Monday, April 24, 2006

The Throw Away Culture

Two days back a man in Bombay, shot his brother. Not to say that this is a common event but it is not the first time in the world that such a thing has happened either. If the man had been some ordinary fellow the news item would have been sandwiched between umpteen other bits of news somewhere between the middle and back pages of the papers. But the bloke who fired the pistol in this case, happened to be Pravin Mahajan, an unsuccessful businessman constantly in need of money, and the brother he shot happened to be Pramod Mahajan, the BJP general secretary, whom many have been touting as “India’s future prime minister.”

Brothers have been known to get into a foul enough mood to occasionally kill each other. The Biblical story about Cain and Abel is not just some fairy tale. In this case younger bro was pissed off with older bro because older bro had refused to support him through his business flops any longer. He refused to even meet him without an appointment. So, humiliated and furious, the younger brother just walks into the older brother’s flat one morning and fires four bullets into his non-cooperating sibling’s body – an act which now has the older brother fighting for his life in a city hospital. What actually threw me was the statement that Pravin Mahajan subsequently made to the police, to explain his act. “He was not useful to me any more so I shot him,” he is reported to have said.

In a way this attitude about sums up our throw away culture. We are constantly throwing away everything from used batteries to plastic bags to plastic syringes. I suppose it is a logical development to extend this “throw away” attitude to human beings as well, who have ceased to serve a purpose in our lives. What Pramod M’s younger brother did to him of course as many people know, is what Pramod M (the victim in this story) is himself alleged to have done a few years ago, to a New Delhi journalist supposed to be carrying his child. But with a true flair for recovery he seemed to bounce back to his political career unscathed by having been named as prime suspect in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case.

I am not trying to get moralistic here or to say in the least, that Mr. Mahajan had it coming or anything remotely like that. Nor that he deserves to have been shot at by his brother. One crime hardly justifies another. All I am saying is that there is something very screwed up about the times we live in. Because in a throw away culture, you never know who will want to throw you out next, because you have ceased to contribute anything to their lives. The psychiatrist who has examined the culprit - and the police too, maintain on the basis of psychological tests which were carried out, that the guilty man is mentally sound although Pravin M’s wife and lawyer insist that he has been depressed and mentally unstable for a while.

I would tend to go along with the wife's opinion because anybody who can shoot another human being – brother or stranger – without remorse, has to have something wrong with him. In this case I tend to think that there is something very wrong with the tests which have been carried out on the trigger happy man which say he is actually, mentally sound. It seems to me that here, it is the psychiatrists who believe in such tests, who are mentally unsound. Because it shows how superficial their examination is, and the fact that nobody wants to look even a bit under the surface for the true cause of violence. And when members of society whom ordinary people look to for understanding, themselves turn out to have such a superficial understanding of who is sick or not, then well, it is somewhat scary, I guess!

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suresh said...

I just loved the article. Makes a lot of sense. Will forward the link to all my friends.
Thanks Uma

Stardust1954 said...

Because in a throw away culture, you never know who will want to throw you out next, because you have ceased to contribute anything to their lives.

Ironic that you should write this post just now because last night my daughter called me in tears saying that a very good friend of her's said she didn't want to be friends anymore because my daughter didn't "fit her ideology of life" ...whatever that means! My daughter is very accepting of people and would never hurt anyone intentionally and asked this girl what she did to offend her, and this girl could not give a clear answer...and then just callously said that she wasn't getting anything out of the friendship anymore.

I told my daughter then that girl was not a friend to begin with...or she is having some kind of emotional problems in her life.

umarang said...

I think it takes perseverence and a sense of deep commitment to keep any relationship going, regardless of whether it is marriage or a friendship. Some of my best friendships today are with people I have struggled and fought with, and at times we have stopped talking to each other for a while. But I dont think anybody said they dont want to be friends any more. It was kind of understood that the separation was temporary and to sort out things.

Well, I guess to be in relationship is sometiems painful and if you are not prepared for that, you will feel tempted to walk out every time the going gets rough.

I guess all your daughter can do is to wait and see. Maybe you are right and this woman was never a friend. Or maybe she is going through problems and cant quite see what she is doing. Anyway I can guess what your daughter feels like and I hope it's all okay soon for her.