Saturday 29 December 2012

Clash of the worlds

Like many other correct thinking people, the recent incident of gang rape of a young girl in a moving bus in Delhi, has shocked me into numbness. The outrage over the incident just refuses to die (rightly so!)and even as I write this ,the unfortunate girl’s death in Singapore (flown out by a beleaguered government as a last ditch effort) is bound to lead to another round of protests, debates and analysis. The rising incidents of violent crime in our city has set me thinking that one important point seems to be have been overlooked by most of the so-called experts. I call it the clash of the worlds. Let me explain in detail. In the last decade, thanks to a liberalised economy, we have seen an unprecedented growth in the living standards of the middle and the upper middle class leading to a mass urbanisation of our habitat. This success has come at a cost but having paid the cost this stratum of the society wants to enjoy their hard earned money to the maximum extent. With banks ready to offer attractive loans, more and more people are getting sucked into a spiral of a highly consumption oriented society. However, in all the excitement there is another world at our periphery which we have completely ignored. This is the world to which the benefits of an open economy have yet to reach (inspite of whatever our economists might say about the trickle down effect).Due to rapid urbanisation we are slowly devouring their land and since no one paying attention to the rural economy they are left with little option but to head to the urban centres to seek a livelihood. And what do they find when they do end up at our doorsteps? The urban lifestyle which at first appears so  glittering and appealing from far proves to be nothing but a chimera and however hard they try, the entry doors have been firmly shut on them. They are condemned to live in another world from which they can definitely see our world with envy and frustration but can do precious little else. Each and every time they try to be a part of our world they are thrown back with such ferocity that they are scared to make any attempt in future. However, such is the imbalance between the two worlds that sooner or later there is bound to be a clash between the two and when ever that happens we are bound to see some pretty horrific incidents. (A similar theme has been wonderfully covered in Arvind Adiga’s prize winning The White Tiger) Obviously, this is not to justify these horrible acts but only an  attempt to make people realise how important it is to restore the balance between these two worlds, between the haves and the have nots . I know it would be naive to think that if we do manage to somehow address this issue   there will no longer be incidents of violent crime. There are many other reasons as well for such incidents and the perpetrators do deserve the harshest of punishment. However, to make our world a little safer, we need to prevent this clash between the two worlds for greater is the imbalance between the two more will be the probability of the two clashing which will manifest itself in some form of violence or the other.

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