While the US is struggling with the aftermath of a gruesome massacre at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, India deals with a horrific gangrape in a Delhi bus. In both cases, the responses from right-wingers are comparable. In the US, the National Rifle Association wants more guns in response to this violence. Meanwhile right-wing bloggers have tried to argue that guns don't kill people but everything else kills people. Except for a few professional ideologues, the right-wing (anywhere in the world) doesn't have a lot of intellect on its side, as exemplified by the statement of a seriously confused US congressman (posted by my friend Ajit Sanzgiri on Facebook):
Radio host: Congressman, what is the New Testament justification for carrying guns ?
Congressman: Do unto others as you would others do unto you.
This person did not pass any course in basic English or basic Logic.
Meanwhile, the loony right in India wants more violence in response to the rape. There are calls for capital punishment for the rapists. The parliamentarian Sushma Swaraj (never known for her rationality at the best of times) has said : "The 23-year-old girl was with a male friend and it was not too late either. It was 9:30 p.m. And if a woman is not safe even then, then it is a shame. If this girl survives, she will be a living dead. These people should be given capital punishment". This is full of subtext: had she not been with a male friend, or had it been 1 AM... somehow it would be OK??
In a truly thoughtful, and blunt, article in Mid-Day, Shilpa Phadke has exposed much of the subtext and immature thinking that goes into such raucous cries. She makes the point, so often missed, that "more stringent punishment has never meant more conviction". If you consider yourself a thinking Indian, please do read that article and reflect. When this rape case hit the news we all enjoyed shouting that the perpetrators must be hanged. But were we thinking of the future of society, or merely indulging our childish lust for revenge?
If you are unable to gain any perspective, try remembering what Gandhiji said: "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind". And if that doesn't help, transfer your attention to the US and imagine schools of the future where every man, woman and child is carrying a gun. In that world, the type of kid with whom you had a friendly scuffle in your childhood would shoot you dead. Or the teacher would shoot you both dead. Or the security guard would shoot both of you, and the teacher, dead.
On these issues, the New Testament and Gandhiji are perfectly convergent and perfectly correct. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. If you oppose violence, don't support violence.