The Hysteria (and atrocity) of Mob Justice

A few days ago, India was shocked to hear the news of a mob of 200-odd people in UP beating to death a man who was rumored to be consuming beef. While there are many different serious issues involved in this situation, including why the beef ban makes no sense, and how the temple was used for entirely ‘un-temple-like’ matters, this post is about the mob and its mentality, and the reasons behind this mentality, if any.

India is no stranger to the concept of a mob. From the time of our struggle for independence from the British, mob demonstrations, protests, meetings, and rallies have been quite common. In fact, these mob gatherings played a very important role in gaining us our independence – Dandi Yatra and Bharat Chhodo Andolan, for instance. However, these were mostly peaceful gatherings, condoning non-violence as a principle. The violent part of our freedom struggle, albeit very important as well, was commandeered by individuals rather than groups.

Thus, it is really strange to see that the mobs of today are far from peaceful. Just a few months ago, an angry mob lynched a rape suspect after breaking him out of a prison in Dimapur. Companies and companies of police forces could not control the mob. The matter lies under investigation while even the guilt of the murdered suspect is not yet established. However, the cruelty with which this suspect was murdered remains for all to be seen.

It saddens me deeply to see how people have stopped believing in the criminal justice system or law enforcement, in general. The humongous number of cases of rape, assault, and abduction; and the general lethargy in prosecuting them has triggered a long-due avalanche of public outrage in our country. People want justice, and they want it right now! But wait! Is any of it really true?

Yes, there is public outrage. But is it over matters that really concern the public? How was it any of those 200 people’s business to prevent the unfortunate man from eating beef? They had a right of opinion, yes; but who in the world gave them the right to enforce their opinion on someone, let alone physically confront them over it? If they had a problem with him eating beef, the most they should have done is filed a report at a police station, if at all that were possible. (I know, the anti-beef law is ridiculous and denying people their staple food while proudly wearing leather shoes and belts is as hypocritical as it can get,  but that merits a different blog post altogether. ) What gives them the right to kill someone? If the cow is sacred, isn’t a human life so too?

We have established that this killing makes no sense logically. Some people said to me that it is not a logical but a moral and sentimental issue. Educated people said this, no less. Again, the issue of how educated people fall prey to herd mentality or pandering merits another blog post. (And here I thought I had no topics to write about!) But for now, let’s see how this is (not) a moral and sentimental issue.

If we as a nation were that moral and sentimental, we would have stood up to the many issues that we face today. Take rape, for example. The Dimapur mob did kill a rape suspect when the outrage over numerous unsolved rape investigations was at its peak; but how many people from that mob regularly protest against inappropriate behavior in public places – the eves-teasing, the molestation, and overall unlawful intimidation? Oh and let’s not even open the can of worms called inappropriate behavior of domestic nature!

Don’t these so-called torch-bearers of moral conduct turn a blind eye towards countless “immoral” incidents that happen everyday around them, even when they are in groups?

I myself have been verbally abused in a crowded public bus, when a man whom I told not to lean on me launched a full-fledged  filthy-worded sledging attack on me. He even threatened me of dire consequences – while the many men and women around me just watched. Verbal abuse is bad enough, but how many of us even actually interfere in what we can clearly see is a physical or sexual attack? Where does this “moral mob” dissolve then?

When Government officials ask hundreds of people for a bribe, why don’t they unite and use the power of the mob to make the officials see the error in their ways? I remember when I was in Engineering college, public buses routinely refused to let us board until all the seats were filled because we, as students, paid concession fares. Hundreds of students hence traveled standing, but none, including me, had the will to collectively negotiate or reason with the individual buses or with the public transport authorities. This same universal set of students was however more than eager to stage a protest at the university against the rule of introducing uniform attire in colleges. The situations I have mentioned are nothing compared to the heinous crimes that are being committed by mobs, but the underlying problems are the same.

Do mobs only act when it is absolutely illegal to do so? Why is it that a large group of people will shut down an entire market on the day of a strike, but they will not be “moral” or “sentimental” about a poor lonesome fruit vendor who can only have enough money for dinner if he sells enough fruit in the day?

Clearly, a different type of sentiment is at play here.  Is it all politically motivated – someone actually pulls the strings and controls the mob after brainwashing them, while letting them believe that they are all in control? Do we as a society need to vent our frustration about the many problems of the world and take any easy route offered to us? Those easy routes mostly happen to be the wrong ones; but we have put out ourselves so much that we cannot retreat? Don’t at least some of us have a crisis of conscience while watching a fellow human being mercilessly beaten and back-off, or try to get others in our ‘united’ group to back off? Do none of these mob members take a moment to think about the consequences of their actions, both short and long term?

So many questions, I know! I am really baffled by all this ominous stuff. The truth is, I refuse to believe that human beings are inherently evil creatures. A few may lose their way, but as a society, we are bound by conscience to behave rationally, compassionately, and justly. At least I hope so. Wake up, fellow human beings! Social interaction or forming groups is what makes us human beings special. It is time to give a good, long thought to how we, as a group, should make each other better, and not worse. Let’s be a solid community,and not just a mob.

The Birthday Blog Post

This was meant to be an actual birthday post, meaning it was supposed to be posted on my birthday, which was yesterday.  However, as most of my activities are these days, it had to be postponed. Thankfully, I can accredit it to my daughter, and not to my usual procrastination. 😀

20141029_004353Anyway, yesterday’s the day I turned 31, finally severing all my ties with my twenties. (No, I can no longer say that I was in my twenties  just until a few days ago! 😛 )

In other (more real) senses, too, this birthday was of quite some importance to me.

For one, I became a mom about 5 months ago, so it is my first birthday as one. My daughter does not understand it yet but years later she will see herself wishing me in photographs. Yes, I posed her to  hug me and pretended she was wishing me a happy birthday, I admit! 😛 😉

My last birthday was pretty disastrous, what with the morning sickness and stuff. So on this birthday, I was happy to actually eat my birthday cake. 😀 Chocolate, of course!

I have always been a big fan of birthdays; and while I agree that we all grow a little everyday, there’s something that changes on our birthdays every year. As a kid, I used to truly believe that what we wished while cutting our birthday cakes really came true.  As I grew up, I transferred my wish-fulfillment tactics to making resolutions. Needless to say, neither of them came to fruition. Well, at least most of the times. Still, I make resolutions on every birthday: most are just repeats of those made about 10 months ago, all still unfulfilled. And some, I try to incorporate based on my age. This year, as I myself have a child, I have resolved to reduce my childish streaks, at least a little. The child-likeness, albeit, I cannot camouflage. But the flashes of temper, the random indiscipline – they sure have to go out the door.

Apart from that, I have resolved to read more, on the new Kindle Paperwhite that hubby dearest gifted me on my birthday. :):) I used to be an ardent supporter of good old-fashioned paper books; but considering how my daughter devours anything that she can tear or wring, I fear for their safety. Hence, Kindle. At least until she finds a way to destroy that, too. 😛

Well, that’s it so far. Let me publish the post before I get interrupted again. Happy birthday to me! 😀 😀

Mesothelioma Awareness

Recently, I was contacted by  Heather Von St. James, a triumphant survivor of mesothelioma. She wanted me to spread a word about this rare form of cancer. I must admit, I had never heard of mesothelioma before.

Mesothelioma is dangerous, yet avoidable. It mainly occurs due to asbestos exposure. It has been cured in rare cases, like that of Heather. It was quite inspiring to read about her victory over it.

For information about Mesothelioma, please visit http://www.mesothelioma.com/

Also, stay away from asbestos!

A Brand New (Mother of a) Role! :)

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Literally!

Yes, I am happy to announce that exactly a month ago, I assumed one of the most important roles I will ever play in my life. I gave birth to this sweet little girl that you can see in the accompanying photograph, Ananya. Her arrival was nothing short of a mini-tsunami of change in my life, and Mayuresh’s.

From the moment we had a slight doubt that the little present (or future, should I say?) was on its way into our lives, nothing remained same as before.  Lifestyle, pastimes, physical condition, mental state, plans, priorities… you name it and 360 degrees turn it made!

9 months passed with much hullabaloo. Girls, if you are interested in knowing more about those 9 moths, you can read all about them, in detail, in my newest still-under-construction blog The Mommy Diaries. (For those who prefer saving and browsing through the blog later, the URL is http://amrutasmommydiaries.blogspot.com/.) I singled out girls because I am very sure boys will hardly be interested in knowing the nitty-gritties of pregnancy – a phase they will never experience first-hand! 😛 Anyway, the new blog is not yet fine-tuned and ready for public viewing, hence this subtle mention.

But as people had told me earlier, the real adventure was yet to begin. And it now finally has. After experiencing the first few days of overwhelming physical agony and mental ecstasy, my mind now has finally reached a point where there can be emotional upheaval.

And emotions indeed poured like cats and dogs! From what it really means to be a mom, to what I want to be able to teach my daughter… From how I can never be carefree again, to how I can prevent my life from being one-dimensional… So many and Oh so many thoughts have firmed their roots in my mind these days!

The confusion and the musings aside, this new role has also brought in a plethora of new experiences. Ananya is just a month old, and cannot smile purposely – I know; and yet when she coincidentally grins when I’m talking gibberish to her, I feel she is responding already, and we have this special connection. Such a comforting bubble it is! 🙂 Getting worried when she cries and happy when she clings to me, understanding her yells and wails (Oh yeah, it seems they have a different kind for every reason!), treating her like the most delicate thing on the planet, while hoping she will be really strong when she is older… I can ramble on and on about all these new experiences I am having, but then what would I write in later posts, if I do write them, that is!

Wish me luck for bringing up this cute little baby, and also for being able to keep writing this blog in spite of assuming this mother of a role. Well, who knows… it is said that when you are really busy doing something important, you find time to do all the things that you like doing. ‘Cause it is not the lack of time that prevents you from doing what you want to, but it is procrastination! The busier you get, the more efficient you become in handling things that you care about.

We’ll soon know if that is true! 😀

 

Jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

fahrenheit_celsiusI had heard about Chicago’s cold winters. I had survived a couple of them. But nothing could have made me imagine the kind of cold that would come in, jab Celsius and Fahrenheit met!

Yes, that’s right. For those of you who did not know (and that includes me, until recently) at -40 degrees Celsius,  the Fahrenheit scale of measurement catches up (or down, whichever way you like it).  I guess the world is so damned frozen by the time the scale hits -40, that Mr. Celsius and Mr. Fahrenheit no longer have the energy to diverge! Hahaha, just kidding! It is all purely mathematical, actually.

This historical event (well, in all of my 30 years of near-cognizance) happened on the 6th of January, a day when by the grace of Murphy, I had an unavoidable appointment outside my house. I have spent months and months sitting at home, and on the one day when I could have been glad for doing that, I had to drag myself out, wearing no less than 7 layers of warm clothing. Needless to say, I looked like a frozen elephant! 😛

To add to the woes, the extreme drop in temperature led to low air pressure in the car tires, forcing husband dearest to queue up at the air filling station and drag the air pipe (or whatever it is called) to all the tires while shivering bitterly.

Thankfully, none of our body parts fell off by the time we got back home. I wonder what the homeless people were doing, though… Poor them! Now the temperatures are slowly but steadily rising, thankfully again.

Here are some pictures of the terrible ‘polar vortex’ed city of Chicago and a few other places. See and enjoy the fact that you weren’t here, then. Those of you who were here, rue the same fact. 🙂

http://galleries.apps.chicagotribune.com/chi-ugc-weather-photos/

Happy New Year 2014!

Hi friends,

Before anything else, let me wish you a very happy new year! May the year bring plenty of health, happiness, success, fun, and laughter in your lives! 🙂Image

I know that a new year is just a statistical tool to help us keep track of time, and the Gregorian calendar (by which the 1st of January becomes the first day of the year) does not even mark the change in a season, but mere mortals (and procrastinating ones at that) like me do like to have landmarks and deadlines in life, to keep us on track. A new year serves that exact purpose. 🙂

So how was the last year for me? Well, bitter-sweet, like most other years. The year started in Orlando (ahh, the lovely, sunny land of Florida) and ended in Chicago (ohh the wretched land of snow). – which actually is poetic justice! 🙂

This time around, the new year celebration was rather subdued, although very comfy and cozy, with just me and my husband sipping sparkling pomegranate juice (yes, seriously) and munching on yummy, home-made Malai Kofta and naan. And thus, we also managed to wake up early in the morning the next day, which has been one of my new year targets and resolutions for many years now.

As for resolutions, this year too, I made the same old ones – lead a healthier lifestyle, read more, write more, obsess less, be less emotional and more practical, and so on. What remains to be seen is how soon and how often I break them! 😀

I am majorly concerned about writing, though. It is after all, my bread and butter. At least it used to be, and after this “break”, it will be so again. Just don’t want to lose my shine (if I had any in the first place; and if I did, then if any of it is left) by the time this break ends. Let us see. Only time will tell! Coincidentally, and on a totally unrelated note, that was the last book I read last year [Only Time Will Tell – John Grisham], and did not like it at all. Why I am writing this here? I don’t know – just want to write something. That’s a good sign, I guess… hehehe.

Anyways, here’s to more good signs, and good omens, and good deeds, and good news; and hopefully see you again soon.

Cheers! 🙂

Racism? How beneath our own race!!!

Here’s a transcript of an interview between a journalist and a typical young, educated, white-collared Indian.

Q: Do you think Indians, especially those of the younger generation, are racist?racism pic
A: No way, man! It is well-known all over the world – We don’t indulge in racism! We are all-embracing…
In fact, the only race we do believe in is the race for betterment, for success – financial, social, traditional, emotional, and cultural! (They don’t call us the Gen-Next for nothing!) Plus, our culture is the greatest of all, re! Look at all those stupid Americans and Australians… harassing not only Indians, but their own country men living there! We are not like them at all. We believe in “Live and Let Live”!

QWhat is racism, according to you?
A: Racism is being biased towards some races and discrimination and stuff.

QSo, you are saying that none of us treat people of other races differently?
A: Yeah, yeah, I know that those roadside boys keep whistling at foreign tourists and trying to pick them up. But they are just appreciating beauty – of what value is beauty if no one appreciates it?
And plus, most of these boys are outsiders – from the neighboring states and all, you know! They don’t stay in their limits sometimes; but they are like that only! We can’t teach them these things, right… yeh cheezein to khandaani hain! They speak their own strange languages, and don’t understand ours. But, however useless they are, they don’t do any real harm at all, so it is okay. And don’t even get me started on those originally from neighboring countries! Unka bhi to kuchh nahi ho sakta!

QSo it is only they who are inclined towards racism?
A: Well I can’t say that directly and be politically incorrect, right? I can tell you for sure that OUR community and state is awesome! We are all modern now! We even write “sub-caste no bar” in our matrimonial ads, for god’s sake!
Also, when my North Indian boss’s daughter wanted to marry a Southie, her family didn’t agree at first. Neither did her boyfriend’s. Different culture, different state, different lifestyle – how to adjust with all that, they both asked? Their point of view was correct in a way. Apne apne samaaj ke sab ladke-ladkiyan mar gaye the kya? But look at both their parents’ generosity and open-mindedness… after she ran away with her boyfriend and got married in court, they graciously welcomed the two of them back. Spent like a crore of rupees on the reception. Totally awesome, right!

Racism pic 2QWhat about our internal problems related to casteism?
A: Oh my God… what world are you living in? I am telling you everything’s changed now… Earlier people used to talk about untouchability and stuff. Now we don’t even get to see it anywhere! Well, may be in remote villages and all, but who lives in those anyways – not even a handful of people, I guess. We in the cities are much more modern now… what’s the harm in interacting with those other caste people, I say? It’s not as though they are going to come and live with us now!


Q
And what about discrimination against the “so-called” upper castes and lower castes, both? 
A: No, no, what upper castes and what lower castes? Everyone is just basically proud of their own caste and want the best for it – doesn’t mean we discriminate right? Sometimes things just happen… It’s India yaar!

QRecently there has been news of certain politicians being violent towards out-of-state vendors and businessmen. Do you approve of such tactics?
A: See, tell me this – India is such a huge country, and a highly developing one at that! Even if we don’t allow people from other states to work in ours, they will surely get jobs in their own. Then why do they want to force the people in our state to seek employment elsewhere by filling up all our jobs? As for violence, it is unfortunate; but again, kya karein, it is inevitable sometimes.

QBut don’t you think India is a free country and we can all live and work wherever we want in India?
A: Yeah, we are a free country; but that’s why we all need to stay happy in our own zones, na! If no one is happy how will our country be united? And we are so liberal now…even the different castes are not constricted about employment and work. Our society allows Brahmins to run a business, Kshatriyas to become professors, Vaishyas to do blue-collared jobs and even Kshudras to enroll in armed forces… all these people are allowed to do things they aren’t supposed to – how much more liberal can we be, man! To maintain a balance, we need to have some boundaries, right. Without those, we will be like those Americans and Hippies and stuff.

Q: Okay, and what do you have to say about name-calling? Like in USA, calling African-American people Negros is considered politically incorrect as well as outright offensive. But here, people often use racially offensive nicknames. You just used the word ‘Southie’ in a previous answer.
AArrey, those Americans create an issue out of everything. We just do the name-calling as a joke, man. Plus, it is the easiest way of referring to them. And don’t victimize them okay, they also have nicknames for our state and community. It’s just tit for tat. Now take the software analogy only… in our own company, we call those who test testers, those who code developers, and so on. Similarly, we have names for those from different states and with small eyes, dark skin, dim wits, tendency to show off, miserly traits, oily hair, gauche accents, country of origin, and so on. What’s racist about that!

QOkay then, any parting thoughts on this whole issue of racism?
A: Well, I just want to say that we are not racists at all. No, no, indulging in racism is far, far beneath our glorious race, dude!

[Also published on TheFrustratedIndian blog]]