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CREDIBILITY MORE THAN UNITY, By Inder Jit, 29 September 2022 Print E-mail

Rewind

New Delhi, 29 September 2022

CREDIBILITY MORE THAN UNITY

By Inder Jit

(Released on 22 December 1981)

Opposition unity is in the air again. Everyone is talking about the Janata Party’s recent decision to “bring together the Opposition forces” and revive the 1977 spirit --notwithstanding the cold water poured on the proposal by some leaders of the ruling party and several political pundits. More and more people are again beginning to realize that a strong Opposition is vital for good government and the well-being of our democracy. In fact, the Janata Party’s public image has improved following its Ahmedabad conclave. Not a few persons, including Congress (I) supporters, feel that both Mr. Morarji Desai and Mr. Chandra Shekhar deserve a hand for resolving their differences and taking a timely initiative. There is widespread disenchantment with Mrs. Gandhi’s Government today. Even prominent Congress (I) MPs concede this and are deeply concerned. However, they feel reassured on one score. There is no alternative to Mrs. Gandhi at present. A nationwide opinion poll is almost certain to favour her continuance as Prime Minister by an overwhelming majority.

Many among the Opposition understandably question this view and argue that there are many alternatives to Mrs. Gandhi. But the truth is that most of them have destroyed their credibility and public image by their unprincipled and opportunistic actions. Only three party leaders can be said at present to have something of a national standing and enjoy a wide measure of respect --- outside the narrow confines of communal and caste politics. They are: Mr. Morarji Desai, Mr. Chandra Shekhar and Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee. All three are in demand and draw big crowds, although Mr. Vajpayee’s appeal is still largely limited to the urban areas and some rural pockets where the RSS cadres have worked quietly and earned popular goodwill. At the same time, none among the three is strong enough individually to pose a challenge to Mrs. Gandhi’s leadership and provide a credible alternative. Consequently, there is desire all round to see the Opposition leaders put country before self, reassess the national situation and find ways and means of tackling it effectively.

Considerable surprise has been caused by the decision of the Janata Party and the Lok Dal to join hands and work for the unity of the Opposition forces. But there is really no occasion for it. The Lok Dal adopted a resolution on the subject in October. The Janata Party, for its part, has come a long way from Sarnath when, in February last, it decided to rebuild itself as “a viable and desirable alternative” to the Congress (I). It then clarified that it would not seek to do this “merely by merging with the other parties or seeking summit alliances or soliciting the support of individuals who seem to be adrift from their former moorings, particularly those who have taken a leading role in bringing down the Janata Government.” But a new pragmatic approach was adopted by the Party’s National Executive first in Bangalore in May and then in Hyderabad in August. It cleared the decks for seeking cooperation from and extending support to the other Opposition parties for the furtherance of struggles against “authoritarianism, injustice and exploitation.” No party or leader was to be treated as an untouchable.

Simultaneously, the idea of meaningful opposition unity has been pursued on several fronts ---quietly and publicly. Following the Janata’s Bangalore conclave, Mr. Chandra Shekhar held a meeting of 12 Opposition parties on electoral reforms. (An agreed report is expected at an early date.) Not long thereafter, Mr. Devaraj Urs, as the Congress (U) President, informally proposed a merger of the Janata, Lok Dal and his own party. Both Mr. Chandra Shekhar and Mr. Charan Singh reacted coolly. However, Mr. Urs persisted and eventually got the two to agree to a quiet meeting of the four Presidents, including Mr. Vajpayee of the BJP. The meeting was held on August 4. But Mr. Charan Singh failed to come as his pulse was missing a beat. Instead, he send Mr. Madhu Limaye, who acted like a bull in a China shop and played havoc --- first in the meeting itself through some astonishing proposals and then by unauthorisedly disclosing in Bangalore on August 9 that the four parties had decided to merge. This was untrue and caused several explosions all round.

Mr. Chandra Shekhar and his close colleagues did not allow this to dishearten them. They quietly pressed forward with their ideas of unity in action, ultimately culminating in the Ahmedabad resolution. Happily, for the party and for all those interested in having a strong Opposition, Mr. Desai and Mr. Chandra Shekhar, who met quietly for 40 minutes during the conclave, came to agreed conclusions and the draft resolution was adopted unanimously after a few changes. (Contrary to many stories, the draft resolution did not propose merger.) At one stage, it looked that Mr. Limaye might once again succeed in playing the arch splitter. Prior to the Ahmedabad meet, he wrote “a nasty” 11-page letter to Mr. Desai, which could easily have put the former Prime Minister’s back up against having anything to do with the Opposition. However, Mr. Desai and others at Ahmedabad saw through “the conspiracy” and refused to do anything which might break the Janata and enable the Lok Dal to take it over, together with its name, which is today widely coveted among the Opposition parties.

Too much is being read into both the Janata’s Ahmedabad resolution and the joint statement for Mr. Chandra Shekhar and Mr. Charan Singh. Neither should be viewed in terms of an outright merger. The Janata draft resolution spoke originally of the need “to forge unity among the Opposition parties to provide an effective national alternative”. But this was changed to “bring together the Opposition forces to provide an effective and credible national alternative.” The original draft sought to authorize the President “to take all steps.” This was changed to “necessary steps.” Further, a new para was inserted to give a philosophical content to the final resolution and clarify that the approach was not opportunistic. The new para emphasizes the importance of struggle and unity of action against authoritarianism for rekindling the 1977 spirit. Significantly, the joint statement of Mr. Charan Singh and Mr. Chandra Shekhar only talks of joining hands to work for the unity of the Opposition forces. Further, it talks of not only providing a viable national alternative but also one that is credible.

What does all this mean in terms of brass tacks? Only the broad philosophy and principles have been enunciated. Mr. Chandra Shekhar and Mr. Charan Singh are now expected to appoint small committees in their respective parties to come to grips with the ways and means of bringing together the Opposition forces and rekindling the 1977 spirit. The Congress (S) President, Mr. Sharad Pawar, who boldly welcomed the Janata Party’s unity resolution, has also announced his decision to set up a committee to talk things over with the other parties. Some among the Janata leaders would have been happier if the three Presidents had not opted for committees. Such committees inevitably lead to negotiations, terms and conditions and the quota system. However, they hope that the three committees will rise above petty considerations and take a broad view in the best national interest. Further, the committees could also prove a blessing if they give due thought to advocating steps to ensure that the new unity sought to be forged again is not wrecked easily --- as in 1979.

Various stories going the rounds would have us believe that the Janata’s Ahmedabad resolution on unity was adopted unanimously on the understanding that some top leaders or “party wreckers” would be kept out. Three lists of five, seven and eleven names are even mentioned. My own probing confirms what Mr. Chandra Shekhar has already stated. There is no such black list or condition and the President has been authorized fully to go ahead and bring the opposition forces together. Mr. Desai did sound a note of caution at the National Executive meeting. He had been fooled in the past, he said, and had no wish to be fooled again. If this happened once more, it would be his own mistake and he would then prefer to go home. In the National Council meeting, he expressed identical sentiment and added that if necessary he would retire from public life rather than join any other party. Importantly, he left Mr. Chandra Shekhar in no doubt at their separate meeting that he was not taking a rigid view. He was willing to accept a reasonable proposition since he had full faith in the Janata and its future.

Most Opposition leaders are now beginning to appreciate a basic point which many of us have been making over and over again. Unity and solid unity is undoubtedly important. But unity by itself cannot deliver the goods, as shown by the recent by-elections to the State Assemblies. The Opposition put up combined candidates in Masarak in Bihar and in Balapore in Maharashtra. The Congress (I) won hands down and the Opposition candidates lost their deposits. Another combined Opposition candidate was knocked for a six at Dumbani in Bihar. Interestingly, one combined Opposition candidate belonging to the BJP won from Khijri in Bihar. However, I gather that this had more to do with the BJP’s image. Much good work is said to have been done by its cadres in the area. In Gujarat, the BJP has won six of the eight recent by-elections --- five to the Assembly and three to the Rajkot Corporation. Not surprisingly therefore, the BJP has no interest in losing its identity. It prefers to leave merger to parties with “single membership, not dual.” But it is prepared to have functional unity, electoral understanding and, if necessary, even join a coalition Government.

Fortunately, there is increasing recognition among the Opposition leaders of the importance of credibility. This is reflected both in the Janata’s latest resolution and in the statement of Mr. Charan Singh and Mr. Chandra Shekhar. In the past, the Opposition talked of “a viable national alternative”. Now the formulation is “an effective and credible national alternative.” (Viable, according to Chambers’ Dictionary, means capable of living, surviving, germinating and hatching!) The Opposition, as I have said before, would do well to learn from the breakaway Social Democrats in Britain. Their new party, together with the Liberals, has in a short time won the confidence of the people who are increasingly getting tired of both Labour and the Tories. This is reflected in the grand triumph of Mrs. Shirley Williams in a parliamentary by-election from Crosby, destroying a huge Tory majority. In sum, top leaders of the Opposition will have to first win back the people’s trust before they can hope to challenge Mrs. Gandhi successfully. They must come out in sack cloth and ashes for their past sins and publicly take a vow that they shall go home rather than break the party again. Credibility alone is crucial. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

 

Economic Recovery: DEMAND, PVT INVESTMENT LOW, By Dhurjati Mukherjee, 28 September 2022 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 28 September 2022

Economic Recovery

DEMAND, PVT INVESTMENT LOW

By Dhurjati Mukherjee

Economists are debating economic recovery, but the scenario is not all that encouraging as there are concerns about toughening conditions in the forthcoming months. There are hard realities that need to be tackled for achieving the desired growth expectations. Consumption growth has not picked up while private investment too is lagging.  

Meanwhile, the already high inflation, around 7 percent in August up from 6.71 percent in July, got a fresh impetus from a sharp energy shock and rocketing food prices as a result of which real GDP grew at the same rate as that of inflation. The global situation is neither  congenial with energy shocks continuing to radiate to other prices and major central banks deciding to significantly raise rates to restrain inflation. Even though it is reasoned that the Indian economy isn’t as exposed and grows on the strength of domestic demand, it cannot escape the consequences of global economic woes that still exist and also despite the country’s advantage of lesser foreign demand dependence than many other emerging market economies.

Recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too expressed concern about the industry  holding back from investing in manufacturing, even though foreign investors are showing confidence in India. She said the Centre is willing to engage with industry and take policy action. Countries and industries abroad, she added, think India is the place to be in now and this is reflected in FDI and FPI inflows and confidence among stock market investors. “Post pandemic, India is coming up with so many out-of-the-box solutions…We are willing to have our digital platform become interoperable between countries to enable cross-border transactions”, she assured.

Delving into the matter, it can be discerned that apart from investment the trajectory of domestic demand is also not smooth. Private consumer spending, which has recovered insufficiently with significant damages at the bottom-of-the-pyramid, is likely to hurt some more by the weakening of exports, inflation and costlier funding. Indications of uneven recovery have persisted into this quarter and could extend ahead. As is generally agreed, sustained growth depends mainly on a revival of capital investment by the business sector but unfortunately while there’s improvement in health of the financial sector, investment to the growing needs is not forthcoming.

It remains to be seen if the lower income segments get back on their feet without government help. This brings into focus the role of government spending, which has been prominent in supporting the economy throughout the pandemic. In a worsened configuration, however, the capacity to expand its scope of growth support is severely circumscribed by inflation, elevated public debt and a spare fiscal situation.

Though the RBI has been monitoring monetary policy to rein in inflation, the implications are that macro-economic policies can no longer replace the private growth drivers in any significant measure. There are expectations that the bank may again hike rates by another 25 to 50 points at its next meeting. There has to be solid evidence on consumption recovery such that it draws in new investments but this is yet to be seen.

There is also a need to consider the condition of daily wagers. Some reports have indicated that labour work is scarce while wages are dropping, leading to indebtedness. It’s the combination of factors that could be contributing to the rising death of daily wagers. The recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data showed that one in four suicide cases during 2021 was a daily wage earner; that is of 1.6 lakh suicide cases reported in 2021, 42,004 were those of daily wagers. The share of daily wagers dying by suicide has increased from 12 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2021.

Many social scientists believe that lack of jobs in the informal sector along with inadequate wages and high food inflation have affected people who have been hit the hardest. Even the building of highways and roads across the country has been hit with the pace of construction falling by 15 percent between April and July this fiscal.

As capital flows are a function of relative growth prospects and relative interest rates, if the global economy recovers and Indian economic growth also rebounds, the outflows would be more forthcoming. “Similarly, whether rising interest rates in the United States lead to outflows depends on the trajectory of Indian interest rates as well,” an economist recently pointed out. Large domestic pools of savings and capital can help offset any capital outflows.

But considering the huge requirement of resources to boost the economy at such a juncture, insufficient funds are a huge drawback. Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings slashed its India growth forecast for the current fiscal to 7 percent from 7.8 percent previously, citing elevated inflation levels and higher interest rates as it joined other agencies in reducing the forecast. It also forecast lower growth of 6.7 percent in 2023-24. However, it needs to be pointed out that both these forecasts may witness a further downtrend. 

While it cannot be denied the economy is moving in the right direction, the growth momentum is lacking. This is principally due to the fact the lower segments of society, specially the economically weaker sections, do not have adequate purchasing power and food inflation has affected them badly. Only talking of the size of the economy without bothering to know the living standards of the masses has possibly no economic justification.

The thrust has to be given on job creation and a sustained manner of development. In this connection Prime Minister Modi’s focus on khadi and seeking to take it to the global market is a step in the right direction. Moreso, asBangladesh has emerged as a leading exporter of textiles when India has far more potential and expertise.

It goes without saying cottage and village industries need to be encouraged in a big way and some Indian brands popularised at both the national and international levels. A concrete plan of action with specific targets needs to be put in place. Apart from traditional exports, there is need to focus on various types of cottage industries, specially handicrafts, and promote these in a big way.

The economy has to bounce back, but it cannot be measured just by GDP growth. There has to be grass-root development, where the focus needs to be on the rural and semi-urban sectors and the people who live there and struggle for an existence. The government has to prepare an action plan for upgrading the conditions of those who work in the informal sector, attract more people to go in for self-employment, emphasise on branding and value addition and giving a thrust to exports. As is well known, there is a widening gap between exports and imports and this needs to be narrowed down.

Finally, in tackling the emerging challenges, simultaneously through enhanced government investment -- even through deficit financing -- the private sector should be persuaded to invest more in innovative manufacturing and exports. As rightly pointed out by the Reserve Bank of India in a recent article, “monetary policy has to perform the role of nominal anchor for the economy as it charts a new growth trajectory”.---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stigma=Women: Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?, By Poonam I Kaushish, 27 September 2022 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 27 September 2022

Stigma=Women

Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?

By Poonam I Kaushish

Plato believed that democratic “life has neither law nor order.” And he was dead right. In today’s India where jiske lathi uske bhains and bulldozer politics rule the roost the country has been groaning under the weight of political malfeasance for decades. Primarily ensconced in their indemnified ‘bullet proof jacket’ our leaders, MP, MLA rule by law brooking no nonsense. Question their misdemeanor, be prepared for open fury, “Main VIP hoon, tum kaun?”

But of late one finds this power of political fathers have transcended to their progenies. From Punjab Congress Minister Vinod Sharma’s son Manu who shot dead Jessica Lal for refusing him a drink as the bar was shut in Delhi, down Lakhimpur Kheri’s infamous case of BJP Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’’s son Ashish mowing down 8 farmers to Uttarakhand’s  ex BJP Minister Vinod Arya’s aankhoin ka tara Pulkit murdering  19 year old Ankita Bhandari working as receptionist at his Rishikesh resort for refusing sexual favours to the guests.   

If this was horrendous recently a Rajasthan Congress Minister’s son stands accused of raping a 23-year old woman in Jaipur as also a ex-PDP Minister son for raping a minor girl in Jammu. What to speak of Owassi’s MIM MLA’s progeny raped a 17-year old teenager underscoring an environment, wherein our netas and their off-springs times out of number behave like Bahubalis with the State maintaining a deafening silence.

Invariably, operating with impunity akin to Caesar, can do no wrong citing “people are our judges” making a song and dance by trotting voters as testimonials that if “they had committed any wrong, the public would not have voted for their father.” A devise to badger courts into submission or to overawe them. Consequently, with people’s power of attorney they revel perpetually in venality till caught waiting for the snail-paced law to take it own course. Sic.

It is precisely this conceit bolstered by power which in turn has bred contempt for law in most constituencies and many States, where profiteering from deliberate misdemeanor are the objectives. Add to this the high octane decibels of Saada Haq whereby, just about everybody, who’s anybody abuses power.

That this arrogance is beginning to get traction is a fact as evidenced in the upsurge of protests by the common man in Uttarakhand resulting in mass protests, rioting, violence, highway blockades, road and burning down parts of the resort. Alongside a cry to hang the killers.

However, at another level it raises a more basic question: Of women safety in India. Appallingly a 22 year old was allegedly gang-raped by 6 men in front of her husband in Jharkhand yesterday and another deaf-and- mute girl in Ballia UP Sunday. Accentuating every day in some part of the country we witness a Nirbhaya, Kathua, Unnao, Muzzafarnagar, Surat, Etah, Chhattisgarh Telangana, Hathras  etc. A society where a female killing is reported every 77 minutes, fives rapes occur every minute, women are burnt for bringing less dowry, female fetuses are aborted just because they are girls et al.

Worse is the remedial action. A complainant goes to file an FIR. The SHO first keeps them waiting for hours, behaves inappropriately, refuses to record the complaint if it pertains to powerful netas and their progenies or demands money, threatens and shoos them away. A woman complainant is molested and raped, witnessed in various States specially notorious UP and Bihar.

Appallingly, sexual abuse remains widespread despite tightening of rape laws. Daily newspapers scream headlines of girls raped, women routinely stalked, assaulted and killed, harassed by police or bullied into silence by family. And the country goes into collective maatam. According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, 39,000 sexual assaults occur every year and one woman is killed every hour. In a UN survey India ranked 85 out of 121 countries unsafe for women. Shockingly, 6.26 rapes take place for every 10,000 women.

UP ignominiously holds the record of most cases of crimes against women in the country for two consecutive years --- 59,853 last year and 59,445 in 2018 according to the NCRB’s latest report.  It ranked second in rapes (3,065) behind Rajasthan (5,997).  It also ranked third in rape-murder cases. Out of 278 such cases in the country, 34 were committed in the State.

Undoubtedly, toxic masculinity tells men it is okay even commendable to seize women who they can’t otherwise have. Topped, by our regressive society which ensures that if they cross limits there would find sympathisers and defenders who will pin the blame on the woman.

Plainly, in a society heavily loaded in favour of men, women and young girls live in an increasingly unsafe environment wherein they are viewed as sex objects and mince-meat for male lust camouflaged as human animals. Comply or reconcile to battling it out at every level. Perhaps it has something to do with our patriarchal lineage and misogynistic culture.

Further, implementation of laws meant to protect women, post Nirbhaya are patchy. In 2016 over 35,000 rape cases were reported but only 7,000 were convicted. Tragically, women are on their own vis-a-vis their safety. There is no law against sexual assault or harassment and only vaginal penetration counts as rape. Horrifyingly, one Rajasthan hospital continues the “two-finger” test (doctors insert fingers into the vagina) to determine if a woman has been raped, despite the practice being banned in 2013. Sic.

The Home Ministry set up a new 'Women Safety Division' in 2018 to strengthen measures for safety of women and instill greater sense of security in them through speedy and effective administration of justice in a holistic manner and by providing a safer environment for women. Yet violence and discrimination threaten women's lives and prevent them from participating in any social activities.

Clearly, only when the State reinforces its commitment to act impartially and with fairness can respect for the law deter the powerful from its breach. Time now, for Central and State Governments to promptly review women security and seek accountability from their police force. Law keepers unless held accountable to law will continue to go scot free. The police must document rapes and the judiciary to fast-track cases instead of lingering them for years.

Where lies’ India’s salvation from this leech-infested katil=neta? With citizenry hooting for answerability and accountability from netagan it is imperative we get our priorities right. Time our high and mighty wake up to dangers lurking round the corner and smell the coffee. The bottom line: When push comes to a shove there is no easy option. Time to break new ground and unshackle women else be prepared for a trigger happy nation! ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)

Stigma=Women: Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?, By Poonam I Kaushish, 27 September 2022 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 27 September 2022

Stigma=Women

Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?

By Poonam I Kaushish

Plato believed that democratic “life has neither law nor order.” And he was dead right. In today’s India where jiske lathi uske bhains and bulldozer politics rule the roost the country has been groaning under the weight of political malfeasance for decades. Primarily ensconced in their indemnified ‘bullet proof jacket’ our leaders, MP, MLA rule by law brooking no nonsense. Question their misdemeanor, be prepared for open fury, “Main VIP hoon, tum kaun?”

But of late one finds this power of political fathers have transcended to their progenies. From Punjab Congress Minister Vinod Sharma’s son Manu who shot dead Jessica Lal for refusing him a drink as the bar was shut in Delhi, down Lakhimpur Kheri’s infamous case of BJP Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’’s son Ashish mowing down 8 farmers to Uttarakhand’s  ex BJP Minister Vinod Arya’s aankhoin ka tara Pulkit murdering  19 year old Ankita Bhandari working as receptionist at his Rishikesh resort for refusing sexual favours to the guests.   

If this was horrendous recently a Rajasthan Congress Minister’s son stands accused of raping a 23-year old woman in Jaipur as also a ex-PDP Minister son for raping a minor girl in Jammu. What to speak of Owassi’s MIM MLA’s progeny raped a 17-year old teenager underscoring an environment, wherein our netas and their off-springs times out of number behave like Bahubalis with the State maintaining a deafening silence.

Invariably, operating with impunity akin to Caesar, can do no wrong citing “people are our judges” making a song and dance by trotting voters as testimonials that if “they had committed any wrong, the public would not have voted for their father.” A devise to badger courts into submission or to overawe them. Consequently, with people’s power of attorney they revel perpetually in venality till caught waiting for the snail-paced law to take it own course. Sic.

It is precisely this conceit bolstered by power which in turn has bred contempt for law in most constituencies and many States, where profiteering from deliberate misdemeanor are the objectives. Add to this the high octane decibels of Saada Haq whereby, just about everybody, who’s anybody abuses power.

That this arrogance is beginning to get traction is a fact as evidenced in the upsurge of protests by the common man in Uttarakhand resulting in mass protests, rioting, violence, highway blockades, road and burning down parts of the resort. Alongside a cry to hang the killers.

However, at another level it raises a more basic question: Of women safety in India. Appallingly a 22 year old was allegedly gang-raped by 6 men in front of her husband in Jharkhand yesterday and another deaf-and- mute girl in Ballia UP Sunday. Accentuating every day in some part of the country we witness a Nirbhaya, Kathua, Unnao, Muzzafarnagar, Surat, Etah, Chhattisgarh Telangana, Hathras  etc. A society where a female killing is reported every 77 minutes, fives rapes occur every minute, women are burnt for bringing less dowry, female fetuses are aborted just because they are girls et al.

Worse is the remedial action. A complainant goes to file an FIR. The SHO first keeps them waiting for hours, behaves inappropriately, refuses to record the complaint if it pertains to powerful netas and their progenies or demands money, threatens and shoos them away. A woman complainant is molested and raped, witnessed in various States specially notorious UP and Bihar.

Appallingly, sexual abuse remains widespread despite tightening of rape laws. Daily newspapers scream headlines of girls raped, women routinely stalked, assaulted and killed, harassed by police or bullied into silence by family. And the country goes into collective maatam. According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, 39,000 sexual assaults occur every year and one woman is killed every hour. In a UN survey India ranked 85 out of 121 countries unsafe for women. Shockingly, 6.26 rapes take place for every 10,000 women.

UP ignominiously holds the record of most cases of crimes against women in the country for two consecutive years --- 59,853 last year and 59,445 in 2018 according to the NCRB’s latest report.  It ranked second in rapes (3,065) behind Rajasthan (5,997).  It also ranked third in rape-murder cases. Out of 278 such cases in the country, 34 were committed in the State.

Undoubtedly, toxic masculinity tells men it is okay even commendable to seize women who they can’t otherwise have. Topped, by our regressive society which ensures that if they cross limits there would find sympathisers and defenders who will pin the blame on the woman.

Plainly, in a society heavily loaded in favour of men, women and young girls live in an increasingly unsafe environment wherein they are viewed as sex objects and mince-meat for male lust camouflaged as human animals. Comply or reconcile to battling it out at every level. Perhaps it has something to do with our patriarchal lineage and misogynistic culture.

Further, implementation of laws meant to protect women, post Nirbhaya are patchy. In 2016 over 35,000 rape cases were reported but only 7,000 were convicted. Tragically, women are on their own vis-a-vis their safety. There is no law against sexual assault or harassment and only vaginal penetration counts as rape. Horrifyingly, one Rajasthan hospital continues the “two-finger” test (doctors insert fingers into the vagina) to determine if a woman has been raped, despite the practice being banned in 2013. Sic.

The Home Ministry set up a new 'Women Safety Division' in 2018 to strengthen measures for safety of women and instill greater sense of security in them through speedy and effective administration of justice in a holistic manner and by providing a safer environment for women. Yet violence and discrimination threaten women's lives and prevent them from participating in any social activities.

Clearly, only when the State reinforces its commitment to act impartially and with fairness can respect for the law deter the powerful from its breach. Time now, for Central and State Governments to promptly review women security and seek accountability from their police force. Law keepers unless held accountable to law will continue to go scot free. The police must document rapes and the judiciary to fast-track cases instead of lingering them for years.

Where lies’ India’s salvation from this leech-infested katil=neta? With citizenry hooting for answerability and accountability from netagan it is imperative we get our priorities right. Time our high and mighty wake up to dangers lurking round the corner and smell the coffee. The bottom line: When push comes to a shove there is no easy option. Time to break new ground and unshackle women else be prepared for a trigger happy nation! ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)

Stigma=Women: Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?, By Poonam I Kaushish, 27 September 2022 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 27 September 2022

Stigma=Women

Katil=Neta, Toh Kya?

By Poonam I Kaushish

Plato believed that democratic “life has neither law nor order.” And he was dead right. In today’s India where jiske lathi uske bhains and bulldozer politics rule the roost the country has been groaning under the weight of political malfeasance for decades. Primarily ensconced in their indemnified ‘bullet proof jacket’ our leaders, MP, MLA rule by law brooking no nonsense. Question their misdemeanor, be prepared for open fury, “Main VIP hoon, tum kaun?”

But of late one finds this power of political fathers have transcended to their progenies. From Punjab Congress Minister Vinod Sharma’s son Manu who shot dead Jessica Lal for refusing him a drink as the bar was shut in Delhi, down Lakhimpur Kheri’s infamous case of BJP Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’’s son Ashish mowing down 8 farmers to Uttarakhand’s  ex BJP Minister Vinod Arya’s aankhoin ka tara Pulkit murdering  19 year old Ankita Bhandari working as receptionist at his Rishikesh resort for refusing sexual favours to the guests.   

If this was horrendous recently a Rajasthan Congress Minister’s son stands accused of raping a 23-year old woman in Jaipur as also a ex-PDP Minister son for raping a minor girl in Jammu. What to speak of Owassi’s MIM MLA’s progeny raped a 17-year old teenager underscoring an environment, wherein our netas and their off-springs times out of number behave like Bahubalis with the State maintaining a deafening silence.

Invariably, operating with impunity akin to Caesar, can do no wrong citing “people are our judges” making a song and dance by trotting voters as testimonials that if “they had committed any wrong, the public would not have voted for their father.” A devise to badger courts into submission or to overawe them. Consequently, with people’s power of attorney they revel perpetually in venality till caught waiting for the snail-paced law to take it own course. Sic.

It is precisely this conceit bolstered by power which in turn has bred contempt for law in most constituencies and many States, where profiteering from deliberate misdemeanor are the objectives. Add to this the high octane decibels of Saada Haq whereby, just about everybody, who’s anybody abuses power.

That this arrogance is beginning to get traction is a fact as evidenced in the upsurge of protests by the common man in Uttarakhand resulting in mass protests, rioting, violence, highway blockades, road and burning down parts of the resort. Alongside a cry to hang the killers.

However, at another level it raises a more basic question: Of women safety in India. Appallingly a 22 year old was allegedly gang-raped by 6 men in front of her husband in Jharkhand yesterday and another deaf-and- mute girl in Ballia UP Sunday. Accentuating every day in some part of the country we witness a Nirbhaya, Kathua, Unnao, Muzzafarnagar, Surat, Etah, Chhattisgarh Telangana, Hathras  etc. A society where a female killing is reported every 77 minutes, fives rapes occur every minute, women are burnt for bringing less dowry, female fetuses are aborted just because they are girls et al.

Worse is the remedial action. A complainant goes to file an FIR. The SHO first keeps them waiting for hours, behaves inappropriately, refuses to record the complaint if it pertains to powerful netas and their progenies or demands money, threatens and shoos them away. A woman complainant is molested and raped, witnessed in various States specially notorious UP and Bihar.

Appallingly, sexual abuse remains widespread despite tightening of rape laws. Daily newspapers scream headlines of girls raped, women routinely stalked, assaulted and killed, harassed by police or bullied into silence by family. And the country goes into collective maatam. According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, 39,000 sexual assaults occur every year and one woman is killed every hour. In a UN survey India ranked 85 out of 121 countries unsafe for women. Shockingly, 6.26 rapes take place for every 10,000 women.

UP ignominiously holds the record of most cases of crimes against women in the country for two consecutive years --- 59,853 last year and 59,445 in 2018 according to the NCRB’s latest report.  It ranked second in rapes (3,065) behind Rajasthan (5,997).  It also ranked third in rape-murder cases. Out of 278 such cases in the country, 34 were committed in the State.

Undoubtedly, toxic masculinity tells men it is okay even commendable to seize women who they can’t otherwise have. Topped, by our regressive society which ensures that if they cross limits there would find sympathisers and defenders who will pin the blame on the woman.

Plainly, in a society heavily loaded in favour of men, women and young girls live in an increasingly unsafe environment wherein they are viewed as sex objects and mince-meat for male lust camouflaged as human animals. Comply or reconcile to battling it out at every level. Perhaps it has something to do with our patriarchal lineage and misogynistic culture.

Further, implementation of laws meant to protect women, post Nirbhaya are patchy. In 2016 over 35,000 rape cases were reported but only 7,000 were convicted. Tragically, women are on their own vis-a-vis their safety. There is no law against sexual assault or harassment and only vaginal penetration counts as rape. Horrifyingly, one Rajasthan hospital continues the “two-finger” test (doctors insert fingers into the vagina) to determine if a woman has been raped, despite the practice being banned in 2013. Sic.

The Home Ministry set up a new 'Women Safety Division' in 2018 to strengthen measures for safety of women and instill greater sense of security in them through speedy and effective administration of justice in a holistic manner and by providing a safer environment for women. Yet violence and discrimination threaten women's lives and prevent them from participating in any social activities.

Clearly, only when the State reinforces its commitment to act impartially and with fairness can respect for the law deter the powerful from its breach. Time now, for Central and State Governments to promptly review women security and seek accountability from their police force. Law keepers unless held accountable to law will continue to go scot free. The police must document rapes and the judiciary to fast-track cases instead of lingering them for years.

Where lies’ India’s salvation from this leech-infested katil=neta? With citizenry hooting for answerability and accountability from netagan it is imperative we get our priorities right. Time our high and mighty wake up to dangers lurking round the corner and smell the coffee. The bottom line: When push comes to a shove there is no easy option. Time to break new ground and unshackle women else be prepared for a trigger happy nation! ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)

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