This is a private war each male has to fight on his own because he owes it not only to the women folk of his lineage but also to his own kind. History beckons him to make that call, now more than ever. Read More…
I THINK the reason why my circle of friendship is not too large is because I’m not good enough at small talk. Out of all the friends I’ve acquired from social networking the only one who pegged Harper Lee’s novel (‘To kill a mocking bird’) about the lone crusader and the boogeyman choosing to stand up against the smug epithet ‘life isn’t always fair’ as her favorite is a 46 year old lady living in Mussoorie in Dehradun. As a matter of fact, I had first come across the film, rather than the book itself, a couple of decades after it had originally hit theaters in which the late Gregory Peck had played the role of the father of ‘Scout’ (the author herself) from whose vantage point Lee narrates the story in first person. In a way, I feel kind of awkward in confessing that the character played by Peck had unwittingly influenced me at that time to the extent that my sister started taking digs at me saying I was trying to imitate the way Peck had walked down the aisle in the court room after the jury delivered their racially prejudiced verdict against his vindicated black client.
Admittedly, the disparity in the perception of relationship between female and male are more palpable in the present time than ever before. Chander Dhar Sharma Guleri who wrote arguably the first short story in Hindi ‘Usne kha tha’ (She had said) in 1915 was discreetly elegant in his interpretation of the sentiment. The evolution of the image of Guleri’s central character who put his own life in jeopardy to protect his childhood sweetheart’s husband because she had made him promise to take care of the latter during the war to that of the minor accused in the December 16 gang rape in South Delhi represents a generation thrown off its guard by the disintegration of social values occurred during the cultural cross over at the turn of the last century.The 17 year old lad is alleged to have been the main stay as well as the mastermind of the whole operation who had purportedly coaxed the subject by addressing her as ‘behen’ (sister) into the bus with the assurance that she and her male companion would be securely dropped off at their destination. When the in-camera trial before
the Metropolitan Magistrate in Delhi’s Saket district began last Monday, ironically though the under aged accused could not be produced in court along with the other 5 culprits. Being a juvenile he is having the last laugh at the country’s judicial system for an under aged like him can only be subjected to a 3-year maximum sentence in a reformist institution even for a heinous crime such as the one he had committed.Later when the ill-fated woman’s companion disclosed in national television channel Zee News that for over 45 minutes neither passersby nor motorists heeded to their pleas for assistance and upon arrival even the police wasted several minutes debating over which jurisdiction the case was to be charged instead of rushing the injured to the nearest hospital which might have possibly saved the victim’s life, it sent a tremor that shook the corner stones of the metropolis’ heritage.
Atrocities against women have reached endemic proportions by even crossing the shores of the Atlantic. In 1999 two teenagers were subjected to sexual violation by a group French men for as long as 6 months. At the end of a 3-week trial last year, 10 of the 14 implicated escaped scathe free. The rest received less than 1-year sentences. Government agencies estimate that 80,000 women are raped a year in the United Kingdom while sexual assault numbers touch 400,000.
The Greek metaphysical theory of art being the imitation of life has in later years been reversed to the hyperbole of life to be the imitation of art holds true when the equation is applied in the context of the Bollywood dream factory. One of the patriarchs of mainstream Indian cinema, the late Raj Kapoor once defended his own style of film making by admitting that he was essentially a dream merchant facilitating the realization of the common man’s caprices within the confinement of the movie house in the short span of 2 hours. In doing so, however, he flirted with the limits of propriety by bathing his scantily clad heroines under waterfalls in aesthetically shot song sequences that came to be known as the hall mark of his production house. 24 years after his death, permissiveness at much worse levels has gained social acceptance that once would have been taboo in middle class drawing rooms. Right wing ethnic groups on the other hand argue that given the Indian youth’s infatuation with cinema, Bollywood productions are to blame for the spiteful urban experiences that have become part of daily routine, especially for commuters.
In the meantime, the dubious obsession for the male child among many households has given in to the unchecked practice of sex-selective abortions to alarming proportions. As a consequence, the female-male ratio has touched a new low to 893 in Punjab and 877 in Haryana per 1000 males that is costing prospective grooms aspiring for a male child dearly. They now have to shell out as much as 50,000 to 300,000 Rupees to the brides’ families depending upon of the quality of the merchandise. A statistic survey conducted among 10,000 families in Haryana revealed that during the last 10 years, 9,000 brides were procured from economically under privileged households in neighboring states.
Regrettably though, we have failed in growing up to become contemporaries of our own time. So long as the process of transformation is not initiated from the grass roots no matter how technically sound the method statement may seem the target milestone is likely to remain unrealized. It may also be not worth pinning too much of hope on the renewed legislation against atrocities committed against women in the offing until the male population of the country is rationally equipped to fight the evil within their own ranks by recognizing that the ‘mocking bird‘ is a poor thing who sings its heart out just for others and deserves to be taken care of rather than humiliated. It’s a private war each male has to fight on his own because he owes it not only to the women folk of his lineage but also to his own kind. History beckons him to make that call, now more than ever.