Ill Fares the Land . . .

They beat him up. According to the MidDay report of June 1, “after a thorough beating,” they handed him over to the police in Mumbai.

He was just 10 years old. A mere child who snatched a purse worth about Rs 50 and which had Rs 20 in cash.

Justice was served and how! The police registered a case of robbery against both of them. The passersby not only beat up the child, but they beat up an adult they suspected was an accomplice. They beat up the suspected accomplice so mercilessly that the man is unconscious and his identity is unknown.

Swift merciless justice was meted out by a bunch of average citizens of Mumbai for a petty crime. Was the man really guilty and if so, of what? Does a 10-year old child deserve mercy and compassion? I don’t suppose the upright citizens of Mumbai who beat up the child had time to ponder these questions.

They beat up a child, a 10 year old child, for snatching a purse. Then they handed the child over to the police. Did the police register a case of deadly assault against those passersby who beat up the child? No. The police registered a case of robbery.

The people who beat up the child are powerless. They had to find someone weaker than themselves to vent their rage upon. They would not be able to lift a finger against others who are more powerful but who steal not Rs 20 but millions of times more. The bigger criminals go about with red lights flashing on top of their speeding cars. Those “alert Mumbaikars”, as the MidDay reporter calls them, would shit in their pants if asked to mete out justice to the real criminals.

They beat up that little innocent child and handed him over to the police. The police threw the child in a children’s remand home — for attempting to steal a few rupees. In the meanwhile, Telgi, the criminal who stole hundreds of millions of rupees, is being given extra-ordinary medical care in prison because apparently he suffers from depression which, according to a Times of India report, is due to “too much thinking.”

They beat up a child because they cannot beat up the crooked politicians. Career criminals–some of them charged with murder, rape, and abduction–call the legislative bodies of India their home. Reports surface every now and then about how a significant number of the members of Parliament have criminal cases pending against them.

A bunch of adults ganged up against a child, who for some unknown reason snatched a purse with small change in it, and beat up a little child. Ganging up against an adult is bad enough but to beat up a child is unforgivable. The lack of humanity is stunning. Where is the outrage at this criminal act? Should the police officer who registered a case of robbery be charged with dereliction of duty for not charging the people who beat up the child?

They beat up the child because they don’t value children. They don’t value children because there are too many of them. You cannot stop at a traffic light in Mumbai without being faced with children begging for a few rupees. To those who beat up the child, these are mere nuisances and not human beings. Beating up a child is just another aspect of the dehumanization that results in neglected, uneducated, under-nourished, unwanted children.

I read a lot of press about how India is a fast developing (and according to some how India is already a developed) economy. Projections of how many cell phones and how many computers per capita India will have by such and such a year fill glossy magazines and engage scores of management gurus. I know a little secret: cell phones and computers will not make caring humans out of mindless morons.

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates and men decay.” Thus wrote Oliver Goldsmith.

Now if you will excuse me, I would like to go and throw up from the disgust I feel at the zero degrees of humanity displayed by the “alert Mumbaikars.”

From the archives: India’s Real Criminals.

Author: Atanu Dey


15 thoughts on “Ill Fares the Land . . .”

  1. I think the level of dehumanization that occurs in a society is directly proportional to how competitive survival in a society is. In a developed society like the United States, the citizenry dehumanize citizens of other countries in order to stay competitive in the global arena. In developing nations like India, we dehumanize ourselves against everyone who is not a friend or a relation. Below us are the beasts of the jungle who even would eat their own offspring in times of dire need. I would like to hope the ultimate goal of society to eliminate dehumanization of any form.


  2. Very disturbing… They did not beat up the child because they don’t value children – but beause it was not their child – what you call dehumanisation? This is about power – the child is smaller and vulnerable – and about a misguided sense of morality… It is disgusting to think that there was not one single voice in that crowd to ptotest against this – and I hate to think about what happened to the child at the police station / remand home


  3. People have to realise the gruesomeness of beating up children. This goes on everywhere. I’ve heard of children being beat to almost death by their teachers and even parents. Growing up like this, they are nescient of the proper behaviour towards children. Change in this kind of attitude thus have to start right from the homes and schools.


  4. Dear Atanu,
    Beating up a child is not necessarily an indicateur of our underdevelopment nor civilization ; pygmies in africa and indians in amazonian forests cherish their children. In harsh survival atmosphere people forget all human values ; in communal riots ,we are capable of behaving worse. I am wondering who will educate an average citizen .


  5. Very disturbing indeed. I don’t think the so-called education which we have in India is going to help. The ability to read, write and doing maths only is not an education. We need a different type of education. What is missing in India is man-making education which gives us a blend of scientific, ethical and moral values. In the absence of these values, people will behave live like beasts. Even the so-called highly educated people in India keep often keep poor children at home as servants, use them as cheap labour and beat them occassionally. So a degree from IIT, IIM or any university is not going to help at all. You can’t change it at all with the current type of education. His/her greed, selfishness and disregard for humane values will only increase with the level of education he/she gets.


  6. Disgusting as this incident seems, it is just the tip of the iceberg. The children on the street in India live a life that is horrifying even by sub-human standards. What can one call a society that is largely apathetic towards the abuse of its children and women. This is the nadir of human existence in India.


  7. Been a while.
    What you raise is a valid concern and this is true even when the person being beaten up is not at fault. Parents beating children for pestering them, or wives for the heck of it, etc. are incidents which go ahead to reflect that human beings as such would met out physical violence on regular basis just to keep themselves sane and feel good (aka powerful) about it. Very sad. It is unfortunate that we are mindful of the large and supposedly far-reaching things in the world but are so inattentive to the real and simply gross things around us…


  8. With God’s grace I have interacted with police once and I found no difference between criminal and such types of policemen. No wishes to generalize this fact for police department but what exactly they need are nice training and personal counseling. Haven’t you ever caught yourself yelling at your people when you are stressed? We are at much comfortable chair to talk with but what about those who are always surrounded by crime, politics and corruption. And such behavior is intruding in our society in every field in some magnitude! I wonder who has the key for it!!…might be lying within us!


  9. A very horrified and sad story but not uncommon either. It is habbit of Adults to vent their anger on weaker section of the society, in this case, a child and a poor man. Children are always been targets of adults for venting their anger. Poor little children.No one is coming ahead to save them from violence which they face quite often in homes and schools. Politians are useless and they don’t care about it.It is up to child rights activists to think and take steps to solve this issue.


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