In India

Hyderabad is always as good as one could get. Hustle bustle of a rural life felt across the atomized civic livelihoods, Hyderabad is the classic paradox in many senses. The celluloid dreams of the star-struck ones come into virtual slides through the millions of auto-rickshaws; the amazement of the erected few buildings get diluted via the hundreds of human scavengers amidst rubbles of abandoned dust bowls.

In my last visit to the city, under the dynamic leadership of a leader bent upon to convert the ancient city to Cyberabad, CM Naidu was busy ordering for the evacuation of street beggars from the city. Garibi Hatao (‘eradicate poverty’) had started sounding stale. Maybe ‘Garib Hatao’ (eliminate the poor) sounded more promising since Mr Gates was scheduled to arrive!

Four years had passed in between and this time when I went to attend an international conference on technology and society, the whole gamut of social dimensions of technology could find no better platform of continued contradictions. The detachment of society from technology is never a natural outgrowth. It’s on the contrary a manufactured disconnect. Just like the life-saving drugs exuberantly priced, the IT avenues are also kept elitistically above reach. The technology is used to produce more technology. One program leads to another, one language needs the other. The whole spectrum of IT then becomes conditional upon success of IT itself. And with the growth of IT outpacing itself, as a self-serving panacea, focus on the usability of IT to further human causes gets diminished.

Amidst the angst that characterizes the world of capitalism today, I found two amazing friends with unbridled hopes—Vivek and Shaheen. Whereas Vivek could well teach the geek squads a few things or two as a software professional, Shaheen is a liberal arts student hoping to educate the needy someday soon. What struck me the most was their unequivocal pledges for social responsibility—neither of them adhering to the standards of neo-fascist order of selfish well-being nor growing ambitions of the individualistic Roarks.

After my brief stays in Delhi and Hyderabad, this is Bhubaneswar, my hometown. In many ways, the trip to India this winter will show some lights throughout the tunnel and I will shed some of that here.

Now, over to Tookie’s murder. Subseqent to some comments in the previous post, I got this message from a female reader:

Well I guess both David and Miguel are white guys….if not it is surprising and not a good surprise.

Tookie Williams was murdered by a system democratically elected by less than 25% of the country’s population. He had asked for forgiveness for the crimes he admitted to have committed and had turned his life around and given back to the society more than most law abiding citizens have (including David and Miguel I am sure). Correction facilities are meant for repentance and becoming a good citizen and Williams was a blazing example of that. And when it came to the matter of life and death don’t you think he would have accepted the alleged crime of killing four men, since that is what Governor Schwarzenegger wanted in order to grant him clemency?

If the four men had not been white, Williams would have had some chance of getting clemency……..just a thought. His defiance to admit to the alleged crime till the end proves that he was wrongly convicted. Conscientious citizens and young people around the world will suffer his loss.

Capital punishment, a.k.a. state sponsored murder, seems so fair when people in designer suits and professional attire decide that someone needs to be killed, it’s so class. Then we have well dressed people being witnesses to an execution and coming on live TV to express their feelings about an unfortunate yet just event. And then we have those people who enjoy the twisted vicarious pleasure of murdering people, who worship capital punishment.

Most poeple in the civilized world, the ones with the resources to live life as planned by the system have the liberty to judge others, who are less fortunate, for the crimes they do (or allegedly commit). Such people do not once take into consideration the prevailing conditions, sustained by the socio-politico-economic system of a given country, which foster youths to join gangs, do drugs, or commit so called crimes. If anyone is to be blamed for most of the crimes it is the system; a system that is unable to provide its youth the resources, opportunities, and hope in abundance to ensure they become responsible and productive individuals.

And please don’t talk about Gandhi, King and Mandela…it does not suit guys who are in favor of capital punishment to use icons of peace to prove their despicable view points. And moreover no one is born great, prevailing conditions trigger the passion of some people to do things extraordinarily and then some gain the support of the masses in order to be revered as great.

Despite the fact that US has the largest prison system and highest number of inmates (mostly people of color), it still has a competitive crime rate compared to any other country. David and Miguel like people can best explain this situation I guess…….and I will not be surprised again if one reason they might give is the increase in the number of minorities and poor people in the country.

It is not always about ‘don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’, because most often even if one does the time and turn his/her life around, one has a minimal chances of living a normal life if he/she is not white, rich and politically ignorant/right.

When we read history and call people in the bygone ears barbaric for the way they treated the culprits or fought war. Hopefully things will change for better in the next 200 or so years and our forthcoming generations will learn what opinions guys like David and Miguel held regarding capital punishment. Oh! Won’t they be proud of you guys?

For the rest of us who are experiencing the loss of Williams and likes will have little parts of us executed for the rest of our lives until things don’t change for better, socially, politically, and economically.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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