The last few weeks have witnessed unprecedented outrage against the Mumbai rape case, its perpetrators and the system. While I entirely empathise with the protesters, I am not sure whether ‘baying for blood’ resolves the issue. A newspaper item that I read last week got me thinking. The mother of the suspect believed her son was innocent.
The brother of another suspect had a similar reaction. Staying in the same house, they had never ever seen this perverted side of their child or sibling. An optimist to the core, ever hopeful, I tried to understand their sense of betrayal. Even with the best of intention, most parents and teachers are often confused about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of raising a child, as the debate of nature versus nurture continues.
The metamorphosis of this ‘bundle of love’ into a hardened criminal with no respect for life needs to be identified and curbed. How do we make this happen?
Snapping back to the gruesome crime, the need for an immediate crackdown, arrest and exemplary punishment is indisputable. However, a concern that this mere, symptomatic crushing of the problem, like the elimination of a cockroach using a strong insect-killing spray, alone may completely miss the actual root or source of the problem.
The roaches will be back on the prowl. With a rising trend of 2,44,270 and 38,172 cases of crime against women and children, respectively, in India as registered by the National Crime Record Bureau, a mere clinical ‘spraying and killing’ approach of arresting and punishing alone may not do. This calls for greater understanding, leading to more sustainable, innovative and culturally relevant ways of addressing the root causes.
In stark contrast, the curious case of the fall in crime of nearly 40-50% across most of America and Europe is attributed to several factors ranging from severe penalties, intensive targeting of hot-spots, increasing deployment of security systems, devices and techniques of predictive policing; but the most plausible reason seems to be the ageing population.
We, in India, have a drastically different situation with 50% of the population below 25 years. And yet, each such shameful incident unites the citizens voicing their anger. Can this powerful group be leveraged into a network of mentors and young mentees?
Citizens of our nation form social rings of one mentor with, say, seven mentees, each of whom can in turn mentor seven other mentees. And this goes on. If such cascading rings were created for about eight concentric circles, we would shrink wrap the entire nation into this bubble of rings.
Can these rings of mentors and mentees, tied together with truth, trust and faith, be spawned as a part of our human mandate?
Each of these 21 lakh rings of a mentor and seven mentees could draw upon the demographic dividend of our country, to create a new network and ‘net-worth’. Such a networked community would be a support, a safety net, a safety valve and in extreme instances, act as a deterrent for mentees betraying criminal behaviour.
Such a KYC (Know your citizen) net having both physical and virtual presence could also be of great help in the Aadhar (UID) project or for the KYC (know your customer) norms of banks checking money laundering and economic offences.
A few days ago, on his birthday, I saw a picture of baby Krishna and was drawn to his absolutely lovable, little feet; this is the charm of every baby of any colour, community or creed. As our human mandate, could we tie anklets of fraternity and ‘connect’ them? India would then metamorphose into a nation with the highest aspirations of the collective, resonating rings of fraternity sans crimes!