ITCSA stands for ‘Indian Telugu Civil Servants Association’. It is the informal group of Civil Servants hailing from Andhra Pradesh & Telangana working in different parts of India and abroad. The idea was conceived on 9th November, 2006 by Telugu Civil Servants of 80 Foundation Course (LABASNAA, Mussorie). The association uses web-based Google Group named ‘ITCSA’ as the major platform for interaction among members. Aspirants can interact with ITCSA members through firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Flash Mobs & Democracy
Flash Mobs & Democracy
Article published in Herald, 11th January 2013 Flash Mobs & Democracy by Soter D'Souza
The horrendous and spine-chilling gang-rape in a bus and the subsequent death of the 23-year old paramedic at Delhi, stirred the conscience of the nation. Once again the casual approach adopted by the government to repeated crimes against women and girls, finally blew in its face after failing to gauge the extent of public anger. The refusal from a certain class of citizens to take any more nonsense from their government is very evident. In times when news and information is no more within the sole control of governments, it is not possible to conceal information and criticism. Relentless but peaceful advocacy and lobbying with the government by civil society groups, to ensure adequate laws and policies and their implementation in order to curb social evils, is very essential and justified in a democracy. A rape or molestation of any woman or girl is painful and threatening to any mother, father, husband, wife, brother or sister. Gender equity is a must for a healthy society, and violence against any gender just cannot be condoned. But in working towards gender sensitivity and security solutions, we also need to be mindful of the biological, mental and emotional aspects of humans. What seemed to have emerged as a spontaneous response from segments of concerned civil society on the rape incident, once again succumbed to seasoned opportunistic forces ~ as in the case of the anti-corruption movement. It was very unfortunate that yet again the momentum of a public initiative against a social evil which struck an emotional chord with the masses, was ultimately diluted into a political battle because of the absence of mature and experienced civil society leaders. The eagerness to imitate a 'Tahrir Square' or 'Arab Spring' phenomena and try to replicate it at Ram Lila Maidan or India Gate is probably the folly. Crossing the lakshman-rekha to a point of creating a constitutional crisis and governance paralysis, becomes more about a political revolution and a social reaction instead of social action. This gives an excuse for the government to clamp down on protests which in turn makes the public weary about lending support. It seems the latest trend is that little known civil society dispensations emerge as champions against social evils, with the ability to produce flash mobs that incite public emotions. This growing nuisance gets compounded by some private TV news channels that subject its viewers to an unceasing 24x7 bombardment on a single issue, as if the country and world is only confined to Jantar Mantar. This is nothing short of 'mental castration' that seeks to block rational thinking. Fascist approaches creeping in through proxy civil society flash mobs, hysterical TV channels and aggression in social media, to blackmail Parliament or Government with "this demand-this way-just now"; poses a threat to democratic institutions in this country. Only 'Lokpal' and all else is 'Jokepal' type of an approach, deprives the larger society of an opportunity for debate and informed decisions on policies or legislations. Parliament and governments are pushed into a state of panic and reluctant submission to pacify the mob. The increasing tendency by media reports to portray the decision of mobs as representative of the mind of a 1.2 billion population, is nothing but disrespect for democracy. As we know, the opinion of a mob is not necessarily the 'truth', as it is often devoid of rational and scientific thinking. This growing approach of a 'one problem-one remedy', that gets marketed across the country by some citizens squatting at Jantar Mantar, Ram Lila Maidan or India Gate and cheered on by the media, needs to be resisted if democracy is to survive. Those that manage to hustle together a mob in Delhi and rope in the media, cannot be allowed to become the decision makers and conscience-keepers for the entire country. What should worry every citizen is, the growing fascist type solutions of 'hang them', 'burn them' or 'castrate them' ~ that are taking control of young minds. The 'one solution-one demand' approach in recent movements against social evils, is reminiscent of a 'one nation-one culture' theory which is about intolerance and exclusion. Any citizen who has conflicting views is ridiculed, mobbed and driven into a corner. The rape of a young girl or pregnant woman on a street is no different from a rape or slitting of the womb of a pregnant woman during communal riots. The beating up of young girls with their boyfriends in public places or at parties, is no different from molestation of girls in a public bus or on the street. But it is disgusting that the responses of concerned civil society and political groups are discriminatory and skewed when it comes to action against certain forms of violence against women and girls. And if society is so concerned about women, then how come the rape victim and her friend had to remain naked and bleeding by the roadside for over half an hour, before help could reach them? Interestingly, the debate on the role of intoxicants and other cultural behaviours in the Delhi rape incident and other such crimes against women and girls, are cleverly being swept under the carpet. Probably, debating the issue of alcohol and drugs or modern life styles in relation to crimes against women, seems too threatening for civil society. It would confront many into looking and recognising their own contributory behaviour to the problem which they are selfishly hesitant to sacrifice for the greater good of the community. And here lies the hypocrisy in the entire debate ~ that takes pleasure in ridiculing males, slum dwellers, police and governments for failures to secure the rights of women and girls in this country. Can eradication of gender discrimination and violence be about a one-track blame game without every citizen acting responsibly? In short, the issue of violence against women cannot be tackled in isolation from other forms of violence, that are prevalent in our society. Rapes against women or girls are manifestations of a larger violence that takes place from 'the womb to the tomb'. It is the manifestation of a violent economy and violent development, that involves displacement and deprivation of human beings. What better can one expect in a society that collaborates with an economy that commodifies the human person, particularly a woman's body? Slogans like 'dress to kill' or philosophies about 'My body, my life' that get circulated without a second thought, cannot progress without an equal and opposite reaction. We cannot ignore natural laws. For, though we may have our own individuality and desires, we are also part of a society which ultimately is about dialogue, a degree of sacrifice and compassion, if at all there is to be harmony and peace. What we need is action towards fostering gender sensitivity and equality in our own homes and families to begin with, and not emotional reactions on the streets. More stringent and harsher laws, installing surveillance equipment and the rest would only mean someone earning more in the process, probably even more scope for corruption. Ultimately a criminal mind or a psychopath cares little for such deterrents. Investment in promoting sound and healthy families and economic development models that respect the human person, can contribute much more towards ensuring a safer society. We need more rational and positive action from citizens rather than reactions arising from emotions.