This morning’s newspaper brought the ghastly report about a six month-old girl being sexually abused by an 18 year-old boy in Delhi’s Kabir Nagar. If a six month-old child is not safe from villainy, there is something radically wrong with our civilisation.
Crime against children is nothing new particularly in Delhi. From Jan to April 2011, 541 children were kidnapped in Delhi alone. That is about 5 kidnaps per day. 60 percent of the kidnapped children are girls. The figure for 2010 is 1179 children.
About 10 persons are killed per day in the country, according to the statistics quoted by R K Raghavan in his column in the Frontline [March 25, 2011]. Almost an equal number of attempted homicides occur too. There were about 200,000 crimes reported against women in 2009 alone. 21,397 of them are rape cases of which 25 percent were reported from Delhi alone. 11.5% of these female victims are below the age of 15 and 16% between 15 and 18. Is Delhi a city of criminals?
Crime is not confined to Delhi alone, of course. The bigger a city, the greater the chances for crimes.
Why does crime rise so rapidly even when lifestyles are improving? A better lifestyle ought to make us better human beings. Otherwise there is something seriously amiss somewhere.
Or is it that the crimes are being committed by the marginalised people? If we consider the cases of corruption we can see that crime is not the prerogative of any section. People from all walks of life seem to take to crime with much ease.
Social problems are not easy to analyse. They are too complex for simple answers. There must be a number of reasons why crime rates are shooting up drastically.
One of the many causes may be the commodification of everything engendered by the capitalist outlook. In the capitalist worldview, everything is a commodity available at a price. Education is. Health is. Almost anything can be bought if you have the money.
In such a system relationships break down. There is a scene in J D Salinger’s famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye, where Holden, the adolescent protagonist, feels disgust for cars and nostalgically longs for the horse-carts. “A horse is at least human,” he says. He was subtly expressing the longing for relationships. You cannot have an emotional bonding with a car – at least not as you will have with a horse.
There is also an irony in that statement, however. Holden would rather have a horse for a friend than a human being.
We are living that irony today. We spend millions of dollars trying to save frogs, tigers, or any other such species in danger of extinction. We are equally concerned about the climate changes and the environment. We ascribe sanctity to cows. Even the dogs on the streets the trees in the forests get more concern from us than our fellow human beings.
When will our concern for animals and the planet be translated as concern also for fellow human beings?
Or, is it that we are really not concerned about the welfare of the animals and the planet; it’s just that we see them as objects of our pleasure and hence they need to be protected?
That’s a cynical view, I know. But we who have no qualms about using our fellow human beings as objects of our pleasure seem to vindicate that view.
Perhaps the whole perspective of life as PLEASURE should change. Perhaps we need to realise the profound difference between HAPPINESS and pleasure. Perhaps we need to experience the kind of happiness that comes from doing things that don’t necessarily bring sensuous pleasure. Like watching the sunset over the horizon or playing a musical instrument or giving a smile to a sour face on the other side of the fence …