Sep 262011

SR, my business partner, moved last year to Gurgaon. He has been regaling us with stories ever since, during his visits to Mumbai.

Gurgaon sounds like the wild west, meets hilly billy country in sparkling new steel and chrome mall-dom. I have heard stories of signboards, outside watering holes, that tell you to leave your fire arms outside. Stories  of the fact that the area itself has been developed sans sanitation – the hospital just chucks its waste outside.  Or that villagers – who have made tons of money selling land, refusing to pay toll, people pulling out guns at the drop of a gaali.  Most of the time, I think that SR, is pulling my leg with the outrageousness of the story – simply to see my horrified look.

And, then you read about a 22 year old – Umesh Kumar Pandey – had been shot dead for asking motorists to pay their toll. Rs.27. Many ask, is this the price of human life ? My response is that this is the cost of machismo. A behaviour that emanates from ‘tum kaun ho mujhe poochne waale’. It is the same reasons that possibly led to the murder of Jessica Lall – the rage at being asked to follow rules. Rs.27, a drink not served – both ending in violent death. Gun shot. Both cases a mixture of inebriation, machismo and firearms leading to death.

Yesterday, i managed to catch some news – on it were the parents of Umesh Kumar Pandey. His brothers are physically & mentally challenged. and Umesh was the only financial support for his family. You watch the crying father, the stoic mother and you ask what kind of society are we becoming? Are societal institutions such as the family or religious organisations preparing people to live in the 21st century. or is there a genuine mis match between upbringing that tells you that ‘might is right’ and that ‘you have to fight for what you have’ – and society that is based on the rule of law.

I heard some murmurs about stronger gun laws. India already has strong gun laws. You and I will not find it easy to go and buy a gun (even if we wanted to). These are most likely illegal firearms. Am not quite sure what the lawmakers or law enforcers will do to reduce these.

I keep wondering, is there any way to ensure that people who get crores of rupees for their land can be trained for something apart from a life of feudal excesses. I read about farmers near Pune who have managed to spend their windfall on wine, woman and song. I see the read the same about Haryana. Does the responsibility of the system end with getting a buyer and a seller together. Does the system have a duty to ensure that monies are not whittled away – especially by the first generation landless rich.

There are somethings that the market can settle, a human life is not one of them.