The sheer brutality of the gang rape in Delhi is clear evidence that rape is still rampant in India (Cover Story, January 25). The main factors responsible for such atrocities are the absence of fear of the police, degeneration of middle-class values, rampant abuse of power by politicians and, above all, disrespect for law and women by most men, who look down upon them as mere objects to satisfy their lust. There is an urgent need to deal with crimes against women on a priority basis by strictly enforcing laws and handing out swift and harsh punishment to perverts who outrage the modesty of women.
Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh
The death of the young girl has greatly shocked the nation, and every right-thinking citizen hangs his/her head in shame. It is a great irony that though the country has made tremendous progress in different fields after Independence, and women of stature have contributed significantly to its growth, women are subjected to all sorts of humiliation in society. Even the Women’s Reservation Bill has not yet been passed by Parliament. Unless people’s narrow outlook is changed, nothing tangible can be achieved.
The chronology of events that took place after the shocking incident reveals that the political leaders were the last to react to the issue. Mahatma Gandhi once said that “the day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India achieved independence”. The growing incidence of rape and sexual harassment is a pointer to the reality that mere empowerment of women will not ensure their safety either on the roads or at the workplace. The statistics disclosed by the Union Home Minister that in 2011 more than 2.28 lakh cases of rape were registered and 1.78 lakh charge sheets were filed but that only 30,266 convictions were secured underlines the tardy justice system prevailing in the country. It is time for a serious introspection on how to overcome the moral and ethical deficit in our society.
Men who encourage lewd jokes, sexist jibes and dirty talk about women are culpable. They do not dare stop the flurry of bad language around them every day, when words denoting sex organs and sexual acts are uttered. For a month now, a phrase that has been overused is “change the mindset”. But it has to begin with men.
In her death the Delhi rape victim has shaken the conscience of the entire nation, arousing it from deep slumber. Eve-teasing, molestation, rape, child abuse, domestic violence, dowry deaths, murder, and so on, have become the order of the day and it is unfortunate that an innocent girl had to lose her life to get the nation together and force its politicians, bureaucrats and the police to think seriously about ways to fight this growing menace against women.
While there could be many ways to counter this menace, like installing more CCTVs on the streets and in public places, increasing police patrol and setting up fast-track courts, the fact remains that the change has to come from within us.
While we do teach our children to respect everyone (including women), it is we who become silent onlookers when a crime is committed before our eyes. And the few who stand up to law-breakers are either beaten up or killed by hooligans or are subject to unnecessary harassment at the police station.
The legal process, from filing an FIR at the police station to the conviction of the accused, is lengthy and cumbersome, resulting in a low rate of conviction. Reforming the police forces is necessary, and the government has to address the problem of huge shortage of police personnel as well as judges and lawyers. Cases should be settled within a specific time frame and the people involved in the process made accountable for causing delays.
When incidents like these happen, we tend to blame our politicians, the police force and the system. They are responsible to an extent and the system needs an overhaul to correct things. But we men have a larger role to play in deciding how we treat women in society. Because, if individually we cannot change ourselves for the better, then I do not think we have any right to blame the system. Because the system is nothing but a set of people like us. We are one of the most critical stakeholders in our society and we cannot shy away from our basic responsibility to make it a better place to live in. We cannot afford to have a conservative and closed mindset about women, and if this soul-shattering incident does not bring about a change in us, nothing else will.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh
The article “Uncertain principles” and the interview with Justice A.P. Shah (January 25) will act as an eye-opener to those who clamour for the retention of the death penalty in the statute books of the country.
Justice Shah has admitted that some of the judgments pronounced by the various High Courts and the Supreme Court have become “judge-centric”. Really, it is an alarming situation.
It was in the Bachan Singh case that the “rarest of rare cases” doctrine was formulated by the Supreme Court. But later other Benches of the same Supreme Court, in cases such as “Machi Singh”, took varying stands, which widened the scope for imposing the death penalty.
As pointed out in the article, the Chief Justice of India should constitute a larger Bench or a Constitution Bench to look into the matter and frame specific conditions for imposing the death penalty until it is removed from the statute books.
The Pattali Makkal Katchi’s move to mobilise the intermediate castes against Dalits is a dangerous tactic and has the potential to disturb peace in Tamil Nadu (“Sectarian poison”, January 25). By openly advocating a patently anti-Dalit stance, the PMK chief Dr S. Ramadoss is flirting with danger. The Dharmapuri incidents were largely influenced by the PMK’s virulence against Dalits. Ramadoss should realise sooner rather than later that this policy will not help him get out of the political isolation faced by him and his party.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan
Srirangam, Tamil Nadu
C.P. Chandrasekhar’s column made an incisive analysis of the Twelfth Plan document, confirming the apprehensions of the people at large that the Manmohan-Montek Singh duo is really planning to sell out the country to multinational corporations (“Plan for corporate India”, January 25).
Era Sezhiyan, with his distinguished parliamentary experience, has clearly brought out what the National Development Council ought to be and what it is now (“Direct democracy?”, January 25). Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is content with conforming just to the outer forms of democracy and is least interested in understanding or fulfilling its spirit. Therefore, no one is surprised at the way he conducts NDC meetings or avoids parliamentary debates. As long as democracy exists only in form, the men in power can claim that whatever they do is for the good of the people.
India and China
The article “Balancing relations” (January 25) clearly highlighted the real issues facing India. China has become the world’s second largest economy. Why is India lagging behind China in the race for economic growth? This is a serious question that needs to be answered analytically.
On the other hand, it is a fact that both India and China are Asian giants. In this context, the two nations can go a long way on the global stage by sharing knowledge and power.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai
Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu
Your “Polls & Portents” (January 11) gave an in-depth coverage of Narendra Modi’s hat-trick in the Gujarat elections and the clamour for a bigger role for him at the national level. But it did not come as a shock to many that Modi has failed to tackle problems such as malnutrition and inadequate water supply even after 11 years of so-called development-oriented rule. Modi, supposedly a follower of Swami Vivekananda, should read Vivekananda’s message: “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.”
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee
The article “Enabling the disabled” (January 11) was very informative. We as responsible citizens should lend a helping hand to make community-based rehabilitation (CBR) of the people with disability ( PwD ) a top priority in various social development schemes.
The innovative vision of CBR as set forth by the World Health Organisation should be convincingly addressed and detailed to our policymakers so that it is streamlined as part of various governmental welfare schemes and also in the corporate social responsibilty (CSR) of various private business enterprises.
People in India are ignorant about the various forms of disabilities. To a large section of the people, disability means only physical disability, say, a missing leg or arm. People are ignorant about what it means to be visually handicapped, which is something I learnt from my own experience (being blind in the left eye and having low vision in the right eye).
The government has laid down criteria for various forms of disabilities, but they are not disabled-friendly. This needs to change. For example, only fully blind people are eligible for ticket concessions on trains; those with vision in only one eye are not. The websites of Ministries should give basic information about how a disabled person can get an identity card from government bodies. These issues should have been discussed in the world congress in Agra and a memorandum submitted to the government for further action.
Deendayal M. Lulla
Controlling access to guns is the most important aspect of the problem of gun violence in the U.S. but little has been done in that direction. (“Shell-shocked”, January 11). Many people were shocked to learn that guns, not just handguns but even assault rifles of the kind used by paramilitary forces, can be bought freely in many parts of the U.S. The killing of the children by a young man, who later shot himself, is inexplicable. President Obama rightly said that the victims “had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own”. But then who is listening?
Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh
The opposition to President Morsy of Egypt comes from the so-called secularists bewildered by his measures to consolidate the foundations of the revolution which overthrew Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial regime (“Divided revolution”, January 11). The “secularists” are none other than remnants of the past regime who did not read the writing on the walls of Tahrir Square.