Systemic issues of India

Gun, Gandhiji & Mr Pink Pants

As a gun played a very important role in meteoric rise of Pink Pants across India, it tempts me to quote something very interesting from our history when a great man spoke in favour of men like Mr Pink Pants.

“Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look back upon the Act depriving the whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity.”

There is no prize guessing about the man who spoke these words!

He is none other than Mahatma Gandhi, the man who is almost the last messiah to walk the earth spreading the message of peace and harmony through non-violence.

Guns are, thus a very confusing subject and the debate about civilian entitlement to carry them is so huge that it regularly decides the fate of entire humanity by playing a critical role in the election of the most powerful executive on the planet, the president of US of A.

It is strange that India has rarely noticed that guns are amongst us, not just with Mr Pink Pants, but also in the hands of most of our peace-loving politicians, their children and many other law-abiding citizens that you and I may not be very keen to meet in a dark alley.

I am awed by gun owners in India because I look at them as equals of Supreme Court Judges or rather more, as even a Supreme Court judge is not empowered to pass a judgement to terminate a human life instantaneously, while a gun owner like Mr Pink Pants, even if intoxicated, can pass such a judgement in a jiffy.

Though the Pink Pants have made the issue a bit comic, it needs most serious debate in India because by neglecting to give guns their due attention, we have created a strange imbalance in the society.

If we look at the historical genesis of Indian Arms Act that controls civilian ownership of weapons today, it was originally a strategic response by the British to the first freedom struggle that Indian people managed to put together in 1857 (partially because prior to 1857 there was not much gun control in India so it allowed Indians to organise an armed uprising).

After thwarting the freedom struggle the British Crown decided to take over the rule of India from East India Company, and one of the critical legal enactments it brought was Arms Act 1878 that disallowed natives to carry arms.

It was a disarmament of an entire nation of people only to ensure that they can’t rise against the foreign oppress and can be kept enslaved.

When British occupation ended, free India had many other pressing issues so our parliament was not too bothered to worry about guns from the perspective of empowering citizens. 

Most of we use today as Arms Act came in 1959, but it has retained the essence of original British Arms Act of 1878 that our oppressor had used. It is fundamentally an act serving a state that wants to limit the presence of arms in the society.

So, we live in a nation where guns are a commodity controlled by the state that allows ownership of these death-machines mostly to those who can convince the state that protection offered to civilians by the state authorities is not enough and they need to possess the power to kill a human being for self-protection.

As we have little information to be judgemental about the threats that our gun-toting Mr Pink Pants is living with, I would rather leave him here (for my own safety) and move to the issue of gun ownership.

Unlike USA where gun ownership is a choice, in India we, the common citizens have no choice. We are forced to live alongside armed people.

Though the Indian Arms Act is designed to ensure that only after stringent verification of the facts a gun licence is granted, the ground reality is, it is a prerogative of the police and hence it is open to manipulation and corruption.

If I use my journalistic privileges and make a guess in good faith, an average gun owner in India is mostly a man who likes to show off his power and connections and not someone who really needs self-protection.

Let us understand that gun is an ultimate authority and hence when it is granted to few, it becomes a dangerous situation for the rest. 

As most of us are unarmed, if we meet a gun-slinging Mr Pink Pants, we have no hope of defying his authority or will. We become helpless subjects of his whims and probably state of drunken-ness.  

If you feel that guns are not too common in India to fear them in practical terms, do look at social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. You will be shocked to see the number of young kids posing with arms, especially from rural India. 

Gun culture is rising across India. Guns are now as coveted as fast cars and every rich man hopes to own one.

The truth is, gun law can have only two options for the balance of power. 

It is either all guns or no guns. 

So, if likes of Mr Pink Pants are getting an opportunity to wave a gun in a public place, we want it too; and if we don’t get that, government must ensure that they don’t get it either. 

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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