Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jaunpur ka Ravinder

Extremely distressed by the news of the rape victim’s death, I walked out of office today evening and went straight to Bandstand – the sea calms me down; makes me reflective and happy. So I decided to give it a try again, to check if it could still permeate my state of utter frustration, anger and grief at everything going on around me, at the country I live in, a country I claimed I loved no matter what, at one point of time.
And so I went and walked, for a really long time. Turns out, my expectations were met indeed. I did come back a calmer, slightly happier soul, and the reason for this was one street vendor, Ravinder from Jaunpur whom I happened to speak to just by chance. I asked him where, pray, would I find a dustbin across the long stretch of the Bandstand promenade where a huge sign forbidding littering was put up, with no ambiguity whatsoever of its commandment. The irony was that not even a single, small dustbin was provided anywhere along the entire route. And thus, in response to my query, began the outpouring of frustration, probably pent up inside the guy for quite some time. I, henceforth speak on his behalf, mostly quoting him word for word, and thus explaining my reason to return home a calmer soul.
P.S. The language may get slightly coloured for a few people henceforth, but please excuse me for these are views of the man, and in order to remain true to his sentiment I shall quote him exactly.

            This is a chutiya place with chutiya people living around. They could make up an entire Bandstand but haven’t even provided for a single dustbin around the area. And so you see these huge houses, with rich people living inside? They don’t care whether people all around litter this promenade or not, but what they do care about are us poor vendors who are trying to earn an honest living. And thus, everyday, complaints are made, money is fed to the police who come around and pick up a few odd vendors from here, making sure they do not return, and thus shutting out an honest man’s way to support himself and his family. And then they talk of crimes being committed. Now, out of frustration and poverty if crimes won’t be committed then what else will happen? I try so hard every day to sell these peanuts, and chana jor garam etc. and ensure a decent income for my wife and me, but every day I battle the fear that today may be my fate won’t be with me. This government is a chutiya government. Laws are made not for welfare of people but just to harass us poor people, and for a show of authority. Why do you think criminals move around fearless? Because, the government knows that one gun totting criminal would do them and their “incomes” much more harm, than would a peaceful common man. And so they unleash their authority and ‘’laws’’ on the common man. He is supposed to adhere to laws, to respect them, while the chutiya government and the rich work hand in hand to ensure smooth, comfortable lives for themselves. Now take the case of that girl from Delhi who got gang raped just last week. The poor girl has passed away. But do you think the rapists will be punished? No way. Nothing is going to happen. Because this chutiya government only wants to save their backsides. When I have a son of my own, I am going to teach him the right way to live. I am going to teach him how to respect women, and be a good human being. Just the way my father taught me. You know how I got married? My wife was not getting a nod of approval from anyone else, for either there were exorbitant demands for dowry, or they had some or the other problem with her appearance, or they would just not bother to even reply back after going for a meeting. My father went just once to see her, for in my village the elders go and approve the girl, and immediately said yes. He just had one condition- there will be no exchange of any sort of dowry but since they insisted he agreed to let them give us whatever they sought fit, but within a certain limit. He did not ask for a single penny. That is the kind of lesson I shall impart to my son, when I have children. It’s so sad what happened to the girl in Delhi. But these things happen every day and will happen till this chutiya government continues to not care about us common people.

This is the anguish and frustration that got unleashed from this common man of India. And it was extremely satisfying to see that there is still a man around who thinks like this. To be colloquial, here’s someone from a “lower social strata” of society who can think more progressively, clearly and sensibly than more than half the ‘’cream of society’’.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open Letter to the Delhi Woman CM

Dear Chief Minister of the national capital, Delhi.

I am not sure whether you will even read this email, or even acknowledge it in any way or not. But as a worried citizen of this city, this country, and as a woman who is concerned for her own safety, and for the safety of her friends, family, and her own mother (for as you shall notice rapists that are animals claiming to be 'men' do not discriminate on the basis of age), I am writing this out to you to voice my opinion which is otherwise not given a forum in the state or corporate controlled media that we have today claiming to be the fourth estate of our so called democracy.

Yes, India is a democracy where all castes, classes, and everyone is supposed to be granted equal rights (hence reservation policies galore) and given respect by the laws, except for this poor creature called the woman. Women across classes and castes and social structures suffer the harsh, disgusting, appalling attitudes of men who think they are God's gift to earth and have the right to do whatever they please with whomsoever they please. And who has shaped such attitudes in them? Our patriarchal society, our country's callous laws, poorly structured law enforcement agencies, with no real authority (or even if they do, they don't seem to care much except for filling their protruding stomachs, chewing tobacco, and watching lethargically as the city continues at its own pace).

The frequent sentence given for rape is 10 years of imprisonment, or in certain cases the death penalty. In the capital city of a country which fights and debates over FDI but cannot claim to guarantee basics like food, water, electricity and housing to its own citizens, and guarantee safety to its women (read Honour killings, physical and mental abuse, and the worst of all RAPE), rapes occur at the rate of approximately 635 per year (as of 2012, according to a report in Hindustan Times, dated 18.12.2012). And this figure is probably only those of registered cases, known to the authorities; it does not even include cases where girls, and women are harrassed no end, till at times some of them even go to the extreme of committing suicide to end the painful misery their lives become. What claim does such a country have to call itself a budding superpower and make nuclear deals and debate over FDI on one hand, even as a girl, through no fault of her own, is brutally gang raped, and thrown out onto the streets of Delhi in the cold winter, half naked and in a degrading and horrific condition?

A rape is worse than murder. My biggest fear in life is not to die, because that shall just mean my misery and joys of this life, as I know them, are over. I do not need to suffer anymore. My biggest fear, my nightmare as a woman is to be raped. Because rape affects a woman mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially the most, since our narrow minded society with dogmatic ideas still tends to blame women for their predicament, and not those men who simply cannot keep it in their pants and do not have a strong enough value system to know right from wrong, humanity from torture. Women are blamed if they step out at night, if they step out early morning, if they are not clothed from head to foot in what is seen as ''proper attire'' by our country's distinguished leaders, if they so much as dare to say a word to any man who may be harassing them verbally, or if they take public transport to get home to their families. 

There is a complete and chaotic breakdown of priorities in this nation, which needs to be addressed ASAP or the country's social decline is not far. And believe you me, that does not make a country a superpower, however much you claim the GDP to be growing in numbers.

So first of all, keep castration as a punishment for rapists. Hurt them where it hurts the most. Only then, with such severe extreme punishments, will the future rapists be deterred. Death penalty and life imprisonment doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what a heinous crime they commit. And do not say, what of those accused wrongly. We have a judiciary to make sure no one is accused wrongly, and even it that happens, there are even then murder and other such cases where wrong accusations lead to punishment. But punishment is nevertheless meted out. In Saudi, rapists are stoned to death publicly. That is the kind of humiliation and punishment such men deserve, not measly life imprisonments.

 Make stringent laws and ensure they are properly adhered to (try not completely curbing women's freedom, please, as you do so). Set up fast track courts for rape cases- a long drawn out battle for justice wherein again and again the victim is made to revisit the scene of the horrendous act that was done to her is more mental and emotional torture than we can even imagine. And please, please set up a non-corrupt, efficient transport system in this city. Do not say, there are autos because the auto drivers REFUSE to go anywhere if there is traffic, bleak hope of subsequent fare, too much distance, too much time, too much effort, basically refuse any fare that required them to ferry the passenger anywhere inconvenient to them, also charging exorbitant rates while doing so, not adhering to the meter system. Last I checked the public transport was to 'transport the public from one place to another' and not to give them extra headache and inconvenience. Half the time, people do not get transport, as was the case with this girl who waited to get an auto back to her home, for over an hour and a half, until ultimately she decided to climb aboard the fateful bus, that too late in the night. 

Please, I implore you to make this case exemplary, by providing prompt justice, and strict, severe punishment to the rapists so that this evil is curbed otherwise, the future is extremely dark and hopeless, full of anguish, fear, misery and possibly dissent, even.

A concerned citizen and a woman becoming increasingly paranoid for her safety.