Arindam Chaudhuri
Are we creating a perfect Environment for disrespect towards women?
[February, 2008]

The much publicised New Year eve incident of molestation outside a five star hotel in Mumbai in front of gaping onlookers is just but one of the rarest such cases, which got to the front pages of mainline newspapers. It’s only when something as sensational, as a school kid in Gurgaon shooting his friend or a molestation in a five star hotel happens, that we panic. The truth, however, is that it’s not a one-off incident, but rather a part and parcel of our society that we are growingly getting used to. An introspection, therefore, is urgently due and the question we need to ask ourselves is, who really is the culprit? It is a given fact, which has been statistically proven, that children from poor/criminal/abusive/alcoholic families, etc are more likely to take to crime and similar lowly activities. Of course, therefore, it is unfortunate that after knowing fully well about the fact that those are poverty, lack of access to education and inequality which are the key reasons behind crime, we still don't give a thought about removing economic inequities from our society.

However, are just the above problems responsible for the current situation? The bigger cause of concern is perhaps something else. What about those who are better off and are getting schooling? Weren’t they at least expected to make the society better? I had gone for a television talk show where the audience comprised school children, the future that our country depends upon. Live on TV, I asked the students, "How many of you read books and have read a book recently, apart from your school textbooks?" There were about a hundred plus students present, and not to my surprise, not a single, I repeat, not a single hand went up! I then asked them how many watched TV and TV serials regularly? Almost all the hands went up. That kind of sums up the times we live in.

The issue is not about the psychology of the rapist or molester. It is about the psychology of society on the whole. The kind of upbringing we are giving our children and about the priorities we are setting for our children. And almost without hesitation, I can say that it is we who are actually responsible for the creation of these mentally sick people. Maybe without our conscious effort, but it is we who are to blame; and we must realise this to solve the problem, or at least reduce it amongst the classes that have access to education. The fact is that despite giving good schooling, children of those families that are neither making them read books, nor giving them a positive and healthy frame of mind, are also as likely to become mentally unbalanced citizens – if not criminals altogether – and to be tempted towards such activities. And it's sad that – forget unabridged books, forget abridged versions – modern-day children are not even reading comic books like Amar Chitra Katha. That is the crux of the problem! When you read the tales of Harshavardhana or Ashoka or Shivaji at an early age, your impressionable mind starts idolising these characters and trying to ape and imitate the things they did. Consequently, you want to be brave, respect the dignity of women and fight to save them from being molested (remember, those are not just the molesters who are to blame, as much as the spineless sickening bystanders who let such things happen like cowards without principles). Because only exposure to right principles through books of heroism and classic fiction can make a man in today's world of excessive pressure of education and competition. When kids don't have such heroes to worship and ape in their life – and instead have the idiot box as their source of education with all its illiterate contents being doled out by every other news reporter to serial producer out to grab TRPs – they stray and are confused about what to ape and that's when things go out of our hands. That's when a kid, despite not having been taught to molest a woman, ends up doing exactly that given a chance, not knowing how to differentiate right from wrong. These modern-day ‘front page’ molesters, MMS scamsters and Gurgaon shootout killers aren't from poor or criminal families. They are from normal families and good schools and their parents thought they were giving them a great upbringing. Unfortunately, while chasing their own fast-track lives and providing their children with every material desire – to wash off their own guilt – parents never realised that they failed to give their children the most important thing in life – true love and basic principles! And there is hardly any school in this country that I know of, which is capable of taking good care of that.

Because these schools are busy pressurising their students with semi-useless course ware. As for making better citizens for this country, the latest trend is to rather concentrate on the more market-savvy thoughts of environment friendliness or love for animals instead of focusing in a concrete and effective manner on how to love human beings more and make the world a better and a more equal place to live in. It makes me wonder and ask, are we bringing up a new generation of environment and animal-friendly potential molesters?
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