Published on June 14th, 2014 | by Sandeep Patil3
The Ostrich Syndrome
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Ostrich is a funny creature. It is said that when it sees a trouble, it buries its head in ground and convinces itself that the trouble doesn’t exist anymore! We use this metaphor commonly to describe the person, who constantly lives in denial, who ‘solves’ the problems by believing they don’t exist or aren’t significant enough. Now, I have newly learned is that there are other type of Ostriches as well. Unlike our conventional Ostriches, they do not bury their heads conveniently… but at large they are too busy looking at the stars, so much that they go on missing what is happening within 10 feet from them! These are those polished, well-read types who are sometimes too much dazzled by their ideals, their principles that they fail to see simple things clearly. Ultimately, be it the bury-your-head type or stair-at-the-stars type, what matters the most is “to miss the ground reality”!!! The Background The reason I thought of all this is because of a recent incident regarding the remarks made by Maharashtra Home Minister, R. R. Patil and the reactions that it triggered on the Social Media. A detailed news can be found here. Though I would sum up the incident briefly – Maharashtra Home Minister, R. R. Patil while speaking in the Maharashtra Legislative Council made the following remarks – 1. It is impossible to completely stop crime against women (that is rapes mainly), because as per statistics nearly 80% of times the culprit was someone known to the victim – an acquaintance, relative or even family member. 2. The declining morals from society is one of the reasons behind the increase in incidents like rape 3. Even if government provides one police per house, the cases of rape cannot be stopped (as per media reports) His speech in general, and the point#3 in particular triggered a lot of outrage against Patil on social media. Someone quickly called him a ‘Moron’… some others said he needs to be sacked immediately… some articulate lady asked “should the onus of well behavior should be with us? (that is with women)” and so on. If the original incident makes you sad, the reactions would make you feel gloomy. As if the reactors are more interested in outrage – in abusing the person, calling him names – than providing any solution, or even without understanding the whole case. If the original incident shows lack of accountability from the politicians, the reactions show equal irresponsibility from the common folks – and then one wonders, if there is any hope ahead. The curious case of R R Patil First a little background about R. R. Patil. Since he was always confined to the state level politics, people outside Maharashtra would know a little about him. Starting from a non-political family of farmers, he ascended all the way up to become Deputy CM of Maharashtra – more importantly never loosing his popularity, following and clean image. In Maharashtra, if someone comes from Uncle Pawar’s party (Nationalist Congress Party) and still known as honest and clean politician, you have to give some bonus point to him. His work not only earned him popularity, but he achieved something rare – he became quite a household figure in the Marathi families. At one point of time (prior to 26/11 attacks) he was perhaps the most liked politician in Maharashtra, in those days there also came a Marathi movie with his name in it’s title :). Uncle Pawar doesn’t like any of his party kids growing too strong and Patil himself gave the much needed excuse to be removed from his post when he made that “bade bade sheharon mein chhoti chhoti baatein…” comment during 26/11 attacks. Ever since he could not reclaim his old position or fame, and ironically is infamous for his 26/11 comments. I may pour in more first hand information about him, since I know personally people who have worked with him when he was an ordinary party worker – but that is not the purpose of this post. The most relevant point here is though, that after being first time elected as MLA he earned a title in the Assembly as “Lakshavedhi Aamdar”. The title cannot be literally translated to English, but he earned it because of his significant and sincere contribution as a parliamentarian. He commands respect and reputation in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, which is analogous to Vajpayee, Chandrashekhar, Sushma Swaraj, Somnath Chatterjee, Indrajeet Gupta etc have/had earmed in Parliament of India. The present incident The reason behind mentioning this point was, Patil was speaking in the Upper House of Assembly and not giving a casual byte to a flock of journalists. Given his track record as a parliamentarian, we can safely assume that he understood the seriousness of the occasion and his own responsibility as Minister in charge – so we too need to give some second thought to his statement before just waiving it off as irresponsible, insensitive, anti-women etc etc. What Patil has said is supported by the statistical data provided by his department. So if one still likes to cry foul it is his/her choice, but how do we deny facts? Can anyone of those who wanted him sacked tell me, how exactly Police is going to protect the Women from her acquaintances and relatives – for they account up to 80% of the rape crimes? Outrage outrage Some went ahead and concluded that the Home minister means that it is the duty of Womanhood to behave and ensure that the men are not provoked into any nasty acts. And ofcourse, statements like this are big offense on Woman’s freedom, equality, respect, rights… (add more virtues of your choice). How shallow one can be! What is more important here – making some goody-goody, respect-the-deep-sentiments-of-a-woman types statements? Or some hard facts that would in some way help in fighting this ugly crime? For God’s sake, Patil was talking in the Legislative Assembly, not talking over a cocktail with some lady on his first date. What good a freedom will do, if it cannot protect itself? Is mere speaking about freedom and equality enough to earn it? This way perhaps it can be earned on Social Media. But when someone is held at gunpoint or over knife… the ever delicate, fragile, innocent women… what good are these talks going to be??? Life is not twitter after all! Outrage without measures is no good Instead, what is really expected from the outrages is, to spread awareness – about the caution to avoid walking into such traps, some good measures like always keeping emergancy numbers handy in your mobile, some information about how to show presence of mind in difficult situations, and information about some handy weapon like pepper spray… And no Police and no Home Minister is going to do these things for you, you have to do it for yourself. And when someone like Patil tries to warn, we see crap like this on twitter in response – “we will party all night, doesn’t give others right to rape us” and similar 140 character pearls that would make Shobha Dey or Sagarika Ghose proud! The media particularly enjoyed his scoop of “one police per household cannot stop rapes”. From today’s report it seems he actually hadn’t said anything like this – and it’s not a usual denial typical of politicians, but it has been confirmed by the Leader of House – Dilip Valase-Patil – after watching the actual footage. So media has made some prime-time news for a day and has quickly moved over it in search for the new masala. But in any case, it really doesn’t hold much importance to me – I wouldn’t have perhaps noticed this line, had it not been so much talked about – because the other parts of his speech are certainly far more important than this “one police per house” hypothesis. The social values Finally, some other benevolent souls did not like that the Home Minister blamed the declining moral values in the society for increasing rape incidents. I didn’t quite understand reason behind their unhappiness, do they not agree that the moral values in Society have declined? Or they agree to it, but think that declination of moral values have nothing to do with the increase in rapes? Or both? Speaking of moral values… we have come a long way. We have ‘evolved’ from a society which in nineties sought ban on songs like “sexy sexy mujhe log bole” to the one where every second thing has become ‘sexy’. We had shouted and whistled when Amitabh in Deewar said “Eese apne jeb mein rakh le Peter… ab yeh taala main teri jeb se chabi nikaalkar hikholoonga”. Now we saw the same Amitabh in his seventies watching the backside of Kirron Kher and saying “Chandigadh ki to nahi lagti ho” and we thought this as comedy (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna). Earlier cracking non-veg jokes in front of girls was thought to be offencive, now I have seen girls cracking non-veg joke among group and haven’t quite understood how to react. We have slutwalk, gay-lesbian rights, we have live-in relationships – we confuse these things with modernism and progressiveness. We have Roadies and Big-boss… and Imran Hashmi and Sunny Leone. Now, if you say an individual should be free how to spend his life, whether to embrace all these newer aspects of our society or to continue in the conservative way. Yes, I absolutely agree, I am all for it. But if you try to sell this as Social Morality, I do disagree. This is the typical problem, that people confuse social morality with individual’s freedom. These two are different things, one is collective responsibility and the other is individual’s choice. And yet, when someone like Patil complains on the decline of moral values from society, people react as if their individual freedom is offended. That’s why I call the Ostrich syndrome. So my dear Ladies, if you wanna booze and dance in pub, come home late, wear short clothes… it’s all your choice to decide. I or nobody for that matter should have any objection to it. But all the same if you do not take enough care of your own safety, under the pretext of “who gave man the right to behave with women this way etc etc” it is not gonna work out. Please make sure first that you have enough security measures in place. Because those criminal elements are lurking out there somewhere in dark, and they don’t frame their opinions on the blog-posts from social media…they only pounce on their pray.