The recent riots reveal that violence today is an act of policy normalised through electoral politics.
Shiv Visvanathan, Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Every atrocity from rape to genocide generates a standard etiquette of social response. There is no sense of feeling and little reference to justice. All one needs are the correct words.
The recent Manipur violence brings this hypocrisy out dramatically. Think of Prime Minister Narendra Modi traversing the world for two months, suddenly playing patriarch fighting for the honour of every woman. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi responds in contempt, but has little to say about the Prime Minister equating events in Rajasthan with Manipur. Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal cuts in with the right comment but creates at the most a storm in a Delhi tea-cup.
Our outrage, and our sense of horror seems to have been normalised into a standard behavioural response. Even Pavlov’s lab rats might show more eccentricity. Very soon outrage lapses into indifference or hypocrisy. The responses are finally dictated more by electoral politics than by any sense of understanding or empathy.
Today, responses to violence have been ritualised both as acts of production and consumption. The recent riots reveal that violence today is an act of policy normalised through electoral politics. Violence in fact, is symbolically consumed through a digital repetition that replaces memory. A video footage enacts the second round of violence reproducing the act of rape. There is little sense of outrage, only vicariousness. The very act of replay reproduces a sense of mimicry. History repeats itself, not as a farce but as a video recording.
Published in: Deccan Herald
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