The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Thursday 3 January 2013



What that auto-rickshaw driver was arguing about is reality of the majority of that patriarchal India that is ill-educated, illiterate, low-earning and forms the base of the Indian demographical pyramid. And the base is still frighteningly large.

He had a brief argument with the driver on auto-rickshaw fare. He was insisting on meter-charges (Rs. 25) or maximum Rs. 30. The auto-driver was demanding Rs. 40. Though they settled at Rs. 30, the argument gave way to a brief discussion that tells why gender crimes are a social crisis of national scale in India.

Driver: Sahib, now if patrons like you would not be generous, how would then we survive?

He: How come? I am already giving you 20 per cent more. What else you need? You Delhi auto-drivers are notorious for valid reasons. Asking for irrational fare and not plying by the meter charges – almost of the Delhi auto-drivers do it. And there has been no impact of the police alerts and protests movements after the Delhi gangrape case. The police have renewed the alert to complaint against any erring auto-drivers by phone call or SMS. As per the regulations, any auto-rickshaw on the road cannot say no to a passenger and has to ply by meter. On the day of the Delhi gangrape, the victim and her friend had approached many auto-rickshaws but no one was ready to go. Don’t you feel ashamed as an auto-rickshaw ride could have averted what happened that night? Auto-driver unions of other cities are participating in the protests but not the reckless auto-drivers of Delhi. You should be ashamed and sorry for it.

Driver: They would not have given the money auto-drivers would have asked. And why would we ply when we don’t feel like. We ply as we wish.

He: Why? You ask double the fare and then say you wouldn’t go. All such auto-drivers must be jailed and their licenses cancelled. Don’t you feel bad at what happened and don’t you feel sorry?

Driver: Why sir? She wasn’t any beauty, not a beauty-queen. Why all the noise over the incident? I didn’t know her. Why should I pay attention?

He: Are you out of your mind. Tens of thousands protesting for her to get justice haven’t seen her, don’t know her, yet are in solidarity. Many have cried. You are talking insane. Don’t you have mother and sister in your house? Whatever that happened with her can happen with anyone.

The way the auto-driver had tried to belittle the incident got him agitated and he castigated the driver in a raised voice. After this, the driver didn’t speak anything for the rest of the 10 minutes of ride.

But what the auto-rickshaw driver spoke and why he didn’t speak later on, speaks why gender crime is so rampant in India. That auto-driver is one among the countless millions who live and die by the patriarchal values that commoditize the women.

A person like an auto-driver comes from the economically poor section of the society and in a developing country like India where over 60 per cent of the population earn less than Rs. 3500 a month; people like him are in absolute majority.

Gender crimes are mindset driven. The majority of the male population from this lower income group as well as majority of the minority of modest-earning, well-to-do and high-earning segments has the mindset to commoditize the women. And this perception drives them to pass such judgement as this driver did. Such a mindset not only tries to overlook the criminals like rapists, molesters and murderers in dowry cases, but also works to patronize them.

Gender crime incidents like rape, molestation, dowry-killings, female foeticide and the gender discrimination have their origin in this mindset.

Making laws would not bring the scale of change that is needed now, until we change the mindset of this majority.

Even if education and urbanization can work to bring the desired change in the minority urban middle-income and well-to-do segments over a period of time, working on the mindset of the majority urban and rural population surviving on less than Rs. 3500 a month is an uphill task. For this segment of the Indian population, surviving is a battle and reform elements like quality education, gender sensitization and social responsibility are still a necessity that doesn’t reflect on its priority list.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -