Thoughts from India #3: To Scold or Not to Scold

It all started in Shirdi (about 6 hours from Mumbai). We went to visit the famous Sai Baba (Hindu God) temple, where thousands of people come daily to do their prayers. The line up to get in took just over two hours.

About half an hour into the wait, I saw some people well ahead of me all staring in the same direction. At first I thought maybe we were close to the entrance and that’s what they were all looking at. But then I saw more people looking in the same direction. All I could see was a small shed-looking booth, but as the line moved forward I saw windows, and an officer standing inside looking down at a man who looked in his mid-twenties.

All of a sudden, he lifted his hand with a long wooden baton and started beating the man. Even if you looked away you could still hear each hit, about every two seconds. My stomach turned inside out and I felt like throwing up. I felt so much pain inside after witnessing with my own eyes someone get hurt so bad. I couldn’t stop staring with horror, especially after seeing the man’s face and how helpless he looked. It was as if he was begging the police officer to stop. My grandma kept telling me to stop watching and that the man had obviously done something wrong. But I kept thinking to myself that no person deserves to be so brutally beaten, and that scolding would never solve anything. I stood there with disgust at how backwards my country was.

But a few hours later once everything had settled, I thought carefully about what had happened and whether or not my feelings were still the same.

Now I arrived in India in the midst of all the gang rape protests happening in Delhi, where the public were demanding that the government take the rapes more seriously and order harsher punishments for the rapists involved.

It then made me think- if that man being scolded was in fact one of the men involved in the gang-rape, would I still be upset to see him being beaten after what he did? Suddenly everything changes. I definitely reacted on impulse, probably because it was the first time I saw a person of authority scolding someone, something we’ll never see in Canada.

Ryerson, what are your thoughts on this issue? Are you for or against scolding as a form of punishment? Open discussion in our comments section is encouraged!

Sending love from Mumbai!