Monday, December 31, 2012

A society of Rapists 

“In India, as many as 57 per cent of male adolescents and 53 per cent of female adolescents believe a husband is justified in beating up his wife under certain circumstances”                                                                                                                  -- A UNICEF 2012 report

Going through the reactions and responses to the Delhi gang rape incident actually tells us why such crimes are happening in the first place. Rather than asking questions about the evil mindset of the perpetrators and social reasons for such incidents, many were asking why the girl was present there at the “wrong” time with the “wrong” person. For them, the fact that the girl crossed the limit of what was defined for a girl was far graver issue than anything else and hence the girl was kind of “asking for it”. That IS the most important point here. We have everything quantified and fixed for the less privileged ones in our society. Specific time and space is defined for each according to their class and sex. Obviously, the social associations or relations we have is built on factors of dominance and submission where one party is meekly submitted to the dominance of the “more powerful”. Our social institutions including family and marriage follow this in varying degree and form. While we boast of our “values” and “relations” and disparage others for not having these precious traits, at the core, most of our relations are bereft of emotional bonding and built on these twin factors of dominance and submission.

We are trained and tuned to fall in to the line and not to cross the limits defined for each class and sex. Crossing the limits can attracts punishment from the privileged ones. It starts right at home and goes accepted well by the family and society. Only in some rare and exceptional cases, when it takes some unusual dimensions, is discussed or raised as an issue. Otherwise, it is systematically practiced uninterrupted. As Arundhati Roy has pointed out rightly, the rape itself is not an issue at all when its committed systematically in many parts of India like Kashmir and Manipur and the perpetrators like Indian Army are doing it keeping themselves within the defined space and time. Even in Delhi out of the 635 rape cases registered last year, only a single case met with punishment ! That shows our attitude towards such crimes and despite the hubris, we accept measures like rape to keep the limits and boundaries. Thanks to the dynamics of globalization and Information Technology, the women and other less privileged classes get a lot of opportunity to “cross” the limits and challenge the status-co. Perhaps, that explains the increase in such hate crimes against them. Rape being the ultimate and most rabid attempt to debase the victims and humiliate them in the worst possible manner, it is perpetrated by the worst elements of the society. But definitely that alone is not the symptom of this disease. We see outbursts of a lot of fanatic ideologies in the name of religion and other ideas which essentially strive to keep these limits firm and intact !

Even when these issues are debated, our discussion is carefully woven to not change the status-co. Hence we see lot of myopic and reactionary solutions and opinions. People even come up with weird suggestion to follow countries like Saudi Arabia in implementing stricter penal codes for rapists and other sexual offenses. Nothing can be further from the truth and shallower in analysis. In Saudi, you are not seeing many such incidents because the women is virtually under house arrest there. They lack the basic freedom to drive a car or even to move around freely. They are not even allowed to dress the attire they choose or the color they like. Is that the model we should be trying to emulate ? Most of the people even propose death sentence for the rapists. Have these people ever made a simple analysis of all the countries who have been practicing death sentences ? I bet not ! Otherwise, they wouldn't have come to such an erroneous conclusion. There are less than 60 countries in the world currently practicing it while over 100 nations have abolished it. Significantly, these 60 countries have not seen any decline in those crimes which attract capital punishment. On the contrary, they have far higher crime rates than those who have abolished it. This is NOT to say that harsher treatment of these criminals are not required. But propagating that as a panacea for fighting such crimes and ignoring the social causes are incredibly stupid and counterproductive.

What is needed as a nation and society is a introspection on our patriarchal and class ridden mindset and learn to accept basic human right concepts like equity, social justice and individual freedom. We need authors, parties and social movements propagating these concepts rather than craving for perpetuation of uncivilized and inhuman practices like death penalty. Alienating and marginalizing majority of the people under various names like casts, class and sex have cost our nation horrendously in terms of lost productivity and potential. It is not a coincidence that in all the highly developed countries we see people are treated on merit rather than their affiliation to a particular strata or sex. Japan as a country and as an imperial force had conducted some of the worst mass rapes in the history of mankind during the time of world wars. But they have managed to come out of that psychologically and socially and have built up a society and country based on equity and social justice to a great degree in a rather short period of time. Surely, we too can achieve the same if we are serious about it. We need to start it at our home. If we want our country to be a safe place for our women and everyone else, we need to learn to respect them first and treat them as equal citizens at home first.

Modi's victory and future of Indian politics:

So people of Gujarat will continue to enjoy the luxury suite of "development train" for another 5 years at least, or rather, even more barring any miracle. First, a glimpse of what they have been enjoying during the past decade would give us a picture of what is going to come during the coming years in Gujarat and across India,

-- While all India reduction in poverty between '93 and 2005 is 8.5%, in Gujarat it is a mere 2.8%

-- Narmada dam project, 49 years since it was started and despite having spent Rs. 29,000 crores on it, have completed only 29% of the work

-- In 1999, 4743 of Gujarat's villages were without drinking water, within two years that figure had gone up to 11,390 villages(right now, it is even worse)

-- State debt in 2001 was 14,000 Cr. Now it stands at 105,000 Cr.

-- During Modi's era, over 75000 small and medium businesses have shut down rendering one million more people jobless in the same period(easily overriding any perceivable "job surge" brought by the FDI and “big business” influx)

-- Gujarat is not even in the top 10 states of India in the Human Development Index ranking

-- In all the statistics on health parameters, Gujarat continues to be at the lowest strata in India and in many cases things have worsened during Modi's period. Just to site an example, according to National Family Health survey, during Modi's second term, Anaemia and Malnutrition have increased by a whopping 60%

-- Human right records show a pathetic figure with National Human Right's Commission (NHRC) receiving 3rd most number of cases for alleged human right violations from Gujarat. Thus easily surpassing even Bihar, which is notoriously known for lawlessness and human right violations.

So, How come an administration with such an abysmal record on virtually every element of administration and governance from public health to human rights and poverty reduction to drinking water supply have managed to win successfully for the third term ?

That is the post-globalization "development politics" and the fate of poor Indians for decades to come...
A "development" terribly skewed and biased towards the elite urban class which have helped Modi to secure what others in BJP could not do with conventional blend of Hindutwa and crass politics. It is the politics where there is no real or perceivable difference between any players in the game. Hence you see three Parivar stalwarts of strikingly similar track record and ideological background namely Modi, Vagela and Keshubhai Patel leading all the competing political outfits of the state. Thus you get an opposition packed with discarded or vestigial junks from the ruling camp "fighting" them. Gujarat is just the beginning. We can expect similar games in many more states in the coming months and years. A politics similar in style and modus-operandi to that of US where democrats and republicans swapping the seats without any effect on the majority of the public in any way. The interests of the mega corporations and elite remains protected by the system well. An administration that will give them tax exemption, easy access to agricultural land, keeping away with even the most basic labor laws and whatever else they want.

Sad that all the efforts of great people like Sreekumar, Sanjeev Bhat, Mallika Sarabhai are being wasted in such a pathetic manner. Or rather they are systematically defeated by the ruling elite.....