Sunday, March 4, 2018

Bystander Apathy kills....

SreeNair | 5:08 AM | | |
e watch ,holding breath in awe, the amazing videos on YouTube and in Geographical Channels- of animals saving other animal lives. Baboon saving a deer or an impala from cheetah. Beer help saves a bird from water, elephant fights the lion to save buffalo, so on and so forth. In a dramatic confrontation on the plains of Africa-shot on one vedio in Kruger National Park- we see a herd of buffalo, whose natural born enemy is the lion, save an elephant calf to safety, chasing away a group of female lions .

It happens in the animal world when a co-inhabitant is caught in conflict with a much heftier enemy, a divine common thread binds them, even on the face of an assured damage.

Saji Anto, 46, a native of Kalluvettukuzhi Veedu, Nellankara of Thrissur district in Kerala fell from the fourth floor of the hotel in Cochin where he had been staying. Police said that he felt dizzy while standing on the terrace and plummeted on to the busy MG Road below , his legs hitting a parked two-wheeler before he collapsed. The CCTV footage showed people gathering around him, vehicles streaming, but none cared to take him to a hospital.

Ranjini Ramanand, a lawyer practising at the High Court for the last 23 years happened to be on the spot while on her way to the metro station along with her daughter. She desperately sought help from others to lift him up and shift to a nearby hospital. To her utter dismay, no one bothered to call a vehicle or help her take Saji to hospital despite repeated requests, Ranjini said that she saw youngsters who were not willing to extend a helping hand to the victim . The lawyer finally got help from a couple travelling on a four-wheeler. Saji with injuries to his cervical spine was shifted to the Government General Hospital and later to the trauma care unit at the Kottayam Medical College . Ranjini got accolades from the Kerala Assembly for her timely intervention to save the man's life. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan took it to social media to appreciate her, where he also expressed his shock over the muted response of the passers-by. Actor Jayasurya in a Facebook post congratulated her and spoke his mind to bow down to her.

This is not a one-off incidence .The crowd insensitivity does not limit to Kerla alone. We as a race are desensitised bystanders to give no two hoots to the dire need of the victims of violence and accident. People are too edgy, stuck up in the warped logic that works up cravenness and fights shy of the citizens duty-a breed of fascinated spectators, not conscientious enough to help the needy.

Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty calls it a complete collapse of the community consciousness. The "bystander effect" that forbids onlookers from taking action, he says, is typical Indian psyche. "We are taught from a very young age not to meddle in others' affairs. When it comes to helping someone who is not a part of your family or friends' circle, people tend to row back. “Taking a stand and rocking the boat is not part of our psyche," he said. He likens the "chronic disaster syndrome" that

India is going through to psychopathic liberation where people wreak havoc in a place stricken by disaster. Just as thefts are seen in places ravaged by earthquakes or wars, there is a collapse of the cultural superego, which is otherwise an inhibitor in these situations.

NDTV reports this shocking public apathy on Feb 02,2017 headlined: Lying In Blood, Karnataka Teen Cried For Help. They Filmed Him Instead. On February 1, 18-year-old Anwar Ali, whose bicycle was hit by a bus, bled to death on a road in Karnataka under the watch of several bystanders . It was only two days before, Mahesh Kumar, a 38-year-old police officer was left bleeding , lay mauled in a police jeep for nearly an hour after a road crash in Mysore. The people stood encircled but did nothing to take him to the hospital. These recent episodes explain the bystander responses in big cities to helpless victims in need of urgent reaction.

Aravindra Pandey the Nirbhayas friend recounts the 90 minutes ordeal in those decisive moments on the fateful night of December :
"After raping Jyoti, the attackers threw us out. We were lying on the road stripped of clothes. I tried to get up and wave at the vehicles and pedestrians in transit. Some cars stopped, saw us and left in a jiffy. Then the highway patrol van spotted us and we were taken to the hospital. People kept staring at me in the hospital.”

A few days later-true to the irony - half of Delhi were on the roads-candle lit, seeking justice for Jyoti chanting in processions ''Saari Delhi yahan hai, Sheila Dixit kahan hai"

In 2013, Kanhaiya's wife and infant daughter were hit by a vehicle in Jaipur. For almost one hour, he huddled their bodies to his chest-begging for help. Nobody stopped and let them die. The media brawled and hollered at the abysmal fall in public passivity. It shrieked and screamed:“ India wants to know why its people have become so unblushing and insensitive”.

Vinay Jindal In July 2015, bled to death after an accident in east Delhi. His death sparked a furore that spurred the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask people to come in the aid of road victims. But, we never learn.

A 24-year old Infosys tech worker S Swathi was murdered at a busy railway station in Chennai on June 24. Ramkumar, who had allegedly been stalking Swathi, hacked her to death with a sickle and calmly walked away as horror-struck passersby watched and did nothing. Ramkumar was arrested a week later and allegedly committed suicide in prison on September 18. She died simply because no one came to help. All stood frozen watching for two hours.

Indians are voyeurs; they seldom help victims on road mishap. In countries like France, Germany, Belgium, failing to provide help and passive attitude is a criminal offence. A bystander overlooking an accident victim is liable for imprisonment up to five years and a hefty fine. However, in India, it continues to remain a directive.

Such a tepid crowd response, doing little on the face of heinous atrocities ,even to raise an alarm is despicable. There are also cases where bystanders produced videos as a person was committing suicide, a lower caste man was being flogged and a victim was getting molested.
According to the Law Commission of India, 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved had timely assistance been rendered to them. India has just one percent of the world's vehicles. Yet we contribute to 10 percent of the global deaths in accidents. Fifty percent victims die of injuries that could have been averted.

Savelife Foundation , an NGO working on road safety, in a survey in 2013,reveals that 74 percent of Indians will fail to help an accident victim even in the company of other bystanders. On the basis of a national study of past cases conducted by it, the foundation submits that three out of four people in India hesitated to come to the rescue of a road accident victims. Even when indifference can be one reason, 88% of this apathy attributed to the perceived procedural harangues one might face at the hands of police and the hospital authorities. These hassles include intimidation by police, unnecessary detention at hospitals and prolonged legal formalities.

Bystander Apathy – Explains Why People At Accidents Or Emergencies Do Nothing

Jhon Darley and Bibb Latane , two American psychologists have been the first to coin the term “Bystander Effect in 1968. They conducted a series of lab experiments to examine how the presence of others influences people's helping behaviour in an emergency situation based on a murder which occurred in New York City in 1964.

On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in front of her home. She parked her car a few feet from her apartment when all of a sudden, a man named Winston Moseley hunted her down and gored to death. Kitty screamed for help and a neighbour responded shouting at the criminal. Winston decamped in his car leaving the girl crawling towards her apartment. Minutes later he returned to the scene. After finding her lying almost unconscious where he left her , he stabbed the already wounded Kitty several times more. He stole the money of the victim, sexually assaulted and fled.

When the news of this tragic crime hit the stands, there was much debates on the selfishness and indifference of people in general, and in particular of the people who live in big cities. Darley and Latane found that the reason people did not help in an emergency was due to a social psychological concept is known as ‘diffusion of responsibility’, also known as the ‘bystander effect’ or ‘bystander apathy’.

Two reasons were offered to explain the bystander apathy effect. First is diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when other people think that another person will intervene and as a result, they feel less responsible.

The second explanation is pluralistic ignorance. This refers to the mentality that since everyone else is not reacting to the emergency; my personal help is not needed. Seeing the inaction of others will lead to the thought that the emergency is not that serious as compared to perception when he is alone.
Diffusion of responsibility suggests that the greater the number of witnesses at the scene of an emergency the less likely the victims are to receive help. This is because each person that is present feels less responsible to do something because he or she feels that someone else will do it. On the other hand, if only one person is present at the scene of an emergency, that individual is most likely to help, because he or she feels responsible since there is no one else around.
There are also other factors that contribute to the bystanders not assisting in an accident or emergency, including ambiguity and cohesiveness.
Ambiguity refers to the sense of feeling unknown in a crowd, so the individual thinks (consciously or unconsciously) that if I do not assist, no one will know because no one here knows me. Cohesiveness means feeling a part of a united whole. So, during that incident and for that brief period, individuals who may never have met before, subconsciously bond together; looking in awe at the sight together, talking together, exclaiming together, and so on. So, if one person does nothing, everyone else is likely to do nothing – because they feel like a united whole, moving together (or not), and in synchrony.
So, in the scenario above, individuals may have stood by without helping because each expected that someone else would help, resulting in ‘bystander apathy’ (no one doing anything to help). visit:

The bystander effect is further being compounded by the gadget era. We are a generation of cell-fishes ,smart cookies chained in smart phones, tablets, ipads, and the like and are drowned in social media : Facebook, Skype, Instagram, Whatsapp and others. The young in particular revels in capturing the moment, making it ‘viral’ , showcase it and feel proud of the ‘likes’ it could fetch.

According to the Law Commission of India, 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved had timely assistance been rendered to them.
A bench comprising justices V. Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra directed the Centre to give wide publicity to the guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans at the hands of the police or any other authority which clearly stipulate that people who help victims of road accidents or other calamities are not harassed in any way. The decision of the Supreme Court granting legal teeth to the guidelines assumes significance because the Centre has always claimed that it has found it difficult to enforce guidelines in the absence of any statutory backing. With the court order, the guidelines and standard operating procedures have become binding in all states and union territories. The guidelines are an interim measure to deal with the issue till the Centre enacts appropriate legislation –but are also a crucial step in that direction. In order to ensure the effective implementation of the guidelines and SOPs, it is imperative that a comprehensive Good Samaritan law is enacted at the Central and state level,” the foundation said. Such a legislation, it added, would give legal backing to the guidelines, address the concerns of the Good Samaritans and protect them from all forms of harassment. The panel, appointed by the apex court in 2014, made 12 major recommendations in all, including setting up of State Road Safety Councils, evolving a protocol for the identification.

The guidelines were later approved by the Supreme Court and published in the Gazette of India Para 1 of Section 1 of the notification dated May 12, 2015. The guidelines clearly directs all hospitals, police and other authorities that “a bystander or good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital, and the bystander or good Samaritan should be allowed to leave immediately after furnishing address by the eyewitness and no question shall be asked to such bystander or good Samaritan.

The fear remains rooted and we wheel out the same arguments even after a year has passed since the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans, as per Supreme Court’s directives.

With androids in everyone’s pocket it is not a big deal to call for an ambulance or inform the the police. But we would selfie, showcase them on facebook and waltz in our profound indignation on social media instead of taking the timely intervention. This is the case even though the Supreme Court explicitly issued guidelines in March 2016 to protect bystander-helpers or good Samaritans who aid victims in need. Duty to rescue laws force you to rescue someone and Good Samaritan laws prevent you from being held liable for problems


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