Time for serious introspection


We have to come to look at our planet as a resource for our species, which is funny when you think that the planet has been around for about five billion years, and Homo sapiens for perhaps one hundred thousand. But what we are witnessing is human species killing/destroying another human species for their own survival and selfish ends, argues Manali Chowdhury.

An evolutionary perspective of our place in the history of the earth reminds us that Homo sapiens have occupied the planet for the tiniest fraction of that planet’s 4500 million years of existence. Ideally, their advent should have been a trigger point for the development of countless other species, but has the planet actually benefited? The answer is a resounding “No”. The earth today stands ravaged with no end to human greed. Species are endangered, annihilated with economic tumult resulting from more factors than one.

It is strange that in a country where validated currency can be invalidated by demonetisation, we cannot amend laws to ensure the safety and well being of Homo sapiens. It is perplexing that the nation still grapples with adequate and strong laws as a deterrent against rapes. As per 2017 data, 90 rapes were reported but the outrage was just about a whimper with the possible exception of the Nirbhaya case even where it took the government seven long years to serve justice. It is a telling commentary that in these seven years, 226800 rapes happened and the perpetrators of the crime still elusive from the arms of law.

The dynamics of this heinous crime has changes over the years. Even as the government fights shy of announcing capital punishment for rape, juveniles – these days found capable of committing adult crimes – are sent to correction homes. When cases drag on for years, not only people’s faith in the cause of justice is shaken, there is also the societal fabric that remains torn asunder. Isn’t there a quicker and effective way to mete out justice to the wronged?

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way we perceive the equation between a cultured society and the administration of justice. Consumption of tobacco, for instance! It kills more than 10 million every year in India. More than 13.3% youth below the age of 15 are affected due to tobacco consumption. Despite leading it to the second biggest cause resulting to deaths, its production isn’t banned. A statutory warning “Smoking kills” on the cover of a cigarette packet makes little sense and impact to the huge population. Why can’t it be banned and factories shut completely?

Prostitution is perhaps the oldest of the human vices. It is frowned upon although it is a stark symbol of male patriarchy. It is a hypocritical irony that there is no thought for the dignity of a woman when it is the males who look upon women as objects of their sexual desire. Ditto for pornography which is portrayed blatantly in films now!

The ostensible purpose behind feminism took roots in the early 70s was to ensure gender equality but it took a completely different hue to be perceived as a modern-day concept, repugnant to the essence of the subject. If wearing scanty clothes symbolises feminism, it also needs to be understood that such a woman becomes vulnerable in a society that is so pre-disposed towards male superiority. Time to redefine modernity across all walks of life including racism, casteism, religious bias, gender discrimination and a plethora of other social evils!

Animal cruelty is a serious issue to which we seem to have blinded ourselves. The laws relating to protection of animals are a farce. Imagine being fined Rs 50 if you run over a stray because of reckless driving! We kill dogs in the fear they will outnumber us one day. Aren’t we flooded with Homo sapiens that have brought earth to a considerable harm? Animals are killed to satiate human hunger, make cosmetics, and derive sadistic pleasure like sacrifices on the one hand and are unethically bred on the other. Foreign breeds are promoted at the expense of the Indian breeds. Status symbol is the yardstick.

Manali with a stray

Look at the way pedigreed dogs are bred and later left to fend for themselves at the hands of the callous. The Indian breeds have few takers and it is of little consolation that there are but a few good souls who are working for the welfare of animals. The question is, is that enough? Indians have always rejected what is essentially Indian. It is time for us that we must eschew all those things that in the longer run will only jeopardize human existence. The list is long. In many ways we are a biological accident, the product of countless propitious circumstances. As we peer back through the fossil record, through layer upon layer of long-extinct species, many of which thrived far longer than the human species is ever likely to do, we are reminded of our mortality as a species. There is no law that declares the human animal to be different, as seen in this broad biological perspective, from any other animal. There is no law that declares the human species to be immortal.

Manali Chowdhury

Manali Chowdhury teaches English at a CBSE School, Jamshedpur. She is an animal and social welfare activist who participates in social campaigns. She also writes poems and scripts plays.