'The reason why we have reached such depths is because of the breakdown of the rule of law, and not the political atmosphere.'
'Yes, the political atmosphere has aggravated the situation.'
Those arrested for developing the horrendous app, Bulli Bai to auction Muslim women on an online platform are a 21-year-old young man from Assam, an 18-year-old girl from Uttarakhand and another 21-year-old engineering student from Bengaluru.
The creator of the 'Sulli Deals' app is a 26-year-old techie from Indore.
Earlier, a 23-year-old IIT graduate was arrested after he posted rape threats to Virat Kohli's then 9-month-old daughter.
What is driving these young men and women to behave in such an offensive manner?
"What you imbibe from society is much deeper and stronger compared to what you are taught in the educational institutions," Dr Azizuddin Khan, a professor at the psychophysiology laboratory at the department of humanities and social sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, explains to Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.
The first of a two-part interview:
Selling Muslim women online, rape threats to babies... all by young, educated people. Why do they behave in such obnoxious manner?
Behaviour of this sort is not a new phenomenon.
It is more today because of the Internet and social media, as people get anonymity in expressing such emotions.
But the reason lies much deeper than what we see on the surface.
It is the problem of the society we live in, and the way we are brought up.
The way we are brought up?
Yes, the way we are brought up. Also, the way our society is shaped in the last 100 years or so.
Just see who is the main target of such abuse? It has always been women.
You mean patriarchy is expressing itself this way?
More than patriarchy, it is the hierarchy in society that is at play here.
Because the democratic roots are not stronger, there is no equality in our society.
There is also a huge gap between what we learn in school, and what we are taught at home and also by society as a whole.
As a person from northern India, I see that this problem is acute in the northern part of India than the southern part of India.
What we are taught directly and indirectly at home and by society is that what we learn in school has no relation to reality.
Is that the reason why educated young men and women -- in this case one was an IIT graduate -- are behaving like this?
Yes. That is why I said, there is a gap between what is taught at school, and what you learn from society.
What you imbibe from society is much deeper and stronger compared to what you are taught in the educational institutions.
One of the most common expressions we hear in our homes is these are bookish ideas and reality is different!
Like climate warning, I hear social warning now.
The social atmosphere created by different ideological groups in the last 100 years is getting heated.
In future, the heat can reach dangerous proportions.
It will be more intense in future, and it will happen more frequently.
When you look at various social platforms, we notice Indians are angry and hateful all the time...
That is what we are learning from society.
We are part of a big social set-up, and the political climate can be one of the major influencers.
The economic atmosphere also can play a major role. So also the social and religious atmosphere.
Now that the economy is on a downward path, and people are losing jobs, there is a lot of fear in the minds of people.
When there is scarcity, there will be more competition. This will result in negative feelings.
Is the pandemic also a reason why people behave this way?
I would say we are using covid as an excuse to behave in such a pathetic manner.
The fact is, we have always been like this. Covid has nothing to do with our bad behaviour.
As human beings, we want to rationalise our bad behaviour.
On the contrary, covid should have made us more modest and empathetic. But we are becoming more unpleasant.
Any calamity makes people humbler. Just look at what happened to Europe after the Second World War.
In India, the pandemic has made us more hateful, and not empathetic or humble.
Is the political atmosphere the reason? Can it change the hatred and anger into a wildfire?
More than the political atmosphere, the reason for the bad behaviour is the rule of law not functioning.
If the wrongdoers were punished, no matter how grave the political or social atmosphere is, we would not have reached this situation.
I don't think we saw this kind of hatred even at the time of Partition in 1947 or after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1991.
So, the reason why we have reached such depths is because of the breakdown of the rule of law, and not the political atmosphere.
Yes, the political atmosphere has aggravated the situation.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com