April 21, 2013

Delhi Rapes, Police, and Larger Issues

Well, it will be a good riddance to the Commissioner if it turns out that he's being "fired."
Is it my false impression that Neeraj Kumar is mostly busy currying favor with the political masters to ensure a "cushy" posting post-retirement ... or a transfer to a next high-profile job posting?
Let me share a "personal" perspective about my dealings with the Office of the Commissioner of Delhi Police.
I have sent umpteen emails to his office over the last one year complaining about incessant noise from loud speaker in gurudwara next to where I live.
It's a daily problem.
The only response I get to my emails is that the mail has been forwarded to the Jt. Comm. of Pol. of the relevant locality.
When I call up the JCP's office, I get informed that the mail has been forwarded to the relevant DCP's office.
I sometimes call up 100 frequently and even then the local police refuses to respond.
Just a few days back on "Vaishakhi", it was too loud and I complained and the police and a few old Sikh gentlemen came to my house!


While the constables were standing silently, one of the old Sikhs proceeded to essentially threaten me with violence if I complained again! [As an aside, it just shows how religion makes people crazy.]
So —> the message is that you can do ANYTHING you want, break ANY rules you want as long as you are doing the rule-breaking in the name of religion.
Clearly, godmen have committed rapes and murders too and the people of India are happy to remain "silent" about it and millions continue to "worship" those cheap charlatans and sometimes prime ministers of India go and touch the feet of these idiot godmen.

So, it's the people of India (obviously, probably not the readers here but the huge, illiterate masses numbering hundreds of millions who live in villages, small towns and in large cities too), with whom the wrong lies.
The problem with the people of India is the obsession with religion, with superstitions, with lack of skepticism. The educated class also sadly falls for the same cycle of stupidity.

I mean, my four grandfathers and two parents believed in the particular god (and the smart readers probably can guess who that god would be seeing what my last name is), but I GREW UP! I read up Feynman, Sagan, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris and don't see the slightest scintilla or evidence for God.
Anyways, ...
Then there is the horrible bias in favor of sons. The persistence of dowry.
These are deep-rooted social ills which can only be eradicated if we think of a long-term solution and a methodical and thought-out and sustained course of action.
Street anger, shouting "hang the rapists", or candle-light vigils won't go far.
Sure, death penalty is GOOD! Probably, it's a bit of a deterrent. Let's do that! But let's also do more.
What about the kids who are working and living in rich households as domestic help? I have seen that in Gurgaon. The maids typically tend to be Bangladesh immigrants. But I'm assuming it happens in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and other large cities as well where the "rich" can afford this.
It might even be true that the lives of these kids are "improved" when they work as domestic servants — they get a roof over their heads, and probably the "masters" (particularly the lady of the home) give the kid food to eat too.
But will we grow up and agree that it is STILL criminal to keep a child at home as your "servant"? No, not just on the statute books but in REALITY.
And those kids who work as child labor — in various industries and in the roadside tea-stall in every city in India where the kid ferries tea to the nearby offices — may be a PSU bank branch — (or to the nearby police station).
So, the point is that it's good to be "outraged" about inhuman cases of rape and sexual violence, etc. but it's also important to recognize that there are inhuman atrocities happening in India even when and even if the brutal rapes don't happen.
What about bride burning for dowry? Are brides not killing themselves still because of excessive harassment in the in-laws' home (and probably lack of support from the bride's parents)?
India is home to the largest number of extremely poor people in the world according to the latest World Bank report. Of course, "sub-Saharan Africa" ranks ahead of India but I don't think sub-Saharan Africa is a country. So, as Indians, at least we should not "kid" ourselves about it. The fact is, India is at the top of that poor list.
India has got a long way to go in child nutrition and infant mortality.
India leads the world in deaths from TB.
Thankfully, India is not at the top in malaria deaths.
India is where sanitation remains a "dream" for millions and diarrhea is a killer. Just saw this TED-talk the other day.
So, the problems are far larger and starker than a few headline-grabbing instances of rape.

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