Vantage point

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A culprit-shielding society

It is serendipitous that this post coincides with Republic Day. I am writing about an aspect of Indian society which bugs me no end, and is very detrimental to our progress.

The cliched "chalta hai" attitude that we are said to possess makes us what is a culprit shielding society. Whether it is our politco-legal setup, the over-dependence on the government machinery, or our cultural legacy, but we tend to be very lenient towards culprits or wrong doers. And this extends from the top to the bottom, from the macro to the mini level.

In other countries, as person is innocent until proven guilty. In our country, a person is innocent after being proven guilty. And in some cases, guilty despite being innocent.

Of course, at the top are our politicians like Indira Gandhi, George Fernandes, Narsimha Rao, L K Advani, Um Bharti, Laloo Yadav, Sukh Ram, Jagdish Tytler..... all of whom have been proven to be guilty, either by the court, or by irrefutable evidence which is being dragged in courts. We will turn a blind eye towards them. It does not seem to bother us that these folks are tainted, or culprits.

Then you have celebrities like Sanjay Dutt and Kapil Dev. Sanjay Dutt has been caught possessing an illgeal firearm, spent years in jail, has been caught chatting up underworld dons, everything! And yet, we have no qualms embracing him as a beloved star. Kapil Dev, a match fixer, still continue to enjoy status in our country.

And coming to a micro level, you have instances like that of Rohan Pinto. Now here you have a guy who copied content, without attributing it to the creators. Not only that, he back-dated entries on his blog. Surely, you do not need a law degree to know that it is at least morally, if not legally wrong to do that just to increase your page hits?

The fellow also had online a site which tells you false info about the availability of domain names, and collects your credit card number. Whether it was a demo site, and whether the credit card numbers collected were used for malicious purposes is besides the point. The fact is, it does not take a law degree to know that this is wrong too.

What Amit, Shanti and others did was to expose this wrong. The fellow himself reacts with impunity, which is only expected in a society like ours.

What makes me sad is other bloggers attack Amit!!

A year back when Satyendra Dubey was murdered, everyone wondered why India did not have a Whistleblower Act. The reactions of Dilip and Dina towards Amit are a case study about why such an act would not work in India anyway. In other countries, whistleblowing is a natural thing to do, the right thing to do. In India, whistleblowing will be judged by each person "relatively". Oh so, relatively speaking, what Rohan Pinto did was a tiny wrong. He does not deserve all this, does he? So lambast Amit, the whistleblower.

Everyone wants to sit in judgement about what is a relatively major and relatively minor offence. Everyone wants to be the Chief Justice. So Sanjay Dutt is innocent, because relative to other terrorists, his crimes are minor. And Kapil Dev is innocent, because relative to Azharuddin, he was innocent. And of course, Advani is innocent, because relative to Mohd Shahabuddin, what he's done is minor.

We Indians need to realise that we are not judges. Our job is not to sit in judgement. Our job, as alert citizens, is to report some wrong if we see it. Let the process produce the judgement.

Amit merely blew the whistle on a wrong.
Dilip and Dina choose to sit and pass judgements.

It is very clear who I think is right.