Atanu Dey On India's Development

Let’s Weep for a Morally Adrift Society

| 5 Comments

A society that has lost its sense of proportion and a sense of justice is doomed. This should make us weep out of frustration and compassion for the unfortunates who are caught in the whirlpool of injustice. It makes me sick to my stomach to even write about this.

If there is one story that clearly illustrates what is fundamentally wrong with India is has to be the one reported recently.

This is the story of a poor postman Umakant Mishra. He was working at Harjinder Nagar Post office in Kanpur in the 1980s. On July 13, 1984 a case of pocketing a money order for Rs 57.60 registered against him and he was suspended from the job.

He not only lost his livelihood, but also his self respect and honor. With no money and support, he had to attend almost 350 court hearings in the last 29 years.

Think about what all this entails. It took nearly thirty years and 350 hearings for the courts to exonerate the man falsely accused of a minor theft. He was punished so severely that it is hard to contemplate how he can be reasonably compensated. At the same time, public corruption amounting to lakhs of crores of rupees are routinely reported in the popular press and the guilty continue to be in positions of immense power and influence.

The case of the poor postman reminds me of another case I had read about over nine years ago. This is what I wrote in a blog post, India’s Real Criminals, back in September 2004:

July 6th, 1988 will be long remembered as that infamous day when Daya Nand of Narnaul attempted to subvert the fundamental functioning of our way of life. On that day, forever to be recalled as 6/7/88, a crime was committed that engaged the attention of a trial court, then moved to the High Court, and finally ended up in the Supreme Court of India where the Hon’ble Justices heard the evidence, debated the issue with extreme gravity, spent days on end balancing the interests of the society and the rights of the accused, pondered long and hard and eventually delivered a verdict that forever assured the triumph of good over evil, of order over chaos, of right over wrong, of satya over asatya, of light over darkness, of immortality over death, of knowledge over ignorance…

For the record, the bench of the Supreme Court of the Republic of India which passed this momentous judgement comprised of Justices Hegde, Sinha and Mathur. The punishment: Six months in prison and Rs 1000 fine. The crime as report by PTI: Daya Nand of Narnaul had diluted 20 litres of milk with water. He was caught by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer who took 750 ml of the sample and sent it to Public Analyst. “The Analyst in his detailed report found the sample to be deficient in milk solid to the extent of five percent of the prescribed minimum standard and also to be deficient in solid fat as required by law.”

The trial court sentenced Daya Nand leniently considering that he had three small children to support and had no previous criminal record. The High Court overturned that decision but finally it reached the Supreme Court which upheld the trial court’s decision.

Moral of the story: Commit a petty crime and be prepared to be hounded by the implacable power of the entire state machinery; commit a crime that is almost impossible to comprehend in its enormity, and be hailed as a visionary leader with impeccable honesty and integrity.

A society in which the innocent are punished by the state and the supremely guilty are not only not punished but actually rewarded with political power has clearly lost its moorings and is morally and ethically adrift. There is something wrong when this happens and what is worse that people are apparently unmoved by such injustice. Where is the society’s sense of fairness, of justice? Where is the outrage?

  • acrutiapps

    Details of the mentioned cases might appear like a trivia but in reality it shows how the state machinery acts with the strongest possible against those who can not hit back.

    Consider corrupt politicians, gun wielding naxalites, terrorists and kashmiri separatists. These people generally get treated as state guests.

    I have no evidence for my claim but it is only matter of time before the society actually evolves to internalize this fact and starts acting in a similar fashion. It is already happening. You want electricity to you village ? Block a national highway and the government is forced to do so.

    Our politicians and judicial system reminds of of Shataranj Ke Khiladi, a movie by Satyajit Ray where the king would rather spend his time defending his kinghts and rooks on the board than standing up to the the threats to his states very existence.

  • VirtualPresence

    The age of simplistic and “naked” crimes is over, for the most part, as more and more people are becoming aware and educated. This is the evolution of criminals where they have to “polish” their motives and cover their paths in such devious ways that a black and white guilty verdict is impossible to achieve with any amount of evidence.

    During the watergate scandal the motto was “Follow the money”, today we have layers and layers of shell companies and subsidiaries to obfuscate the money trail. Such workaround tactics are plentiful esp. in the finance sector.

    If all else fails, you always have the option of creating a “special interest group/NGO/me-too-committee” and lobby your way into legalizing the acts, retroactively even.

    IMHO the moral is that now there is a higher barrier for entry into the legally-ok morally-despicable club.

  • αиυp K иαiя

    The male offsprings of the females of the canines who occupy the highest offices in India’s judiciary system need to flogged till they have passed on; no matter how honourable their titles sound!

  • Google

    Atanu ji,I am an ardent follower of your writings and thoughts but how does weeping help ? Is that what Gita says,stay resigned to injustice and worse ?

    • Atanu_Dey

      It is a figure of speech. The suggestion is not that one should curl up in the corner and start weeping copiously. The idea is that one should be moved so much that one gets up and does take up a struggle against the injustice.