Sep 302005

Over a century ago, French sociologist Emile Durkheim undertook research on why individuals in cities tend to commit suicide more frequently than those who liked in closely knit rural societies. The answer was Anomie– the sense of dispossession. He said anomie exists in society:

….where the traditional sources of societal regulation — religion, government, and occupational groups — have all failed to exercise moral constraints on an increasingly unregulated capitalist economy.Religion, which once consoled the poor and at least partially restricted the material ambitions of the rich, has simply lost most of its power. Government, which once restrained and subordinated economic functions, is now their servant, thus, the orthodox economist would reduce government to a guarantor of individual contracts, while the extreme socialist would make it the “collective bookkeeper” — and neither would grant it the power to subordinate other social agencies and unite them toward one common aim. Even occupational groups, which once regulated salaries, fixed the price of products and production, and indirectly fixed the average level of income on which needs were based, has been made impotent by the growth of industry and the indefinite expansion of the market.

Basically a society where all the familiar have disappeared leaving the individual with no crutches or anchor to tether their lives, is one where all kinds of moral deviance – and suicide is an extreme form of moral deviance, remember this was 19th century Europe, very Christian, and suicide was a mortal sin, occur because state, religion and other social organisations no longer hold any influence or sway on the citizen.

This was, for a long time the dominant hypothesis as far as society is concerned. Which is why every so often we have people spouting the need for “family values”, “religious values” “moral straight and narrow” and so on. I tend to buy some of this argument. Though I believe that an overdose of family, religion, values are just as liable to send someone to slit their wrists, or go ballistic, as the feeling of being completely rootless. I also believe that an overdose of religiousity can lead people to go wrong. For example, not teaching sex education in school because it is against your religion/culture can lead to experimentation that can have fairly serious consequeces for children/teenagers , just as having no rules can lead to them going astray.

So, it was with amusement that I read an article in Murdoch’s Times (of London) about how “Societies worse off ‘when they have God on their side’

Quoting from a paper published in the Journal of Religion and Society, based on research conducted in the USA, the paper says:

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

The reason i found the report amusing, is because Murdoch’s other media vehicle’s – Fox – broadcasts probably encourages a great deal of false religiousity amongst people. If a people can have a God given right to invade another country, then they probably have the God given right to rob banks with God given guns, bonk all over the place without birth control (birth control is a sin – bonking is a divine right) , shoot their veins (or is it arteries) up with God given drugs and more:)

For any society or people who think that they have a ‘God Given Right’ to do as they please the above conclusion would probably be valid. The way Taliban behaved in Afghanistan is probably a case in point – they believed that they had the God given right to do what they wanted. Where the basic moral codes of society are violated – where killing is approved in the name of God, where subjugation of a gender (usually women) is justified in the name of God, where discrimination is encouraged in the name of God – sooner or later, unless you change, you are going to see a breakdown in society. My God loves me therefore I can get away with murder, discrimination, bombing, – seems to be the stance of fundamentalists everywhere. And if my God gives me a bigger gun than your god, then i can get away with more murder, bombing etal than you.

And at the other end is this entire thing of sexual morality, and women’s rights. Fundamentalists expect ‘chastity’ of everyone except themselves. And of course, they expect women to take the back seat on almost everything from their status in society to their role in the workplace. Just look at countries like Saudi Arabia to know what I mean. Look at the US and this entire idiocy on abortion. And, when you have this kind of restrictions, people are going to want to break free. Value education and Moral Brainwashing are two very different things. The former you imbibe, the latter you want to break. I have cousins with strict parents (everything is a sin school of parenting) who went so terribly astray, and i have cousins with ‘liberal’ parenting – who have turned out so well – that it teaches you that the easiest way to get someone to do something is to ban it.

There is a difference between faith and religiousity. And it is probably that difference that shows up in societal deviance.

Sep 292005

…. there are Martians high above our skies – just beyond the sight of our satellites – who are using lasers to melt our icecaps.

Of course, there is no such thing as Global Warming, it is a figment of imagination of those who are jealous of development and conspicious consumption. On the other hand, Martians are a very real threat to society and civilisation as we know it. Their slow melting of the Arctic Ice Cap is proof of this.

All nations should rearm – prefrebly buying arms from British and American Firms, buy larger vehicles that are less fuel efficient – as a symbol of our defiance against the evil Martians – and, of course, get ready for the invasion.

Kyoto – isn’t that Tokyo spelt wrongly?

Sep 282005

A rape victim expelled from school for being of ‘loose character’

According to reports, the victim was abducted and raped on August 23. Rejecting the rape theory, school authorities alleged that the girl had loose character and later expelled her.

NCW is protesting.

I would really like to know which state this happened in.

Sep 252005

I am getting repetitive on this blog. Every 10 days or so I come across a flurry of articles – bloglines that way is very good – on violence against women. I come across articles almost on a daily basis – but on some days, it is almost as though the floodgates have opened up and you are reading about violence against women everywhere. I am not sure whether the amount of violence has increased, or is it the fact that more of it is getting reported. Either case is scary.

Today’s lot included rape, stripping, molesting, violence.
a) Man held for raping sister-in-law

Jewel (31) had criminally assaulted the 21-year-old woman, his wife’s sister, on Thursday night in a park near Dhaula Kuan.The victim had recently come to Delhi in search of a job as a maid and Jewel had taken her to the park on the pretext of meeting a prospective employer.

b) Woman gangraped in East Delhi:

In yet another incident of gangrape in the capital, a woman was allegedly criminally assaulted by two of her husband’s friends in an East Delhi area, police sources said today.

c) Man shoots mother and daughter-in-law for resisting rape

A man allegedly attempted to rape his daughter-in-law and shot at her and his own mother when they resisted at Mojal village (UP) in the district, police said here today.

d) Woman gang raped in Chandigarh

A woman was allegedly gang raped by three men who first forced her into a car and then took her to a house here where the crime was committed last night, police said today.

e) Dalit women paraded naked in Orissa

A group of Dalit women belonging to the barber community have allegedly been paraded naked by upper-caste people in a coastal village on Monday last.The women’s fault: their husbands refused to wash the feet of bridegroom and members of barati during an upper-caste marriage a couple of months ago.

I had a blogged a couple of days ago about a Muslim Panchayat fining a rapist Rs.15,000/- and asking the victim to lick her ex-husband’s (he gave her triple talaq) spit as punishment.

The more I read about cases like this, the more the future depicted in a Handmaid’s Tale become’s a reality.
As I had written in June:

If it was a minority community facing the abuse that women do, then it would become a human rights issue. Now it is simply a ‘cultural’ issue or a ‘they will sort it out amongst themselves’ issue. Maybe, women ought to apply for minority status in India. Afterall, with the number of female foetus terminations we will soon become even more a minority than we already are

Update: This is Secular Right’s take on the issue of women being paraded naked in Orissa. Terrorism it is. About time we all made a hue and cry about it.

Sep 242005

A few months ago AP began the trend of reserving jobs for Muslims on the grounds that the community was ‘backward’.
Now the RJD and the Congress in Bihar have made a similar promise.

There is something fundamentally wrong, if in a secular nation, we introduce reservations on the basis of religion.

If a community is backward – there are other ways of bringing them on par with the rest of society. Compulsory education is a start- especially for the girl child. Business loans at favourable rates is another. Additional Tax breaks for companies that are equal opportunities employers is yet another. Ensuring that ministries concerned with rural development deliver. Penalise corruption that prevetns allocated funds from reaching targets. Ensure that the rule of law is followed. In fact the Government should be moving towards equal opportunites, and away from reservation. Equal opportunities is economics led. Quotas, on the other hand, are hand outs. The first empowers, the second allows for stagnation.

Incentivise companies to hire people. Incentivise banks to give loans to certain communities. Incentivise mentors to mentor these businesses. Incentivise schools and colleges to follow equal opportunites. incentivise self help groups that set in villages. facilitate the buying of land on easy installments.

Quotas are a bad idea. It leads to complecency – and the Government and industry and the rest of us get into this comfort zone that because reservation exists, the problem has gone away. It hasn’t. Which is why 58 years after independence political parties are still tripping over each other screaming reservation. Reservation has worked in a very, very limited manner – and the problem still remains. The communities in question have attained political weight, which has not translated into economic weight. (and in India – like elsewhere – economic weight is social weight).

If you travel around India – especially rural India – and talk to Dalit Activists – most of them tell you that the benefits of reservation are cornered by a few who don’t let the rest take advantage of it. Their argument is that if your parents are middle class, then you aren’t a Dalit. A dalit is someone who doesn’t know where the next meal is going to come from. Who doesn’t have money to buy books or pencils.

If You (as in the politicians) want to do something for economically backward groups in India – go right ahead. You need to . But, reservations may not be the solution. You need to start wtih providing security. Start with physical security, move on to economic security. The rest will automatically follow. Ensuring that the rule of law is followed when crimes are committed against weaker sections – and it economic deprivation that makes them weak – is a start. These crimes can be discrimination, rape, violence, . It could be companies that don’t hire people from a particular caste or community – or don’t promote them. Ensure that the full force of law is brought against the people who discriminate. But, no. Those who commit these crimes probably support some major Party or the other. The problems of the poor and the dispossessed remain unanswered until election time, when vague – and possibly unconstitutional – promises are made to them in return for votes.

Finally, if we are to continue with the reservation policy, and the parameter for reservation is “backwardness” surely then – reservation should be on the basis of economic status – not caste or religion. But under the income of x thousand per annum does not a vote bank form !