Why are we on a short fuse?

Why are we on  a short fuse?

In the middle of the night a man rings the door bell of our house to ask about the bike he had parked in front of our house. When informed that since it was obstructing the entrance it was thus parked elsewhere, he picked up an argument and was on the verge of a physical fight when a neighbour intervened and pacified him.

While the aforesaid is a personal experience, there are many similar reports that have been flooding the newspapers. Fighting over trivial issues has gone to such an extent that now, people are even being murdered. Quarrels over parking space leading to murders, have become alarmingly ‘normal’. So much so that it generated no condemnation or anger when people recently read about a 26-year-old man who was allegedly stabbed to death by assailants, following an argument over watching TV at high volume, in north-east Delhi!

Cases like these seem to have become fairly common in urban areas. “Incidents of murder over trivial issues, have increased lately,” says Bhisham Singh, DCP, Crime Branch, North-South Delhi, listing the basic reasons for the surge in such cases.

“One, there is unavailability of ample parking space, two, there is no restriction on the number of cars that one person can buy and three there is a definite lack of patience and tolerance, especially in the metros.”

Singh admits that at times even police personnel get surprised at the triviality of an issue over which a murder takes place. “But the major reason is that almost every other individual is dissatisfied today,” he adds pointedly.

The statement doesn’t astonish for the stress levels have indeed gone up due to various factors.

“From the point of view of social dynamics, we live in smaller, nuclear families and therefore have less support system. Also, everyone faces pressure and politics at the work place. Thus every person is on the edge today,” explains Dr Samir Parikh, director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.     

He adds that while a neighbour was part of an extended family a decade ago, it is no more the same.

“There is a huge disparity between what we want and what we get. This leads to de-sensitisation among people who start thinking that they know their rights. There is hardly any fear of consequence in them, which also reflects the social milieu, of our country which is facing a constant decline in the value system,” he adds.

“The scenario today is very different from the 50s and 60s or even 70s. And a major reason for this is that our society is focussing on materialistic acquisition,” says Prof Aditya Mukherjee, Dean, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. 

“There has been no major movement in our society in the recent past. “Be it a religious, social or developmental movement. In the 19th century when we had reforms, such as the Arya Samaj Movement for instance, it was supported by one and all to collectively build a society which is humane.”  

“People today expect to be successful and for that they can even go to each other’s throat. This is a social attitude that needs to be studied,” the professor says, emphasising on the need to “realise why such a moral degradation is happening in a country like India where family values were given the highest regard.”

“When we interviewed people who were a part of the Nationalistic Movement and asked them what inspired them to be a part of it, they said that their teachers and parents encouraged them to do something for their society and country.”        
“Unfortunately, what prevails today is extreme individualism. This is a reflection of lack of concern for the other,” says Mukherjee implying that teachers and parents nowadays ask their students to become something so that they can support themselves atleast. But in this race to become self-sufficient, aren’t we becoming self-centred too?     

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