You don’t have to be an animal-lover to outrage over a recent incident in Bihar where a Nilgai was buried alive. The Nilgai is described online as the largest Asian antelope, typical of the Indian subcontinent, but the inhuman incident passed without much attention.
Close on its heels, another dehumanised incident occurred, this one involving a child. A man threw the three-year-plus child of his childhood friend from the seventh floor in tony South Mumbai.
As the reason is investigated, such incidents increasingly emerge from different parts of the country where people kill in rage over sometimes innocuous incidents. Again in Mumbai — which is famed for its resilience in the face of hard times, floods and terror attacks — the fabric came under strain. When rains recently caused the railways to discontinue its service, the anxiety among crowds waiting outside railway junctions was palpable. As the city was on edge, cab-drivers preferred parking their cars for the night rather than ferrying restive people. Random conversations revealed their fear of being beaten up or lynched if they would not take their vehicles through water-logged areas to get passengers to their homes.
Lynching and violence are real fears, and such incidents when viewed without political and religious overtones reveal a debased behaviour that makes it easy to take a life, be it human or animal. The wanton cutting of trees, flouting of traffic rules by not just the young and restless but by those in powerful positions and the general insensitivity among citizens in pursuit of immediate gains are eroding the foundations of civilised behaviour.
A dehumanised society that sounds chillingly like a WB Yeats poem where “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world..” Civil society needs to apply the brakes and put the grace back into human living by insisting on better governance and services that improve the quality of life and not support a fall to dehumanising depths.