Swathi : Reflections

The brutal killing of Swathi, glaringly reveals several ‘fault lines’ in our society caused by several systemic failures, education being foremost, not to forget ‘make-believe’ notions about appearance and skin color.

Apart from the above, I believe that the incident raises serious questions about

  1. Value of a life
  2. Values needed in life
  3. What we need to value in life

Of course, whatever be the deficiencies in a system or imposed beliefs, nothing can and will ever justify murder. A causal analysis of this incident must never be read otherwise and my purpose is not defending the indefensible.


Value of a Life

As the facts emerge, it is clear that Swathi was unattended to for more than 2 hours after she was attacked by the assailant. One does not know for sure if her life could have been saved if she had been hospitalized but it is indeed shocking that onlookers just chose to take the next local train.

For long, Indian legal system has remained stacked against the good Samaritan. It is almost a crime to be a good citizen in India because it creates so much of hassle for anyone who dares to help someone unknown. We have become a society of “curious onlookers” fearing either personal safety or harassment from authorities.

In the process, we have completely demeaned the “value of a life”. Most of us are comfortable passing ‘arm-chair’ judgements (including yours truly!) on what could have been done to save a life rather than doing it ourselves.

A serious introspection from each one of us is needed but before that the government must do away with archaic laws / procedures and whatever other impediments that come in the way of saving the life of an unknown person.

It is certainly not the mark of a civilized society to leave a critically wounded person, dying on a road for want of help.


Values needed in life

The alleged killer of Swathi is identified as someone who comes from a mixed parentage. Even before the blood stains in Nungambakkam Railway Station could be washed away, the social media went abuzz with accusations ranging from ‘love jihad’ to ‘brahmanical tyranny’ etc.…

Whoever gave or gives it a spin beyond what it actually is – nipping of a young life – must really reflect upon his / her value systems.

It is immaterial whoever is at fault or should I say ‘more fault’, a life was lost.  If as a society we cannot have a clear perspective on such an incident, without coloring it with our own biases, we cannot lay claims of having morals.

What is with the Indian society that useless demographics of caste, religion, community takes precedence over real facts ? And what makes us defend something as brazen as killing merely because the perpetrator “may” share some useless, common identity marker ?

As is often joked that we discover our ‘Indianess’ only during an India-Pakistan match, I wonder what will make us discover our core humanity, breaking off the various barriers of identity ?

Only when, we as a society, are able to empathize with human suffering, based on a principled stance, can we ever claim to have any values in life.

What we need to value in life

Whoever said that “Hell hath no fury, like a woman scorned” must certainly be turning in his grave. Men, after all, don’t seem to be taking rejection too easily either.

Preliminary interrogations indicate that the killing is an act of vengeance by a jilted lover ; a lover who probably was hoping against hope that his “sincere” attempts to woo the girl, despite significant differences in their socio-economic backgrounds would succeed.

The usual response of a man who has gone through a “love failure” – as the phrase goes-  is to drown himself in liquor. Whether it is to convince himself that he cannot love someone else or too lazy to try once again, one wouldn’t know. From the realm of such self-imposed exile, newer trends started emerging such as causing break-down of marriages, throwing acid, the killing confirms the ghastly turn, rejection has taken.

Apart from turning down his proposal, the girl apparently made not so kind remarks about the assailant’s looks. Possibly a double-whammy.

It is questionable whether the man “really” loved the girl because his declaration to the cops that “she shouldn’t be available for anyone else” clearly puts his self-interest above everything else.

There isn’t a worse oxymoron than “killing for love”, whatever be the provocation. In a moment of madness and uncontrollable rage, the man has possibly lost his opportunity to find a more suitable girl for himself.

We need to be aware as to what we value the most in life – we have got plenty to choose from, let alone, senseless obsession.

We need to value the gift of life over everything else, the opportunity to be something, to do something and live for something. Obsessing about one thing over everything else in life, is the easiest way to throw away the gift.

Losing a girl, isn’t the most unmanly thing for a man. As Vairamuthu said :  “Love has the expanse of a Sea ; Why swim just in a single Tumbler”.

Swathi didn’t deserve to die, and Ramkumar had no business to kill.


About hariharanbond
I am who I am !

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