Little India Riot COI: On India street culture and 'law of underdog'

Little India Riot COI: On India street culture and 'law of underdog'
Mr Chakravarthy felt that the riot was neither pre-meditated nor a result of any pent-up frustration among foreign workers here, but rather an expression of what he called "the law of the underdog" when passers-by could band together to take on a perceived bully.

CROWDS in India have a tendency of ganging up to take on bullies and a "law of the underdog" may have escalated the violence during the Dec 8 riot.

This was according to a projects director who was born in India and said he often witnessed such altercations in his homeland.

Mr Rintu Chakravarthy, who is now a Singapore citizen, told the Committee of Inquiry on Tuesday that he had experienced several riots when he was growing up.

There was usually a "hierarchy" of reaction where passers-by would gather and gang up on the perceived bully, he added.

"In street culture in India, a pedestrian crossing the road wrongly, if hit by a scooter, the mob would attack the scooter," he said.

"If the scooter is... hit by a car, the mob would attack the car. If the car is hit by a bus, the mob would attack the bus."

This meant the riot was neither pre-meditated nor a result of any pent-up frustration among foreign workers here, but rather an expression of what Mr Chakravarthy calls "the law of the underdog".

The 47-year-old projects director at Lum Chang Building Contractors said such incidents were common in India - where most of the workers in the riot here were from - and could be explained by the mob mentality that night.

"There is this huge wave of sympathy towards a fellow brother or a comrade, and whether the other people know him... it becomes immaterial," he added, stressing that his views were a "personal feeling".

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