Recent reports have shown levels of violence against individuals at a high level, sickening in their reporting. That they are reported at all, how and why remains a topic of debate.
On Friday, 4th January 2013, a meeting is to be held by the Indian Worker’s Association. A response came as follows:
MBugi Bugi Bugiandassociates: this just came from the walls of Mr Das Gupta of DELHI–our senior friend—————–Candles in the wind—————–
In a few hours, a special flight will reach New Delhi with the body of Nirbhaya, the gang rape victim, from Singapore.
If she had lived, Nirbhaya, which translates into the fearless, would have returned from that same city with a diploma in the course she was pursuing – physiotherapy.
It was the wish of her father, a poor handler at Delhi’s T3 airport, who sold his small, fertile land in Megrakalakhur village (Thana: Narahi) in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district and traveled to Delhi to support his daughter’s education.
A foreign educated daughter would have been the biggest pride of the family, the father had told his family members.
There would be more cash in the home. It would supplement his Rs 5000 a month salary, he had told his wife and sons.
A few days ago, as top government officials told him the government’s decision to take his daughter to Singapore for treatment, the distraught father – aware of Nirbhaya’s precarious condition – told them it was the same city she wanted to go to acquire a specialized diploma.
How could he take her there? he asked.
And seconds later, he broke into a paroxysm of sobbing.
Standing close, a former government employee who once worked in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during the four month tenure of Chandra Shekhar told Nirbhaya’s father to gather courage and accept the government’s request.
The family – claimed the former PMO official – was surprised to see the abundance of India’s official machinery that remains woefully inadequate to protect the poor.
Two ambulances with patients were set up as decoys and the third carried Nirbhaya and her family. Their travel documents were made in a record time.
In Singapore, the family checked into the swanky Mandarin Orchard. Then, they all rushed at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital to be with their daughter.
The doctors switched on a ventilator to perform the work for Nirbhaya’s near-defunct lungs. The doctors sedated her to prevent the pain from being felt by her damaged brain and tortured innards.
Nothing worked. At 0445 hours Singapore Time, Nirbhaya died without opening her eyes on the island nation.
Without seeing an inch of the hospital she would have worked if she had managed the diploma in Singapore.
In the Indian Capital, prime time television anchors rushed to their studios on Sunday morning and handled shows with moist eyes and heavy tones.
Radio stations and television channels also urged many to send text messages. Those who did were blissfully unaware that such messages only meant cash for the service provider and news organizations.
Candles, placards and flaming torches hit the fog-filled Capital where politicians and celebrities started their usual blame game that continued till late evening hours.
No one asked the city’s transport minister, Arvind Singh Lovely, why his department never took action against private buses with dark windows illegally plying in the city.
The bus in which the rape took place was impounded six times and let off with a minor warning. The owner had 11 such illegal vehicles. The Transport Department wanted the buses to be impounded and had ever referred the case to the top authority.
But no one budged.
Was it because the masters of all illegal buses in the city are politicians, both from the ruling and opposition parties?
No one asked, hence no one answered.
In India, the safety of the poor has never merited any attention or action.
But on Sunday, the rulers were genuinely worried about their very own safety.
The heart of the city, where the rich and famous live, was cordoned off and a special rule – Section 144 – imposed by the authorities. It resembled a fortress, with armed police and riot troops maintaining a heavy presence.
Those in power probably feared a revolution on Sunday could rattle their citadel, which sociologists have described as the Geographical Centralization of Power. After all, the zone is home to the ruling Cabinet and members of opposition politicians.
It has brains, lungs and arteries but no heart.
The candles are still burning, so is a nation with rage.
A few weeks before a programme was shown reporting what was happening to women in Egypt who went into public places. Gang rape, it said, was happening, including to those going to demonstrate in Tahrir Square on the lack of democracy shown by successive leaders. A response of outrage is resulting, but how this is translated into a climate where women can live without fear remains in need of a solution. Calls for the death penalty on the perpetrators are circulating, including on social media. Revenge and further violence is no solution building the climate of fear and hate in which such acts occur.
The problem is not so far from home as a recent Dispatches programme on sexual exploitation in the UK.
Comment from Delhi:
Over to Delhi:
“I spent most of last night covering the protests in central Delhi. It is a touching sight to see people taking to the streets like this. Yes, there are many logical reasons to question why this one case has become a rallying point. Yes, Dalit women face huge problems, and in Delhi itself a 3-year-old was raped just days after this gangrape. Sometimes it is impossible to ask why one particular instance of a rape or kidnapping or whatever grab the public imagination. But the good thing is it drives greater public awareness and greater responsiveness from the govt. Given the general apathy in India, I’ll grab any opportunity that gets people to introspect on our fraying social fabric and the breakdown in law and order.
The one aspect being overlooked in the current situation is of how dehumanising life has become in India, not just for the poor but even the middle class. People are always under stress, fighting for power, water, sanitation and space. They live in hovels and feel insecure and untrained and unprepared for the challenges of life. They are always being mocked, shouted at and generally disregarded. They are being bombarded with messages (movie, ads) that create desire and ambition but they are not given the tools (education, fair access) with which to pursue even a subsistence lifestyle. So there are growing but inchoate feelings of frustration, inadequacy and resentment.
The situation is the same with the underclass everywhere, but it is more marked in India and covers a much larger portion of the population here.
The blog you sent seems to make a virtue of the govt’s ‘magnanimous’ reaction, when it was forced on them by the people. For all such gestures, the system is too broken to address the core issues eating away at the society contract here.
Perhaps this is part of the process of evolution. I just hope we wake up to the fact that human happiness and dignity is a better pursuit than GDP growth. For example, we really need to stop treating land like a financial asset and start using it to provide better housing, and distribute it to landless farmers. That alone will cure so much of the sickness in our body politic.”