Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Maturity of Societies

Is there is a clear and established pattern on how different societies act when faced with controversial issues? When The New Yorker magazine published a cartoon of Obamas insinuating links with terrorists, the Democrats condemned it, but they did it in a civilized way, calling it ‘tasteless and offensive’. There were no burnt offices, burnt posters, vandalized buses or beaten up people.

Contrast this with just three events from a span of two weeks in India.

In one case the lawyers of India stormed the courtroom, adjourned the proceedings, threw shoes at the judge, and then went onto beat a TV cameraman and mauled up other lawyers who tried to stop them. These lawyers, who are supposed to interpret and uphold the rule of law, took law unto their hands and went berserk in Bangalore in their protest against the judge Dinakaran, who had allegedly amassed illegal wealth.

In the second case, members of Shiv Sena attacked the offices of IBN, a TV channel and media group, injuring 25 people, beating up journalists, slapping a woman receptionist, and breaking the office equipment and furniture. These Sena members were fuming with anger for the alleged negative portrayal of their leader, Bal Thackeray, who was referred to as ‘old man’ when in fact he is only 83 years young. [1][2]

In the third case, MNS MLAs of Maharashtra attacked fellow MLA, Abu Azmi, when he was taking oath in Hindi during the swearing in ceremony of State Assembly. Nearly 13 leaders of MNAs attacked Abu Azmi, broke the mike and nearby the furniture in a protest against using Hindi in Maharashtra Assembly. [3]

You could easily gather countless examples of Indians resorting to immature tactics to voice their dissent. One look at the video of Indian parliament brawl will emphasize how deep this malaise is in our country. You may think that such immaturity is confined to politicians alone. You would be surprised. This happens across all domains and spheres. You will hear of town people taking up cudgels to beat up an alleged criminal. You will hear of small town meetings ending up as street fights. Even in colleges and universities of India, you will see scientists and professors resorting to such tactics.

Maturity of Groups

Why do certain societies act more immaturely than others? I am not talking about maturity levels of individuals in a society but I am talking about the groups- whom I call ‘cultures’ here. For example, certain cultures get quite upset when ridiculed while certain other cultures ridicule themselves on a constant basis. Certain cultures are more environment-conscious and make efforts to keep their environs clean without affecting it while few other cultures seem to create a garbage dump around them while completely plundering their environs. Certain cultures encourage arts, sports, cinema, music, while few others do not. Some cultures celebrate excellence when they see it, while few others are more concerned about the identity tags before they can show their appreciation. Certain cultures have embraced universal values more openly and made them a part of their culture, while few other cultures resist every attempt in inculcating such values. Some cultures give equal respect to their women, while few others do not.

In many of my arguments here on this blog, I have been highlighting that we as Indians are not very mature as society-

* that we are not able handle difference in opinions with maturity,

* that we are not able to propose ideas and implement them to better our societies,

* that we are not able to respect ourselves,

* that we are not able to encourage arts and sports,

* that we are not able to tolerate books, paintings, music or dance, which is controversial, provocative or self-revealing,

* that we are not able to tolerate criticism of ourselves or our institutions

So, is there a way we can measure maturity of certain societies against others. How about we have a new index called Maturity Index for Societies that measures maturity of societies?

Maturity Index for Societies

To be able to say where we are and where we need to go, we need to compare ourselves with other societies on this maturity index. I intend to propose an index which can give an idea on how mature we are.


  1. >> I intend to propose an index which can give an idea on how mature we are.

    I am looking forward ...

  2. One of the main reasons is lax law enforcement here.

    People can riot, beat up others, burn buses and so on here without any fear of retribution.

    If the police take action, there will be one group or other which will call for a bandh protesting against police atrocities and play victim. So the hands of the police are tied.

    If someone attempts such tactics in Western countires (esp. the US), he will be dealt with severely.

    Where there is strict law enforcement, people will start behaving tehmselves. There is no other way.

  3. I agree that the maturity level of the various societies in India are shamefully low. Its also not to be ignored that the political system is partly the cause of it. Several of these "immature way of protests" could be avoided had they given democratic means to achieve their wishes. The government does not listen unless beaten here. Only "immature" protesters find a mention in the media. Only "immature" protests gets into discussion in Parliament etc (that too very rarely). If we are saying these immature ways of protests are to be avoided, we also need to say whats the alternative way. Its hopeless here.

    I am not saying the system is the whole cause of it, but it's flaw is also considerable.

    When a child is not listened, it first cries, then starts to throw things, behaves immaturely.

    However, Most of the instances mentioned in your post are because of people's immaturity and lack of understanding of the Democracy and right to speech.

  4. While we may be proud that we are a democracy, we also pay a heavy price for it.

    Politicians cannot afford to antagonize any major vote banks. So any excesses committed by their radical members have to be looked over. Even the so-called secular parties like Congress cannot openly criticize parties that are fanatic since they will fear a backlash from voters.

  5. >>> While we may be proud that we are a democracy, we also pay a heavy price for it.
    Why do you say we are democratic? Is it because we are asked to vote once in a while :)

    On what democratic system would you expect the Telungana people having to riot failing all democratic means to express their wish. Whats the democratic way to solve this issue? The people should have been given the right to choose separate statehood or not. But did that happen in this "democratic system". Failing this, we are seeing people behaving immaturely.

    We can not blame democracy. But whether its best to give right to vote to everyone or to the correct subset is arguable. I would go with the second. Another important thing is that India is too big, too complicated for a power-centralized system as the present political system.

  6. >>> One of the main reasons is lax law enforcement here.

    On the other hand, you can see our people not even aware of their rights. For eg. its a common scene in TV for police to beat inhumanely.Its all accepted here - police/state machinery does not have to care for people's rights - people do not have to care for any law. Or should we shamefully say that ours is a less civilized society in short.

  7. Dear Sujai.

    As a French person, I regularly read with great interest your chronicle. This question about the maturity of societies particularly caught my attention, because, through it, you are wondering about something we no longer wonder here in France... I mean that you mind the way YOUR OWN people behaves. As I was a student in France, I remember to have heard African students with similar discourses in their words : "OUR people must learn... OUR people needs... " Dear Sujai, this is not a question of maturity, but a question of poverty and instability of things. Probably, the issue is that, without democracy, and (probably more than this) satisfying buying power for the majority of a people, single individuals perceive the awkwardness of the whole as a threatening environment in which one has to survive. In such a case, instinct is stronger than rationale, and one prefers to fight rather than to suffer. For spiritual acts to be the paradigm, the body must be safe of harm, and feel it at least for a long while, which is what one finally find in european democracies. But don't blame your people too much! There are very great things coming from India, especially mathematical intelligence, facial beauty of people, and fascinating bloggers.

    Best wishes,

    Jérôme C.


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