Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shattered Hopes!

Shattered Hopes

Delhi is yet again in news for the brutal gang rape of a 23-year old girl. This case has not only sparked protests but also raised a national debate about violence against women in India, largest democracy of world. 

The gang rape triggered nationwide demonstrations with protesters from all walks of life converging at Raisina Hill, India Gate and Jantar Mantar, also in other parts of the country, to protest against the heinous crime and seek speedy justice for the girl who was interning as a physiotherapist at a Delhi hospital.

The fatal incident took place on December 16th, 2012.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student and her male friend, were on their way home after watching a movie in Saket in South Delhi. They boarded a bus that was being driven by joyriders at about 9.30 pm. The woman became suspicious when the bus deviated from its normal route and its doors were shut. When she objected, the group of six men already on board taunted her. When the victim's friend tried to intervene, he was beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious with an iron rod. The men then dragged the woman to the rear of the bus beating her with the rod and raping her while the bus drove. The bus kept circling a 31-kilometre stretch in South Delhi, its tinted windows concealing the savagery within as it rolled unstopped through a series of police checkpoints.

Medical reports later suggested that the woman suffered serious injuries to her abdomen, intestines and genitals due to assault and penetration using a blunt object suspected to be the same rod. That rod was later described by police as being a rusted, L-shaped implement of the type used with a wheel jack. After the beatings and rape ended, the gang threw the two from the moving bus. 

The woman and her companion were found by a passer-by on the road, partially clothed and unconscious, around 11 pm. The passer-by phoned Delhi Police, who took them to hospital, where the woman was given emergency treatment.

Today on 29th December’ 2012 the victim succumbed to her injuries in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore because of the multi-organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She died at 4:45 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. Indian time). She was earlier treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. 

The incident has brought two things in focus- first the protest demonstrations in different parts of India and second our age old laws that lack any concrete system to curb heinous crime like these.

Central Delhi were closed down today for an indefinite period as a precautionary measure by Delhi Police to prevent agitators from reaching India Gate to protest the death of the gang-rape victim. While the Government has turned Central Delhi into a fortress once again, reimposing Section 144, shutting 10 metro stations and blocking roads leading to India Gate, Delhi is back on the streets for silent protests. People do not want violence but they want to let the administration know that they are not going to take it lying down anymore.

The nation will pay homage to the 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim. But beyond that customary homage, the need of the hour is to give justice to her and punish the culprits.
Though the government has promised to amend criminal laws to include the death penalty for extreme cases of sexual assault, will it be implemented or not will be proved in the time to come. 

A movement that gets the government to initiate a system where such crimes do not happen is the need of the hour. Let’s stop debating over the pros and cons of the death penalty as a deterrent of crime and, instead, compel the system to give out speedy justice to such victims.

As for the government, instead of merely going into alarm mode against expected protests, it should cultivate honesty of intention in tackling crime. 

This incident yet again exposed the growing violence in our society and a lack of an administrative system which can curb such criminal activity through simple measures like a transparent and honest transport department, screening of drivers of public transport, vigilant police and technology that can keep track of anti-social elements.

As a population let’s be the monitors which have the ability to curb crime not just at the legal level but also at homes as parents, in schools as teachers and in society in general as a sensitive citizenry. The well sought after practical initiative is required from our government, who have been quite busy in blame game, beating around the bush and using these events for their political endeavors.

The photos of this post are not clicked by me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Future Prime Minister? No ways!!

Narender Modi is all over the newspaper, television, radio, website, everywhere. People who are supporting him or those who are against him, everyone is writing about him, making some stories on him.  And the Narender Modi is leaving no stone unturned in campaigning for upcoming Gujarat elections. Modi and his allies are busy in propagating their development stories in full swing. The election is going to be decisive for Modi not just because it will be his third time return to chief ministership, also as he is a perfect candidature to lead the BJP in National elections in 2014.

There are many questions that need to be raised. We need to address not as a supporter or a non-supporter of Modi’s political party (BJP) or Congress, but as a citizen of this country.

1)    Is the economic growth of Gujarat, shown to common people a reality or just an eye-wash?
He is branded as the “Vikas Purush” (development man). While contemporary media is busy covering pro-Modi stories, if one were to closely analyse the “miraculous story of Vibrant Gujarat” and compare it with other states, one realises the claims made by Modi are definitely overstated.

If we compare the per capita income of Haryana and Gujarat, Haryana ranks higher with a per capita income of Rs. 92,327 against Gujarat’s Rs. 63,996 (for the year 2011).
Even on employment generation, as many as 319 people per 1,000 were employed in industry in urban Haryana as against 306 in Gujarat .

What about the Human Development Index (HDI)? Well, on this count, the Gujarat story is miserable to say the least. On every parameter from health and income to education, Gujarat falls way behind most states. The HDI for Gujarat is 0.527 giving it the 10th rank and what should be worrying for Gujarat is that its score has seen a downward trend.

Some more pointers that shatters the over-hyped Gujarat’s development-
  • 489 farmers committed suicides between 2003 & 2007
  • In the past year, over 60,000 small and medium enterprises have shut down.
  • Child malnutrition, as expressed in very low weight-for-age, is 47% higher than the all-India average
  • 80% of children below 4 years and 60% of pregnant women are anaemic
  • 45% of urban children, 60% of rural children are not immunised
  • In rural areas 60% of child deliveries not in institutional conditions
  • Women: sex ratio declining. (Gujarat has joined the infamous low sex ratio states of Haryana and Punjab)
2)     How can the injustice done to minorities can be ignored and forgotten easily?
Whenever the question of minorities comes up in Gujarat, the issue is diverted towards   vibrant economic growth, the much manipulated truth. The Muslim community in the State of Gujarat continues to suffer serious deprivations of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights as a result of the on going legacy of the 2002 state-sponsored communal massacres.

Today while the few amongst the Muslim minorities, especially a section of traders, have been won over by the BJP and prevailing social forces, the majority of Muslim community has been forced to live the life of social and economic deprivation.

The Government of India failed to declare a state of emergency and thereby commit state resources to stopping the violence and preserving the lives and health of victims; it has since continued to deny victims their right under Indian and international law to remedial measures. As a result, the suffering borne by Muslims has not ceased with the massacres themselves but has continued to the present. While talking to two woman survivors of the riots I realised that they still live in a fear. They are scared at two levels- first talking about the incident will refresh the trauma of the bygones again and secondly if anyone gets to know that they are discussing anything like this then their current life and situation can become even worse. Another woman survivor is fighting for the death certificate of her husband who was burnt alive in the massacre and declared missing. Though 11 years have been passed the death certificate of her husband has not yet been given to her.

Another apparent proof of this insecurity is- the trend of ghettotization. Juhapura located in the outskirts of the city, is a Muslim ghetto. Many a traders are trying to continue with their businesses in old localities while settling their families in the Muslim ghettoes like Juhapura. Most of the Muslim establishments have changed their names and patterns to sound like being the Hindu establishments, with the hope that this will prevent their religion being identified in the future pogroms, protect their property, and this move will overcome the economic boycott from the majority community.

Some pointers-
  • 1,180 people were murdered (as per official reports)
  • 2,548 people were injured
  • 919 women widowed
  • 606 children orphaned 
  • Nearly 1,50,000 people were forced into relief camps
  • 270 mosques and dargahs were razed
  • 100s of houses were burnt down
Though there are many civil society organisations, many led by Hindus, got up to fight the evil and help its victims, often risking their lives, careers and property before a vindictive state. There are some commendable efforts by some of the honest police and administrative offices , NGOs and media for their uprightness.

The fight for justice is not over. The guilty have not been brought to book. Narendra Modi and his government are still harassing and intimidating victims and upright officials. The victims have not got their compensation and the culprits are still being protected. Justice is being sought to be blocked, prevented and even aborted, at every step.

We always hear from Sangh-affiliated journalists and assorted commentators saying on TV and writing in print that Muslims should forget the excesses and move on with life.

Muslims have tried to, and succeeded in, building their lives and their houses again, all on their own, often despite official obstruction. However, the great crime would not be forgotten before the culprits are sent to jail and their political overlords say sorry publicly. Forgetting Gujarat 2002 is the first step towards having devastation. A repeat of Gujarat 2002 must not be allowed anywhere in India. For that it is important to punish the criminals of Gujarat.

Nareender Modi and his allies need to address these issues rather than  playing political games around it. First they need to clear the accounts of their own state before dreaming for being a candidature to lead the BJP in National elections in 2014.

* This is my personal point of view on a serious issue. All the data have been taken from authentic source