The Indian National Pastime

Allow me to start with a disclaimer – yet again.

I’m not in the habit of making political statements.  This is not out of any lofty principles or ethics, but out of pure ignorance.  As opinionated as I am, at the end of the day, I’m just a school teacher on a break at best, and an eight-ball juggling expatriate housewife at worst, which prevents me from making any kind of sweeping statements when it comes to politics.  Truth be told, I don’t even read the morning paper regularly.  However, there are times when even a D in Civics is not an excuse for a person to remain silent. Barack Obama addresses families of Newtown shooting

America can finally hope for its Great Leader.  The highlight of this morning’s walk was the 5 minute news-in-a-nutshell which gave me the breaking news that Obama is reviewing gun control laws in January next, regardless of the opposition, which is extremely strong in itself.  He’s also taking measures to ensure improved mental health among the citizens of his country.  There was also a mention of controlling the availability of apps and information to children below the age of thirteen.

Made my morning.  Some good has come out of the unspeakable tragedy which was just one among the many that have happened over the years.  Not much of a consolation for the families of the victims, but at least it will ensure that there are fewer families of victims mourning in the future.  My salutes to President Obama. He’s at least trying.

Which brings to mind what’s happening in the capital of my home country.  rape_protest3_PTI

A girl gets gang raped in a moving bus, and it is just the latest in a series of unspeakable crimes that can be broadly classified as ‘such incidents’ in the capital – and elsewhere. Violent sexual attacks against women happen with appalling regularity, and nothing much gets done about it.  Cases that start with a bang eventually fizzle out, and nothing really changes.  Except in the mind of a possible perpetrator.  With each such incident, he is increasingly sure that that no matter what he does, the possibility of him getting away with it scot free is very high.  He just needs to keep away from the scene for long enough.

We have not got our Great Leader yet, and that is a fact.  We’re still waiting for a leader who has the guts to stand tall and proclaim to the world that yes, action will be taken, and right away – regardless of everything.  How long the wait is, one can’t say yet.

Which allows us the freedom to blame the authorities, including the government and the police.  But our blame game doesn’t stop with that.  Oh, we are experts when it comes protecting our perpetrators.  We’ll do it with whatever tool we can avail of – from apathy and passivity to actively blaming the victim.  She wore inviting clothes, she stepped out at the wrong time, she walked into the wrong place, she behaved provocatively…the list is endless.  We only have to delve into the resident evil within us, and we are done.  A girl may be subjected to leering looks, lewd comments, molestation, sexual harassment within or outside the family/workplace, even rape, but we will always blame her for it.  Because we are so good at it.  As a society, our national pastime is playing ‘blame the victim’ game.

This once, though, a whole city is on fire.  People are out on the streets in tens of thousands, demanding retribution.  I feel proud, happy.  I may not be there, but my sisters are.  Finally, there are some really raised voices.

As a language teacher in an Indian school in a foreign country, I’d often come across confused teenagers who don’t understand why they are asked to love their country or feel ‘proud of being Indian’.  “But Ma’am, there’s so much poverty there.  Nothing works properly, from electricity and water to everything else.  When we go out, we feel weird – people stare.  And worst of all, corruption!”  I’ve heard this said in so many words, repeatedly, over the years.

The first time I heard it, it made me pause.  There is truth in what these kids say, but then –  “That’s why it’s so important that you educate yourselves, that you are aware, that you grow up with a good set of values… Because you are our tomorrow, and only you can make our country a better place.”  I stopped and looked at their faces.  I saw cynicism, I saw doubt, I saw the mental headshake.  And I saw hope.

I still see hope.  Maybe, somewhere out there is a leader who would stand firm and tall for what s/he believes in.  Who would do whatever is right, regardless.


2 thoughts on “The Indian National Pastime

  1. Anil Kumar

    I share your views, but I doubt whether I could have expressed it better. As a teacher you are both privileged and also tasked with added responsibility of moulding the youth and I believe you have got off to a fine start. Keep up the good work and the ‘sincere words’ they may be a source of inspiration not only for our youth but also some future leader in the making.


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