Posted in Cricket, Miscellaneous

A week that was a riot


An imminent whitewash is lingering and if the first 3 tests were any indication, the average Indian cricket fan must be really waiting for the Oval test match to be over with as soon as possible. Not that a win or a loss is going to change anything in Indian cricket in near future but the wounded souls can at least relax knowing the fact that the worst is over. Many pundits have painted all forms of  media red with their valuable thoughts on what they think is really wrong with this Indian team. So I am not even going there. For even if I try, I won’t be able to get it to a shade remotely close to red.

At the end of this series, I will just accumulate what I think are all the positive aspects that came out of it and publish it as a blog post so that the millions of readers who flock my blog can look at the ‘glass is half full’ side of the story and not just the ‘glass is half empty’ side of the story.

This blog post, though is triggered by what is happening in England, has got nothing to do with the India-England cricket series, (which too can be termed as a riot of sorts from a certain perspective), but has got to do with the recent riots that plagued the streets of England for 4-5 nights. Yes, it even made Cameron cut short his vacation. I am no expert on the socio economic issues that plague England, nor do many of you who simply went out of your way to condone the rioters or banish the rioters as soon as the news spread out through twitter and facebook like a smoldering blackberry fire. And I am no expert either to offer a short term or a longterm solution. My observations and reactions I feel are not knee-jerk ones but more pragmatic, considering the context and also considering all strata of the society affected. Before I offer my views and reactions, please do read this wonderful post on the riots by Russell Brand, who of late has been surprising me with his extremely passionate and brilliant penmanship (Amy Winehouse tribute was a class post as well).

For a far left leaning individual like me who takes a very liberal stance on both economic and social issues, I have been tortured with this constant debate of socialism vs. capitalism. So I do very well understand the larger issues of this downtrodden part of this English society to the extent that I am mature enough to admit that it is mostly (not entirely) the system that continues to widen the divide between the rich and the poor  and that it needs a trim. This is the longterm solution that experts have to stress upon the leaders of the state and more importantly the politicians of the state to start working on ‘from yesterday’. So, without going into the details of what I think could be done to fix the system or help these sections of the society through the system, I am simply going to express my views on all concerned parties specifically in the context of what happened in the past week.

  • This is not a racial issue as some riot sympathizers have made it out to be. Read more about Mark Duggan and how it happened whatever happened. I am not going to explain it here..If anyone is thinks it is, then needless to say, they are making an assumption and they are naturally biased.
  • The police officers involved with Mark Duggan’s death know the truth and no one else does. This is neither to defend the police officers nor to point fingers at them. But if I had to be commanding that team that day when they had to deal with Duggan, there were several scenarios that I would have possibly thought of before taking on Duggan, even if it was a self-defense situation and my or my team’s life was in danger.  For all those who want to find fault with everything police does, I have nothing to say to you as you just don’t believe in authority of any kind or law enforcement of any kind. If you don’t believe law enforcement is one of the basic necessities of a democratic society, then we can’t even have a discussion.
  • Unfortunately, the riot itself as it turned out, had nothing to with Duggan, whose family met with the police team in a much more peaceful manner and a less violent manner. So my main grudge on the rioters starts here.
  • Even for a moment, if I assume that these directionless youth (I don’t want to generally call everyone a yob although everyone of them who damaged other’s property or looted other’s property fit the bill perfectly according to me) were waiting for a reason to raise against the system, then I am sort of lost as to whatever happened to that real cause. If any of you listened to or talked to any of these looters or rioters, majority of them (not a single one of them I read about or heard talked about the real cause) really had no idea what they were doing except they thought it would be nice to wear an expensive pair of shoes or have a big screen television or a Blu-Ray DVD player. They were basically opportunistic hooligans – No other way to describe their deplorable acts.  Some of the elders from these neighborhoods, who were either parents of these young looters or family members, who although fell short of condoning the riots and looting, tried to express the real cause. But their voice had no meaning in the larger context of general hooliganism that was bringing everyday lives of many thousands to a halt.
  • To everyone, including members of the very same downtrodden part of the society, what happened caused (and will continue to do so as a consequence) innumerable problems. Again, as a liberal, I would be the first one to raise my voice for prejudices and such. But this looting was plain wrong..Here is a black woman who very clearly belongs to this strata of the society sharing my reasoning in the below video clip.
  • The looting more than the actual riots that I was disgusted with. Majority of those who were affected (and will continue to be affected as the state cleans up the mess and starts paying people who lost properties) belongs to hardworking middle class society. They are the ones who keep the cycle of the system well oiled. They are the ones who pay bulk of the taxes and they are the ones who can bring a country’s economy up or down. When they are affected, you know what the consequences are.
  • Violence is simply not a way to protest. If you believe it is, then there is no difference between the rioters and looters and certain other sections of the global society who resort to killing others in the name of religion. A society becomes dysfunctional and it invites authoritarian style governing when such things happen, which really will make the already oppressed strata of the society suffer more.
  • The police on night 1 were caught in their own doing. They clearly didn’t expect this kind of violence..and looting of this scale. They were trying to soft pedal this issue possibly because of a fear of a racial outbreak of violence and partly because of their messy involvement with the Duggan case. They were trying to play a self-defensive role of a person who feels guilty.. Unfortunately, that backfired on them.
  • Anti-rioters – Pretty amazed at how a section of the society got together to start protecting their neighborhoods (in one case it even cost 3 lives). This was also a case of people power. If people can get together to loot and kill others’ properties and others respectively, then this just proved that people can get together to counter the same.
  • Finally, the politicians who showed up in the last minute after most damage was done and sparked a debate only with only one thing in mind. The next election. Less said about them, the better.
  • The media outlets, by and large (at least the ones I follow) were pretty neutral about the coverage. They covered both sides..Barring a few idiotic and senseless questions (like the video below), I have to say they are giving a fair share of attention to the real problem and the real cause. I am confident that if at all it means anything, this is a healthy thing to have come out of the situation and I hope more experts will join in the debate and push the leaders & politicians alike to start working on a longterm solution.
          
As Russell Brand rightly concludes, let us not make the mistake of sweeping away or cleaning up the real problem as we sweep away or clean up the mess caused by these riots and looting. And let us also not make the mistake of condoning the rioters and looters because this will only breed a highly disrespectful society leading to an authoritarian political system or  totalitarianism, neither of which will lead to a healthy development of mankind, if history is any indication.
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Author:

Besides fantasizing about being a Peter Gibbons at least for a couple of days at my work, I think I have a long way to go to realize some of the other fantasies. But like any ambitious man out there, I will get there! Note: All views expressed in this blog are mine alone and have got nothing to do with my company Cogent IBS, Inc., its employees or any of its affiliates.

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