London Nightmares


Photograph of this 11-year-old boy stealing a wine bottle from a broken shop in recent London riots hugely upset me. He was reportedly the youngest looter among a few thousands charge-sheeted. We all know United Kingdom recently faced one of its worst crises. The rioting and looting is indeed disturbing but what is more worrying is the kid stealing alcohol. It cannot be looked at as a case in isolation but has deeper undercurrents.
The boy appears too young and immature to understand implications of his action. However, we, as mature and sensible people, need to dwell on repercussions of this and try to find answers to questions the London riots have thrown up.
Gunning down of a 29-year-old jobless black man, reportedly innocent, by the police triggered the chain of occurrences. Protests began and resentment spread like wild fire through social networking. Involvement of young people in the riots stunned the world. Experts have attributed the trouble to unemployment, racial discrimination, economic slowdown, youth frustration, alienation, poor parenting and so on. It is reported that around a million people between 16 and 24 years are officially unemployed there, the most since the recession of the mid-1980s.
Given the huge unemployment, youth frustration and alienation could be the pushing factors. Along with many frustrated and poor youth, we come across a charity worker, a daughter of a millionaire, even an Olympic ambassador among those brought to book. But the 11-year-old keeps flashing before my eyes.
Let’s not blame him alone. What about parenting? Can’t he be a child of some disillusioned parents? We can’t rule out the possibility of people, still finding direction in their lives, becoming parents. It may sound harsh, but will they have enough values to pass on to their kids? Parenting can’t be looked at just as a biological process. A kid’s intellectual and emotional upbringing matters most. We hire maids to mind children and enroll them in day-boarding because we’re too tied up! It seems we are so busy that even our own kids become a kind of liability to us.
We don’t need an analyst to tell that food bought even from a five-star hotel can’t match the taste of that mother’s recipe. Similarly, how can a hired maid have that parental touch? More importantly, if parents themselves are groping in the dark, how can they show light to kids?
Today, not just in the Western countries but also in India, many teenagers have experiences they are not expected to have at the tender age; smoking, drinking and sex. It starts as a thrill and enters the realm of addiction. When things look favourable, teenagers like this 11-year-old boy literally grab the opportunity unmindful of the consequences.  They may not be aware of all this but we must spare a thought on minimising such possibilities. And this boy is a future parent, remember.
Secondly, let’s not blame the riots on frustration and unemployment. There is more to it and that’s growing opportunism. Our approach is getting so materialistic that we are in no mood to let an opportunity go. Power failures, brief albeit, in USA had witnessed a series of thefts. Is the attitude in the UK riots any different?
Isn’t it time to contemplate seriously? Can we allow such riots to run unabated? Shouldn’t we stand up and be counted? The questions are many but the answer is not far to seek though. We can’t put the matter to rest just by saying that the world runs because of a handful of good people. Unless each of us strives to be among the handful, the situation can go out of hand.
- KanChan

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