Disclaimer: My thoughts over the rape issue might offend some. I do request to avoid/skip this post in case you fear that you may get offended.
In past few weeks I got an opportunity to get a variety of views on the recent gang-rape incident which took place in Delhi. I am trying to make sense of what I understood from the discussions, debates and observations.
Scene 1: I meet a college friend after almost 8 months, and after a little exchange of pleasantries, we directly boiled down our discussion to what we feel is the burning topic of the day – Traffic chaos, and Rape mayhem. We debate whose traffic experiences are worse, but soon we come to the conclusion that Gurgaon and Noida are way up in the ‘bad-experience’ and almost on the top of the world when measured in terms of ‘bad road-sense’. The topic of traffic didn’t have the juice to sustain, there was nothing new which we could have shared with each other. As expected, we both had some dip in the conversation after a while and an urge to bring on the Rape topic. Here is what the conversation looked like….
MAK (thats what I call my friend): Rape is a crime dude!
Sonu (yeah! thats what MAK calls me): I know dude. Life gets miserable for the girl, and guy lives a free-life after the dust settles.
MAK: But you know what, people are wrongly attaching it to Delhi or some particular class of people. It has got nothing to do with Delhi or any other classification. Rape is a constant phenomena across the country.
Sonu: You know what MAK, Delhi is the capital city. Everything which happens here has to become the center point of the news channels and social circles. And we may tend to believe that if something can’t be handled in the most powerful city of the country, how can we things remain normal in other parts of the nation.
MAK: But you have to accept that this is not the failure of the administrative system if such instances happen, instead its the failure of the social structure and family culture we have been raised.
Sonu: But you have to accept that if a crime happens anywhere in the city and the system shows reluctance to handle the truth, and takes its own sweet time to act that too under the media pressure, that is a failure of the whole administrative setup!
MAK: But don’t you think that the society needs a change starting from the home. We are raised with double standards, and we are taught how to handle and live with the biases all our lives. And the same reflects in such instances.
Sonu: Thats true MAK, but don’t you think building a new army of such well-taught and raised kids will take decades? The short-term solution is to bring back police into action!
[As two young people with different backgrounds and different outlook towards society and life, we have different opinions on the treatment of this issue – MAK believes that if society gives a proper treatment to the issue, such things will never be repeated in future. Yes, MAK is right, but that is a long-term solution of the problem which will take decades to show some result. I am of the belief that such things will keep happening at random places (because this has got to do more with the volatility of the human mind), police can just control it (and government can only help in speeding up the administrative process), but it can’t eliminate it.]
Scene 2: I get to meet a group of friends one evening – A married couple settled in Delhi (the guy is my engineering class-mate who belongs to eastern part of the country, and the girl is my b-school class-mate who hails from Maharastra), A visitor from Poland who wanted to see ‘real’ India, and MAK, my dear friend was there as well. The conversation was inclined towards creating an opinion on the situation, however we got deviated and ended up debating between which city is better for people to stay – Delhi/Noida/Gurgaon, or Mumbai, or Bangalore, or somewhere else.
Male Couple was happy with the fact that this city has lot of opportunities and one should be here if he needs to grow and do well in life.
Female couple was fixated at her opinion that Mumbai is any day a better city for people, at least there is a confidence of security against such heinous crimes against woman.
MAK was happy that he has lived his life in Delhi, but now wants to moves to a quieter place to live a more fruitful life after marriage.
The visitor from Poland was just aghast that such crimes happen in the ‘real’ India and we are more interested in debating about which city is better to live.
My feelings were mixed – Rape is a random act of crime against woman, and each city is a potential ground for such crimes. The only support a criminal gets from the system is the delay in the process of crime discovery, and then proving him guilty. It has got nothing to do with Delhi or Mumbai or any city for that matter. Because once this crime has been done, the life for the girl changes for ever, be it any city in India.
Scene 3: Watching the protests around India Gate on television, it looked as if there is a new revolution in the making, which has been crafted by the people of India. Though I could not make out one thing – What are these people demanding for? Yes, justice needs to be delivered at the earliest, such instances should not be repeated ever in future, and police needs to be reformed. And I am sure this is what people are demanding, but they are demanding in a fragmented voices, which leads to nothing but a noise. And even if government wants to communicate (which they didn’t) to these revolutionaries, how will they do so? It is humanly not possible to listen to each and everyone’s suggestion and complaints by a handful of people sitting in the government. Shouldn’t there be some sort of leadership (or a group taking the lead) involved in raising the voice and unifying the demands? No wonder, Yoga Guru Ram Dev, AAP’s Leader Arvind Kejriwal, Psephologist turned Politician Yogender Tiwari, tried to do their bit, however (thankfully) let it remain a non-political movement. Finally, I am yet to understand what people really want as an outcome of these protests. What happened is a heinous crime, deserves to remain un-repeated in future. But what do people want as an immediate action from police and government?
Important things which remain unanswered in such a leaderless people’s revolution, based on my understanding, are:
#1. What is the demand from the masses? (Everyone understands that system needs to be agile, and most responsible. That is an everlasting quest of masses across the world. There is nothing new which the system itself doesnt know). And talking about political correctness, they are working in sync with the process – Culprits have been arrested, and the administrative machinery is already working to punish them.
#2. How should government respond to such a varied set of demands? Some people are demanding to hang the victims. Some want a fast track court to handle the case. Some say castrate the culprits. Others have more violent and interesting options to offer. Now, isn’t the government right in staying away from the situation? Well, I think so! Talking to a huge mass of revolutionaries is always inconclusive. And media can not become a representative of the such revolutionaries, and neither it should attempt. I believe the government is right when it had decided not to speak to the masses on the ground zero. (Though, I am not supporting the actions taken by police against people. They could have been more patient and softer before using such harsh means to push back people)
#3. Should opposition parties take a stand and help those people on the ground? Well, logically speaking, no political party is eligible to be a part of this movement under the banner of their political party. Talking of the political correctness, the ruling party is no where wrong. It was a sad incident and after that the system has taken over. Logically, there is nothing wrong in this entire functioning. Agility of the system could be better, and an assurance that such things will not happen again would be a sure welcome. But is there anyone who can guarantee the two? I believe none!
Scene 4: One of the police personnel dies on duty while the protests are on. The initial news which floats on TV is that protesters have hit the guy, and police is angry about it. Later that evening, a eye-witness says that protesters had nothing to do with the police killing, and the police is trying to offer a new angle to the whole situation. Police chief appears on Television and attempts to falsify the eye-witness’s comments.
What I could not understand is:
#1. What has this debate got to do with the rape victim and the on-going demand to reform the system? Why is media trying to give this whole thing a new turn?
#2. Government and the Police machinery have been a victim of each other ever since the rules of the country were written. Now why prove the same once again over the national television? If you can’t help the situation, at least don’t make it worse.
#a. I as a common man, do not understand what is the best way to handle such a crime. And no one is there is help me channelize my views into a unifying voice. I am angry too, but then what is the platform for me to express my anger and hope that it will be listened too!
#b. As a politician, even if one wants to hear out the demands and anger of the people, one can not help the situation. One will have to rely on what media is saying, which is certainly not the best means these days. Media has its own constraints while operating, they can never become the voice of the masses, they can simply showcase the hype or the trend. (A hype or a trend is not the actual demand, that is just the symptom of demand).
#c. Being a victim is a poor situation to be into. And most people get outraged to see such sad incidents. However, acting under the feeling of sympathy is not when you put demands properly or act out your real issues. And then, this is what happens – A revolution at India Gate without developing any action-items or agenda, A leaderless appeal to the government, and media taking charge of the situation. Chances are very high that all these slogans would turn into noises which will vanish into air mitigating the efforts of thousands and lead us nowhere!