This post is very different from the draft I had prepared a month ago. A month ago, I was all agog with excitement about going to India, back to my family, to the only place in the world I could call home. A month ago, although I was swamped with work, I had a spring in my step. A month ago, when I planned to blog about my experiences in the States and how life there faded in comparison to India, little did I know that soon my excitement would be drowned in despair.
I came home to the news of the Delhi gang-rape. Adjectives like ‘brutal’ and ‘horrific’ were being thrown around and the national media went into overdrive working up a frenzy. My Twitter and Facebook feeds were overrun with posts expressing outrage. I watched on as people demanded public castration ( or ‘bobbitization’ as one friend put it ). There were the usual calls for capital punishment which seems to be a quick fix in the eyes of the outraged Indian public. Sadly enough, I watched on with indifference. I wasn’t surprised there was a gang-rape in Delhi. Oh no. Surprise went out of the door when ‘rape’ became a permanent news-section on the news app in my phone. This wasn’t the first ever gang-rape to happen in the country, and let’s be honest, it won’t be the last. Not when we live in a country where our ‘culture’ advocates ‘the modesty of a girl’, yet our films have such things called ‘item numbers’. Not in a country where sex is taboo, but only when it’s spoken about. Definitely not in a country, when everyone makes it their business to comment about the ‘indecency’ of a girl wearing shorts, or where right wing political parties are marry you off for kissing publicly. Not when we have a convenient devil to blame it on ; ‘The West’.
Images of the protest in Delhi streamed through my TV and I felt a flutter of hope. I wondered if finally our collective consciousness had been pricked. What was being labelled as an ‘uprising of the youth’ was upon us. Maybe Raisina Hill would be our Tahrir Square. But then I hear the cries for what can only be described as ‘barbaric’ punishments for the guilty. I log in to Facebook to find people actually applauding convicted murderers and goons for forcing rapists to eat human excrement, even venturing so far to term it ‘humanity’. Is this what it has come to? Is it necessary to become animals to dole out justice? Then what separates us from the perpetrators of such heinous acts? Is public castration the need of the day or fortifying our laws? Aren’t laws supposed to keep the society in check? Or should we descend to being barbaric? Granted, laws won’t prevent rape. But at-least it will still ensure that whatever humanity and sanity that is left in our society, is preserved.
But to ensure that necessary laws are enforced, we need good governance. We need a government which is brave but principled, powerful yet righteous. We don’t need one with erectile dysfunction or muddled judgment. We don’t need a government or opposition who play vote-bank and minority politics. We need political parties which address the pressing needs of the nation. We can definitely do without a government which has curbed our freedom for expression, one which watches on as a spectator when our citizens are punished for expressing their opinions.We don’t need communal leaders proclaiming to usher in winds of development. We need incorruptible leaders of the mass, leaders with integrity and whose only aim is to lead by serving, not imposing. Looking at the India of today, I despair. I don’t see a democracy, I see a mockery in the name of democracy. My country has been fed to the dogs.
To see the country galvanized for a cause apart from winning the cricket world cup is refreshing. As eclectic and misplaced as the demands are, at-least there has been mobilization. These are signs of change. But we live in a country where public memory lasts only from one controversy to the next. Looking back at our recent history, I despair again. We let things slide, way too often. The Anti Corruption movement comes to mind. Starting out strong, it fizzled out towards the end and eventually even the leaders of the movement went their separate ways. I pray that my fears are proven wrong this time.
Whatever the problems of the day are, they are chiefly of our own making. The forced taboo on sex and the oppression of freedom of women has eventually led to this day. Things have reached a tipping point. Instead of foisting the blame on to ‘western influences’, we need to introspect. The day we acknowledge the chains imposed by our ‘culture’ in the form of sexual oppression, is the day we start tackling the problem. Till then, I choose to remain in despair. Far too often, has my love and optimism for India been taken for a ride. For now, I choose to remain defeatist, hoping I’d be proven wrong.