Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Friday, July 16, 2010

When will we ever learn

The police could not find out the unknown hand that embossed the initials on my wife's car (picture)but the incident has made me think about it in the larger perspective. The psyche behind destroying someone’s material possessions and defacing national monuments remains the same.
There could be several causes for these acts of vandalism but one thing is for sure that these vandals do it consciously and cautiously so that they are not caught while they are at it.  I feel ashamed that I cannot even think of a single piece of architecture in my country, especially the heritage sites -that has not been ravaged by our very own people.
Sometimes these acts have drawn sharp criticism from people of other countries, my guests, who I accompany sometimes to show around tourist sites. I myself have been to more than 50 countries and never did I see such shameless acts of vandalism on national monuments.
Is this an Indian trait- a unique one at that I wonder? Why is it that people engaged in the act are not just the “illiterate” or “economically backward” but the “educated” and what may be termed as “privileged”? I remember an “educated” acquaintance of mine once boasting that he had inscribed his name along with the name of a girl he was dating at that time on a wall in the Taj Mahal. I was aghast and tried to make him realize that this act was hardly a way to profess his love and that it was a crime to deface this architectural wonder - a matter of pride for all the Indians. Although this was several years ago I could not forget this. It is another matter that this acquaintance of mine happens to be married to another woman and today belongs to the upper echelons of the society. I wonder what his views are now. Has he thought of immortalising his marital relationship by scribbling on the walls of pyramids or a corner of the Eiffel Tower
The very basis of such an act stems from an utter disregard for another’s property.  One derives such a perverse pleasure committing the act that he will go to any length to rationalise this. Walls in India are considered to be public property -so one is not surprised to find freshly painted walls covered with political graffiti or abstract art created by the ubiquitous paan masala
The fact that India’s literacy rate is 66 per cent has very little to do with the education in the real sense of the term. A country of paradoxes - that is what India is. For every Amartya Sen you will find one who would exterminate a woman in the name of “honour killing”, if there is a Brahmos that is fired there is also a child who dies below the age of five.  Metros are the lifeline for speedy connectivity in a metropolis but we still cannot do away with a man-pulled rickshaw or a bullock cart. There is not much difference between a rape, a murder in the name of protecting the family, beheading statues, defacing monuments, spitting paan, defacing on walls ….. or coming back to where I began, scratching on someone’s new car. And the vandals are not some poor illiterate kids but educated, modern and sometimes “successful” among the homo sapiens species who love trespassing.
ess bee

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