By Maxwell Pereira
Making heroes out of criminals is the prerogative of we Indians,
one feels! Especially going by our record in dealing with the
likes of Charles Sobhraj, Phoolan Devi and lately the elusive
Veerappan. But then one observes such tendencies now surfacing
to noticeable levels majorly too in the land of Robin Hood the
benevolent bandit and Jack-the-Ripper; where in a "youth
culture intelligence report" a London 'brand' consultancy
has recently declared that the boundaries between right and wrong
are constantly blurring, and that understanding the appeal of
criminal culture can teach us a great deal about contemporary
attitudes and desires - to be capitalised for commercial and other
is based on the observation that criminals have become cult figures,
leading to a steady flow of films and books on gangsters and international
drug barons. Criminal involvement or convictions are observed
to do little to dent the popularity of pop stars, and even of
whose brush with the law seemingly enhancing their
report further elaborates: "
not only does a glamorised
view of criminality represent excitement and notoriety, it also
signifies a need for clear value systems in our ambiguous society.
Murderers, pimps, hustlers and hit men have become the latest
cult figures to be appropriated by leading-edge culture as it
searches for new heros and role models."
criminal references tend to effectively enhance brand edge, resulting
in a growing trend for those in PR to hint at criminal activity
to be a badge of pride rather than a negative factor or a slur.
The appeal of the illicit and seeking of lifestyles that frequently
involve breaking of the law - from wanton indulgence in minor
traffic infringements to major and more daring crimes of violence,
becoming influencing factors as 'in' things to raise one's level
in the popularity charts.
these findings to home scenario, may be we could tell these Consultancy
people a thing or two from our own vast repertoire of 'criminal
hero' experiences. Take the case of Sobhraj. He did succeed in
his objective to prolong his jail term in India till such time
as he ceased to be a wanted man for the beach murders in Thailand.
But had he succeeded in his ultimate designs to continue in India
even after serving full term in Tihar, well
I have no doubt
whatsoever that we would have elected him to Parliament at the
first opportunity. And who can forget Bablu Srivastava's widely
televised statement on camera while being brought in by CBI extradited
from Singapore through Interpol, that "
these very policemen
holding me in handcuffs today will one day salute me when I become
the Home Minister!" And nearer recent times, there was the
confident statement by Phoolan Devi's killer unabashedly telling
all, that did the act with the belief that this would land him
in Parliament within three years!
back though, it is unfortunate that something that was started
as a tool to give impetus to our freedom struggle by Gandhiji
in the form of civil disobedience and courting arrest by 'jail
baro' movements, has grown today into a license to violate law
even to the extent of arrest and jail being
a desired qualification for an aspiring politician! And today,
as is commonly perceived, we have graduated to sending our criminals
to Parliament as its members, to enact for us, the milieu, such
laws as these very lawbreakers were adept at violating.
reason, our own election laws have not been able to come to terms
with ground realities, to keep those perceived to be criminals
by the society at large from contesting - on grounds of the inability
of the system to really convict them of the crimes they were/or
are accused of. For purposes of the Representation of People's
Act, only a conviction disqualifies a candidate, irrespective
of the number of murder, dacoity, kidnappings for ransom or extortion
cases he may have been involved in or been accused of.
the contrary, the dictionaries of course clearly describe a criminal
to be a person who has committed a crime or crimes - defining
a crime as an "offence against the social order or a violation
of the mores that is dealt with by community action rather than
by an individual or kinship group";
and more elaborately
as an act of commission or omission that falls foul of a public
law of a sovereign State to the injury of public welfare and makes
the offender liable to punishment by that law in a proceeding
brought against him by the State by indictment, by information,
complaint or similar criminal proceeding.
with this, the penchant of the Indian people then to hero worship
their criminals to the extent of considering them as more suitable
and capable, and with more effective ability to represent or govern
them, than the run of the mill academician or the dull clean imaged
do-gooder or the social activist - is sure enough a perfect formula
to encourage every don in the country to ultimately aspire for
and graduate to the nation's Parliament.
fair means or foul, booth-capturing vote-capturing, or sheer reign
of terror. And the system lumps it
He gets honourably sworn
in with pomp and splendour - gaining for himself a new found respectability
and acceptability in society and even by those others already
in Parliament, who it is expected would never have otherwise stooped
so low as to associate with criminals.
it strange then how many such accused of heinous crimes elevated
so by their electorate to be worthies in Parliament can brush
shoulders and share seats with the cleanest and the most elite
of our leaders, with no signs of revulsion or ostracization from
the latter.. !
words: dated 24.08.2004.
Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002.
You can interact with the author at http://
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