I cannot shake off the image of the molestation shown on TV recently where two men on a scooter in Bangalore were seen catching hold of a women who was walking home at night and violating her whilst onlookers stood and watched this brutal attack passively. How soon the the bubble of innocence bursts as perversity and criminality packaged in the most horrific acts of violence invade the spaces of our existence, leaving too many people humiliated and stripped of their hopes and dreams of experiencing life through the engagement of compassion and human empathy.
The blame-game seems never ending when atrocities committed upon women and human rights violations occur in India. Governmental agencies and civil society pass the buck conveniently to one another, whist educational institutions shirk their responsibility to teach our youth the basic norms of gender politics, equality and societal behaviour pertaining to values of dignity and respect for all.
Today the perpetration of violence into our daily lives is horrifying. The violence of the ever-growing gun culture is chilling to see around the world as the new prevailing currency that finds voice for vendettas and personal frustrations. Acid attacks and sex as a weapon of rage and torture against women has become sadly too common place in our back yards; and with every passing day I fear we become less inclined to seek long-term solutions that aren't about pandering to vote bank politics or merely becoming the lip service of partisan groups with self serving agendas. We lack the will as a nation to examine the systemic failures that need to be corrected if progress on these issues are to see the light of day.
We learn about the history of cultures and the evolution of societies where advancement and enlightenment are showcased within these narratives; yet we do not seem to know how to be influenced by these areas of refinement. I recently spent a month in Spain looking at the most beautiful collections of art in museums that chronicled the life and times of differing cultures, political periods and human predicaments - where human expression brought the voices of the world to whisper similar secrets and ideational views about life as we live it; in which in no area of despair or violence was celebrated but where instead truth to understand realities were explored in multiple ways. That thousands of people come to view these works of art to establish personal discourses for themselves where they make their connections with a larger ancestry of belonging, makes one realise how powerful communication can be if we so wish it to be.
Just the other day as I was walking our new pet Miss Lily on the back road of our home and I was horrified to see a bunch of ever-so-cute boys ( varying from the ages of 5 to 13), grouping together to jeer at a young 11 year old girl who was riding her bicycle. When I stopped her to ask her what this was about, she told me it was a regular occurrence just to harass her! I immediately rounded up the boys and told them how shameful their behaviour was. The sad part was that they appeared to be merely imitating a wider network of behaviour that they had been witness to and were truly contrite when I explained how violent their action was.
I grew up with my parents insisting that communication at every opportunity must be encouraged. Meal time in particular was when discussions took place. And spaces of instruction were offered through anecdotes and stories about our life and experiences. I remain ever grateful to this because it instilled within me that moral responsibility to be involved and alert as an individual. There was no topic that was taboo and no room for evasiveness ever tolerated. We were encourage to develop a rationality and made to comprehend that sentiment should never cloud objective appraisals.
The Collective Studio Baroda has nurtured so many young artists over the last three decades and the rule of thumb has always been that self accountability must be what guides our perceptions of the world. Rigorous discourses originate around our dining table at Sauparnika as we reflect upon current affairs each day; and the questions we pose to ourselves and to one another during these discussions stems from our wish to examine our political views with strict accountability at all times where no apathy will be excused.
As I watch my little grandson revel in the delight of the love and protection he receives within the family, I despair at the knowledge that as he grows he will be forced to encounter the disappointment of life revealing itself with all these horrors of pain and atrocity that we inflict upon ourselves. Today he believes in the enchantment that love begets love, and nothing else. How dearly I wish I could hold that simple equation as a life long scenario for him, forever….