Why aren’t India’s women and girls safe? Who is responsible for their safety? How should that safety be assured? Since December 2012, these three questions have become a fixture on the national agenda, as has the issue of safety, or more precisely, freedom from violence. The condition of women in India has always been a matter of grave concern, especially in recent times with the incidents of brutal assaults against women in Delhi and Mumbai. Yet, the institutional response to women’s safety in India is not only inadequate, but also fails to address the core of the issue.
The Mumbai gangrape isn’t an indicator of how India, or its cities, are unsafe for women. Rather, it’s an indicator that Indians, as a society, do not have respect for each other. This is my rant, so here goes.
After the Delhi Gang Rape case, there was a huge public outcry about women’s plight in India. People put the blame on various sources from government to police for creating an environment that’s unsafe for women. However, the systemic problem of woman mistreatment goes deeper than that; sexism in India is institutionalized.
I had originally thought of posting another movie review, but this was just too good to not comment on
Apparently, a form of protest applied by Aditi Pure Veg restaurant in Mumbai has attracted Youth Congress’ ire when they started printing this on their bills (checks) – “As per UPA Govt Eating money (2G, Coal, CWG Scam) is a necessity & eating food in AC restaurant is a luxury.”
This witty tag-line to their bills was added in protest of the luxury tax levied on air-conditioned restaurants by the central government. This tax has been seen by many as being unfair since it affects the restaurant owners and its customers.
To be honest, I found the tag-line to be very funny. I am a big fan of witty, dry, sarcastic humor and this falls in perfectly under that category. However, the Congress party and its Youth Wing didn’t get the humor. They lodged a complaint with Mumbai Police citing that the bill was defamatory in nature.
After seeing several
screaming matches debates on news channels, I thought I’d shed some light on the real issue at hand. Media outlets have made it a “freedom of speech and expression” issue….a way to peacefully show protest against government policy; and, I think it was meant to be like that.
By that definition, doesn’t the Youth Congress’ response also fall under that category? Granted, they shouldn’t have
demanded asked the restaurant owner to close shop, and should have gone to the police first, and requested to remove the statement on the bill….Okay, they did a lot of things wrong. But, then again, it isn’t the first time party karyakartas (workers) have taken matters into their own hands and gone all goonda (rowdy). After all, we are all very well-acquainted with RSS, MNS, and the Sangh Pariwar’s tactics.
That begs the question, there was no vandalism here…there was no maar-peet (violence)…and there was definitely no goondagiri involved. At best, this was a case of mob-bullying. The restaurant-owner did the smart thing to close his shop and then, later, remove the offending line from the bill. Unlike Valentine’s Day protest that often turn violent, this was almost anti-climatic. So what’s the big issue?
The opposition (BJP and its allies) were quick to capitalize on this apparent “height of intolerance” – a statement made by Narendra Modi…a man, who is perhaps the epitome of tolerance, right? #sarcasm And, of course, the BJP and its allies are also so very tolerant. #moreSarcasm
I am sure that this bill, had it happened in the US, would have just been laughed over and forgotten (or immortalized in a meme, which it probably will). A news reporter compared this to “a doctor writing some witty remark on his prescription” – a good analogy. The only way this form of protest is wrong is if there were a specific law that states what one can or cannot write on a bill; because we Indians are already so good at following laws……