Friday, February 13, 2009

If wishes were horses...

When I read about the NOIDA rape case, I was appalled. A little later, I read somewhere that the boys wanted to “celebrate” their victory and also that since they had seen the girl and the boy in an “intimate” position, they felt it was their calling to “protect” the girl from the boy. And the families of the boys didn’t think anything was amiss. After all, the boys were trying to “protect” the girl. It reminds me of the adage: With friends like these, I don’t need any enemies.

Close on the heels of this incident came the Mangalore pub incident. Shocking again. These men were “upholding Indian tradition”. Last heard, tradition was a perennially evolving entity. And even if drinking went against the grain of our Indian culture, I don’t see how beating those women becomes the “right thing to do”. Also, is that our true culture?

There is no way that either of these acts can be condoned. There is no sense in these acts. These guys had no business doing what they did. Shame on them.

I come from a family that didn’t differentiate between sons and daughters. An equal opportunity family you might say. And one that doesn’t believe in double standards. We’re happy to clink glasses together and say “Cheers”. Drinking is not something that is considered a “taboo”. My parents know when I visit a pub. I have no qualms about going there and having a good time. All the same, drinking and pubbing is not considered the be all and end all of our lives. After the Mangalore incident, I was shocked to read the headlines in the paper. Something to the effect of: Today pubs, will they stop us from going to school too? How on earth did they equate one with the other? One is a fundamental right. The other is a leisure activity.

And then, there’s this whole campaign. In my opinion, two wrongs do not make a right. If they do something stupid, we should do something that tells them as much. And then this entire Pub Bharo Andolan. Please, give me a break. We have truckloads of things to worry about. And we pick this. That this entire incident may have been orchestrated by some consortium of pub owners is a thought that crosses my mind very often. In these times of recession, pub owners and managers have told me how bad business has been. So, maybe they arranged this. How else were the cameras ready to film this entire episode? And the media! Are TRPs so important that they chose to film the entire drama rather than help those girls? The media has proven time and again that they are a big bunch of jokers. Now they make this a national issue and here we are. Saying that we should fill the pubs and send underwear to the guy who organized the event is bizarre. If a girl is raped, would you suggest that she rape the same or another guy in return? Would that make things OK? (If you ask me, castrate!)

I am not for one moment suggesting that what happened was justified. There is no denying that they had no business doing what they did. It is wrong and they must be punished. But sending underwear can’t be the punishment. To me, it feels like you’re saying, “I have a dirty mind too.” Which isn’t what I want to say to these idiots. Because that way, I set out do the exact opposite of what I intend to: spur them on. A wrong has been committed. Let’s focus on making sure it never happens again. And while we’re at it, let’s try to not forget our priorities. I’ve worked for 10 years (outside my job) to do my bit so girls can go to school. I will continue to do that. Somehow, I didn’t actively think about girls going to pubs. I hope I never will have to. But I hope never to make a hue and cry either. (How and why college going girls talk about being part of a “pub bharo andolan” in a city where you’re not permitted to drink until you’re 25 beats me.) I only wish Indians came together with such enthusiasm, in such numbers, to ensure the education of the girl child in this country.

While on the one hand, I always say: Never argue with an idiot. They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.

In this case, this seems more appropriate: Don’t argue with an idiot. People watching may not be able to tell the difference.