2012 has been an outright disappointing year. A latest event each in the two countries
I am physically and emotionally affiliated with sum up the disappointment and
outrage I have felt many times during the course of the year.
A young woman got raped, beaten and thrown
out of a moving bus to die on the sidewalks with her boyfriend who too was physically crushed in the city I call home, Delhi. This was not an isolated incident. This was
the 10th such instance of rape in a moving vehicle and one of 550
rape cases that are reported in Delhi each year. We have seen a medical school
student raped in broad day light and we have seen several working women raped on their
way back home from work. Response of police and politicians remains the same - the
victim must have done something to invite the brutality upon herself.
Our three term Chief Minister (CM), most likely to be fourth term, has
made outrageous comments every time a case is reported. This time, her reaction
was to proudly report cancellation of the bus license and direct further
queries to police. Public outrage forced her to dispassionately suggest several policy actions and constitution of a committee to recommend action. In past, she blamed the murder of a female journalist upon the murdered victim herself as she was being too
adventurous to be out at 3 in the morning. Her
idea of instilling a sense of security among women in Delhi – women should not work; if they necessarily need to, to make
ends meet then they must be home before dark; they should preferably have a male
escort and not use public transport.
I would however be naive to suggest better enforcement can
eradicate Delhi’s rape problem. Rot runs much deeper into Delhi's society. Lack of empathy,
widespread incivility, pompous mindset, an undeserved sense of superiority and omnipresent
political and bureaucratic corruption that has driven people to stop fearing
the law, are as much to blame for the rape problem.
Unlike Mumbai where a hard working lower middle class incumbent is content in the surrounding of mega rich, his Delhi counterpart harbors
a feeling of contempt and envy towards the affluent. While working harder is key to success for this Mumbai man, his Delhi counterpart sees it as a zero sum game, trying to push someone down to rise up. While people in Mumbai appear cold
and indifferent on the outside, they have a genuine sense of compassion. People in Delhi appear warm and friendly on the outside but are often found lacking genuineness. One thinks before committing a crime in Mumbai for the fear of the parallel justice system that I believe runs stronger than police. In Delhi no system exists except the system of corrupt connections everyone happily flaunts. This is a very
broad generalization but having lived in both the cities, the differences stand
out and reflect in each city's status as the safest and most
unsafe city for women in India.
Delhi is my home, a city I so much love for the history,
food, diversity, open spaces and several top universities. It hurts me that Delhi is firmly acknowledged as the rape capital of India.
The disturbing lack of empathy from the executive class and police coupled with the deep
societal flaws hurt me even more as there does not appear to be a near term fix to
this most inhumane of all crimes.
Second event took place a week back in the country I
currently live in. A mentally ill young man with easy access to guns rampaged
his way through an elementary school killing 20 innocent children and 6 adults.
This again was not an isolated incidence. A few weeks back, a pro football
player shot his girlfriend and then shot himself. Before that, there was the
Colorado shooting in a movie theater killing 12 and injuring 58. There was the 2011 Tucson
shooting where congresswoman Giffords was shot.
There are over 32,000 deaths each year due to
gun violence in the US. 40% of the gun sales take place without background checks.
There is easy access to those denied legitimate sale in the second hand and
black market. Web sites and blogs promoted by the gun industry provide assembling manuals for those ineligible to buy guns so that they can rather by spare parts and assemble one themselves. Gun markets are organized just like Christmas and Halloween costume
markets. Civilians have access to automatic weapons.
Everyone knows what needs to be done but a small minority
of gun fanatics (aprx 4 million members pay monthly membership to the NRA)
and their collective lobbying power outweighs the collective conscience and
will of the rest of America and her politicians.
NRA brazenly held a press conference today to make a pitch for
even more guns in the street, recommending the country be transformed into a curfew-ed war zone to protect children and innocent civilians. President Obama
arrogantly responded to a reporter who asked, ‘where you have been on this issue’
as I have been the President of the United States overseeing the worse economic
recession since the Great depression. Quite clearly human lives matter less
than economy. He conveniently forgot to mention he was busy campaigning for more than a year to get reelected and is still campaigning rather than get his hands dirty and try solving
many issues this great country faces.
Republicans quite shamelessly continue to beat their trumpet
of protecting the constitutional right to bear firearms no matter what. Their key argument being guns don't kill
people but people kill people. That way, even weapons of mass destruction (WMD) don’t kill
people but people who operate those WMDs kill people. Sounds ridiculous enough I know but tune into fox news or read gun right blogs for the most outrageously ridiculous arguments in favor of guns.
I can only hope with my sincerest of wishes that 2013 be a