Sunday, August 25, 2013

Crime in Context

December 2012 happened, August 2013 happened. For a country of more than 1 Billion, it would be something of a herculic achievement, if those were the only two horrific crimes in a span of 9 months.

Unfortunately I have a feeling and you could look this up, horrific crimes happen daily in our country. Crimes against women, children, men, trees, animals, aged, historic monuments, crimes against children yet not born.

My hypothesis is that crimes can't be solved in isolation. If you try and find a solution for "rapes against women" you'll end up back where you started. The reason being that while each crime has its own genesis there is a much larger existential context in which it happens. So while a rape may so to say be an act born to a large extent from sexual depravity as compared to a household robbery which maybe an act born of the rich-poor divide. But the impunity and frequency with which they happen would suggest that they have strong linkages. Which means that we need to address both the specific and generic causes of crimes.

Listed below are the aspects that i believ to a large extent define the existential context in which we operate:
1. High population and high population density: These two together are a force to reckon with. if you assumed that across the world with the same standard of education, poverty etc, criminals were 1 to every 1000. A population of 1 billion would give you a lot of criminals. Coupled with a high density of population would mean that the concentration and frequency of crime would increase. It would also mean that criminals would be in close proximity to each other thus allowing for syndication of resources.

2. Low education rates: Here please note I haven't used the government's euphemism of literacy. Literacy means a person can read and write, while I would have to swallow a whole block of salt to believe the government figures of literacy, even if they were true for our purposes they would be meaningless. By education I mean percentage of population who has studied history and society, has learnt rational thinking and has developed an ability of question. Those figures unfortunately are not tracked by anyone. But given the number of literate private car drivers on well lit Delhi roads using high beam. I don't have much hope for what those numbers would look like, if tracked. What this means is that we have a huge population which has largely not been taught to think before act. To put it crudely a large part of the society is a bunch of animals draped up in a spectrum as wide as rags to Armani suits.

3. Poverty: Here is a wobbly wicket. While I believe we have more criminals in the rich than the poor and there are probably similar number of rape crimes being committed by the affluent as those who are deprived, if we look at poverty on a larger frame it is something that creates an enviornment that promotes crime. If you have nothing to lose, if you have no means of giving an education to your children, if the daily surroundings around you are full of dirt, disease and crime you are creating a viscious concotion that seeks to poison anyone who comes near it.

4. Governance framework: For a population as large, as dense and as undeucated the size of police force (and judicial strength) that would possibly be effective and the size we currently have in terms of ratio to be people being protected there is a huge mismatch. Unfortunately what that means is no matter how much we try a brute force approach to the problem would only increase our tax bill and nothing else. Luckily technology in the last decade has grown and is growing by such leaps and bounds that if we start putting our brains together we can effectively reduce the physical force we need and increase their effectiveness. Also the low education rate and poverty has a large say in the quality and maturity of our police and judicial force.

Within this large generic framework we must also explore the specific context of each type of crime.

Do I have in mind an effective solution to the problem. Unfortunately no. However I believe that is better than the half cooked solutions and laws I've been hearing people talk off. What do I believe are some of the low hanging fruits that may help in reducing crime?

1. Go for technology: Enable the police force, as well as the common person on the street to deter and report crime. Phones have cameras, we have the lowest telecom rates in the world. Use that to help record crimes. Make it easy for people to report crimes without requiring them to always get involved.

2. Govern the police: A forum from the public should be empanelled to audit how the police and / or other civic bodies function. None of them handle national secrets that need to be protected. The police needs to start learning that their bosses are not politicians, but th public. On the same note, make the police independent of the state. Promotions, postings etc should be controlled by an in-house body much similar to the way it happens in the defense services.

3. Support the police: December saw Delhi seeing thousands of youth daily on the streets protesting against the government's inaction. If only the same populace could be part of a volunteer police force, our severed short staffed police force would have many more ears and eyes to watch over the public. Companies could support the cause by providing 2-3 days off in a year so that their employees could volunteer for such causes.

Alleviating poverty, increasing education are a long distant dream that requires a strong government will, and given the state there, I'm leaving it out for the moment.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Death be my friend

Death be my timekeeper, as I race to be a better me every moment
Death be my witness, Let others know I lived a good life
Death be my friend, meet me at the very end

Death be my guardian, lead me into a new life...

My uncle, Brig. D.P. Dhillon passed away recently. A tall handsome gentleman, who used to play hockey in his youth and golf in his old age. He battled his way through infirmaries of age, with the same gusto as of a young soldier on the battlefield, before finally yielding to cancer. A battle lost, a heroic war called "life" won. His memories shall be cherished, wish you a beautiful life ahead uncle, may death be your friend...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Letter To The President

Before you read ahead...please note this is a "dark story" not dark humor...just only if you wish to be left with a bad taste in the mouth....

It was one of those fights, that couples have, and like always she stopped talking and he wished he were dead. Yes you know those common place fights. One was awake watching tv and talking to friend, the other sat on the computer installing updates. I'm guessing you can figure out which was which. It did get late that night, and there was a early morning meeting he had to be in for by 9:30.

The alarm buzzed dutifully at 6, the maid as the lord would have it showed up almost punctually at 6:05...and he as was his duty got up scrawingly to open the door to her and then hover behind her to ensure everything remained in place as it was before she came in. Yes you're lucky if you get a trustworthy house help these days. Actually its lucky if you can trust yourself these days.

The 5 hrs sleep hadn't worked wonders for him, he needed his 8 hrs and this was 40% short...and it was a long drive and time was running short. He knew with his sleepy head...he shouldn't have been pushing the accelerator...he knew....he....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........bam!!!!!!!!!!

The car went over the railing into the river...funnily though he thought...he couldn't feel the water yet...Soon he thought, it'll come gushing in...this is the way to go he smiled....his eyes barely opened...before the impact rendered him unconscious...

When they opened there was tube down his throat...he couldn't really make out much...he flickered back into sleep...the next time he could make out bandages and people, couldn't really make out their faces...but these it didn't seem like they were angels...finally he could move his head around...but not his had a tube going into it...another was cuffed to the bed...cuffed?

Then he his sleep he remembered what had happened, the speed...the drowsiness...he had hit someone from the was they or him, was it a him? must've felt the water. He woke up with a scream...but no words came out...infact he couldn't even move...all that reflected his realization were tears...tears that for days couldn't stop flowing down his eyes...whether he was awake or asleep...the same scene played over and over...and much as he hoped it was always him ramming the car ahead of him...not the other way round.

The day the tube came out of his mouth...the police came before his family did. He was thankful for that. The police wanted a statement...he had a condition..."you will not allow any of family to come meet me"...The police guy was surprised...that wasn't a usual request...but he was adamant...and his will was followed. His statement was simple..."I was driving, it was boring, so i drove fast, it was still not interesting enough. The guy ahead had a good car, I wondered how strong it was...evidently it wasn't strong enough." Needless to say...the police were shocked...and as the word got out...the doctors, the new people, the one could believe it...but believe they had was the murderer's own words.

The disbelief turned into a rage, a rage that demanded speedy justice. People demanded that he be stoned in the middle of the road...He didn't care about those shouts, he could hear them from his window, but there was only one scene he could see...only one scene he couldn't change...the only thing that mattered...was undoable...

The courts, and shame on any of you who think justice is not delivered speedily in this country, fastracked his case. He was brought in bandages, on a stretcher to the court. He was given the option of having a lawyer defend him...he refused...His only request was for one adjournment..."Sir" he addressed the judge "Before the law of the country tries me, I think there is someone else who has the first right to have a go at me"

"Who" the judge asked indignantly

"The victim's family...If you so permit, I'd like to speak to them alone for a few minutes"

"Unusual but fine, you can have ten minutes before you are tried by the law of this country"

In the cell of the courthouse...from behind bars he saw the parents entered. Looked middle class like his. He wondered how'd they ever get over the loss.

"I will not apologize to you he said, for my apologies will not change a thing, but I do believe you of all people should get to know the truth". And he told them plain and simple, the fight, the meeting, the speed, the drowsiness, the crash. "Do not forgive me, for your son died an unnecessary and untimely death, but please try and find peace in your heart. May you find the strength to live through this, I'm saying this, cause I can't. Bye" And he turned and walked away.

The court scene was slightly longer with its procedures and irrelevant questioning. He'd wish they'd get over with it soon, it was hard trying to avoid looking at his mother, and the only thing he wanted to do was to look at his mother...but he couldn't, he couldn' strong he said to himself or she'll strong.

"Sir he interrupted when he couldn't take it any longer. I think we are beating around the bush, why is the state's lawyer trying to prove that I am a drunkard, what relevance does it have to this case. I am not, the facts of the case are this. I like speed, I like thrill and I found killing a man thrilling. You let me loose today I shall do it again, you let me loose 20 years from now I shall do it again."

That quite nicely sealed his was the gallows...rarest of rare circumstances. It was quite filmy, just like they showed in the films, the judge broke the nib of the pen after he completed the judgment. He almost broke into a smile, his first light moment in two months.

They took him back to the hospital and then in a few days to the central jail's hospital. He was really great-full though that they never let his folks about. Another month he was out of the jail's infirmary and to a proper cell.

What did you do they asked him, killed a man he said, and liked it to, and quite likely will do it again he said with a grin. No one ever thought of troubling him after that. He's got the smile of a devil they said, the devil himself.

His first question however was, so when do you hang me? The answer left him stunned, far worse than the impact of the car. Four years, they said..."Four years?" he asked...It's a long list and we don't have enough 'jallads'. What do you mean long queue, how long could it possibly be. They told him and he almost crapped in his pants....

That night he couldn't sleep, four years, he couldn't live four years with those dreams, four years would drive him mad.

The next day was spent pacing about, the analyst in him was back into action. Every problem has a solution he told himself...It was post lunch time that the solution literally walked to him. A young lad, probably must've just crossed out of his teens approached him. "Bhaiya...aapko englisss aati hai?". He nodded "Bhaiyaa aap president saab ko mera pardun later likh dogey?" A pardon letter that was it, that was it!!!

He wrote to the President the same evening...Dear President of India, Have we not enough poverty in India that you must spend more money on us. We the condemned are enjoying the fruits of democratic labour for years and those outside, the innocents are dying of hunger. Where is the justice in that. As I understand you do not have enough 'jallads'. Well I volunteer my services. I am willing to pull that lever as many times a day as you can get your potbellied policemen to load it up with those lined up on the gallows. By the way how're the flowers this season, I heard the weather's been real nice and springy, have a good flower show on you're lawns."

He didn't know what the President's reaction to the letter was, but he was pretty sure it reached the intended destination because he was shifted out to a lone cell away from the main jail and was given a rations fitting for a licensed murderer, mutton and a quart of cheap rum. The first time he approached the gallows he wondered of all those who'd gone there before him, some who had gone there to hood the 'victim' and pull the lever...some who had the hood put on them and fallen through the trap doors with their eyes popping out...Pulling the lever the first time he didn't really feel any emotion, the body fell, the noose ran taught and crack went the neck, job over. It was the fourth day that his hand shook once, it was the young lad he had written to be pardoned. He puked that day, couldn't touch his food. After that, he found peace. He didn't know how, but he did. He didn't need the liquor, he gave up on the non veg. When he was not yanking the lever he was strolling about the jail talking to the prisoners, helping the elderly, teaching maths to the younger ones. The first day he did that, a gang had surrounded him, after all he was the one sending them to their deaths. He had smiled at them and said "Why do you think I'm doing this, I'm getting there as fast as I can, you want to send me home my guest" His answer left them wondering, he was "yamaraj" himself they said, some one actually fell down on the ground and lay prostate before him chanting some mantra, and then others followed suit. "These Romans are crazy" he said to himself. Since that day he was both feared and revered, not just among the inmates but by the police also.

One night his mother called out to him in his dreams. It had been two years and five days since he had last seen her. He finally requested a meeting. They came, there were tears, howls actually, he joked about the yamaraj bit, she laughed through her tears. He told her about the nightmares, how now they were gone. "Will you now come back?" she asked. "Every person has his destiny, this mine, don't feel bad, this is what the lord willed, even though through tragedy he has helped me find peace, you must too.

The next day was a rapist's turn. He had raped a cousin of the chap who'd been hit by his car he was told. He pulled the lever "bastard" escaped his lips. He went for a walk after that, came back to his room and slept...A month was left to his turn, but they never got that chance, the next ten people on the list were either pardoned or as if by a miracle acquitted.

There was a prayer ceremony in the jail for "Yamaraj" who had come to do his deed and taken the lives of those he had wanted to along with him....Just as was written in the scriptures...

....These Romans are Crazy...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scotty...Don't 'Beam' 'Up'

Over the last couple of years of doing extensive city driving, if you ask me two pet peeves without a second thought i will rattle off 'high beam driving' and 'excessive honking'. While the honks are still bearable (especially if you put your windows up)...there is sadly no escaping the high beams.

High beams in city driving are almost redundant since you've got vehicles all around you illuminating the road up. The only time you'd find them useful is when driving on a lonely dark stretch at night. However this realization doesn't seem to light up the minds of our fellow drivers.

Now I've often chided myself for not doing anything about it, other than driving on low beam myself. So this one day after one high beamer coming from the opposite direction passed me by, I decided to 'do' something...Right after him maybe two score metres away came another high beamer. Now this being a colony road i swerved partly into his lane stayed there for a while and then moved back out while slowing down. He also slowed down and I told him that he was on high beam.

His reactions:
"I just came off highway and hence was on high"
"You should have flashed"
"Who do you think you are, You can't just swerve into my lane and run me off"

Now the first was a really dumb point, There is no highway in the nearby radius which has a lonely stretch, nor any which is not lit up by streetlights. So i ignored it.

For the second I told him, I did flash him (cause that's what I do to all high beamers whenever feasible...its unfeasible when a high beamer is precluded or followed by a low beamer, why make the poor low beamer suffer). but he argued and said I didn't...unlikely but possible and since that was not my main point of reasoning I didn't pursue that line further.

For the third I told him, that if my intention was to run him off we wouldn't be talking, but because of his high beam someday somebody might be blinded for a second and run into him or someone else.

With that exchange he drove off cursing me and I drove off too....unfortunately it still doesn't feel like something was 'done'. After all my purpose was to convert one high beamer to low beamer. That didn't happen (unless from the next day while he didn't admit his mistake the guy did realize and did actually start using low beam...highly unlikely)...I did manage to aggravate a not only was he a high beamer...he was now a pissed off high beamer...and third I took the law into my own hands...which is a bad trend to set.

So the question...and the purpose of this lonnnnnnnngggggg post do we get the high beamers onto low beams...what's the best method...Should we stand with placards and go on a fast to death to make people realize that corruption is not just about paying bribes but having a lack of civic sense....or should we do what I did...or worse start swinging baseball bats into the headlamps of cars being driven on high beams...

I don't think either is a good solution. If you have one in mind do let me know...

Meanwhile I think I shall cut out some lettering and paste it on the inside of my car's rearscreen in golden letters "WHY ON HIGH BEAM" that's genteel enough a hint don't ya think :)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cute Little Short Stories #CLSS - Plain

She was at her desk. You could see from the lines on her face that she was tired and weary.

'Want to go out and chill a bit'


'Oh some place nice'

'But i'm not even dressed up she said, just this plain dress and shoes'

'On you nothing is plain'

She smiled...'so where are we going again?'

'To the roof' he said with a tone of full seriousness

'But you said some place nice'

'Come with me and you can judge for yourself if it is or isn't'

The sun was at its last stages of saying goodbye for the day. He took out his cell and played a touch of soft music and he pulled her into his arms and they slow danced 'Want me to cook tonight?' he asked.

'What will you cook she asked'

Something plain he said

'With you its never plain' she replied with a smile

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What we a bit of Intimacy

While the world harps about privacy, or the lack of it in this era of phone hacks and News of The World etc etc I would like you to draw your attention to a more critical ailment that ails the world. Lack of intimacy.

I am assuming that the readers of this blog have at some point of time or the other found themselves in somebody's arms. Their mothers, lovers or even their pets. What is so warming about being in somebody's arms? Would it work if those arms were substituted with any other person?

My hypothesis is that this warmth has little to do with the physical proximity but more to do with the feeling of being intimate (sexual intimacy is just one aspect of it or just one way it gets expressed) is the feeling of being naked, or open and transparent to the other person. Of feeling secure.

The world as its getting more complex, more networked, some parts of it, large parts of it, maybe under a threat of losing out this intimacy. We have friends, parents, lovers. But do we find ourselves comfortable being naked in front of them?

I have a fear that while the bodies in favor of being hot are getting increasingly scantily dressed, the hearts are getting increasingly clothed. Privacy has taken over intimacy.

Or perhaps am talking all bollocks and you just wasted five minutes reading this and are now cursing me for this pointless stream of words. My bad :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When things were tough...the world was much better

As I was driven out of the airport in my cab, along side passed a Meru, with a lady inside speaking away on the phone, don't know to who, don't know what topic. And like the rolling of the reel of a film, the scene panned out with many more such cars ahead and behind us, made me wonder...

Of the days when travelling from one city to another was not just a matter of logging onto cleartrip and booking a flight, getting out of office into a cab, another one picking you up at the other end. Where travel required thought, where companies preferred that people travelled in groups so that they could be picked up together. Where cabs were still a luxury and if you were a singleton you'd take an auto, not because you were considerate of the environment but just cause it was more economical.

Where per force you would spend time talking to neighbours or your auto driver because well there was no cell phone or twitter to hide into. Where if you didn't feel like talking, you would sit in silence and enjoy the moments of forced solitude.

Where distance did make the heart fonder, and since you couldn't reach the other person on sms, any letter or phone or even know how of the other person made you smile

Shit those days were bloody hard, can't imagine how we got through living without tv till age 8!!!

...and now...we're going back...this summer heat the family has discovered that no one wants to watch the tv cause its too hot (no ac in the drawing room)..and we all eat dinner together in the bedroom...talking chit chatting...

God i hate technology....god i love technology...damn our middle classness that we haven't yet thought of putting in the ac in the drawing room...god bless our middle classness...that we haven't :)