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Why Christian Basti is not Guwahati's shame alone
Posted on: 05:51 PM IST Jul 13, 2012 IST
At 17, life is about chocolates, crushes and (sometimes) career choices. Not in that order, though! It is about getting ready to break out of the gawky teenager mould and getting ready to kiss adulthood. It is about killing time - a year to be precise - before being able to exercise franchise and choosing legislators and law-makers. It is also waiting it out before being able to join the exalted Adult-only club and doing things that come only with the statutory '18 years of age' tag.
For this Guwahati girl SEVENTEEN will be her personal annus horibilis. It will be her year of darkness when her faith in the system was shattered. It will be a very, very bad dream for her, and she will be left slaying her demons for a long time to come.
But the 9th July's horrific incident at Christian Basti is NOT Guwahati's shame alone. It is a collective shame for the entire country, easily one of the lowest points in recorded public behaviour. Forget "evolved" conduct, we are nowhere close to being called civilised. Instead, we can be easily called a nation of voyeuristic thugs and passive participants who remain indifferent to the plight of others. We are a bunch who are governed by 'As long as it ain't hurt me, it's ok' dictum.
But it's high time that we change that attitude.
Not for the sake of this Guwahati girl, whose alleged molesters include a young TV actor, but for the sake of greater, collective good. It is time to instill respect for women in young men as they venture out of homes. It is time for chauvinist and non-chauvinist husbands to stop abusing their wives beyond closed doors and elsewhere. It is time for mothers to tell their sons that a woman can and is more than just an object. It is time for fathers - from Guragon to Guwahati and beyond - to sensitise their sons about acceptable behaviour. It is time for self-appointed moral police (Inspector Dhoble included) to hit the pause button - and do a check on things bigger than enforcing dress codes in colleges.
It is also time for us to accept that this 21st century India is in a period of transition. And bridging the ever-growing, economic Bharat-India divide - which has huge socio-cultural ramifications by itself - is going to be one hell of a task. It's time for us to realise that a booming mobile telephony market, concrete malls and an increasing urban jungle in the form of high-rises are no indicators of human evolution. We need more than just air-conditioned, glitzy shopping complexes to bear a stamp of of evolved behaviour.
Collective rage notwithstanding notwithstanding, Guwahati's dark Monday is a lesson for each of us. It is a reminder of the unsafe habitat that we live in and the growing trust deficit that each of us face in an increasingly hostile environment. It chillingly tells us that, after a hard day's work, there is no guarantee that you may return home to your family in one piece.
They say that the night is always longest before dawn. Hope that Christian Basti's longest night is over - it's a new dawn for Guwahati and the rest of India.