Police bashing and why law makers turn law breakers
I was watching with much amusement the news story from NTDV where two ministers in the UP cabinet were talking with utter disdain about the Police and glorifying the culture of lawlessness in UP. I come from the gutters of Bihar. When I was growing up naked violence was freely displayed by various sections of the society. People in power used violence and intimidation to grab land and resources illegally. The poor, the landless and marginalized used it to fight for their rights and earn a livelihood. Violence and disdain for law is something that does not surprise me. I don’t behave like our urban hapless newscasters who say “What yaah, who are these people yaah? How down-market are these people yaah. I can’t believe that they are from this country yaah.”
I remember reading an article by Richard J Maybury who has coined the term called “Chaostan”. Chaostan is an original composition copyrighted by Richard. Why am I linking the theory of “Chaostan” to the disdain that our law makers have for Law and for the Law Enforcers? Richard in his blog here takes a leaf from the Old English Common law which I am taking the liberty of reproducing “do all you have agreed to do and, do not encroach on other persons or their property. This is the basis of the Common law and tort law which pretty much laid the foundation of the modern industrial economy. Shakespeare wrote his famous play the “Merchant of Venice” to explain the nuances of this law. This is the Law that Shylock invokes to demand his pound of flesh from Antony and Portia interprets the same law to deny Shylock his pound of flesh.
Richard makes the very interesting point about Political power and I quote him below:
“Political power is the privilege of violating these laws. This is why it corrupts. Travel around the world. Where you find these laws most closely obeyed, both by the people and the governments, you will find the most liberty, prosperity and peace. Where the two laws are not widely obeyed, the only options are tyranny or chaos. This is Chaostan’s permanent condition, because that vast area never developed legal systems based on the two laws.”
The Occidental culture have broadly laid the foundation of their society on basis of the Common Law and Tort Law. An individual’s rights and obligations are well defined by law. Any individual can seek legal remedies if somebody has suffered harm from wrongful acts of others. The courts and Police enforce the rights and punish the offending party. It is as simple as that. There is no rocket science in understanding this principle.
India and the most of the Oriental countries lay in the broad swathe of what Richard calls “Chaostan”. India and other Oriental culture never built a society on basis of either the Common Law or the Tort Law. In past India were largely governed by the social law or the community law. The society or the community defined the rights and obligations of the individuals. Traditionally the Khap Panchyat or some version of it settled property, domestic and martial disputes. See the movie Pan Singh Tomar where the District Collector asks Pan Singh to settle his property dispute socially to understand what I am saying.
However now India is taking part in the new modern world and there is rapid urbanization. There is break-down of the social and community structures in urban India. People who live in urban cities have an expectation of the law of the land to be upheld. They prefer going to the civil or family courts to settle disputes rather than to the members of their community. The two worlds are now constantly colliding. Politicians from rural areas like UP and Bihar still live by the community and social laws. They have disdain for written laws and for the police force who is supposed to enforce these laws. The massive disconnect of this phase of transition that India is going through was very obvious during a debate on Times Now concerning Rajat Gupta’s mis-demeanor. There was an India lawyer from New York on the panel. There was a very famous corporate executive of an Indian company that I shall not name. And there was Lord Meghnad Desai. You can see the debate here.
It is very interesting that the New York lawyer had a black and white approach to Rajat Gupta’s mistake. The senior corporate executive who I shall not name broadly said this was an error of judgment and Rajat Gupta meant no harm and was innocent. His defense of Rajat reminded me of how in the older times if a young boy made a mistake then all the village elders would council him and tell everybody to forgive him and move on. Essentially it was the social norms and law which took precedence over written laws. Lord Meghnad Desai points out this exact fact and says that one should realize that India is transitioning to become a player in the global scene. When you operate at the global level then you have to operate by the rules of the global world. In the global world the written law is absolute black and white. Either you are on the right side of the law or the wrong side of the law. There is no grey area which can be interpreted by the community elders and wise men.
I think Lord Meghnad Desai’s observation applies to all the politicians of India who operate by the social law rather than the written law. They have to realize that India is changing. It is no longer the country where you can get away by dis-respecting the written law and the law enforcing agency called the Police. They are no longer playing gully cricket. They are now part of the big game and playing under stadium lights with thousands of people watching them in the stadium and millions on their TV sets in their homes. Their speeches and actions will be recorded for posterity and will be available on Youtube and will spread via Facebook and Twitter. Welcome to the brave new world dear politicians from the Mofussil. You better brush up your social skills and read up the Indian Constitution and Indian Penal code. It will serve as a leash the next time you want to fly off the handle and curse the Police and defy the written law and are tempted to cross the line