A million dollar question

Where have moral values gone?

Ethical values and moral traditions could vary from place to place as social norms and traditions change with the change of region. Things morally acceptable in the USA might not be socially acceptable in China or Russia. For example, leering or staring at a woman is a serious crime in the USA but in India such actions are treated as “routine matters” and in Afghanistan the culprits involved in such ‘routine matters’ have to face beheading. In the Western countries, we see that morality is considered the center of gravity and axis around which the whole system revolves; and this is the basic ingredient of all their success and all their achievements. Be it President Bill Clinton or anyone else; people in the West never forgive any kind of moral misconduct. They consider negation of ethical values as well as denial of moral traditions, the first step to the deterioration process of any society. That is the reason that they never compromise on ethical values and moral traditions.

You all must be remembering George Floyd, a black man who was brutally killed by a police officer in the last week of May 2020 in Minneapolis, USA. This brutality was strongly condemned by the whole nation. The moral values of the American people did not let them stand with a murderer though he was a white man. After that murder of a black man, the streets of Minneapolis thronged with thousands of protesters who were raising slogans in favour of the murdered black man and demanding strict action against the culprit. It was no doubt the public pressure that the Minneapolis government agreed to pay $27 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Floyd’s family on 12 March 2021. Moreover the police officer Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on 25 June 2021.

The same moral values you would find followed by Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and her people, when in two consecutive mass shootings on two mosques in Christchurch more than 50 people were killed and 40 injured. The horrible incident occurred on 15 March 2019. Jacinda, in spite of being a Christian, not only condemned this cruelty but also stood with the Muslim community. She did all her best to trace the culprit and to send him behind the bars. The whole nation also accompanied her in this journey to justice and impartiality. This all could have been possible only because a set-pattern of ethical values and moral traditions is always there to be followed by everyone from the USA to New Zealand.

Unfortunately the situation of human rights, justice and impartiality is not very much praiseworthy and appreciable in the Third World countries, particularly in the South Asian countries like India and Afghanistan. Recently the news of the Afghanistan government’s putting a ban on higher education of females in Afghanistan has mentally tortured not only the international world but specifically the Muslim world also. How could the followers of a religion which again and again emphasizes the need of education for all men and women, create hurdles for those yearning for education; it is no doubt a very valid question. Though the international peace-makers and care-takers of human rights are trying all their best to ease the situation, it is not easy to waive off the instant mental impact of such policies. It is the same type of impact which the people of Gujarat had to face in 2002 after the well planned massacre of the Muslims by the BJP hooligans under the ‘kind’ leadership of Narendra Modi, the present Prime Minister of India.

More painful is the fact that this year (2022) in the month of June, the Supreme Court of India handed over a clean chit to Mr Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India, had filed a petition for seeking an independent probe into the 2002 Gujarat riots cases; unfortunately that petition was also ‘flatly’ turned down. By showering blessings on the BJP and Mr. Modi, the Supreme Court of India intentionally ignored the bitter fact that Mr Modi had been banned till 2014 from entering countries such as the United States because of his direct involvement in the Gujarat massacre as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The bitter fact of the matter is that not only the Indian Muslims but almost all minorities are living in an inferno of human rights violations in India.

The BJP government is struggling to reshape India as a ‘minorities-free” country. Recently ‘The Maulana Azad National Fellowship’ given to minority students for higher education has been discontinued by the government. The Muslim community has expressed serious reservations on this act of the BJP government. All this unfairness rather injustice is only because of negation of ethical values and moral traditions. Where have gone the morality orated in the holy Gita and sacred Rig Veda; where have gone the lesson of humanity preached by the gods and goddesses; that is really a million dollar question.

Apoorvanand, a well-known analyst on minority affairs, is a professor at the Delhi University of India. Recently The Wire published his article with the title ‘The Escalating Attacks on Christians’. The writer says, “The insistence of India being secular does not change the reality for the violated Christians. Their houses have been broken if not demolished, their belongings looted or destroyed and they have been driven out of their habitats. They have been turned into internally displaced people pleading for relief. They want to return to what was and continues to be their homes.”

The BJP government is struggling to reshape India as a ‘minorities-free” country. Recently ‘The Maulana Azad National Fellowship’ given to minority students for higher education has been discontinued by the government. The Muslim community has expressed serious reservations on this act of the BJP government. All this unfairness rather injustice is only because of negation of ethical values and moral traditions. Where have gone the morality orated in the holy Gita and sacred Rig Veda; where have gone the lesson of humanity preached by the gods and goddesses; that is really a million dollar question.

Ali Sukhanvar
Ali Sukhanvar
The writer is an Associate Professor of English at Govt College of Science, Multan

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