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.