Gun and Culture

The intention is to catch the pattern of a culture and its narrative, then see the similarities in the Indian Context.

These days, Piers Morgan of CNN is rocking. He, a Britisher, has taken upon himself the responsibility to confront the American establishment and its population who support the possession of guns by private individuals. And the debate is on.

The telecast presents people from both side of the divide. People who support guns appear well-groomed, are powerful, belligerent and judgemental. The non-supporters are morose, emotional and appear weak. They are mainly people who survived attack or lost someone to the gun or activists who sound like they’re fighting a losing battle.

The gun-supporters are aided by the Second Amemdment to US Constitution done in 1791. The law allows US nationals to buy guns faster than Domino’s Pizza. They are doing this for over 200 Years. Now it’s a culture. Taking guns away from a US citizen is like dishonor. Questioning and introspection are not strong points of culture.

Consider this. The Number of US troops killed in Afganistan in 10 years from 2001 to 2013 is 1996. <refer this> During the same period, the number of people killed in US by Gun Violence is 270,000. <refer this>  These figures make Afganistan look like paradise.

3000 people died in 9/11. And 30,000 died in gun related crimes in US in 2012. <refer this> Whereas one mass murder is condemned as terrorism, the other, much greater, is ignored in the name of tradition.

The arguments in support of guns are absurd. It has to be heard to be believed. It’s astounding to see powerful people, educated and cultured (they are Americans), vehemently for gun possession. They’re in denial of Mass killings over the years. For every statistics, they have an equal and opposite statistics. Finally they converge to one ridiculous conclusion – Arm Everyone. Their presence on TV is just a sales-pitch.

The solution proposed is exact opposite to what is required. That’s Culture – It doesn’t look inwards but backwards.

Let’s retrace back to India. We too have our “gun-cultures” – meaning, entrenched believes and associated arguments which are much older than 1791. This is what makes us attribute rape to Mobile and Chowmein and whatnot. Our institutional memory has clever arguments for all cultural-ills we can think of. Even our arguments have to be heard to be believed.

I’m drawing comparisions and attempting to visualize a model – a framework that will put a finger on to the actual problem and its containment.

So, what next? We have to go back and watch our Big-Daddy – US. How will it grapple with this Old ingrained Cultural malaise? How will the policy and legislation evolve? How effective its gonna be? Close attention might give us a template to address our own problems.

But Policies and Politics play games. There are selective periodic amendments to show the public that our laws are being made relevent. While our eyes are fixated on the broad-framework of the Law, the fine-prints loop-back to as-is-where-is. And the con-game continues.

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Rape and Politics

The recent monstrous crime in New Delhi should not fall prey to apathy. Though I believe it will. When Congress came back to power in New Delhi and Maharashtra in 2009 after terrorist attack in 2008, it proved that ballet-box has no impact on political inaction. A politician said that Candle-Light marches by the few means nothing. He was right. It is We who are wrong. How?

We will come to that.

After the crime, the demand was to get the President, Prime Minister, Sonia and Rahul to react. But neither of them owe any obligation to the crowd in attendance. Our PM can ignore the issue because he is elected from a place in Assam that too for the Upper House. Sonia and Rahul are elected from a State where rape is a staple diet. Forget the President. Now he doesn’t owe any allegiance even to his own constituency. He has transferred that to his son – who, recently, told another truth.

See, the politicians are telling the truth. Why are we not listening?

Because we love to “Wax-Eloquent”. We love qualitative approach with no quality control. This is easy and pleasing. But its a trap. Smart politicians like Manmohan Singh will stay quite till the agitators drive themselves into an unending loop of reasons.

Qualitative approach is subjective and infested with cunning arguments and ready answers. The final destination of all argument is- “Nothing good will happen till our society gets Seven Virtues to replace equal number of sins.”
Till such time – suffer.

A quantitative approach points that – “Nothing good will happen till there is system change.” This approach impacts the numbers – the only factor which drives politics.

What are the solutions?

The First solution is Political.

Our Parliament consists of elected members. Fifty one percent is needed to form a government and elect the Prime Minister. This process dilutes the power of our votes. It removes our say in the making of the PM. Hence the PM can relinquish his responsibility to address our issues. Also Fifty-one percent is no majority like Forty-nine percent is no minority. This percentage is perfect for slow-crawl political equilibrium.

The Candidates for Prime Minister should stand from all the constituencies of India. And Seventy-One percent success should be required to become the Country’s Chief. The Prime Minister should have vast powers to appoint his own man as Executive in all the constituencies – even in those constituencies who did not elect him. The other candidate with twenty-nine percent will form the opposition.

To perfect this system will require iteration. Right now, our system elects local dolts who are unknown and unheard. Did the agitators in Delhi knew the names of their Local MP’s. OK, next election they will know and not vote them. How a loss of few seats effect the Political Establishment?

Our problem is electoral dilution. We have become victims of our own created system. Our reforms gather Frequent-Flyer miles travelling between Lower and Upper House. Get rid of the Upper House. They don’t represent us.

The Second Solution is Police Reforms.

There should be no State Police. There should be Metropolitan Police. A mixed force from all regions. A cultural mix begets a broad view and discourages herd mentality. Nation-wide force mobility will reduce political grip. An intermixed police deployed in various regions will overtime bring positive work-cultural changes.

There are many solutions. I have two to start with.

Indians wonder why Politicians aren’t listening. It’s because we are only shaking the Clapper of the bell without impacting the solid body of the bell. For the Bell to toll, the clapper should impact the sound-rim. If the changes don’t happen, the Bell-Tower has to come down and the Bell recast to respond to the will of the people.

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