Published On : Sat, Aug 29th, 2015

Sheena Bora Murder Mystery : Has materialism taken over family values?

Indrani Mukerjea (left) and Sheena Bora (right)

Indrani Mukerjea (left) and Sheena Bora (right)

For the last three days, media has only one depressing story to tell – the Indrani and Peter Mukerjea family saga. They have restructured the entire case and also how the murder took place with the precision of time and place.
The only official briefing from Mumbai Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria confirms that they have recovered the skeleton of Sheena which has been sent for DNA testing and her passport that negates the theory that she was in the United States. It is so bizarre that one feels one is watching a TV serial rather than news. One wonders if it is really happening in India, as India has been known to the outside world as a society of big joint families. So, is it the emergence of a new society till now alien to the old one?

We need to examine the ills of this new society. I am sure some of us remember the time maybe till late 80s, when joint families was the way of life. Values were more important than the materialistic world. Wealth was worshiped as Maa Lakshmi. Words of wisdom came from elders in the family.

I remember, when I was growing up, there were certain unwritten rules which all of us happily obeyed and respect for each other came naturally. We all went out together – whether to visit a temple or watch a movie or just go to eat out at a restaurant. We shared our joys and sorrows. At any point of time if we faced a problem the elders in the family would come to console us and show us the way to sort out the problem. We were taught by example how the stature of our parents came before God. How our teachers came before God. How even ‘atithi’ was equated to God! Parents would do everything possible to make their children good human beings and good citizens of the country. Women were always looked upon as mother or sister.

When and where exactly we left, if at all, this ethos of India? I think the great change in society in recent times came after the so-called economic reforms, when the materialistic world overtook the world of values. Money became a status symbol. Harshad Mehta emerged as the symbol of new India. Home makers and even villagers started playing the stock market. Stock market tips became more important than tips given by grandparents on values of life. Lust and greed got the better of the high society. This to my mind was a big turning point in the upper middle class Indians.


‘Money at any cost’ became the priority. The so called religious gurus were surrounded by the rich and famous rather than the real knowledge seekers ‘Jigyasu’. Even the political class became almost subservient to the neo rich. No one questioned the means of wealth. The smell of concentrated perfume with a big car started commanding more respect than a professor of IIT or IIM, a doctor or an engineer. Don’t get me wrong- I am not against wealth but the means are important. The unfortunate Sheena episode to my mind is a symptom of a society that has lost its priorities and values.

This so called high society does not comprise of the learned and people with wisdom. We have become too obsessed with Bollywood, cricket and the neo rich. At a typical Delhi elitist party who do we find- Bollywood stars, cricketers, the neo rich businessmen, glamorous politicians (not the grassroot ones), some of the otherwise known criminals and middlemen brushing shoulders with the police and income tax officers. The party is never complete without TV personalities. Hugs and kisses have replaced a warm handshake or namaskar. You don’t have to ask anymore whether one drank alcohol (it is taken for granted) you are only asked what is your poison (drink). If an odd person like me says thanks but I don’t drink then the host or the hostess would as if pity me! So we are now a modern society not lagging behind any affluent society in the world?

Even today in the United States, a presidential candidate during election time would always be seen with his spouse, children and maybe a family dog emphasizing the importance of a healthy family life. There is no substitute to bringing up children with total love and affection. Values can never replace money.

The present unfortunate episode of Sheena is heartbreaking and hope it is an aberration. This should be a wakeup call, especially for the young parents who must understand that all that glitters is not gold. Lust and greed will only result in tragedy. May Sheena’s soul rest in peace.

– The author is a former Union Minister and a current Lok Sabha MP representing Barrackore, West Bengal. The views expressed by the author are personal.
– By Dinesh Trivedi (source : Indian Express)