Are we progressing or regressing as a society?

With rape cases and mob lynching incidents increasing in India, we have a long way to go before we can call ourselves a developing nation.

Are we progressing or regressing as a society?

Man is considered the most intelligent amongst all animals. Hence, human beings are not only superior but also civilised, and civilisation has seen a stark evolution over many decades now for us to stand where we are today. How we perceive ‘today’ and being ‘civilised’ is very subjective.

Looking around in our very own vicinity - with the crime cases growing at an exponential rate, our immediate environment compromised for selfish motives, spoilt habits and unnecessarily luxurious lifestyle, also living with societal prejudices about gender, religion, and caste - are we really as civilised as we think we are? I suppose, not. 

But let alone the world, let’s start with our very own nation. India is by far the fastest developing nation across the globe. But besides the reputation that it holds and the statistics we flaunt, are we really moving forward or is it that we’re regressing back in time? From the controversy around films like Padmavat and violent protests to mob lynching incidents and politicising religion, India proves to be dwelling in the periphery of age old prejudices, with the Government proclaiming the country to be evolving. But, are we really? 

Here are some reasons which prove that we are becoming worse than animals. Being ape-like would be an understatement for the society which is just deteriorating day after the other. 

Uncivilised public behaviour over unnecessary beliefs and prejudices

The year 2018 witnessed a major controversy around the film Padmavat, where the whole Bollywood industry got talking and debating about whether the film harms the reputation of Rani Padmavati and tampers with history. Karni Sena went a step ahead, rioting on the streets, stone pelting away on school buses, protesting and creating a ruckus on the roads. And this is just one of the few incidents where people are out on the streets and going rogue with their demands. Another similar case was the Bhima-Koregaon violence. 

Protesting and rioting has now become a trend but is this how we make use of the freedom of speech and the need to express ourselves? Getting more animal-like every day, we are most unlikely to be on the path to evolution and are rather going backward becoming more ape-like and ruthless day by day. And even if we talk about the peaceful protests where farmers prefer a silent march to be heard, the very need to do so is extremely saddening. 

On the other hand, as a country have cows become more important than human lives? While some believe so, it is evident that we tend to be left with no conscience as a nation. According to a Reuters report in 2017, a total of 28 indians (24 of whom were Muslims) have been killed and 124 injured since 2010 in cow-related violence. However, 2018 has seen this issue just getting worse where a cop was brutally butchered by an angry mob.

Innumerable such incidents have caught our attention in the last year and we say that we are progressing as a nation. 

Gender biases and safety issues for women

As humans, we are ideally all equal as any living being existing on the earth. With our basic necessity to breathe, eat, survive and co-create, we are all different but have equal rights to live a peaceful life. However, we differ in our ideologies, where women are seen as the inferior gender.

As a society, we talk about equality for women and gender neutrality and pass laws against Triple Talaq, Rape, Adultery and the likes but why is marital rape still legal in the country?

Why are divorced women in society still looked down upon? Why is it so difficult for the single mothers to survive in such a society? Why is dowry still prevalent? Why have rape cases in the country gone up? Why is there an ongoing debate on women entering temples during their menstrual cycle? Why is the length of any fabric on a woman’s body the measure of her character, as claimed by a few political leaders in the past? Why is rape considered so trivial?

Our finance minister went a step ahead once and said, “One small incident of rape in Delhi advertised world over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of global tourism.” He made this statement in 2014 while addressing a conference of state tourism ministers.

Is this the level to which we can actually stoop down? And with the people running the country making statements such as these, where exactly are we heading?

But let alone women, people with different sexual orientation find it extremely difficult to survive in a society divided between pink and blue. Why is it that someone’s choice of living a certain way is pinching others? We do have the law supporting the LGBTQ community now, but are transgenders and gays not ridiculed in the society anymore? Well, they certainly are!

‘Chakka’ and ‘Hijra’ are terms still used also to abuse and demean someone.

Why are we so concerned about their sexual lives? Can’t we simply mind our own business?

Child abuse

In the society that we live in, children are raped, trafficked and exploited. India leads with the maximum number of cases on child sexual abuse in the world. And yet we call ourselves developing. 

The Kathua and Surat rape cases in 2018 left everyone in a state of shock. Even a minor or an infant in India is not safe in the hands of the society we live in. Is this what we call development?

We are growing into savages day by day. According to a BBC report, a total of 106,958 cases of crimes against children were recorded in 2016, of which 36,022 cases were recorded under Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.

But child exploitation doesn’t end there. Children in our country are still married off, with little girls often falling prey to the system of child marriage. Female genital stimulation is still practiced in many regions in India. Child labour is something we just can’t seem to do away with. After all, many of us have house help who are of the age where they can go and attain valuable education. But circumstances and the Government aids are brilliant to support these children in crushing big dreams. Even if we talk of education for them, we all are well aware of the condition of the Government schools in India. And we say we’re developing?

Spoiling our immediate surroundings for a comfortable lifestyle

The first men on earth were the most connected to the nature, as that was the best they ever knew. But humans are surely intelligent to find ways to civilise and survive as a community, communicating and finding ways to make life simpler. But the thirst to evolve is intrinsically a part of human nature. As our brains developed, so did our habits. Hence, humans very rightfully earned the reputation of being the most civilised of all animals.

But after centuries of evolving and developing, greed took a beast-like demeanour. We became savages hungry for space, for food, and all the possible natural resources to support the way we were growing in numbers. And here we are, quite comfortable with all the inventions and all the luxury in the world, and ready to go to any extent to make life furthermore comfortable, with least interest in what is happening to our surroundings. We are so engrossed in cleaning our homes that we don’t care a dime before littering the streets or dumping house waste on the roads. We’re cutting down trees, releasing harmful gases, tampering with nature to make any form of life find it difficult to survive in the long run, all this for our personal needs. In this respect, animals are way better than us.   

In the latest report of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there have been clear warnings about how global warming is occurring at a faster rate than it has been anticipated. It is likely to have devastating impacts if steps aren’t taken to cut down emissions.

India will be among the worst hit country which might face the wrath of calamities such as floods and heatwaves. 

But are we going to stop to at least save a better environment for our future generations? We are so trapped in this lifestyle that without air conditioners, it is difficult to survive. So, we are definitely not going to do anything to save the very surroundings we live in. And we call ourselves as civilised and on the road to development!

If we sit down to list out how we’re going back in time instead of taking a positive step forward, the list is going to be endless. However, even though we may not accept it openly, we are personally aware of the fact that we, as a whole, have let down humanity in different ways, with each of us having a fair share in the crime. So next time before you say that we’re developing, think twice. 

But it’s never too late to make a difference. If each of us starts taking a stand and sticks firmly to it, no damage could ever be done. Having said this, it is well known that change starts at an individual level, and it is time! 

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