Scrolling Notification

When I get time, I listen to music, or read books. If any is left, I blog!

Friday 28 February 2014

No Place To Hide

  • A convicted politician puts up a board in front of his house: 'Here resides a thief punished for looting the exchequer'!
  • A rapist wears an irremovable bracelet that warns what he is capable of!
  • An offender who disturbs his neighbours with loud music at night, undergoes the same ordeal in an enclosed room!
  • For rudely and repeatedly interrupting the court proceedings, a defendant's mouth is sealed with duct tape!
  • An environmental rights activist guilty of arson, gets prison term with a rider: Read Mary C Wood’s 'Nature’s Trust', and Malcolm Gladwell's 'David and Goliath' in prison!
These are just a few instances of how Judges in the West, particularly the USA are venturing beyond conventional jurisprudence to dole out innovative punishments. Its scope may be limited to first time offenders of non-violent crimes (theft, burglary), or victimless crimes (gambling, possession of drugs), or white collar crimes (cheating, bribe taking). But the public humiliation the convict faces is far more degrading and disciplining than a prison term.

Call them 'alternative', 'reformatory', 'public shaming', or 'Scarlet Letter' sentences. The perception is that apart from being effective deterrents against criminal intents, they also shield first time offenders from hardened criminals in prison.

Think of a situation where the offenders do not get to enjoy ill-gotten wealth! Where they are treated as social pariahs for the rest of their lives! Where they don't ride back on the society's forgetfulness into public life?

What do you think? Would such punishments work in India? Remember we are talking about first time offenders of non-violent crimes.    

   'It's the bitterest of all,
To wear the yoke of one's own wrongdoing.'
- George Eliot

Wednesday 5 February 2014

It Costs A Lot To Live Today!

The election in India to the 16th Lok Sabha, House of the people or the lower house of Parliament, is due in April/May this year. With just three months to go for what is universally described 'the world’s largest democratic exercise', here are some thoughts:

The pre-election political scene is thick with allegations and counter allegations. Mudslinging is a daily routine. The past is being reinvented to justify the present. If you are an apolitical observer, you will wonder if this is an attempt to deflect public attention away from real issues.

In the ongoing campaigns, not once has a debate been held on issues of public relevance or significance. Until now, there hasn't been an expression of any serious intent to solve the numerous problems the nation is facing. No plan or programme worth its value has been presented to help visualise what life would be like in the next five or ten years.

As the people battle it out against all odds, the adverse effects of a failing economy are beginning to catch up. Owning a house is beyond the common man's reach now. Education and health-care cost a fortune. Electricity and water charges are unreasonably exorbitant. Cooking gas and automobile fuel give jitters. It costs a lot to live today!

Yet, there is hope that real issues would be debated and remedial actions initiated. If anyone seeking to become an elected representative still has difficulties in identifying the many concerns, here is a ready list. Even if a third of these are addressed sincerely and honestly in the next five years, India would well be on its way to become a super power.

Here is a snapshot of the prevailing issues:

If you find anything missing, let us add...

   'Democracy is the only system that persists in asking 
the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.'
- Sydney J. Harris