside the self-regulation of society. So while it is easy to point finger at them, we need to understand that a live, vigilant and self-regulating society is the only way any crime can be controlled. But over decades since independence, in which direction did India move?

First of all, this is a country ruled by a party for decades, which corrupted the polity, beurocracy, government departments and media, a party which turned a free India into a top-to-bottom corrupt country in six decades, a party that kept trying its best to replace the morals and native ethos of this country with alien, value-neutral thought processes. This is a country where campaigns are organized for public and legal acceptance of unethical and immoral codes of conduct, systematically targeting the native ethos and morality. This is a country where partisan politics is rampant – crime against people of some communities becomes a rage in the media and polity, which against people of some communities just goes unnoticed. Some communities are targeted by the media and polity themselves, while some communities are as good as licensed to commit crime. This is a country where media is outright against the native ethos and systematically derides those, and glorifies alien ethos. This is a country where public media shows every kind of negative human tendency – lust, greed, vanity, extravagance, jealousy in glorifying terms and takes the unforgiveable excuse of natural depiction.

In fact it is not really state being diligent and society failing, but society struggling against a state that not only failed its duty but is actively anti-society. Rise in crime and atrocity in wake of this fact, is only a natural consequence.

And when people do protest in anguish, we need to understand that these are only nozzles turned on and off schematically by government and media to give timely outlets to growing frustration and to give a pretence of democracy and of an open society. That has nothing to do with either media’s or the governments’ real sense of responsibility in addressing the problems of the society. One must also notice that both these systematically try to curtail or downplay elements that are morally strong and really direct at some sort of solution to the real problems. In case of anti-corruption Anna Hazare was sidelined and Ramdev Baba targeted while the harmless folks like Kejriwal given enough media space, attention. In the recent protests sparked by rape, Ramdev Baba was booked – as if they are not citizens of this country and do not have the right to stage protests. That is not at all because he was “politically motivated”, but simply because he poses serious questions and because his questions go beyond protests and are directed at the real perpetrators of injustice – governance and media.

The motivations of media are quite apparent, leaving us in no need to make guesses. Any suggestion to a moral approach to control the crime is falsely implicated as blaming the victim, or worse, as justifying crime. In fact blaming the victim is an old habit of state and media in India, when people other than their favored communities are on the receiving end (as happened in case of Godhra train burning, Kashmiri Pandits, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Hindus and Hindus of north-east), but that is a different point. Even in this case, victims do not come from media or state – the victims come from the crime fearing households while criminals are created not by them. In fact even provocation for crime as often said, does not come from these households. The victims in many cases happen to be outlets to the criminal tendency of people who derive their inspiration/provocation elsewhere. So if an average family cries foul on those inspirations/provocations, they cannot be the ones to be criticized – in fact it is the responsibility of the state to address their fears and declining safety.

While media takes enough pains to suppress the native version of the issue (as seen by the Hindu intellectuals and conservative households that fear their loss of safety in the growingly loosening and non-vigilant society) and puts in every effort to misinterpret and reverse the message, facts show otherwise. No one ever said “provocative dresses” or “pub culture” or “PDA” are invitations for crime or justifications for crime. It is not even the illicit relations that invite crime. The question is, what these things cause to a society.

If thousands of youth fancifully took to smoking looking at Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s “style”, and if people in the last decade took to more immoral and illegal practices looking at the “natural depictions” of illicit relations, PDA, glorified crime and provocative conduct (not merely dressing) on the screen, do state and media really not know what they are doing to people? If eve teasing was seen as something done by spoilt brats twenty years ago and is seen as something common today, do state and media really not know what they are doing to people? If immoral conduct like extra marital relations becomes legally acceptable today, do state and media really not know what they are doing to people? If someone says there is no relation between rise of immoral conduct and crime, is that something worth believing?

The Real Issue?

The media’s attempt to portray crime as Indian society’s inability to accept “progressive changes” or “woman’s empowerment” is fundamentally flawed and demonstrates the above. Free, immoral and illegal conducts are three apparently different things, but have sufficient overlap and lead to each other. By making the native criticism look extreme and conservative, the blame cannot be shifted. In fact, such “progressive changes” have not come in any society without eroding social strength and self-regulation, and have not come without steep rise in crime.

The feminist angle to the issue, namely calling on the society’s inability to accept woman’s empowerment, is also flawed. First of all the victims of crime are women alone – rise of crime is systematic and is inversely proportional to the section’s strength, namely the weakest affected the worst. Sexual assault on women is definitely on rise, but so is child abuse of all kinds. The state of old people is also worsening, and so is the position of the physically weak individuals who are otherwise contributors to the aesthetic and intellectual fields (with physical and brute force, machoism being advertised as the order of the day). In short, all the soft elements of the society – stree-bala-vriddha-jnani are growing to be increasingly unsafe. And this is not a sign of not being able to accept progressive changes, but the primary sign of undoing civilization and culture. A civilized society is one that protects all these weak elements (which in turn enrich the society), and that has been the primary principle of Indian society for ages – so if anything, what is happening is not India’s reaction to progress, but a regression that is happening in spite of India’s resistance at social level.