A country in denial

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 23, 2018 16:31 hrs
Rape in India

On April 18, speaking at the Central Hall in Westminster, London, Narendra Modi finally broke his silence on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.

“Do not politicise rape,” he said, having waved to crowds outside, fawning over him and asking him to “Go back” in more or less equal proportion.

Oh, the irony. Rape has always been political. It is power play, a show of domination and control, an enjoyment of dependency and subservience. At its most chilling, it is strategic. Rape has been used as a weapon of war to break the spirits of the victim as well as the protectors of the victim.

The Kathua rape case was that – a strategy to victimise a child so that her parents and everyone in the tribe would go away from the district for good. If people from that district could inflict such horror on a child, within the confines of a temple, clearly there were no gods there. Clearly, there was no justice, no hope, no telling what could happen, no reason to come back.

We should hang our collective heads in shame.

And yet, the government hosts an evening titled, “Bharat ki baat, sab ke saath”. Are these the circumstances under which we want to talk about India, with everyone? The only thing that remains to be said at this time is that we are a country of savages, and our ambitions of being recognised as a global power are a mockery of aspiration.

The government has proven itself more capable of churning out slogans and acronyms so amateur as to embarrass a ten-year-old than to carry out the goals they put into rhyme and riddle.

The BJP came to power on the back of a country’s disillusionment with corruption, sycophancy, inefficiency and a silent prime minister.

They have fostered a culture of corruption, sycophancy, inefficiency and a silent prime minister. Modi shouts slogans and exhortations at rallies and crowds; he spouts aphorisms and promises. But he has not addressed a single issue of contention, and when he does mention it for the first time, he asks us not to politicise rape.

Rape should not be about the age, religion, caste, or gender of the victim; it should not be about the extent of brutalisation. Rape, of anyone, under any circumstances, is a heinous crime and should be treated as such.

And yet, there was one thing more horrific about the Kathua rape than what happened. It was the absolute denial of it – even after confessions from the perpetrators, after a thorough investigation, after the pictures were circulated, there are those who insist it is all a conspiracy against India, against Hindus. There were protests against the arrests of the accused, and ministers from the BJP were spotted participating in these.

Yes, the Congress was in power during the Delhi bus rape. But no one protested against the arrest of the accused. The country was up in arms against the juvenile being set free. The BJP was up in arms against the juvenile being set free.

A party calls for us not to politicise rape, when one of its MLAs stands accused of rape; when babies a few months old are being raped across the country.

For how long will this country continue to live in denial?

When a child is raped and murdered within the walls of a temple, it is a conspiracy against Hindus. When ATMs run out of cash, it is a conspiracy by hoarders who are orchestrating a run on banks.

When a judge investigating one of the most powerful men in the current government dies under mysterious circumstances, the call for a probe into his death is a conspiracy against the judiciary. When the Opposition calls for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of the country, with 64 signatures on a notice which only requires 50, it is “without merit” and rejected by the Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu.

When bank scams worth thousands of crores are exposed, it is the fault of the previous government.

Demonetisation was purportedly about catching corrupt businessmen; but while hundreds of people died of sunstroke and cardiac arrest waiting in queues for cash, the corrupt businessmen have flown the coop. To further mock the fight against corruption, they tweet from countries which have no extradition treaty with India.

Petrol prices are higher than they were when crude oil cost twice as much as it does today. But the GST, applied hurriedly and non-uniformly and then with hasty revisions on everything whose price went up after its introduction, has not been applied on the one product which would become cheaper with it.

Four years ago, the country voted for change and finds itself sinking into quicksand.

If we think this is an improvement, we are as much in denial as the government.

If we think approving capital punishment for particular crimes and reducing the age when one can be tried as an adult for others is good governance, we are in denial.

With elections approaching next year, there is only one thing we must deny – the power to rule with corruption, sycophancy, inefficiency, and silence.


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