Pune Porsche Accident Is A Symptom

‘Pune Porsche Accident is a Symptom of What Ails Our Society’

Pune Porsche Accident Is A Symptom

Gopal MS, 50, an advertising professional based in Mumbai, says the Pune drink and drive episode brings to fore the Two Indias that exist in our nation. His views:

A 17-year-old boy got drunk in a pub and drove his unregistered Porsche way after midnight on the streets of Pune, killing, tragically, two young IT professionals, a man and a woman, riding a motorcycle.  Surprisingly, he was released on a Sunday, very, very quickly. His punishment? A mere 15 days of voluntary work with the traffic cops and an ‘essay’ on road accidents.

But I am not surprised; this is a pattern we have seen for decades. In 1985, Shankar Nag, the late Kannada filmmaker (of Malgudi Days fame), made an award-winning movie called Accident which had the same theme. The film was inspired by a similar incident. We see this happening across India every year, and once in a few months, and the case is quickly buried in the media. 

What is indeed surprising is the anger that this story has generated in the media and social media. It could be because it came too soon after a closely contested election in Pune. However, it’s the coming together of a quick release, weekend holiday courts that help the rich, the lenient punishment, and the widespread outrage over the fact that rules do not apply to certain individuals in India. 

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It brought into focus the ‘Two Indias’ that exist.

It also features a builder’s son, and if you live in Mumbai, Pune, or Bangalore, you know there is a strong builder-politician nexus. Politicians are untouchable, but a builder is not.

Also, people and the media exploded in anger during this brief period between the election and the results, when the strong men they feared were unsure about the results. This news would have been easily buried a few days later, like several other similar cases. 

This accident has exposed corruption and the people involved in it. I would like to see civil society use this to ensure that people in positions of power are made accountable and rules are followed.

What I do not want to see is people baying for blood or death penalty for the accused. He should be punished under the existing laws, and, we, the people and the civil society, should speak for treating all Indians equally before the law. 

From existing data, we know that the gap between the richest and the rest is increasing. These individuals belong to the top 0.0001 per cent of India’s richest families and communities. They are all men and products of toxic patriarchy, dominant structures, and their power politics that made them rich. This is not about rich kids, but a class of people in positions of power. It is the same class of people as JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna, or BJP MP Brij Bhishan Singh of the Wrestling Federation of India. They have the protection of the men who are in power.

The solution is to strengthen democracy and create a structure where people in power who enable this can be made accountable.

Drink and drive: it’s a symptom of all of the above problems in society. Then, there is the question of the prevailing ‘car culture’ in our cities. The toxic masculinity, where ‘muscle-cars’ have power, money, caste and community marked on them. We have a loud lobby that screams for solutions like the death penalty, banning alcohol, and other knee-jerk reactions, while ignoring strengthening institutions and processes that can effectively prevent such incidents from happening.

We, obviously, need serious legal reforms. After 26/11, the then prime minister of India went on national television and said that we should reform the police forces. Maybe, now is the time!

As told to Amit Sengupta

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30 days ago

Can’t agree more. This is what we have come to as a species in this country. The vast gulf between the haves, the wannabes, and the have-nots has never been more pronounced.

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