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Anshul is a Political Science and Law graduate from the University of Delhi. He is interested in political, legal and policy developments and frequently writes on related themes. You can contact him on anshulkumarpandey [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

When do men mature?

This first appeared in Daily News and Analysis

A recent photo shared by a popular Facebook page put me in a quandry. When do men really mature? What is the age when it is suitable to say that a man has enough intelligence to judge between what is right and what is wrong? When do they stop being impressionable and start being rational?



A recent photo shared by a popular Facebook page put me in a quandry. When do men really mature? What is the age when it is suitable to say that a man has enough intelligence to judge between what is right and what is wrong? When do they stop being impressionable and start being rational? The photo had tried to find those answers in light of the recent political developments but had concluded nothing.

Unfortunately, even medical science is split on this question. The relationship between age and maturity is a debatable one as it is difficult to determine how does one's biological development effects one's cognitive and psychological functions. So as Medical science gave me a cold shoulder, I turned from the particular to the general, i.e., how the society perceives maturity of men. But while the scenario here too was like that in the scientific arena, however, it was made even more interesting by the combination of a variety of factors.

Sample this: When it became known that one of the rapists involved in the Delhi Gang Rape case is a juvenile, the public was salivating at the jaw for his blood. A physician was called in to determine his 'real age'. When he found no discrepancy then a bone test was recommended. When the bone test refused to yeild anything, there was a clamour of voices in the media debates and talk shows where many legal experts and panellists cried that a person is mature enough by the age of 16-17 and that the age bar for juvenile crimes should be lowered to 16 years. Everyone demanded death penalty for someone who had been described as the "most brutal of all rapists".

So one sat back thinking that yes, a man attains maturity by the age of 16. They become adults capable of exercising judgement to protect themselves from the possibility of harm. But as the after effects of the gang rape case subsided and as media began to hunt for its next prey, there was suddenly the Supreme Court which handed the popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt a sentence of 5 years for possessing illegal arms. Suddenly, everyone was welling up. Tissue papers were being passed around by the public who said "What a pity! What about the poor man's family?" "What about his career?" "He is such a good hearted man!" Even the PCI Chairman Justice Katju, who thinks that 90% of Indians are fools, jumped on the bandwagon of foolishery by advocating a Governor Pardon. All this, after the fact that Dutt was not even charged by TADA but by the relatively lenient Arms Act and that the Supreme Court judges went to extraordinary lengths to give him the minimum punishment under the act. Politicians melted. "He was just 33 and quite impressionable at that age" said one. "He was just a child!" quipped another.

So one scratched his head and said "to hell with 16! No one even understands how people are and what effects will the acts have until they are 30-35. 35 actually. Moving towards old age and wiseness." But for some, even 35 is too young to be mature. Case in point: Rahul gandhi. The Congress seems to be obsessed with projecting the Gandhi scion perennially youthful, so much so that I hope he starts bagging commercials for various beauty products if the politics peters out. "Rahul Gandhi, at 42, is leading the Congress campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections" so say the media outlets. Even 42 is made to sound like 7.

Although I lost a couple of internet hours in trying to get an answer to this query of mine, I was not able to find a satisfying reply. While the age of maturity of men seems to be disputed among the various sections of the society, there exists no such dispute in the minds of a particular section of the society about the age of maturity of women. A women is mature enough as soon as she hits puberty, they say, and can be married off. 13, 14, 16...doesn't matter. In fact, women get so ripe with maturity around 35 that even men lose interest in them. Or so do some people in the Police say.

What does this difference of behaviour of our society towards two different genders tell about the atmosphere that we are living? For one thing, it does point towards the hypocrisy of perception that exists in the society about an individual regarding their status in public life, their social strata and most importantly, their gender. While we may shake our heads in disapproval of certain acts at a certain age, lets not get carried away by the superficial circumstances to trump rationality and give in to the popular sentiment. Take that as food for thought.