While both seem unrelated, together they are indicative of a very sad reality of India.
Lynching indicates that we don’t feel that we have a state in charge of law and order, hence we form mobs to deliver justice. Old people dying alone indicates that we don’t have a humane society where people take care of each other.
In India, we have neither a state that we believe in, nor a society that we feel part of. It is an unprecedented development that needs serious attention.
We humans are a unique race where individuals naturally help each other in time of need. Empathy and sympathy are unwritten innate codes that have helped us form cooperating societies even before we invented the concept of a state.
Even before we had police stations, we had village communities that worked just as well by having a temple where a notional guardian of human morals was stationed in a symbolic form of God. He could enforce law and order because people sensed a social connect binding them.
As societies evolved, concept of state appeared that offered a more formal way of social organisation. Moral codes backed by almighty God formalised into written laws backed by might of a state offered the advantage of being more tangible and efficient.
State-governed formation of society is a great idea that various cultures have used to prosper rapidly, but we in India had a slightly different situation than many other nations that is worth noting. India has always been a bit too large for any formal system to control, and that poses a unique problem.
While we are culturally aping west, we are failing to realise that Western nations are far too small and hence a state is in the position to functionally, if not emotionally replace society. If an elderly person is ill and starving, state has mechanisms to reach out and offer him the support. So, the social job that a neighbour is expected to render in a human community is handled by a state-run system.
India, unfortunately, is far too big and far too poor to be able to switch completely over to a state-run system. We need human and humane communities as state is not capable to replace social support system.
The tragedy of modern India is, impressed by the success of western social structure, we have scuttled our social boat even before we could build the ship of an empowered state.
Today we fail to do our job as members of a society because we presume that, with presence of a state, we are absolved of our social responsibility. As Indian state is not really capable of replacing society, we constantly see failure of state in doing its job and are so badly disillusioned about it that we don’t trust it to do its job. This vicious cycle leads us to form lynching mobs to take over the job of the state.
Where we stand today as a nation, we must accept that we are not yet ready to have a state capable of replacing society. We need empathetic human communities in the core of our society. If we take care of each other, state will be less burdened, people will be less cynical and the vicious cycle that is destroying our nation can be halted. If we don’t rediscover humane society and operate it in tandem with the state soon, we are doomed as a nation.