SUNDAY SENTIMENTTejpals and Gangulys spurt
Crisis of Faith & Confidence
Yesterday, a friend narrated that when he reached home he found he wife escorting our daughter home from school. My daughter after her school went to our friend's home everyday, he told, and my wife went to fetch her from his home at her leisure. When my friend asked his wife why had she gone to school to bring the daughter straight from school, she replied, "It's no longer safe to have blind faith in anyone".
That is the reply which should raise an alarm in everybody's mind. The new environment had been created by people whom people trust — their close relations, friends and intimate acquaintance. They had punctured other's faith and trust in them. Today, no woman, no girl and no child is safe even within family. There is a spurt in the instances of fathers, brothers, uncles, maternal uncles, other close blood relations and godly gurus behaving like beastly man-eaters on the prowl not sparing their innocent female relations from their wolfish sexual pounces. Whatever may be the truth behind the Tarun Tejpal, Justice A. K. Ganguly or Asaram Bapu episodes, these have certainly shaken the faith and confidence of the people in their acquaintances be they their friends, relations or disciples. That such ugly incidents could happen with women who are of their daughters' age may be unthinkable yet true in the present times.
The very fact that such an allegation is made against such people in society who, otherwise, claim — or are expected — to be the custodians of morality and truth, is a matter for alarm. Tejpal made his name as a person who fearlessly exposed the misdeeds of high-ups in politics and government, though there are also allegations of his being partial in having singled out a certain political wing for his target. That such an allegation should even — and ever — be made against them is a matter of shame and sufficient to make them bow their heads in shame. On the contrary, they seem to be trying to appear brave and daring. Tejpal was chatting and laughing, according to media reports, in the plane on his way to Goa where he was to be interrogated and, later arrested for the heinous charge by the police. So was Asaram Bapu's son Narain Sain when ultimately he was apprehended by police after having dodged police for over a month. He too is facing very shameful sexual charges like his father. When police was pushing him to a police van he was chivalrously waving to the crowd as if he had returned home after a great victory.
Tejpal is not remorseful of what he did or happened. Initially he did regret his sin and tried to present himself as a great moralist by quitting, as a penance, the editorship of Tehelka for six months. But now he is brandishing his innocence claiming that all happened with the girl's consent — the girl who was reportedly his daughter's age. Nothing can be more sinful — if no crime in the eye of our law singed with western ideology and norms — if a father were to claim that he committed the crime — and the sin — with his daughter's consent!
We do claim that our civilization has advanced in recent times. Is it really so? A century or more people would not lock their houses. Today, not only homes, even the pocket is not safe. You keep something unattended and in a moment it disappears like an essential commodity from the market. People used to respect age and position. An elderly person received universal respect even from a stranger. Today, even parents have to beg for care and respect. Relationship has lost sanctity.
If a girl called any boy her brother, they became brother and sister in reality even if he had, before that, entertained a wish to marry her. A friend narrated that when he received a proposal for his son's marriage from a girl's parents, both he and his father refused because the girl in question had been addressing him her brother. Even the alien Moghul ruler Humayun protected the woman from his enemy's family who tied tied rakhi on his wrist.
A girl of the village was always treated like a daughter and sister with all the love and affection. Safety of the girl and woman was then considered to be the sacred duty of the villagers, young and old. But today nobody has faith in a person of his own village. In their eyes, all have turned sex-hungry sharks.
There was always a respectable distance between the teacher and the taught. The student gave his/her teacher the respect like that given to parents. Students felt more scared of their teachers than their parents. To maim their unruly children parents used to dread their wards by threatening to report their bad habits to their teacher. It had an instant impact. The children then fell in line. But not so today. Students have started taking teachers as their equals or, at the most, first among the equals, as we call the council of ministers. Teachers cannot scold their students if they did not behave. Teachers and students have entered into wedlock.
Actually, we seem to be led by the thought (of Shakespeare) that nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. Our permissive society is the mother of all our ills and woes . A modern liberal magazine a few years back published an interview in which a young man brags boldly and proudly, "What if I wish to marry my sister?"
Under our law in matters of marriage sky is the limit; there are no restraints and taboos. There is an old saying: jab miaan beevee raazee to kya karegaa kaazee? If a man and woman consent, who can question — not even the husband and wife.
Our parents do have a duty to give us a nice bringing up — feed us well, fulfill our needs and demands, give us the education we want and provide us everything to realize our dreams. But when they grow up, they have no duty to look after their aged, sometime infirm parents. In marriage, the parents and family are a non-entity. Family traditions and taboos crumble before the stubborn attitude of children. But later, if the marriage turns sour, it is parents who come to their rescue and stand by them.
One's liberalism survives so long, so far as it does not pinch and prick one himself. Everybody wishes to see the other person's wife in the nude, but if somebody is caught peeping into one's wife's bed room one is furious enough to smash the head of that rascal.
It is not that every person, young or old, has turned into a Tejpal, a Ganguly or Asaram. But the solitary instances have shaken the faith and confidence of people in every honest and truthful person around. Everyone has now turned a suspect — suspect of his character, honesty and integrity. A single individual turns hundreds and thousands of others as objects not worthy of their faith. Is it not the time for the society to ponder and do something?