Why does Mahendra Singh Dhoni need a gun?
Two images have seared themselves into my mind. The first is the brutal treatment meted out to a young girl working as a domestic maid in Gurgaon. I didn’t really know what beaten black-and-blue meant. Until I saw her photograph.
The other image was even more nauseating by virtue of being captured on video. Students armed with sticks rained blows on other students in Tamil Nadu as the police merely looked on.
Over the years, we have learned to settle personal scores with violence. It is almost a rite of passage. In almost every family, there is someone who has earned bragging rights for having beaten up somebody.
Is violence so much a part of Indian life? Our epics are full of violence in the service of a ‘just’ cause. But is being violent part of our cultural DNA? Probably not.
The woman charged with beating up the young girl tried to justify it — she had lost patience trying to cope with the pressures of family and urban living.
But the excuse is unacceptable in civilised society.
The police were being blasé about the bloodshed probably because they have been known to reduce crime rates by the simple expedient of not noticing it. Moreover, they are desensitised to violence since they see and participate in so much of it.
These two incidents could be seen as senseless acts of cruelty by a few people stooping low. As such they are just titillating. But they could also be seen as part of a larger pattern.
In fact, I wonder if the policemen and the woman can be considered victims in a sense.
Police in India are understaffed, overworked and underpaid. And the judiciary is bogged down by the weight of almost 350 million cases pending countrywide.
If people believe they can’t get their due by going to the police or to courts, it could lead to a state of endemic violence in society and a consequent deadening of senses to it.
Further, this logic could also be used to justify terror attacks.
A newspaper reported that Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has applied for a 9 mm pistol. The headline ran ‘Dhoni wants a gun’. It would be more accurate if it read ‘Dhoni needs a gun’.
Perhaps we can guess why.