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‘The shock value of crime is diminishing’

A toy shop owner has witnessed a certain warmth and conscience evaporate from the lifestyle of people in the city, reports Nivriti Butalia.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2008 09:47 IST
Nivriti Butalia

Satish Sundra owns a toy store in New Delhi’s Connaught Place. Over the last three decades, Sundra, now in his seventies, has witnessed a certain warmth and conscience evaporate from the lifestyle of people in the city. We’re left with, what he calls, “no integrity, and no sanskriti.”

Twenty-something Shrayana Bhattacharya, who works at the Institute of Social Studies Trust in the Capital points out, “We are the first post-liberation generation. More than before, competition has entered our romantic and sex lives too.” She adds, “ People used to value black and white TVs and government jobs. Now we want more than that.”

Belonging to the same decade, Adhiraj Goswami, 28, a financial consultant, talks of the decreased time span between thought and action. “As a generation, we seem more impatient and insecure, and that insecurity is fuelled by the overexposure we’ve been subjected to.” Goswami shudders to think about the future, saying, “It feels like the shock value of crime is diminishing. You hear of them every other day.”

Adding to which, management professional Manika Dhama feels, “Many of these cases seem to be right out of a film.” She says an attitude has been perpetuated, and “criminals are seen to get away with anything.”

Piyusha Sinha, a freelance writer and mother of two, is only slightly unnerved by these incidences of manslaughter. She believes that more than other factors at play, urban crime has to do with households in possession of “new money” — joking that she has nothing to worry about, given the measly salary drawn. She finds it hard to digest theories of father-slaying-daughter, “You can never tell what goes on in your neighbour’s house, but with all this new money, there is a greater chance of secrecy. You can hide what you have to, you can buy a separate computer, and get rooms in far flung corners of the country...secrecy is a social and monetary investment that only a grand lifestyle can allow.”

If the argument is that money has always been able to afford secrecy, a section of people counter that saying: with more disposable income in the middle class, the number of people who can now afford that kind of secrecy has increased.

A step in the direction of alleviating fear in citizens, says a young lawyer, would be to “modernise our police force, smarten them up, pay them more, and train them properly.” Perhaps then, the very need to talk about an unsafe urban landscape would decrease.