JUSTICE – A SERVICE

‘Is being compassionate, wrong?’ – you ask

Does justice need to wear a mask?

Is begging for alms always deceptive?

Should you shut your eyes and be imperceptive?

 

Standing for justice,

Is never a task simple,

Road blocks and red lights,

Along the way are ample.

 

Should you dare to stop an unjust mob outrage,

Be willing to face their heightened enrage,

Should you decide to raise your voice for justice,

Be prepared for criticisms from your family and society.

 

With such a tight grip has injustice held,

The hands of one and all,

That ’tis hard to be dispelled,

By just a simple call.

 

How many slogans and protests,

Would it take for mankind to get rid of this pest?

Is the human conscience so dead that,

That justice seems to be such a far cry?

 

Justice against crime,

Seems to be coated with slime,

Is it not our duty prime,

To ensure justice sublime?

 

In a world where injustice looms large,

At every corner and every street,

Lets not mutely watch,

And our chests simply beat.

 

Rise up, aware one,

Speak up against injustice,

Take care to practise justice,

In doing so, you would render a noble service.

 

IS THE MOB JUSTICE JUSTIFIED?

Hello Everyone,

Recently I saw a news clipping which brought forth the news of a mentally ill woman lynched to death by village people on the basis of suspicion that she has kidnapped a child. I emphasize on the word “suspicion“.  There was no proof whatsoever.

This is not something out of the blue.  Such lynchings have become more or less a routine.  People get killed by the mob because of their eating preferences (read beef), their religious beliefs, their voice being voiced (example: a young auto driver killed because he asked two men not to urinate in public, Reference: Times of India news site).

Reason behind this brutality:  Being hurt!  Yes people get brutalised by people because the later set of crowd gets hurt, I mean  when their religious sentiment gets hurt they don the robe of anger;  when their ego gets hurt on being pointed out they let their emotion flow with the blood of innocents.  And suspicion plays a pivotal role in such atrocities. People are losing their confidence in the slow judicial system; patience is pedestal.  Under such circumstances a slightest streak of provocation leads to news headlines for the next day which says “Mob lynched…..”.

Saddening part is that the ire of mob vanishes without a trace when it actually matters.  When a girl gets molested or eve-teased or a defenseless is being troubled in full public glare no one bothers to raise a voice because everyone is worried about the fury of few preparators of the crime.  But they forget if few can be powerful then how much more power they collectively as a mob would have.  If suspicion can motivate a mob to kill someone then why not a mob be motivated enough to take a right decision to oppose something which is evidently wrong and something not based on suspicion or instigation. Note: opposing doesn’t mean killing here.

My question:  I understand very well how sentimental one can be when it comes to sensitive issues like religion especially in a country like India but agitation based on clueless accusations leading to brutality can leave a family devastated and sobbing for life.  What if there is a fallout of the very base of suspicion that led to the fury.  Can lives be given back?  And why no one is feared of law and order and thinks twice before taking it into own hands.   Is it the failure of governance that they are assured of the mob power.  How justified is it?

As my friend Kuljeet mentioned  two days ago in her article “Salad Bowl Folks!” we have many more issues to deal with  collectively rather than passing verdicts in a fit of rage under the disguise of “Mob”.

WITHHOLDING JUSTICE FROM CHILDREN

Karuna, a little girl who was brought to one of my colleague’s family as a help maid but was never treated as one. They have one daughter of their own and Karuna was treated as one of their daughters.  Whenever we visit their house, Karuna never calls us Babu/ Ma (Sir/Madam), but uncle and aunty as their daughter would do. The family presented Karuna in such a manner that we were compelled to treat her as their own daughter. Today Karuna is life of that family. She cooks amazing food stuffs and takes care of the whole family as an elder daughter. The interesting part is, Karuna never wants to go back to her own house, own village because she had madly fallen in love with the family that adopted her as their own child. As of now, they are looking a good match for her marriage.

Paro, was brought to my granny and aunt’s house as a help maid when she had nobody to look after her and was in utter poverty, without a house or food. My granny and aunt stay alone. When I visited them I saw this girl and quickly reacted by saying, “Why are you keeping a girl child as a maid?” My aunt retaliated by replying, “She was dying without food when I brought her and now she is happy and helping us. I am giving her education.” And when I observed her life in that house where I was brought up as well under my aunt’s supervision I felt contented. There’s a sense of pride I felt for my aunt and granny for their endeavour. She was treated as a daughter as well in that house. Her look changed as the day passed on. Now, she is in fourth standard, going to school and also helping at home. Sometimes Paro, corrects our granny and we all laugh listening to her innocent rebuking.

In both the cases these two children were not deprived of their childhood in anyway though they were not raised in their own houses. In fact, their conditions were improved by the family members with whom they stayed as helpers. They provided their services in the household and were treated as family members as well. They were never denied justice which they deserve as children unlike what child labor in truest sense does to the children.

The term “child labor” is often defined as the ‘work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.’ 

So what are the works that can be termed as Child Labor?

  1. The work that violates a nation’s minimum age laws
  2. The work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. The work that deprive them of the opportunity to attend school.
  3. The work that involves intolerable abuse, such as child slavery, child trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, or illicit activities.

Have we ever imagined what can be the stats of ‘Child Labor’ worldwide?

Of an estimated 215 child laborers around the globe: approximately 114 million (53%) are in Asia and the Pacific; 14 million (7%) live in Latin America; and 65 million (30%) live in sub-Saharan Africa.

If we look around we will find there are many children who are victims of this injustice called ‘Child Labor’ in your near vicinity. And the major reason behind this social evil is poverty. The Bible says,

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”

The parents of these victimized children would have definitely rejoiced when they received these gifts from God. But to maintain their family, they are forced into sending their children to labour or allowing them to work at this tender age. 

Apart from poverty the other reasons behind Child Labor are unemployment, inadequacy in law enforcement, limited access to free and compulsory education. 

Who’s going to consider these facts and figures to bring a solution? Who’s going to take the responsibilities of eradicating unemployment, illiteracy and inadequacy in law enforcement to ultimately provide justice to the gifts of God, ‘Children’?

NGOs like CRY, Nanhi Kali, Smile Foundation, CINI do an excellent job in standing against this social evil.

How about us? 

Look around you, look within your homes… Do you see anywhere injustice happening against children? Intervene, raise your voice against it and exercise the idea of justice for the ones that are unable to claim their rights.

Stay Blessed!

SALAD BOWL FOLKS!

Sakshi was pregnant with twins. She already had a son so she was hoping and praying for at least one of the twins to be a daughter. When her pregnancy was full term and in her last ultrasound she asked the doc to tell her the gender of her babies at least now. And the doctor admonished her “Do you want to have your delivery in jail.” For those who may not know here in India it’s illegal to tell the gender of the unborn child. The doctor and parents are both liable to go to jail.

Why? When this basic information is available to the parents in other countries and they get time to prepare for the coming baby why are parents in India deprived? The answer is simple. We as a society have been very unjust and very biased against the girl child.

Everyone wants a male heir. One who will take their family name forward. Female child is considered a burden, a liability. She is a child who has to be brought up and then married. She will then go to some other family and take her new family’s tree forward. She will not benefit the family she is born to. It’s true, even the so called educated middle class and rich class also have such a thought process. So what do they do about it? They abort a female child. Female foeticide and infanticide are more common in our society than we realise. And hence the law…

This kind of biased and crooked society really rankles me. I have had a discussion with a lot people on this topic. Once someone told me that I can be preachy on this topic as I have already been blessed with two sons. No point in explaining to that person that I would have been equally happy if I had two daughters also. I don’t understand. When we are all human beings, and belong to the same species why we are all not equal.

I think discrimination has been prevalent in mankind right from the start. All over the world we can see cases of discrimination against fellow human beings on basis of gender, religion, caste, colour of skin etc. If we take a look at the history of mankind many atrocities have been committed against other humans based only on some whimsical difference in looks or beliefs.

This Injustice has been carried on for far too long. We have to get rid of our prejudices and bring in a beautiful world. There are so many other pressing matters that we need to concentrate on. I mean take global warming or pollution or floods, earthquakes or wildlife Extinction or deforestation or so many other issues. When the existence of the whole world is at stake what does it matter whether the person next to you is a black or a white or a brown, a girl or a boy, a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian.

My request to you all would be don’t judge a person by his or her looks or beliefs. Be just. If we treat everyone with equal love and respect, we will at least take the first step towards forming a just society.

Jane Elliot the educator and anti-racism activist has put it very beautifully.

“We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumber, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”

BE ‘JUST’ WITH LOVE

A couple of days back, a colleague of mine fell victim to a purse-snatcher. She lost her mobile phone, tab, internet dongle, wallet with a lot of money and some other things – all of which were in her handbag. Her handbag was grabbed by bikers while she was returning from work in an auto rickshaw in the afternoon. Shaken by the incident, she approached the nearest Police Station to lodge an FIR. To her utter dismay, the police personnel hardly bothered and she was made to wait for a long time for no good reason before she approached them and requested them to lodge the complaint soon as she had to return home to her little child. Finally, a complaint was lodged and she was told that this was not the complete FIR and that some other details would be taken in the coming days, before the FIR was formally lodged. As she narrated the incident, she made the statement, “I don’t expect any justice from this system.”

A friend of mine who is currently pursuing Ph.D from a University in North India shared several stories of how upper caste male professors sexually exploited the lower caste female researchers who were pursuing their Ph.D under them. Is this just?

In many Indian homes, the boy child gets to study in an English medium private school, whereas the girl child has to be satisfied with being educated in a vernacular language government school. The boy child gets a major share in the goodies, whereas the girl child has to be satisfied with the crumbs. I heard a lady say a few years back that her brother (who was the youngest among the siblings) was given non-vegetarian food everyday – at least an egg, while the two elder sisters were contented with vegetarian food. The sisters didn’t mind it at all, as it had been ingrained in their minds that a boy ought to have better nourishment than girls! Is this just?

As we look around and see injustice in various forms, the question that arises is – “Where is justice?” The idea of justice has been badly mutilated by prejudices, preconceived notions, stereotypes, cultural biases, parochialism and a lackadaisical attitude not only by those in power but also by the common man. And no, it is not always the poor who are at the receiving end of injustice, but those with the ‘means’ and the ‘contacts’ also face injustice in various forms.

It makes one squirm in helplessness to see outrageous atrocities being perpetrated in the name of religion, caste, race, ethnicity and gender. Is it a sin to belong to a particular religion? Is it a sin to belong to the lower caste? Is it a sin to belong to a particular race or ethnicity? Is it a sin to be born a female? The so-called makers and guardians of justice quote religious scriptures and ancient legendary accounts to justify their acts of horrendous injustice without any guilt or regret?

Lives are lost. Families are broken. Society is in utter chaos. There is hatred spreading everywhere. Emotions are converted into numbness. Who cares? Ideology, honour, prestige, selfish interests gain predominance over and above all other things. Those with might, think that they are right.

Are stricter legal reforms, the answer to the prevailing injustice? Would sentencing the perpetrators to jail, put an end to various forms of injustice?

Hardly!

What is needed is ‘awareness’. Awareness that all human beings have been created in the image of God – irrespective of race, colour, gender, religion, caste or creed. Believe for a moment that the colleague sitting next to you, your domestic help, the vegetable vendor, that neighbour from another religion/caste/race have all been created in the likeness and image of the Almighty God. Would you still dare to be unjust towards them?

The diversity among human beings ought to be a reason for celebration and not discrimination and injustice. Have you ever pondered over the fact that the billions of people on the face of this earth are so unique? All normal human beings have a pair of eyes, ears, hands, legs, a nose and a mouth – yet each person looks and behaves so different from the other. Isn’t it amazing? The differences among us give us the opportunity to marvel at the creative potential of the Creator God. When that is learnt all is learnt!

Knowing well that some of his handmade human beings are perpetrators of injustice, God still deals with them with love – so that they would turn from their unjust ways. He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’. It’s a mystery to fathom the love of God, but a necessary realization to abhor injustice. God is patient and kind to all now, but won’t remain so forever.

Every unrepentant injustice will be brought to just judgement. If you have been a victim of injustice and there seems to be no hope for you to get justice while on earth, remember GOD IS JUST. His justice is not always meted at our time and in our way. But, always comes to pass – without fail. If you have been the perpetrator of injustice in any form, small or big – whether in your family or on a larger scale, it is a humble plea to repent and turn back on your ways before God deals with you with a heavy hand.

Let the numerous sagas of injustice turn into remarkable examples of justice!

HAVING THE RIGHT APPROACH ALONG WITH PATIENCE WOULD LEAD TO JUSTICE

My husband expired two years ago. I was 5 months pregnant when he met with an accident. My in-laws never allowed me to even meet my parents during pregnancy, I delivered a baby boy. I am not allowed to see him, I want my son” said Dipali with tears rolling down her eyes….

Dipali works as a teacher in the government school, her in-laws don’t seem to agree that Dipali has a right to have the child or live along with them. Listening to this Natasha grew angry, without out much of a control on herself she said “Aren’t you educated? Why didn’t you approach police to lodge a compliant against them?”. I had to hold her hand to calm her down before she says something that may deeply hurt Dipali …

It was heart wrenching to hear to her problem, I was lost in thoughts. Natasha suddenly stopped the car, asked me if I wanted to have a coffee. I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk to her before we return, I nodded my head in agreement.

Natasha is my co-volunteer in the volunteer group I work for. She is a writer by profession. We went to meet Dipali based on a concern she raised with our volunteer organisation. She needed help in understanding the judiciary system, how to seek for good lawyers, how long does it take etc before she could progress with the legal formalities.

As we were waiting for our coffees, I asked Natasha about her new book. With a happy tone, she said, “over hundred copies are sold, people seem to have liked it”. 

Cool dear, good to know… A book is never judged by it’s cover. It is immaterial how many people looked at it, what is important is how many people read it, liked it, could relate to it. You cannot judge another person by what she is told you, try to relate to her and the problem. Have little patience when you hear about other’s problems, because what we have got to know today is an introduction, as we dwell more on the issue, lot of bitter truth’s would surface” Being a writer, Natasha easily understood what I was talking about…

Dipali would have also shared her story to many people, already many would have judged her, called her by names. She might have sought help in various ways before she turned to us. Many would have suggested her not to go against her in-laws in the court. As a mother, she is emotionally affected as she is not allowed to see her son, talk to him, see him growing. This has resulted in a lot of frustration in her and may have led to an increased fear of losing her son…

There is a problem before us, we have an option to do two things about it, acknowledge there is a problem, act on it or forget it. Unfortunately, there are many people who debate whether to even acknowledge or not. Depending on the country, province, type of problem, situations around it, magnitude of the problem, justice takes various forms. The definition itself changes at times, but it is very important to act, because it is only actions that can bring a change. 

What Natasha was not aware of was a simple fact, even if Dipali would have approached police, it is rarity that police would file an FIR. Police have their own reasons to not file an FIR and when we listen to them, that as well sounds reasonable at times because, there are people who want to use the judiciary system for the hideous benefits.  

Laws have been made many years ago, underwent reforms many times but there is still injustice that exists. On top it, protectors of law have become perpetrators. Common man is struggling because of all these. We crib, we complain, we give up, but if we give it a thought there is always our little bit that we can do.

Dipali needed a lawyer who does not charge her a hefty fees for the case. We approached many lawyers, finally got to know about a group who handle cases for a nominal fee. Dipali could afford the money he charged, her first concern is addressed. We cannot trust every lawyer, there are bad lawyers too, be cautious.

Second, the process of dealing with courts is very stressful. It looks simple from outside, but facing the court, handling the questions of lawyers, the documentation process, all of it takes a lot of time and energy. Often one has to roam around many government organisations to get relevant proofs to be submitted to court. One of our volunteers would be with Dipali when she needs help. 

The case is still pending in the court… It may take few more months before Dipali can get custody of her son, hopefully.  She is financially independent, hence the courts would consider this aspect as the strong point.

When you come across a problem, don’t just react. Identify the issue, understand the deeper details, possible causes, ripple effects, list down probable solutions. Weigh each solution against the other, select the appropriate option, act on it. Be the helping hand to the victim. Justice is hard to attain but not impossible.

The road to justice is rough, expect delays, disappointments, be prepared with your contingency plans. We may not be the pioneer of change, but can be a part of it… There is light on the other end of the tunnel, we may not be able to see it now, but when it does it gives us ultimate satisfaction to have spent our energy on the problem.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

-Haile Selassie

THE MISSING GAP IN THE IDEA OF JUSTICE

Justice is the utmost need for the survival of anything. There was a need of justice in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned and there will also be the need of justice when every human being will face the throne of God after death. On the D.O.B. man pleads for justice to get his identity and on the D.O.D. man also pleads for justice to pass-on his heritage. We need justice in the courts, we need justice in families, we need justice on football grounds, we even need justice to buy a candy from a candy-store – we need justice everywhere!

But WHAT does JUSTICE Mean?

By definition justice is, ‘the quality of being just, impartial, or fair; the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action, the conformity to the principle or ideal’.

A couple of week back I went to the New Market (in Kolkata). While on my way back I saw a 8-10 year old, dark-complexioned  lanky boy sitting on the roadside and a boy, a little younger to him lying on his lap like a dead body. Flies were sitting on his face and the elder one was bitterly crying for money. This scene really broke my heart and without thinking anything, I just gave him some money. As I walked ahead I started questioning God, “Why are you so unjust? How can you allow a small child to face such a horrible situation so early in his life?” Within a few minutes I saw another boy in the same condition in front of Esplanade metro station. Suddenly I saw something that you can never imagine. I literally raged in anger and broke the spell of my previous emotional state. As the afternoon sunlight fell on the eyes of the boy lying down, he started blinking his eyelids and then the other boy slapped his forehead. So the boy who was acting like a dead person stopped blinking eyes!

Is being compassionate a mistake?

As I discussed on it in a WhatsApp group, some of my friends said, “Avinash, you might have forgotten that this is a Global Business of emotion”, some said “you need to think twice before you give them money”, some said, “don’t judge, let God do the justice” and so on . . . 

Yes…all such statements are true. But how can I judge someone, when my support is not even worth more than an Ice-Cream to him? Or is being compassionate giving a hand to a well-organized crime?

Though we demand for a “just society” every now and then, Who really can afford us that Society?

Recently I shared the video clip of Bryan Stevenson from his Facebook Page Mr. Bryan Stevenson is the executive director for Equal Justice Initiative, U.S. He is a middle-aged black American. For a hearing in Mid West, in due uniform, he went to the courtroom early and sat down on the Defense Counsel’s table. As the judge walk into the room, he said to Mr. Bryan, ‘hey … get out there and sit in the hall there, I don’t want any defender without the lawyer’. So, Mr. Bryan introduced himself as the lawyer. Then the judge and everyone in that court-room laughed just to sugar-coat the incident’. But the question is, ‘Is this a right conduct?

When the judge himself goes impartial/unjust/unfair because of the skin-color, then whom shall we call a ‘just person’?

The world has come to such a horrible situation, where Law-Makers – Law-Givers – Law-Protectors have become perpetrators of law. Yes… I can list few names of the institutions where the degree of becoming a Lawyer (L.L.B.) is sold at a handsome price! Whether you want Birth certificate or Pension certificate, you have to bribe the officials. Even when you want to register a F.I.R., they will ask you money.

I remember when I was doing my graduation, I and my friend went to register a F.I.R. for the loss of my friend’s life-insurance bond. But our F.I.R. was not registered for two days, as the police saw that we did not show any interest to bribe them. Finally, on the third day, the lady police officer who was to register our F.I.R. asked us to bring Carbon-Paper. And she was such a shameless officer that she asked me, ‘Have you brought only ONE carbon-paper! Was there no more in the shop?’ I replied, ‘sorry Ma’am I have no money!’ I think she was expecting me to bring her a box of carbon-papers! How shameless have we become that we are not even hesitating to brandish our shame!

We have appointed school drop-outs and goons to safeguard our Laws and we think we will get justice!

But HOW?

A person who steals beef will be imprisoned for five years and for sexual harassment only two years imprisonment! I think beef matters more than human beings to some people today! So, where is Justice?

Gandhiji rightly said, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”. And Nelson Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”.  I think we are some where MISSING the GAP!

It’s time to think – to fill the gap – to draw the sacred line of justice and get a just society!

In Bible God says, “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.”

Keep thinking – keep pondering…

Avinash