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The value of human life

By Sushmita Dutta | Last Updated: Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 00:38
Sushmita Dutta
Sushi's Musings

We, humans, are different from animals because we can think. We can think and act, but if we take away this quality from the humans we are as good as animals, who do not necessarily think before acting. We become barbaric. So shall I say, after a few dreadful incidents and looking around the so called ‘Dilwalon ki Dilli’, that our journey to barbarism has begun.

The other day, blood in my veins seemed to freeze, when I opened the newspaper in the morning to see a heart wrenching incident. A restaurant manager, in one of the leafy areas of Delhi, Khan Market, was killed due a flimsy road rage incident. His fault was that he had scratched another car on his way out of the market. The altercation reached such frenzy that spun out of control and the manager paid with his life. Allegedly a pilot, Vikas Aggarwal, who was driving a Ford Ikon grazed the car of a restaurant manager, Rajeev Jolly Wilson. The restaurant manager got enraged and yelled at the pilot. Vikas, the pilot, in turn lost his temper and even as Wilson was standing in front his car, he started his car and ran over him four times, till the restaurant manager breathed his last. A life was lost because tempers flared up. A family lost its member as someone could not keep a check on himself. Human life became cheaper than a scratch on a car.

In another shocking incident, a plate of ‘chicken tikka’ became the bone of contention in which a life of a young software professional was lost. In Outer Delhi’s Rohini area, Himanshu Batra, a young man of just 24 years was believed to be getting out of his car when he accidentally hit a man carrying a plate of chicken tikka. Consequently the plate of tikka fell on the ground. An argument broke out and the man pulled out a gun and fired. He fired four shots out of which two hit Himanshu. The young lad paid with his life for a fault which was not deliberate. That night again, human life became cheaper than a plate of chicken tikka.

These are just two of the many incidents which questioned the entity called humans and the concept of humanity, and left me in a deep state of shock. But this impatience and hot-headedness has become a way of life for the people in this city. Almost everyday, we see some precious life lost due to some minor tussle or altercation. Till recently, addictions were associated with drugs, nicotine, money, wine and women. But the addiction of ‘power’ has pushed back every other addiction far behind. And when the addiction of power is mixed with short temperedness and rowdy behaivour, it becomes a heady cocktail. A mix so dangerous that people have committed heinous crime with the belief that they can get away with doing anything in the society, be it taking someone’s life or be it playing with a woman’s modesty.

‘Everybody is somebody and nobody is nobody’, I felt was an apt description to the ways of the city after watching the recently released movie ‘No One Killed Jessica’. 10 years have gone by and now the accused Manu Sharma is serving life imprisonment, but the high profile case of Jessica Lall murder, which hogged limelight throughout the decade is possibly one the most explicit example of power, anger and unbridled aggression. In the year 1999, a model, named Jessica Lall, was working as a bartender in a high society party in the outskirts of a Delhi restaurant. Siddharth Vashisht, alias Manu Sharma, son of a politician from Haryana, with his two friends also visited the party. They demanded a glass of drink after the bar was shut down. Jessica refused to accede to their demand after which some heated arguments ensued, which soon turned violent. Manu Sharma had taken out his pistol and shot Jessica. That night again, human life became cheaper than a drink.

In the years to follows, Manu with his father’s political clout managed to get acquitted after having shot Jessica in presence of 90 odd people who were present that day at the party. But after interference from the High Court, media initiatives and courageous fight back from Jessica’s sister, Sabrina, justice has finally been delivered.

Even if lives are not lost everyday, the harshness in people’s behaivour has become very common. If we open our eyes and ears around us, we shall understand the truth and the growing impatience among the people. When we are at the traffic signal, as soon as the light turns green, honking begins. Instead of sorry, excuse me and thank you, people have graduated to filthy languages for communication. Everyone finds a simple reason to turn it into a big fight. No one is ready to accept his or her own mistake. People are progressively getting impatient.

It seems that people have lost fear of the law and order system and the judiciary. The track record of our judiciary also helps in strengthening the belief of the criminals that it is very easy to get away after committing any big or small crimes. The pilot, Vikas, who ran over the restaurant manager, Wilson, walked scot-free with a bail the very next day. I can definitely say that the ego of the accused got a big massage and a happy thought that probably our own law will make it possible for him to walk as a free man even after a cold blooded murder. Human life it seems is cheaper than money.

It’s high time for a mass over-hauling of our age-old-decaying judicial system, so that it fits into present day scenario. It needs to be modeled in a way that there should be some fear of law in the heart of a wrong doer and that no one should be able to walk away after committing a heinous crime. How can someone just get a bail after a murder?

Psychologists would prefer to say that the impatience, anger and rage are the result of the stressful life that we are living today. To a certain extent it is true, but I don’t agree entirely with the theory. Yes, it is stressful in today’s life where there is always a rat race to succeed in life. To achieve everything by 40 is a big stress. It has its own side effects too, where people go over the edge at the slightest prick or provocation. But insipte all the stress, a person’s family background plays a huge role in how one conducts oneself in the society. Ethics, moral values and behaivour are usually a byproduct one’s family and bringing up. A person who is under stress will remain grounded on basis of strong moral values. Inversely, the situation just might run out of hand.

<b>The celebrated writer Arthur Miller has rightfully said that “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”</b>

First Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 00:38

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