Saturday, 16 February 2013

Taming the Juvenile
Consequences of committing a crime……
The price one has to pays should be the deterrent
Virender Kapoor
Educationist and an author

Nirbhay rape case has suddenly brought juvenile crime into the lime light. The problem is rampant across the country and the situation is grim. Sensitize the youth, lower the juvenile age, change people’s mindset, harsher punishment, teach morals at schools, change the law are some of the proposed solutions doing the rounds. Many of these may not be impossible but most are very difficult to implement .Types of heinous crimes being committed by teen agers today is very sickening and points to a much deeper malaise. These are unusual times and we need to consider some unusual solutions   to set things right. 
In the last couple of decades the social fabric of our country has completely changed. Sudden brand invasion and availability of consumer durables has hit us like never before. Youngsters need money to satisfy these artificially created needs. They are prepared to go to any length and even stoop down to any level as long as their desires are met.  TV serials which portray these real life cases send a chill up your spine.
The other angle is, that  very often crime is committed for trivial reasons; mainly based on revenge, insult, rage, greed, money, a broken heart or worst, a murder after rape or may be just for the heck of it. Young India appears to be on a short fuse and it couldn’t care less.
Large part of this ‘instant crime’ gets its motivation from cinema and TV which often show crime – both virtual and real-in the most detailed manner. In the present context bomb blasts, road rage, brutal murders, rape, kidnappings seems to have become part of our life. A few decades back people were not exposed to brutality in such large dozes. There was therefore a sense of innocence in people who were sensitive to crime. There was a fear of the god and most importantly there was a fear of the law. Committing a crime and probably getting away with it seems to be easy and an in thing today.
This process of ‘crime on display’ somehow does not convey the after affects of crime from the view point of a criminal. It fails to convey a criminal’s life after committing a serious crime and what he has to go through when the system catches up with him. Life in jails- especially in India- is pretty tough.  People cannot imagine it. The young adults relate only to the thrill part of the crime while they are oblivion to the consequences of committing a crime. There is therefore no credible deterrence against crime in people’s mind.
To bring back the fear of the law which acts as a deterrent against committing seemingly easy crime is the need of the hour. The best place to start is college and senior school students, which is our future society. As a part of corporate social responsibility, projects are undertaken by educational institutions to plant trees, teach in rural areas or slums, visit hospitals and old age homes. All these visits are a form of experiential learning to sensitize the students to the reality.
On similar lines we   could start ‘Shram Daan’ or ‘ Kaar Seva’ in and around jails where students can plant trees, clean up the jail area,  and even volunteer to teach inmates.  Here the purpose is slightly different. A glimpse of a prison cell is enough to realize what a jail sentence could mean. There is limited accommodation and very ordinary food available to the in mates .They have to sleep on blankets, and have to bear the brunt of heat and mosquitoes. Prisoners have to follow a routine and wear a uniform- it literally snatches away your freedom. On top of that life is very lonely. Visits from friends and relatives are few and far between and it is difficult to imagine a life of isolation- day on day for several years. Criminals who commit brutal crimes land up in a prison with a sentence of RI or Rigorous Imprisonment. This means hard manual labor which could also be humiliating. They must be made to realize that life in jails is not all jail house rock. If you cannot instill fear of the god or good morals, then let them at least have the fear of the law.
One Indian film actor who played the role of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in his interview said “Sitting in the cell where convicts who have to be hanged are kept sends a chill up your spine. It is a very scary feeling even though you are only acting”.
This would have two benefits. First, the jails will get some volunteers to boost the available manpower.  Second and more importantly it will act as a deterrent against crime. Most of the cities have jails and this would not be difficult to implement at individual schools or college level.
Anti-smoking and anti-tobacco disclaimers shown before every film just do that- they show you the after effects of smoking and are created to create fear of falling prey to deadly disease. This government initiative, along with statutory warnings printed on products has really helped in bringing the consumption of tobacco down.
There is a lot at stake and we can’t afford to fail any more in case of crime. If  this has worked for tobacco, it should work against crime. The price one has to pays should be the deterrent.

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