The Boiling Pot

Usually, I start on a light-hearted note or with some anecdote, but there is nothing funny about this from any angle. The horrendous video from Manipur that has surfaced left us with thousand thoughts in mind but no word on our lips. We will take a step back and try to decipher what led to this and what is leading to such inhuman crimes.

Let’s take the Manipur case first, on 19th July a video surfaced on social media and went viral where two Kuki women were being paraded naked by a mob of more than a thousand men, who were groping and abusing them and then took them to a nearby field where according to the FIR one woman was gang-raped in front of her brother and when he tried to save her, he was beaten to death.

If you are not living on another planet you must be knowing that there is a brutal fight going on in Manipur between two native ethnic groups namely Meiteis (53%) and Kukis(23%). The Meiteis live in the valley area with is comparatively more developed than the hills where Kukis live. Their dispute is very old and ranges from land dispute to political representation but this wildfire was sparked when Kukis began protesting against demands from the Meiteis to be given official tribal (ST) status.

Although Amit Shah along with NSA Ajit Doval visited Imphal in the last week of May no truce can be brokered. After this because of no national media coverage and an internet ban in the state, the issue fizzled out of public memory until It came back to slap us in our faces. The incident is of 4th May but it came to light 77 days after when its video went viral on the national and international level. Though the incident was reported by a youtube new organization and also was in cognizance of the system as the FIR was filed on May 18th but no actions were taken.

After the viral video when the supreme court (CJI) warned the government to ‘take some action else they will take the matter into their hand’,  PM Modi came forward and commented on the issue for the first time since its beginning. After which within 24hrs, 4 arrests were made. This shows that our law enforcement is not incompetent, it just runs either on political will or judicial fear.

No amount of words and discussion will be enough to condemn this issue. If I dare to bring a wry in your face, you can imagine how wrong the incident is by the fact that even Arnab Goswami is questing the government that too central government. Let’s take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture along with the WHATs and the WHYs.

The Manipur incident is certainly a high point or you can a low point of humanity but it is not happening in isolation. These types of events are happening across the nation. It seems like the pot of society is boiling on the flame of anger and data also supports it, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the rate of crime against women(incidents reported per 1 lakh population) has gone up from 56% in 2020 to 65% in 2021 with around 40% of the all violent crimes happening against women and children. With a 13% increase in rape cases and the highest number of suicides are amongst the daily wage earners i.e. 42,000.

So what is exactly happening, let’s try to Deconstruct this into three components. The Causes, the Enablers and the Victims. The first is the obvious i.e. Cause. There are numerous causes and they never work individually they always impact in combinations of 2 or more. With my limited understanding, I would name a few.

Social Inequality: It is the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities based on the factors like race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and disability, most of these factors are not in your control. We anyways have fewer resources and opportunities and this inequality has led individuals to wear their identity on their sleeve. So Hanuman has directly come out of Ramayan to the rear window of some Ram bhakt. And Ambedkar has come out of the constitution to some illiterate goons bike headlight.

The gap between aspiration and reality: With the increased globalization and penetration of internet access, our aspirations have increased many fold but in comparison, our reality hasn’t changed much. When we see high buildings, clean air, wide roads, good life, we know these things exist in this world only but we don’t have access to any of these, our heart pains and mind questions ‘Why not me?’

Individual-centric society: With rapid urbanization, every next generation is moving to the next better place of the available opportunity. This has reduced the size of family diminishing the concept of coexistence. We have gradually moved from ‘good for us’ to ‘best for me’. This creates a valley between the ‘Brothers’ and the ‘Others’. This concept of Brothers and Others in itself is a whole topic on its own, will take it separately.

Now comes the Enablers or you can say catalysts. They are basically those fertile lands on which this anger is cultivated with seeds of Causes. First is Poverty. When a system is unable to reach the last man on the line and he watches few people who are already fulfilled are always in the front line getting the pie. He begins to lose faith in the queue i.e. the system and tries to break it whenever and however he can, because anyways standing at last isn’t getting him anything. If you have seen the Batman series (from C. Nolan) you can very well get this when a man loses faith in the system, a ‘Joker’ is born but when common people like you and me loose faith in the system, a ‘BANE’ is born. And reality doesn’t have happy endings always.

Lack of Education: Personally this is the biggest enabler. With the onset of social media in the age of practically free Internet. The flow of information and unrestricted and unfiltered. We are bombarded with information, and if our brain is neither competent (educated) nor trained to segregate information from misinformation. We have a whole generation who don’t know how to do a Google search but are on at least ten WhatsApp groups, they think whatever is coming in those groups is true.

Before the victims which are obvious, let me tell you how the deadly combination of these causes and enablers is blended with technology and converts a simple individual into an angry rioter ready to take revenge from everyone every time. So earlier we use to have TV sets or radios, on those, there were fixed channels and if you want to see or listen, you have no choice but to see/listen to whatever is telecasted or broadcasted, it might be according to your thinking or against it. Now with the coming of social media and platforms like Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc. and their high-tech algorithms which feed you only the kind of content you like. Firstly their aim is only to increase engagement (remember you are not using a product, you are the product) but in turn, you are confined to an isolated bubble or echo chamber, where everyone thinks like you and you think this is how the world thinks. But that world is artificially created for you so that you can’t see the real world, Secondly, earlier you didn’t have any choice, now you have a choice I.e. Make a decision, and in your echo chamber it is already established that you are absolutely correct and by inference, your decision will also be correct. Now you have the power of decision also, this gives you an illusion of authority, that I who can’t be wrong, have taken a decision and how dare that OTHER one is not agreeing with me, The illusion that I am always right and he is not, further deepens the divide of “brother’ and ‘Other’. And this is happening at every level in society, the educated and civilized argue it on TV debates or over coffee, and the uneducated know no limits.

The victims are the no-brainer, women, children and the marginalized sections and we all know why these are the target. Because many of the social institutions are not open to them, women are considered weak, backward classes are considered impure, and children are easy to manipulate and overpower, not by law but in practice. The whole fight is to ‘Make Law the Practice’.

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