Sunday, December 30, 2012

India Grieves with Outrage!


I am sure many of you have been following the ordeal of a 23 year old woman who was the victim of a horrific gang-rape in New Delhi recently. The Associated Press is reporting the victim has passed away in a Singapore hospital. The story is at:

I am saddened and outraged at so many levels that it is hard to start any analysis. As a parent and a brother, my heart goes out to the family of this young lady. They need all our prayers and support. But that is not going to be enough because they also need justice! At the very minimum, the perpetrators need to be broght to justice in the most expedited way possible to make an example of this case for all those who dare think of such acts of cowardice and malice. From a legal standpoint, we at Young India stand in solidarity with all those who demand a significant enhancement in the punishment of such crimes.

As students of politcs and culture this may be a teachable moment. First and foremost, those who have been insensitive to the concerns raised by the genuine protestors need to be politically shunned. Political leaderships will be evaluated on how they handle the more regressives elements of their party. Some MPs of the Congress Party have demeaned the party with their outrightly sexist remakrs. Those should not be defended and action has to be taken. At the same time let's separate the political mileage earners from those genuinely anguished. Let me call out the BJPs outrage here. The party and its historical predecessors (Jana Sangh et al) have been at the forefront of women's oppression and regressive policymaking. Right from the very outset of India's independence they have opposed women's right to parental property, opposed the ban on polygamy and even blatantly supported of the inhuman act of Sati (burning a widow alive with her dead husband!). Most of us are aware of the Shiv Sena goons who have violently opposed Valentine's Day. So, if there is going to be a serious coaltion of political forces to fight for women's rights let's please caste aside the theatrics from the BJP et al. 

But way beyond the politics, which is in some measure a reflection of our culture, we have to introspect. While India has made great progress in culturally giving the girl child more of its rights and encouragement there still is a rural urban divide on this count. India has not made sufficient progress on training the male child in giving due dignity to the opposite gender. And all of this starts at home where the father is disrespectful to the mother, and so on. We should understand how these criminals were brought up, by who, and what on earth did their derelict parents teach them, if anything at all!?

The cultural battle is fundamental. The legislative victories alone will not suffice. And, if there ever was a time for law enforcement to come clean then this is it. Nothing is worse than a victim's re-victimization by the people discharged to protect her. So, let's band together, culturally and politically, to remember this young lady whose death can absolutely not be in vain. It took something this outrageous for our hearts to move. Somehow the horrors of Gujarat 2002, where such cases are in a significant number, did not move our hearts as they seem to be getting buried under some ridiculous metric of economic "development" by Mr. Modi. Please channel your outrage in a fashion that creates a new gender construct for our society and polity.

Let's please pray for the departed soul's peace and seek guidance for right action.