Social media is full of cries; cries of people like you and me saying that India is no more a safe place to live. The same feeling of fear, insecurity and vulnerability exists among people everywhere, irrespective of the country in which they live. The feeling might exist at different extents; in some countries it would be very explicit whereas in some it would be like a mild flame of distrust and insecurity.
In spite of many governments of different ideologies ruling the country, each following their own steps towards ensuring safety, we are far away from creating a society which is safe and harmonious. Many friends and relatives I met, were horrified by the incident which took place a few days ago, where two young men attacked a girl in the night. We started talking about it and wondering about our own safety after this incident; clearly because it took place in our locality. We suddenly started feeling vulnerable because, the person who was attacked, resembled us. She was from a socio-economic background to which we also belong. Unfortunately, we hardly notice how security and safety of people who belong to a different socio-economic class is at stake, many times by our own actions.
The whole problem of safety and harmony is not solved even after thousands of years of civilisation just because of the fact that we look at ourselves and society from a fragmented point of view.
Let me give some examples.
The area where I live, is one of the fastest growing and probably one of the ‘elite’ localities in Pune. If I open any of the windows of my house, I see tremendous amount of construction going on. The construction labor, their wives and their kids, stay in tin sheds. These shades are highly un-livable. They get unbearably hot in the summers. These workers and their wives bathe in open as they have no toilets and washrooms. They spend their entire day in concrete. All this is going to land them in serious diseases and whatever little money they earn, they will end up spending it on their own health and will certainly have shorter lifespans, full of pain and disease. Is this not breaching someone’s safety? Is safety compromised only when someone attacks you? Don’t we define safety from our own point of view and very easily neglect how safety of so many people is at stake?
There is one more example.
Once a week, I visit one of my clients whose office is very close to my house. So I prefer to walk. When I walked for the first time, I realised how difficult walking on Pune streets has become. When I do not allow pedestrians to cross the road, rather when I see a pedestrian about to cross and overspeed so that he or she does not get to cross before me, am I not abusing someone?
If we open our eyes and look at people around us and the way we behave, we realise that unknowingly, we are spreading so much of violence which gets multiplied and comes back to us.
Imagine you have to spend your entire day in a cab without being able to find a toilet to pee in, what kind of violence and frustration it will build in you.
We have conveniently learnt to live our life in fragmented compartments. We will be very polite, well mannered with people who fall in that compartment. People who are outside that compartment, for us, they become commodities. This builds up disconnect between these compartments which transforms into violence.
The purpose behind writing this post is not justifying the violent acts or simply saying that the humans who do these acts are not responsible for those. What I am saying is, WE ALL are responsible, equally.
Many of us would say that it is responsibility of government to ensure safety and harmony and I am responsible for and should be accountable for my personal life only. This is where the fragmentation begins. I remember, when I was a kid, my family was connected with the family of servants who worked at our house. Their problems were looked at as our problems as well. Many times, when they had emergency, the family supported them. This kind of connect is lacking in the society. I hardly even look at the watchmen who guard our society. Many times, the staffing agencies shift watchmen on daily basis. There is so much of disconnect and indifference that it is foolish to expect harmony.
Stronger law enforcement, prompt punishment, better vigilance will certainly help reduce these issues to some extent. If we truly wish to create a society which is truly peaceful, safe and harmonious, we need to seriously challenge our fragmented views. We need to come out of these compartments, we need to look at human beings as human beings and engage in a relationship which is built on love and trust.