of thoughts in ebb and flow

Posts tagged ‘community’

Crime has no social penalties?

I walked into my building with the days errands done. There was the usual little stop and chat-a-while as I ran into neighbours. Some banter later I made my way home. A vague sense of unease lingered. Amongst the little group was a neighbour who had recently been on the wrong side of the law. The newspapers and the grapevine had filled us in on their shady dealings in much detail.  There had been much shock, surprise and disgust expressed in private conversations about this.

Yet, a few moments ago our conversation had not missed a beat as they joined in while passing by. No awkward silences, no strained hellos. Was it a charade staged for politeness? Well. It did not appear so to me. There was no subterranean `we know what you did and we think it was wrong’ thread at all. And I was left with this niggling sense of unease.

Today, I read about the `King of Good Times’ Vijay Mallya’s forthcoming 60th birthday party plans. Exclusive event. Enrique Iglesias and Sonu Nigam shows. 500-600 select crème-de-la-crème invitees. This, in the backdrop of his business being declared `willful defaulter’ by the largest public sector bank in the country. This, while he is being investigated by the CBI for a Rs 900 Cr. loan default to another bank. That he is the toast-of-the-town still, that being invited to this party is viewed as a privilege, that the party-goers do not feel a twinge of conscience ……

The niggling sense of unease rises up in me ..again

Do responsible members of a community have a role to play in nurturing a law-abiding society? Isn’t social acceptance a powerful tool we can use to encourage desirable behaviours in the group? And discourage undesirable ones?

Sure, law will take its course. But till then are we to wine and dine and make merry without a care? Perhaps I am being naive. Perhaps we should let `innocent unless proved guilty’ be the benchmark. Perhaps we should continue to not be disturbed by the daily assault on values until the court deems it worthy of attention. Perhaps we deserve the moral bankruptcy we are heading towards. Or are we there already?

Evening once more. I sit at the park bench. Happy screams of children rent the air. One little boy sits alone beside me. “Why are you not playing with the others?” I ask. “They are not allowing me to play” he says morosely. I call the kids over and ask why so. “ He used bad words and broke our bat when he got out last time” they said. “I won’t do it again. Mother promise” he says. And they run off to play together.

Where did we lose our way?

Return to roots?

One keeps hearing about globalisation and the world becoming a smaller place and people aiming to be `citizens of the world’. But even as this unfolds I find another interesting trend gaining traction, that of people seeking identity and meaning within their neighbourhood communities..and using the internet as a means of doing so!

I want the world to know me but I also want my neighbours to know me & I want to know them too….So while I create an online, digitised (sanitised ..?) life for myself and gather around me `twittering’ friends and am globally `linked in’.. I also want the companionship and togetherness that neighbourhood flesh and blood community dwellers can give. So I put two and two together and use the `online’ to enhance the `offline’.

Businesses are already tapping into this increasing`local’ social identification. There is Topix, in the US, which aggregates close to 150,000 `comments’ from 20,000 towns across the country. It’s CEO, Chris Tolles, says that three quarters of the comments are on local happenings/news that have not found their way into any newspapers or other media. He senses a huge business opportunity in weaving `micro-local’ markets into a national network for advertisers.

Students of Anna University have launched Areapal.com. Again the focus being on finding and nurturing neighourhood relationships. Enthused by the response in hometown Chennai they are now looking to expand to other cities and localities.

Then there is SadakMap that is enabling communities to be created, updated and connected around localities.

We seem to be finding meaning in being part of a close-knit community, contributing to it’s betterment and benefiting from the association in turn. Are the days of people leading `portable’ lifestyles that don’t park long enough in one spot to accumulate lasting local bonds giving way, once more, to our neighbours and our neigbourhood become intricately woven into the fabric of our everyday life?

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