January 08, 2008

Juhu and Sydney

Of two recent incidents -- women molested in Juhu on New Year's Day, Sydney Test mess -- which one stimulated more press coverage? More public effigy-burning? More angry pronouncements about Indian self-respect, about an insult to national honour?

If you have any idea, please let me know.

17 comments:

Samir said...

At the same time as Juhu and Sydney (and Iowa and New Hampshire) were happening, hundreds of people died in Kenya, thousands lost their homes there, Chadian planes bombed rebels in Darfur, and 15 Naxalite camps were destroyed in Bihar and...

Anonymous said...

Samir, I do not wish to belittle the Kenya Bihar or any other tragedies that occurred at the same time as Juhu...
The difference to me is..
1. The juhu event relates to me directly (being a female resident of Mumbai)
2. Both Juhu and Sydney incidents (Juhu especially) show the intolerant aggressive regressive ugly face of indian society in which we all live (not in kenya, not in Bihar but in apna shining mumbai!!!!).

Vivek Kumar said...

Dilip,

What stimulates press coverage is something you would know better than me, so I would not add anything here. Nor do I have anything to say about supposedly spontaneous acts of effigy-burning.

But I can understand if an angle of Indian self-respect and insult to national honour is brought into the Sydney story, and not into the Juhu incident.

The former involved players playing explicitly under the Indian banner against people of another country. The latter incident, despicable as it was, is no different in character from thousands of other criminal acts that take place in India every day.

aravind said...

Vivek,
You hit the nail on the head...I feel it's comparing apples and oranges...It takes only a particular genius like this guy to come up with such weird questions.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Vivek, if there are thousands of such criminal incidents taking place every day, it seems to me that does say something about India. If our women can't be confident of going out without being groped, again it seems to me that does say something about India. What else is self-respect and national honour if it is not made up of the way we see ourselves?

To me, the Juhu incident was far worse, if you like, than the Sydney Test incidents. Much worse. Yet it looks like the cricket got many more people much more outraged than the molesting of two young women.

Vivek Kumar said...

Vivek, if there are thousands of such criminal incidents taking place every day, it seems to me that does say something about India. If our women can't be confident of going out without being groped, again it seems to me that does say something about India. What else is self-respect and national honour if it is not made up of the way we see ourselves?

Sure. If someone were to write about crime in India (in general, or a specific type of crimes) then I would understand if a "national" angle was brought into the coverage. Even more so, if such coverage were to discover that India is above the global average in terms of the number of crimes per capita.

A specific incident could lead to someone writing that kind of an article, but a coverage of that incident in isolation would find it hard to put a "national" angle into itself without significantly broadening its scope.

To me, the Juhu incident was far worse, if you like, than the Sydney Test incidents. Much worse. Yet it looks like the cricket got many more people much more outraged than the molesting of two young women.

You find the incidents comparable enough to judge which one was worse (I hope you are not putting % figures to them though). That's entirely understandable. But perhaps others find comparing them difficult.

I did not, for a moment, compare these two incidents. After reading your post and thinking about it for a while, I still can't.

Incidentally, in a country with more than billion people, all kinds of things happen all the time. It is perhaps unrealistic to expect the populace to express outrage over every incident.

To give just one example, Indian Army suffers casualties in Kashmir around the year. That's something that does involve a "national" angle. After all, the soldiers die defending the country. What kind of media coverage and public receptions do they receive? I think you'll find the answers to your questions if you think about it.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

Vivek,

Ive admired your clarity of thought and strength of the basis of your criticism. If I were Dilip, I would be thankful for your inputs would be keeping me on keel.

for eg. in the Testing times post, your point abt all of Dilip's reasons to continue being valid even if the Aussies and umpires go out and do the same thing again, and again.

But disagree on this one. This is the kind of linkage that Dilip does, and I like that he is doing it. It is indeed worse IMO for our notions of national honour to have our womenfolk molested like that.

He is asking us IMHO to challenge that "these kind of things happen all the time" attitude.

Anyways we can agree to disagree.

regards,
Jai

Vivek Kumar said...

Jai,

Thanks for your kind words :)

To come to the issue.. well, I didn't think there was much to agree or disagree in this discussion.

Dilip finds two incidents comparable on some metric, and I don't. This isn't really a substantial difference because I also think that the Juhu incident was despicable and deserves to be condemned. It is just that I don't think I can compare it to what happened in Sydney. If you can, that's fine with me actually.

But if you do so, you are going to end up comparing a lot of incidents. And that is likely to leave you with too little time to get anything constructive done about any of the incidents.

People will ask you to rate your feelings on a corruption case, a Jawan's death, a farmer's suicide, a molestation attempt, a gruesome murder, a kidnapping and so on.. all in a day's work. Would you be ready to do that? Would it be the best use of your resources?

He is asking us IMHO to challenge that "these kind of things happen all the time" attitude.

If he is, I think he could have found a better way to put his point across. Again, just my personal opinion. It is entirely possible that there are a million people out there who read this post and got his point (like you did). I would leave that for Dilip to worry about :)

Dilip D'Souza said...

I don't know, I've wondered to myself and in writing about pairs of crimes many times, and I don't recall once that someone has come up to ask "What's your feeling on this corruption case?" Or "how do you feel about that suicide in Vidarbha?"

Not that I would have had a problem answering those questions, had they been asked. It would not strike me as a waste of my "resources". And in at least a couple of cases, I do feel I have got something constructive done about them.

I think it's perfectly natural to juxtapose crimes in our minds. We all do it all the time: from similar ones (such as when this New Year's molestation brought back memories of last New Year's molestation), to quite different ones (such as thinking to ourselves that a pickpocket doesn't deserve as severe a punishment as a murderer, which thinking get codified in our laws).

Just as I think a murder is a worse crime than pickpocketing, I think the molestation of two women is a worse crime than one player yelling abuse at another player. This is my opinion. I have no problem if others think differently, or if they would rather not compare the two.

Finally, I wish we would express outrage more often at more things that "happen all the time", whether we are a billion people or ten thousand. Sustained outrage is what will get some of those "things" punished (examples: Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo). In fact, I'm glad Vivek mentioned the Army in Kashmir. I would like there to be outrage over every single death of soldiers there; at a minimum, I'd like to see a list published every day of the names and hometowns of the soldiers who die. If anyone has suggestions on how to go about doing this -- I'm willing to do it myself -- I'd welcome them.

RU said...

I am with you on this one Dilip...

I don't care a hoot about cricket. Any argument of players on/off the ground cannot be of national interest surely.
It is surprising to see that the despicable act carried out a mob of 70 to 80 people in public view and in a so called cosmopolitan city like Mumbai is considered lightly as any other daily criminal act.
Surely if this is a everyday minor incident in major city like Mumbai what does it say about Indians?
I feel outraged at the commenters apathy as regards the safety of their women in India.
They are the voice of the police commissioner who said media was making mountain out of molehill

Jai_Choorakkot said...

Dilip,

"I think the molestation of two women is a worse crime than one player yelling abuse at another player. This is my opinion. I have no problem if *--- others think differently ---* "

Just as you expect everybody of all shades of ideology is appalled by X inhuman behavior, you would expect everybody to find molestation worse than yelling abuse on a playing field.

... the portion I have highlighted could probably have been better avoided.

I expect by default unless explicitly proven otherwise that
everybody on this comment thread are at that point,

regardless of our differences of opinion on the comparability or otherwise of these incidents.

I admit I started off just like Vivek with different compartments for these very different(surely you will concede that) events but just caught on very quick to your point here.

Thanks,
Jai

Unknown Indian said...

You are confusing issues here - and creating a conflict where there is none.

The media did a good job in highlighting the molestation of the women in Juhu, and in taking to task the cops involved - frankly, there was virtually blanket coverage of the issue through Jan 2nd - its the callous reaction of the cops (viz. the very govt. whose ability to deliver you seem to believe in) that was the biggest scandal there. The crooks got arrested, released on bail and that was the end of the matter. Given our 3rd rate legal system, the trial will probably take until the molested women's kids (or perhaps grand kids) are adults themselves to get over.

The Bhaji incident did not detract from coverage of the Juhu case - the Juhu case was history before the Sydney story broke. And the media obviously recognized the value of appealing to our jingoistic selves.

BTW, isn't it obvious that the Bhaji story will get more time on NATIONAL tv - it impacts people all over India while the Juhu molestation will touch people in Bombay (like you and me) much more than someone from Jhumrithaliya. (how often do you lose sleep over women being molested in Patna - at least I don't)

Dilip D'Souza said...

I'm not sure what conflict I've created, but that's not important.

How does the Harbhajan story "impact people all over India"? Or, more so than the molestation?

I would have been just as outraged and alarmed if the molestation had happened in Patna rather than Bombay. The location has no particular relevance to the sickening nature of what happened.

Saraansh said...

Dilip,
In someways over a course of this discussion I felt that the issue went from discussing the impact(on us as people) of the two incidents to debating a technicality of whether the two can be thought about in the same vein.

Vivek, no offence meant in saying that its great discussing these technicalities and proving ones prowess in finding holes in someone else's statements but for me the real matter of the issue here got lost.

I live in Sydney and for me the two can be thought about very simply. One was an issue where our national cricket team got an unfair deal by the umpires. They lost the test and have vociferously protested and I am sure there will be a redressal of some sort. A lot of people have respected India's stance of sticking to their guns and fighting it out. So if you had to ask me in hindsight, its not been such a bad incident for the nation as such.

On the other hand, I am not sure what to think of incidents such as the one in Mumbai. There was disproportionate coverage in the media- I was in India during that period and the stories I saw on TV do not compare to whats been playing over the last two weeks about the cricket. I wish I could provide percentage figures to prove this. For me its a matter of shame to hear that this happened in India. Just because other incidents also happen everyday around Indian do not take away from the magnitude of what happened. Try explaining this to the victims and if you can convince them, then you have all of us convinced!

Vivek Kumar said...

Vivek, no offence meant in saying that its great discussing these technicalities and proving ones prowess in finding holes in someone else's statements but for me the real matter of the issue here got lost.

Saraansh, no offense taken. But just so you know, I was neither discussing technicalities nor finding holes in Dilip's statements. Dilip asked 3 questions and I was discussing the third one of those. You can see all of that if you scroll up, but for convenience, here is that question:

Why did one incident result in more angry pronouncements about Indian self-respect, about an insult to national honour?

Or, in more general terms:

Why do some incidents have an "India" angle to them, while others don't?

However, as it turned out, Dilip was trying to do something else rather than discussing the question per se. Jai pointed it out to me: he was trying to challenge attitudes.

As soon as that became clear, I posted my last comment stating that I didn't see that intention very well. That's why the discussion went in a direction not intended by Dilip.

Incidentally, your comment is also essentially about a technicality - the amount of coverage something received - rather than about discussing what should have been discussed.

Personally, I have nothing more to add to this thread. But now that I have been told what the intention was, I am watching this comment thread for people to come up with concrete ideas about changing attitudes rather than just stating which incident they found "worse".

Jai,

Thanks for putting the thread back on track!

Dilip,

I hope you didn't see the comments as an exercise in hair-splitting.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Let me clarify: first, in no sense did this discussion go in a direction I had not intended.

Second, I truly would like to know why the cricket got people talking about national honour, but not the molestation.

Third, I think "changing" attitudes is ambitious, and not something I'm optimistic about doing. What I would like to do with whatever I write is give people something to think about, and the discussion on this page is an indication of the success of that.

Fourth, one suggestion I would have is something I alluded to above: please let's see cricket as a game, one played by truly competitive people. Let's not imbue with it with all the baggage of our national expectations and honour.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

There is possible disagreement here, but the thought-provoking pieces by Dilip, when accompanied by the counter-provoking insights of Vivek have made for the last couple of months being the best dcubed experience in about a year+ of this blog.

The holes are not the entire argument. Much discussion does not proceed in win-lose binaries. This has been a very stimulating thread. And we could perhaps lighten up a bit on dissent and disagreement.

Thanks,
Jai