Friday, July 19, 2013

Culture Ensures Unity and Stability of Society

Ranbir Singh, Working President, IPTA
-Ranbir Singh
Six hundred pages in 29 days, by Justice J.S.Verma and his colleagues is indeed laudable. But the report remains confined to the “ Amendments to Criminal Law”, as the titles suggests. One should consider the fact that the Code of Civil Procedure was enacted in 1859.The Penal Code was enacted in 1860 and came into operation on 1st January 1862. They were drafted and enacted by the colonial masters to rule over the slaves, whom they considered as dishonest. The inherent spirit of the colonial laws most unfortunately continues to rule the people of free India .The laws are most unsuitable and humiliating and they are the cause of the great suffering of the people at large. It would have been much better that when the constitution of free India was being drafted, at that time the laws and the Penal Code should have been drastically amended. Today these very laws are being exploited by the Courts, Panchayats, Police, the bureaucrats, and various other government departments, from top to bottom of the ladder. The benefit is being reaped by the rich who have who have given birth to various mafias, i.e land, buildings ,alcohol etc; and at the same time they have strengthened the custom of bribery and turned into an institution. 

The helpless poor are reeling under the pressure and are forced to become poorer.  J.S.Verma’s report has recommended various amendments in the criminal Laws, Police ,Elections ,and has also suggested some points for the empowerment of the women. They are most welcome. The recommendations have been made in keeping the law in mind. But the society and the way of life of each different communities are not governed by law, but by Culture. 

Law in fact should safeguard the cultural code of the society. How can it be hoped to have a strong, powerful , vibrant and living society, governed by the laws based on the evil and malicious intentions of the colonial masters whose main aim was to shred the closely knit fabric of the society, to sow the seeds of disunity and division among the different communities, to exploit the caste  and creed, to even use religion to disunite the people. It is unfortunate that even after having achieved independence we have not been able to get rid of the colonial hangover. The urgent need of the day is to decolonize our minds.

Culture is and has been the strong foundation of our society. But for the last 25/30 years we have systematically destroyed all cultural institutions .Our governments have relegated culture and degraded it and reduced it to the lowest priority. Probably because it does neither gives note, nor the vote. We have made a mockery of our folk traditions, and left the classical traditions uncared for. Our Films and theatre have become a piece of mere vulgar entertainment, and have lost the sense of social relevance, and the boldness to put the mirror in front of the people and force them to see themselves in their uncultured behavior. T.V. without knocking on doors has forced its entry to every home, rich or poor, and has in its most irresponsible manner, by its vulgar, unsocial serials have greatly damaged the cultured way of life of the families. The advertisements of various goods, and filming of the item songs which are almost blue films have completely destroyed the cultural values, human relations and rich old traditions.{ as I write this I have come to know  about the wise step of the government to ban the songs .Congratulations} T.V. itself is a product of the materialistic society and a participant in the rat race. The main aim being to make money. From the day one of the rape which took place in Delhi, almost all the T.V. channels are debating in many ways the several aspects of the rape. How was it committed? The responsibility of the driver, the callous behaviour of the public, the inaction of the passerby and the bystanders for not rending help, the various amendments suggested by the Verma Report, and whether the trial should take place in camera or in the open court. The debates never come to a legitimate conclusion. They are kept alive so that they continue on and on. The  politician ,social activists, and other intellectuals have never tried to suggest that how can a cultural environment may be created so that such wild, antisocial, criminal, heinous rapes to do take place at all. This is all done to raise their TRP. The law only comes in action after the rape or corruption has taken place. It is only culture which behaves as a speed breaker in one’s life. If the society at large is made aware of the cultural values , honesty, ethics, then there is some hope that these evils can be prevented. One should seriously debate as why rape, bribery, murder, theft is taking place today, and was not heard of in the olden times .Surely some thing drastically has happened which has given birth to all these uncultured behaviour.

Verma Report in its Preface has mentioned that , “Constitution of this Committee is in response to the country wide peaceful public outcry of civil society, led by the youth against the failure of governance to provide a safe and dignified environment for the women in India who are constantly exposed to sexual violence”. The report has recommended:

1. The equality of women being integral to the constitution its denial is a sacrilege and a constitutional violence.
2. Social activists involved in curbing this menace could assist the court in the performance of this task.
3. The apathy of civil society is evident from the inaction of passerby and bystanders who failed in the citizenship duty of rendering help to the victim of rape.

Apathy of the civil society, lack of knowledge of equality and respect of women as mentioned in the constitution, and the non assistance of the social activists are because of lack of culture, and can not be governed  by law. The majority of the people of India are absolutely ignorant about the content of the constitution as  it is not a part of the syllabus and is not taught in the schools. Few years back when a woman entered the train or the bus the men got up and respectfully and offered the seat to her. Today they rape her. Laws are the same they have not changed but the Culture has changed. It is also difficult to know whether the crowd  which gathers at Jantar Mantar and Ramlila ground is really genuine or it is managed by event managers. It is also important to know whether some of the self appointed representatives of the people are sponsored and financed by NGO’s and foreign foundations. Many of the times it is noticed that the crowd vanishes all of a sudden as if the problem has been solved. All kind of movements, whether they are cultural or political are sustained by the utmost dedication of the people. Never at any time the T.V.channels have discussed about culture and moral values. Most of the time they only sensationalize the issues to attract the public and thus make money.

Lack of or absence of culture creates vacuum in the society which is used by different mafias and the fundamentalist to their advantage. Rape, corruption, bad behavior, misuse of language, and other antisocial activities which are seen these days in fact are because of absence of culture in the daily life of people. If a person is cultured he will think twice before indulging in all these anti social or anti national activities which are harmful to the society. Culture in one’s life acts as the speed breaker. One always thinks before any action whether it will bring bad name to the family, community or to the society .But today in the materialistic society where every one is a participant in the rat race, has become so individual and selfish that he does not think about his family the society or the nation. He is running to reach the top of the ladder, but does not  realize that there are many who have reached there  and will push him down, as there the space is only for a few.

There is much talk about good governance and development. Development does not mean that rich become richer and poor become poorer. Good governance and development are inter- linked and both can not exist without taking culture into consideration. If there are tears in the eyes of the neighbor then one can not be happy. Development and good governance becomes meaning-less where the people at large live under constant threat to their lives. Where the people do not have the freedom to express their feelings in any form may be art or literature. Hitler did the same thing .At first he burnt thousands of books from the National Library in one night. The second step that he took was the mass massacre of the Jews, which was also the message to the rest to be careful and not to open their mouth and raise their head. He persecuted artists from film and theatre and intellectuals who fled from their country. It may be said that there was no solid proof that Hitler himself took part in the massacre. Nadir Shah sat on the Sunehari Masjid in Delhi and ordered massacre where thousands were killed. But there is no proof recorded that he himself committed the crime. The third step was the development in which mass manufacture of arms took place which resulted in the Second World War, which changed the face of the world .But Hitler had to commit suicide. 

According to Engels, the great cities are the most typical locations of capitalism. We can see this in all large cities of India today. Engels has explained it further that the unrestrained exploitation and completion appear in their most naked form. It is in large cities that there is a big gulf between the rich and the poor. He has expressed in  very strong words, that, “Every where barbarous indifference, hard selfishness on one side, unspeakable misery on the other, every social war, every man’s house a fortress, every where marauders who plunder under the protection of the law.” A very similar picture of the society of Kali Yug, which is the present age in which we are living, is mentioned in the Vayu Purana. It is said that, “Violence ,spite and untruth ,deceit or cheating ,murders of the ascetics, unrighteous, unmindful of the rules of conduct, fierce in anger and deficient in power and splendor. Living beings become rampart and passion and greed prevail all over.”(Vayu Purana Vol.1.p.385-6}.In the opinion of Engels, drunkenness, vice, crime and irrational spending is a social phenomenon is the creation of capitalism.” In the recent years we have sadly experienced this, where rape, murder and the various other evils and use of bad language and gross indiscipline is taking place all around us. It is because the present age is the age of mediocrity. Where reason. logic, knowledge, tolerance, ethics, respect of others, traditions, love and affections of one’s own and love of neighbours, and above all the national feeling does not exist any longer .The society has fallen into the trap of materialism, where greed ,selfishness ,individualism ,intolenrance, pushing others and going ahead in the rat race ,has left no time to the members to think about love and respect of others. They have no time to think and analyse, they are in a hurry to get rich and become famous .It is because of this that they become an easy victim and get exploited.

Happiness is the only object of society. But it can not be purchased by money. It can not be achieved by sitting at the feet of sadhus at a ashram .It can not be achieved by purchasing a diamond necklace at a jeweler shop. Happiness can not be had by possessing the “Large T.V. Screen Happiness” from India’s fastest growing electronic retail chain of reliance digital as advertised by them. Such advertisements of luxury cars, apartments ,villas, jewelry,  humiliates the poor and incite him to possess them for short lived happiness. As he does not have the purchasing power he acquires them by any means.  He behaves in this manner because he does not have the cultural ethos which may stop him for doing so. Eric Hobsbawn speaks about the market fundamentalism in these words, “Given the prominence of market fundamentalism it has also generated extreme economic inequality within countries and between regions and brought back the element of catastrophe to the basis cyclical rhythm of capitalist economy, including what became its most serious global crisis since the1930.” The danger of marketing fundamentalism has engulfed our society. While planning development we did not take into consideration of the needs and the aspirations of the society.

The article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 clearly states, that ,”everyone as a member of society is entitled to realization through national effort and international cooperation and the accordance with the organization and resources of each State to the economic, social ,rights indispensible for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”

Let us ask ourselves, have we given these economic, social and cultural rights to the people of India. We have created economic inequality , social hierarchy, and have completely destroyed  the culture. Law can protect them but not provide them .One may ask, then  who is responsible for giving the people their economic, social and cultural rights; who can give them dignity ,identity ,and self determination to rebuild their culture, which has been disparaged in recent years. Whose responsibility it is to give the modern vision so that the people can stand shoulder to shoulder with head held high ,and see eye to eye with the people from other countries .Whose responsibility it is to prepare to give them the ability to analyse, to strengthen their culture roots, so that they are able to protect their culture from urbanization, industrialisation, vulgarization, and the onslaught of the neo-imperialists ,fascists and fundamentalists. Whose responsibility it is to eradicate the economic, social and cultural inequalities among the vast number of people, and instill  them the idea of religious and cultural tolerance, love and respect of each other, the unity in diversity and above all the feeling of nationalism. Some political leaders have succeeded in developing their own personality but have failed to give fundamental rights to the people.  At the same time there are others who are bent upon destroying the history in the name of culture and teach disparity.

Culture is woven into the fabric of society and its social system. The Ganga-Jamani culture or the composite culture withstood with us in all phases of change. It was the strong foundation of the society. In the last few years, the Ganga-Jamani culture as a political conspiracy, even today , is attacked by many fundamentalist forces from different directions. Culture has fallen into the hands who have commercialized it. As culture was not allowed to penetrate to the grass-root  the changes that were shaping were over looked, and today they have metamorphosised and have become a source of danger to the society and to the Nation. Chaos was allowed to grow and spread.

The need of the hour is to take culture seriously. Culture must be given higher priority in the planning by Government. I wonder if there is any expert on culture in the planning commission. Culture should not be taken as mere entertainment. Culture is the integral part of society and it should be fully realized that culture has no existence whatsoever if it has no social context. It is through culture that social and fundamental rights are given to the members of the society. It is the cultural awareness which imparts the social responsibility to the individual members of the society. Any society without cultural values can not make any progress, it will create social imbalances ,chaos and irresponsible behaviour in daily life .Mathew Arnold has  said, that, “Cultural is the most resolute enemy of anarchy” therefore it must be used as a protection as ‘surakhsha kawach’, of society, so that any kind of evil effects ,thoughts, actions are unable to penetrate into it. Above all culture must be used as a weapon for social changes and for the betterment of society which then is strong enough to strengthen the roots of Nationhood. 

Amendments in colonial laws is most welcome , but it is culture which will give balance, good behaviour, love and affection to all, respect of womanhood, tolerance ,stability and unity in diversity. In the words of Socrates “I can not teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”


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