The voices that shouted out from the roof tops have fallen eerily silent, the drums that were beaten to death gone into hiding. The tears that flowed relentlessly have dried up and life goes on. Like the perpetrators, the terms also seem to change according to class , from brutal rape to sexual assault to molestation to error in judgement and finally simmering itself down to a consensual act.
Mr. Tajpal has been beaten to death and risen to glory by his foes and friends and I do not want go into the details here. The girl’s letter had enough gore in there. Facts and counter facts take their turn, trying to get print and virtual space. My worry is a little more fundamental. Here you have a so called intellectual, a purported crusader against injustice, who will go to any lengths to bring out the real story, and he is caught with his tail or whatever else down, in a crime that is too shameless to even speak about. What makes him so brazen? And what does the incident and the subsequent hue and cry, or rather the lack of it, tell of us as a society?
A few months ago, we had ‘the other’ Murthy facing the firing squad for the second known time. These men are no novices and folly of youth is no umbrella under which they can take cover. Both are stalwarts in their respective areas of professional expertise, at the helm of affairs in their organizations. Spouses who are well educated and successful in their own right and grown up kids to go back to end of their long days, in an ideal world theirs should be pictures of the classic perfect, happy families. But, the lure of the proverbial apples on the neighboring trees seem to be too strong to resist, in both cases.
Allegations and counter allegations are being volleyed up and down at breakneck speed and I would not want to mull over that here. One thought that refuses to let go and is nagging me day in and night out is, here are two head honchos, who have no qualms about cheating on their family, giving two hoots about their feelings. If they have no second thoughts in their personal life, what about the organizations and the lives of hundreds who work for these organizations? We have the answer unfolding right in front of our eyes, the obvious, arrogant manner in which ‘Tehelka’ is flouting all that they supposedly stood for.
The defensive silence in the first few days was telling. When the culprits are someone whom no one knows about and are those who cannot harm anyone, the furor is deafening. The social media zealots were uncharacteristically mute last week. What were they scared of? Or was it that such an incident was beneath them, after all in high and mighty places this is the norm? What skeletons were they afraid would tumble out of their own or their friend’s cupboards? The comments, if at all there were any , were mild and meek compared to the vitriolic ones in the Delhi and Mumbai cases. The slithering silence that shrouds the powerful ones in a protective sheath is more deafening than the loudest of voices. The icons of social causes have retreated to their holes, their true colors shining through irrespective. This telling silence scares me, much more than the act.
In his book ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded‘ Thomas Friedman talks about what caused the ‘Great Recession‘
“…was caused in part by a broad-based breakdown in ethics by key players…… It was not the illicit behavior that caused the Great Recession. It was all the stuff going on in plain sight by people who should have known better but suspended their beliefs and values and norms and skepticism to get in on the party.”
Yes, that is exactly what is happening , stuff everyone knows is happening around. The suggestive phone calls that a young widow receives from her boss, the lewd messages that keeps on beeping on the phone of a girl whose only crime is she is good looking, the shoulders that brushes against your chest in an ‘absent minded’ manner, the made up late night meetings, the good natured ‘banter’ that are more overt than covert in their sexual flavor…. the norm in most of the ‘professional’ organizations. You want to grow? Better gel in. There is no male or female divide, as one Ms. Chaudhry has shown us. It is all about power and who is the most powerful. You dare not touch them, lest you are burnt and lacerated. Those on the periphery, watching silently, longing to get in and party along.
Yet, all is not lost. A young girl , at the beginning of her career, who refuses to let go of the principles that her organization taught her, but failed to stand up for…. three young men, who stood by her relentlessly…. a group of young girls who threw away their jobs in support…..an Arundhati Roy…..a Nandita Das …..who voice their opinion fearlessly in a world of incidental intellectuals …. spunky men of value who is not ashamed to call one of their own by the names that they deserve….
They are our hope, the rays that shine through..
Long live their clan and may we raise more of them!
picture courtesy – metstoday.com