When official institution fails, (un) conventional justice prevails

Blood feuds in Turkey are commonplace. Eye for an eye settlements, revenge, honor thy family, faction families in general… Add a dose of forced marriage or forbidden love, Panchayat Raj, and it is reminiscent of innumerable Telugu film scripts. Blood feuds are indeed common in both extremely underdeveloped, and transition economies. I grew up watching telugu evening news, which never failed to broadcast a murder or few killings that frequently took place in certain districts of Andhra Pradesh. This section of the news is where my father covered my eyes or changed the channel to avoid the consequent all-night long painful expression on my face. Few districts worth noting are Kadapa and Rayalaseema, which are hotbeds of faction feuds – and yes, they are still undeniably favored by Telugu filmmakers for shooting – in movie parlance of course!

The recent shooting of 44 guests at a wedding in Bilge, Turkey, as very tragic as it is, brings to the world’s conscience the state of several thousands of communities – from those in Afghanistan to Balkan states – reeling in disputes due to deficient political and legal institutions. Yet one mustn’t forget that faction feuds are embedded in the very sociocultural structure of these regions.. It is common to find killings that still take place over a 200yr old land dispute for instance. What complicates matters is the close ties with religion, customs and traditions that precede any official tenet of legal scriptures. Even the most efficient police headquarters in the community cannot do much without altering the social system, or significantly affecting the way people perceive things. These social systems have evolved through passage of time, and new cultures emerge out of them, constantly. Culture.. is intriguing. It is constantly changing; in my geeky view, culture is like a Taylor series expansion – a sum of infinite terms, which can be expressed in a single term… Assigning a culture a tangible designation is perhaps paradoxical because the elements that make it are constantly changing and have a long history (this is where I can conveniently incorporate my learning from Time Series class but I’ll save you the headache). Returning from my calculus-cultural detour to blood feuds, I think that conventional western institutions and their way of enforcing law are ineffective in less developed communities and leave a lot of room for local ideas to handle or settle disputes. Prominent peacemakers in some places fill the gap left behind by useless political systems, such as Sait Sanli


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