Thursday, October 18, 2012
We the Punjabis have failed them
By Rajesh Sharma
Less than a week to go – and it will be a month since Shruti Sachdeva was abducted on September 24. The probe is on. The police is being blamed and ridiculed by turns. The opposition has taken out the whip to thrash the government right and left. True, it is the wretched state of law and order which a minor girl’s abduction by a spoilt brat with ‘criminal’ record has highlighted. But is that all? Is not the crime also a symptom of some deeper, more insidious malaise?
To put it briefly but not sweetly, the girl’s abduction is the ripe fruit of a poisonous tree that has been cultivated over the years by all sorts of people among us. The brand of politics that has established itself as the only viable kind, with its deadly blend of wealth, force and an extremely uncouth disrespect for law, comes first to mind. Next, one thinks of the new economy which treats the spectacle as the only reality. Phrases like ‘reforms with a human face’, ‘the feel-good factor’, the sensex as the mirror of economic health, despite their inbuilt irony, have pushed the substance out of sight. What matters is the appearance, and that too loud, vulgar, immodest appearance. Modesty, restraint, quiet grace are out. Salman Khurshid’s foul and furious vapours are just a side show in the great Indian wedding.
The centre stage of this great wedding is, expectedly, the Punjab – with its unquenchable craving for myths. The land once praised for never letting an invasion pass unresisted has surrendered abjectly to the most pernicious of invasions. A certain dandyism has slowly invaded and settled in our souls. Indeed it has become the trade mark of the Punjabi male self. Popular cinema, pulp journalism, vulgar music videos, obscene jokes with a tadka of sexism and casteism breed more happily in a culture in which SUVs, roadside bars and barbecues, and barber-fresh beards define honour and self-respect. Women, then, will be the natural prey of the male animal that is raving to break free in fantasies of criminal self-glorification. This animal did come out to prowl during the Gurdas Mann Nite in Punjabi University at Patiala recently. I am sure it has not been caged or tamed; it has only retreated into the shadows, and is waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on its prey.
The more I contemplate the scene, the more it fills me with dismay. The sages, the gurus, the bhaktas, the Sufis, the martyrs – they were not of us. They were dissenters. They fought against us, for our sake. We have failed them – in failing to fight against ourselves.