Thursday, January 10, 2013

What kind of leadership is this?

Most of India’s youth, academia and activists suggested that the Delhi gang-rape incident was the hardcore evidence of a prevalent undercurrent of patriarchy. And they were absolutely right. Just proving them right was Asaram Bapu, a person seen as a spiritual guru by many in the country. His (un)wise words were that had the girl called her rapists brothers, and had begged them to leave her alone, while chanting mantras repetitively, she would not have suffered. He’s not the only one to belt out such nonsense.

Abhijit Mukherjee, the President’s son, decided that the women who fought for the cause in the protest rallies in Delhi were painted and dented. Botsa Satyanarayana, the Chief of the Congress in Andhra Pradesh, thought he had sense when he said “Just because India got freedom at midnight, is it necessary for women to move on the streets at midnight?” I’m not even bothering to say anything here – it has to be the most daft reasoning I’ve heard, ever. Mohan Bhagwat of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh claimed that such incidents don’t happen in Bharat, but in India – ‘the globalized Bharat that is corrupted by the west.’ The ignorant man fails to realise that violence against women has been inherent in the ethos of rural India as much as it is in urban India, and affects all women of all classes. I’d like to ask him if he’s read the Ramayan. And then there was Kailash Vijayvargiya, of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, who said that women must maintain their maryada (Hindi - which translates to mean morality), or face the consequences. So men have no morality? They can rape in the name of righteousness?

The worst of the worst is Asaram. I will not call him Bapu, he doesn’t deserve it. It is absolutely intolerable to speak ill of women. To say that this is such a disturbing trend is not saying enough. If those in leadership roles themselves have irrational comments and ideas to offer, how can Indian society hope to improve? Their myopic ideas of the ideal appear to stem from a very deep-rooted and parochial mindset. It is this mindset that allows the continued perpetration of sexualized crime and discrimination based on gender. What these leaders have professed is nothing more than impute that what a woman does or does not do, is enough to determine that she can be raped. The kind of a mentality this enforces is that a woman must do something to avoid being raped, or not do something to avoid being raped. Why should a woman avoid being raped, when she has a right not to be raped, when the very proclivity to rape should be the one that needs to be addressed?

It shocks the conscience that leadership at so many levels was cavalier to the brutality and cruelty that the 23-year-old was meted out.