A few years ago, a video appeared in China about a hit and run accident, where the victim lay on the ground on a busy city street while people ignored him and went on their way. The video sparked outrage throughout China. I for my part while being horrified at the idea felt reassured that such things could not happen where I live.
Certainly in all the accidents I have seen in Bangalore, people have rushed forward to help the victim. In Delhi, my mother once had a serious accident that kept her bedridden for almost a year. She only reached hospital in time because strangers went out of their way to help her.
I was disabused of my complacency about Indian society yesterday. A youngster was hit by a bus in Karnataka (the state where I live). The people who gathered around did not help him. Instead they took pictures and videos as he called for help. He was finally taken to hospital after half an hour where he was declared dead.
A former head of the British Intelligence Service remembered a conversation he had with a high ranking Chinese official about what his greatest worry for the future of China was. The official replied, ‘values’. Economic changes had resulted in a whole generation of Chinese leaving their homes and migrating ot cities for work. Under the breakdown of traditional family and social structure, the official worried about the kind of values young people were imbibing and how that would affect society in the future.
In India, we have a similar uprootment, we are still grappling with the consequences.