Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gurgaon Shootouts- A Wake-up Call...

Morning news confirmed the fears that lurked in my mind after the Virginia Tech shootings-'What if this happens in India?' and also snubbed off the happy assumption I immediately implied soon after that thought erupted: 'No, such a thing is still far away from India...'

Now, it has happened. And I take in the reality that India isn't afterall that immune. That children are growing up way too smart and way too hep before their time is ripe. That the time-span for which we can cuddle and scold and treat our kids as kids has drastically reduced. And that, this sudden transition from being a child to an adult is dangerous to say the least.

After seeing the news on CNN-IBN, I surfed the net to read more about it. I was shocked to find no visible mention of the shootout on the 'largest selling Indian English daily'. The first news was a glorified, happy report that Vikram Pandit, a man of Indian Origin, has been selected to head the Citigroup. I don't quite fathom the fancy we have of people of 'indian origin' achieving this and that and the other.

To be precise I found news about Amitabh Bachchan's relief after being given a clean chit by the High Court, PM's statement that spectrum allocation must ensure competitiveness and about Advani's is preparations for the Gujarat polls, but no outright mention of the Gurgaon shooutouts. Superb!

Let me not diverge into debates that are somewhat off the topic of this post. All I am saying is, I couldn't find a link to the Gurgaon School Shooting news on mainpage of The Times of India e-paper. Don't believe me? Go here and read the e-paper dated December 12, 2007.

Callous reporting or what? Or does the Times of India prioritise its front page on some cool style-book instructions that say 'Commerce and Politics and Entertainment friendly news only'. Fatal shootout in a school by 8th grade students, and that too, the first ever of its kind in India, can wait! We have Mr. Bachchan to cover...

According to the reports, there was some tension between the three students and the school authorities were even informed. The two accused, who have been sent to a juvenile home for 14 days, allege that Abhishek Tyagi repeatedly 'bullied' them. Whether the abuse was sexual in nature or not, the police is yet to confirm. Read the related article here and see the video here

Is bullying, sexual or not, a justified reason for killing? Definitely not, to sound politically correct. But life is not simple black and white...

When I was in Pune, I used to go to this cyber cafe. It was just below kaku's home where I had my lunch and dinner. Out of about 15 computers, merely two were used for regular surfing. Other were all occupied by children from the range of tweleve to thirteen to college going youths to play computer games. And what were the sort of computer games they played? Sheer violence, gory murders, machine guns, bombs and so on. What is this hate-culture all about? Does it merely remain restricted as a game, or it seeps into the pscyche?

There was a constant rattle of the sound-effects in that cafe and everytime I heard someone 'yay' a kill, a shiver went down my spine. Some readers may find this too funny or too exaggerated, but it's these small things that make up a mindset. These are the small beginnings that lead to something huge.

We need to raise some important questions and seek answers. How could so much of rage gather and ferment in the young minds? What is happening in schools and colleges these days? What are the teachers like and are they good enough? What is the value-system? (Or is there any?)

I believe each person deserves at least three great teachers in his or her life, say one teacher for a span of 3-4 years, then another guru takes over. I have been immensely lucky in this case. Teachers, if good enough, can leave a profound impact on the mind.

And for this, we don't just need good people at high school, graduation and post-graduation levels, but we need good people right at the grass-roots. At nursery and kindergarten and primary school levels. We need people who are patient and who care enough, who can mould and hand over a senstive student pool to other teachers at the higher academic levels. One thing that happened after seeing this news was to further strengthen, if not prepone, my desire to get into the teaching line.

I mused that Fr. Morondo would be sad and worried when he hears about the shootings. Fr. (my highschool teacher) who's recovering from some serious injuries after a bad fall off his blue kinetic, has given me lots of soulful tid-bits here and there in his merry voice to brood on for the rest of my life. Teachers can influence, teachers can prevent. It's just that we can't simply pinpoint that moment when someone's words make a path-changing effect on our lives, that we fail to reciprocate or acknowledge, or realise that we are good only because so and so said something simple and assuring in the past. Else, we would have gone astray.

About the accused. Perhaps, their teachers and parents, peers and well-wishers and you and me- as a society, have failed them. Or perhaps, the two accused just simply played a lot of such gory video games. Perhaps...

-Gauri Gharpure

If you have read the entire post, I urge you to leave a comment. I especially want to know the reactions of teenagers and youth. What do you think of the Gurgaon shootouts? Take ten minutes to compose your thoughts, perhaps talk to your collgeagues and friends, and then write a comment.


The Mad Girl said...

About a year ago, I used to play this video-game where I was a sniper on some rescue mission.The first few days were exciting and fun...but then the bloodshed , albeit virtual, began to haunt me badly.I was so afraid I'd lose my softer and healthier emotions.I stopped playing the game.
About the Gurgaon's absolutely shocking. That is not the way one gets even with bullies.But if it was a case of sexual abuse...I wouldn't justify their action, nor sympathise with them entirely, but I'd understand their helplessness.But even then, the way the murder was planned, the way it was executed leaves me shuddering.This new generation has such little patience, such little tolerance, such little compassion that it scares me.
yes we need teachers. And we need parents, who wouldn't for the sake of God keep weapons within the reach of their children and would treat their children in a friendlier fashion and guide them properly.

The Tentacles of Thought said...

The thing is that the youth today forget their limits and love to mimic potentially dangerous acts...They behave like kids who have just seen an episode of shaktimaan or sumthing like that....even i have played computer games like counterstrike and all...the thing is you should just know the difference between real life and reel life....there is a certain line which should not be crossed...another thing is that todayz youth find it veryy cool to do such stuff right from smoking to drugs and what not...teachers are not respected anymore and after a certain age their love for their parents start diminishing.....but thats the sorrowful generation of for times of reporters can get very callous in their duties....

Na.Su.Krishnan said...

I would comment on the other accused, teachers, parents, peers and the society. At the age of 14, students are prone to go towards socially unacceptable habits.

Unfortunately teachers and parents handle such people more by stick and less by love. Your statement 'is there any values?' is apt. Values are eroding, thanks to the seniors of my age(25) who are equally valueless. A revamp is necessary, I feel it should be a mass movement at school, college, corporate and the societal level.

But the baseline is Values can not be taught. It should be practiced. It should be realized by self not by learning. Is the so called Value education subjects in schools still a subject or is it moving towards its objectives?

Na.Su.Krishnan said...

Gauri, Times of india has reported this as headlines on 12th(today) and now it is available in the e-paper headlines also.

Proneat said...

well,considering a hypothetical scenario, where every student is allowed to have a gun..
how many of them r going to take the extreme step, of indulging in a shoot-out during their school term??

Its not that most of the skool-goers r reasonably above par, ethically.. Its only that they r not in reach of lethal resources, that can cause , the unwanted.

This situation is really grim.cuz so many young minds r a lot..teda meda :D

Gauri Gharpure said...

mad girl... glad to know tht u also felt the same thing abt the gory videogames after playing ur bit and quit...

@ tentacles- u r right abt tht 'drawing the line' thing, but can consciously draw a line when we constantly, willingly expose ourselves to negetive emotions like violence, slaughter, swearing and such alike thru games, thru swears in random verbal communication with friends and so on?

tht teachers r not respected anymore is also a fact, which springs from another serious fact tht u will find more teachers who are autocratic, care a shit abt their students or profession and are a money-making machine thru tuition classes- than the guiding stars kinds..(read the post- The sycophant circle in this blog if u have the time)

@ nasu.. thnks again.. i went thru ur comment and realised tht u ve indeed gone much into detail reading the post,(coz u pointed out my question- or do they (values) exisit at all? verbatim..

also, i went again to the toi link i ve given in the post to check, as u said, tht they ve given it as a headline... well, atleast i cant see the news projected prominently online, on the toi homepage.. dont know abt the hard-copy, but online, other news rule..

@ proneat.. yes, the situation is grim. and ur hypothetical projection is errie... thnks for droppin by and commenting..

jasmine said...
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jasmine said...

shock was definitely my first reaction but disgust immediately followed.... i was more than agitated with the parents of the kid who committed this crime in the days when most of us wouldn't even know how to use a pistol or even wouldn't even have the courage to fire where this chap fired 5 rounds. this points out at the kind of attention children get at home.. either it is total neglect or pampering them enough to spoil it that money, career, independence and all that glitz is making mothers forget basic responsibilities and fathers just mint money minus regular participation in their families? it is crazy to see that the Indian joint family deteriorate to such poor upbringing of children. the impact of gaming, violence on television and the loud ads and other media as Gauri pointed out is definitely working like slow poison. we need to counsel parents and teachers alike, we need to mould children from both perspectives teach them societal rules as well as individual thought. finally we need open eyes and ears to look around, analyze and think relatively as well as individually.

dharmabum said...

it is sad.

we're inheriting all the wrong aspects of the west. i'd only blame the elders though - it is we who show them the way. children are at the helm of conflict today. on the one hand, we preach values to them, on the other hand, they see the exact opposite around them. a simple case being children 'taught' not to lie. and when the phone rings, the parent would simply ask the child to answer and say he/she is unavailable.

in this case - i wonder why the parent (they're obviously wealthy people. its an international school, remember? plus, a licensed gun means one has a lot of money.i believe one has to shell out or lac or two of rupees for the license alone!) - made the gun so easily accessible to the kid.

and the teachers and today's educational system - we've made it so competitive, children are pressurised by comparisons. group work and collaboration, which is so much needed in the society & workplace, is missing totally in the classroom scenario.

i wouldn't entirely agree with the newspaper coverage bit though. i don't think it ought to come out in the headlines. i remember kalam writing about his israel visit a long time ago...when he was there apparently there was a terrorist attack - a bomb explosion - and the next day, the headline news item was about this guy who had managed to convert a baren land to some field or something such thing. the explosion found only a small mention somewhere in the middle of the paper. i think newspapers ought to highlight the positives around us, otherwise we as a society tend to get bogged down and feel helpless.

it is very, very sad.

featherbone said...

1. funny that we talk of violence as some sort of 'import' from the west. that when two mass murderers are walking free, one a chief minister and the other nominated to be a prime minister! video game violence? what about the fact that it is obviously okay to get a few hundreds killed as long as you have the right contacts? is the problem the gun? should it have been bow and arrow?

2. is "sexual" bullying very different from any other form? as one who has been bullied, slapped in front of an entire school by a senior, seen a college refuse to punish people who threatened me with a sword because they were the 'correct' race-i must admit, if i had that gun, i might have used it. and i don't play video games.

Gauri Gharpure said...

@ jasmine... I agree with u tht parents ve an imp role to play. small things lead to big, and today parents are jus so bent upon ensuring tht kids get admitted to the best schools, have the most expensive school bags and lunch boxes and compass boxes.. not exactly in tune with this topic, but tht u have raised the topic abt how parents fail to grow up their children properly, here's an example, let me tell u abt the disaster of a tea invitation i faced.. this neighbour brought her 3 yr. old kid at my flat, and in less than 30 minutes, my entire kitchen equipment ws on the sofa, the fish bowl and flowers had to be kept on the almirah and tht child throwed slippers and dustbin in my lap 3 times (i am not exaggerating), till the time i decided it ws enough and caught tht boy with both my hands and asked him to say sorry or leave (and even after). all this while, the mother ws just smiling politely and saying 'o i am so embarassed' and cooing her boy in a sing song voice, 'dont do tht...' one tight slap would have done.
is this the way u grow up ur kids? 3 might be small, but no child can be so damn insolent, or if the baby is, the parents ant be so damn sophisticated...they put him out of the house and locked him outside right after they left and the boy was wailing loud, but me and my husband thought the poor kid simply cud not grasp why he ws punished for cos his mother ws sso damn sweet and patient when he ws ransacking my house. some lessons have to be taught then and then..

i ws a terror as a child, but i dont think i ws so destructive.. i had kept quiet initially coz of some latent guilt conscious, but to my relief my dad confirmed tht i 'wasn't this bad!' .. huh....

@ the bum
i agree with all the points u ve mentioned, even the bit abt news shud be positive.. though, i dont think toi is the kind of newspaper to follow such an insightful philosophy of giving 'good news' at the front. :D

TOI, till recently, worked on very fixed, pro-profit instructions- developmental stories or those which talk abt farmer suicides, etc (which dont directly concern their target audience of middle and upper-middle class) were unceremoniously dropped. It's now tht the Page 3 culture of toi got too criticised and readers opposed the shit they thrust at the readers, tht toi is giving more and more prominent coverage to stories other than sheer entertainment and glamour. in my short stint as a stringer with toi, i gathered tht to remain with a big name as toi,u need to be manipulative enough to give each of ur story some 'glamour' or 'glitz' to let it pass the scanner and to get ur message serious across or convince ur boss tht 'this will be read, believe me'..

toi sells, and so it is widely read.. i believe tht in spite of all this bitching abt toi, i wud still love to write for it, cos people tend to read toi a lot more. and for the same reason, i felt the shoot-out thing shud have had at least a small mention somewhere on the main homepage, if not the headlines..wht toi carries, people jus cannot miss.. :)

@featherbone- so much of anger?? my.. u scare me.. :D

death, per say, is a very minute thing in the circle of existence, at least for me. so in this case, it's not the actual murder tht i am worried or shocked abt, it's the psyche tht lead to the murder.. it's tht rage and unvented indignation, on the lines of the anger u ve vented thru ur column..

we can justify our anger and hence justify the means. and tht wud be swift enough, a bang and lo! ur honor is satisfied. but is tht the only way out? if u have a gun, and shoot the some people of the 'correct race' u will kill the people, not the idea tht led them to mis-behave.. it's the idea we need to shoot the gun at, not the physicality..

but, also, at the same time, i firmly believe tht anger is good. people ve stopped boiling up these days and have stopped creating scenes. such burst outs help stem an issue before it blows up..
m extremely glad to have read wht u wrote.. Cheers!

Atul Sabnis said...

(apologies, off-topic)

Hello and thank you for dropping by my blog. I got "The Overcoat" in London. I believe it should be available in Crosswords. You could also try online at FirstAndSecond.

Just curious, why is Gaizabonts split in your blogroll and can I help you with the (?)?


By the way, the link here will lead you to my old blog, which is not active. But you can link to my Wordpress blog from there.

featherbone said...


ah heck. sorry if i overdid it. :)

i agree-killing people does no good if the idea is alive.

i constantly cringe, however, as the self righteous prattle that looks to the west/western media for examples of murderous violence; or looks at the dead, necessarily, as the victim.

i do not intend to trivialise death, or defend killing. we will find no solution, however, till we acknowledge the rage and helplesness of the bullied. and stop looking to the west for blame, or, for that matter, solution.

KK said...

i cant dismiss the effect violent games can have on your psyche as far as making u immune to feeling disgusted by it in reality, but i definitely dont agree with the transferring of blame in this regard.... its unfair to say that kids are killing others because of the violence they see..... were people saying this when john wayne and others were running around killing indians permanently on television?

in this particular case (it was not a school shooting like we've seen so much about, it was actually a well planned, individual murder) i dont think it had much to do with blurring the line between reality and virtual reality either.

In my opinion, they just didnt think about the consequences of their actions, and were given the opportunity to fulfill their immediate desire... maybe the violence of their desire was influenced by the the sensationalist way the media deals with violence, but they didnt do this for recognition either.

We have to stop placing the blame on everyone else except the two kids who killed someone in cold blood without thinkin about why, and their irresponsible parents who gave them access to do that.

Counseling and dealing with the specific situation they were confronted with, however, would have helped a great deal for sure. This happens in most cases when the kids have no one to go to for help, or when they've exhausted all other means of doing something along ordinary lines.
but until the extent of the 'bullying' is clarified, there is no real way to know if it was just an extreme over reaction, or something more justifiable

Basically people used to get beaten up and killed before as well, the over emphasis on media,violence and games generally tends to push attention from much much more serious issues such as responsible parenting, dealing with issues kids are facing, and of course, the fact that you cant really do much in way of prevention if someone is truly out to kill without any justification

PS really really sorry about the length of the comment, its probably longer than your post

The Tentacles of Thought said...

Gauri Congraaats ur article has come in mumbai mirror.....if u want i can upload its pic..(the media omitted the part where u wrote abt them)....amazin tho.......

Gauri Gharpure said...

where?? and when?? i dont know anything abt it!!! yes, please do send me the link, lord, m i surprised?!

K K said...

Hi Gauri!

Jus saw ur comments abt my blog 'Wot Da Heck'! Thanks 4 likin da poem...

N i don't allow comments on my blog. Da link u clicked was - 'forward post to a friend' link, wher u giv a friend's email n da post is forwarded by directly... Nothin 2 do with me!

Thanks anyway for visiting my blog n saying the nice thing! I'm reading ur blog now, it definitely is a very interesting one!

Fictitioustruth said...
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Fictitioustruth said...

I really spent some time thinking about your post.

On the face of it the horror of the act stupifies you and the natural reaction would be to blame it on the violent video games and the media.

I wish this was true because that would offer a simple solution to the problem - ban video games and ban showing violence in which ever form (possible or not possible is another matter).

Unfortunately the root cause lies somewhere else. If you look around we as a society are getting more intolerant which is due by our helplessness in front of assumed powerful forces. The only recourse that seems viable to us is some form of violence - be it raod rage or Nandigram (i doubt villagers there had exposure to any games) or even our daily interactions.

Violence is permeating in our way of thinking and our way of life. It has taken a form of solution - Kashmir, Afganisthan, Iraq, Bosnia. Our belief in the system is shattered.

The act by the 2 kids is nothing but reflection of a putrid society.

Let me give you a hypothetical situation - imagine a girl gets raped and she has access to a gun, would she go to the courts or kill the bastards.

Humilation in the end is a state of mind.

Why do you think we applaud movies like Rang De Basanti? Premise is based on our belief - this is the solution.

The act by the two innocent kids is a sign of times and they are innocent in more ways than one.

One last thought, as much as we might talk about it nothing will change and that's what I am a talker. Sitting in the gallery and passing vaccous comments.

Talking leads to some entertaining time for the spectators but the game still goes on.

I probably rambled too much but I would not change or correct it and post it as I thought.

Gauri Gharpure said...

yes fictionous truth,

tht the school shoot-out, or for tht matter, any other issue, cannot be summarised, reacted at or discussed in the length of few hundred words is absolutely true. I, while writing the post the first thing in the morning, wrote many disconnected things (from lack of due coverage online TOI epapaer, to video games to teaching) and when i pressed the publish button, i realised the issue is far too big than the reach of a blog post. And this ws confirmed thru the comments I got, which brought in the dimensions of parenting, anger, real vs. reel life,the need of positive news and lastly, yours abt how the issue cannot be blamed on mere video games..

The thing is, at least we have started some brain-wracking sitting on the armchairs. At least some nerves are getting exercised. Look at the range of topics we were urged to give a thought on. Rang De Basanti and such other mediums raise questions. They initiate the thinking process. We dare not be-litte ourselves by annoucing that we can 'just think or generate strong opinions and nothing else' believe me, a majority doesnt even care to give a thought beyond a fixed material circle of existence.

Once the thought is out, it will stay in the circle of existence. If you or I have our limitations, I am more than optimistic that some other person will have enough time and inclination to carry the message to its destination...

So, please keep thinking and keep writing down the thoughts... :)