Life in ‘Afternoon’
A human life must be divided into two parts—forenoon and afternoon. At the forenoon part (upto 40 years of age), everybody is busy for so many programmes, i.e. education, money making, family and so forth. All the schools and institutions are for this early part of life. But there is no school/college for above forty years old which would prepare the second half of life or afternoon life and its need as the ordinary schools/colleges introduce young people to knowledge of the world.

Second half of life varies from the forenoon or morning life. Only religious school is there. One cannot live 'the afternoon of life according to the programme of life's morning because what in the morning would be little at evening and what in the morning was true would at evening have become a lie.

Human beings are busy to prepare for comfortable life in many ways. Money making, social existence, family and personality are only natural. It is not cultural part of life. Old people are only the guardians who have wisdom and visions to be applied for progressive and advanced society.

But in this globalised society people reaching aged are alone and isolated. Their family as well as social network is narrowed and truncated. So, their mental health is in crisis, only religious schools and religious activities are their only adherence for survival with happiness.

In a comparative study of elderly mental health of rural and urban India, it was found that rural poor elderly who were invoked in religious schools and activities in their daily life were mentally in better condition than the elderly population of urban of socio-economically better off. About 89% of these poor elderly populations were isolated and neglected by their immediate family members and in their forenoon stage, they were occupationally daily labour. Now, they had no financial security, and they had to live with hunger, malnutrition and physically ill health. They had no association for their time pass. So, they adhered to the religious schools where a group of elderly met together and they involved in religious discussion. Sometimes, it was a group performance like Corus Songs, etc. It taught how to accept death happily and further, there was a chance of rectification of soul ('a substance that has an individual existence').

On the other hand, urban elderly population who was educationally, occupationally and culturally far better were mentally in adverse condition. They had sufficient social and economic security in their afternoon stage of life. They were also isolated from their immediate family members, and they felt neglected in their daily lives. They had no such associations or other for their time pass. Even, they hardly devoted time for religious involvement.

So, religion is the ultimate school for elderly in global society at their afternoon stage of life.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Diluting a Progressive Act
National Coalition for Strengthening SCs and STs (PoA) Act (NCSPA), a platform of more than 500 Dalits and Adivasis civil society organisatons, communities, leaders and activists expresses serious concern over the Supreme Court Judgment that diluted provisions related to anticipatory bail and immediate arrest under the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989. The ruling dilutes the very purpose of the progressive legislation, a legislation meant to protect the marginalised communities from caste based atrocities and discrimination.

The apex court instead of recognising the low conviction percentage, which remained at 25.7% for SCs and 20.8% for STs for the year 2016 add the high acquittal percentage which ended with 74.2% for SCs and 79.2% for STs, made its observation on the basis of a small number of cases which found to be false, 5347 for SCs and 912 for STs after the investigation. The judgment has not looked at the reasons for high number of increase in atrocities, low conviction rate and high acquittal rate and analysed its reasons. Some of the well known hurdles are shoddy investigation, incorrect and biased recording of victims’ and witnesses’ statements during investigation, filing of improper charge-sheet and undue delay in filing charge-sheets, in appropriate support mechanisms to the victims and witnesses by the investigating officers and public prosecutors and, as a whole, by the trial court. On the other hand there are hardly any cases where the public servants have been convicted under Section 4 of the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 for the above-mentioned willful neglect of their duties to be performed under the PoA Act.

The amendments to the Act came in force in year 2016 and but the concern remains about the implementation of the amended Act, as the experience says that even after the passage of more than one year the new provisions of SCs and STs (PoA) Amendment Act 2015 are not being enforced in a proper manner. The trends of gruesome atrocities against Dalit and Adivasis shows the same picture. It is painful to note that the court did not recognise the procedural hurdles and apathy of the State in implementing the provisions. Dalits and Adivasis communities suffering from inhuman atrocities like murders and mass-murders, social boycott and economic boycott, mass arsons, rapes, gang-rapes etc on a daily basis all over India.

The provision of the SCs and STs (PoA) Act, including the bar on anticipatory bail and immediate arrest of the accused has to be viewed in the context of prevailing social conditions and the apprehension that perpetrators of such atrocities are likely to threaten and intimidate the victims and prevent or obstruct them in the prosecution of these offenders during the whole trial process, if they are granted anticipatory bail or are not arrested immediately. The interpretation of the apex court of such provisions will further bring a loophole for the perpetrators of crime to evade the law, and hamper the whole trial process.
V A Ramesh Nathan,
National Convener, National Coalition for Strengthening the POA Act and its Implementation

Vol. 50, No.43, Apr 29 - May 05, 2018