Sunday, 30 December 2012

A Tiny String Of Hope

At present, I am on vacation with my family in the United Kingdom. News about India, however, still continues to reach us especially updates of the status of the Delhi gang-rape victim. Facebook is flooded with messages of people expressing their shock, angst, fury, frustration, despair and wrath. Despite being a frequent user, I refrain from paying much heed to the content posted by people on Facebook. Somehow I doubt the sincerity of their desire to actually do something that will actually make a difference...For example, without meaning to offend anyone, I do not see how changing your profile picture to a black dot (apparently symbolizing how shameful the state of affairs in our country are) is going to make a positive difference!

Today, I received the news that she died. A part of me was dejected because somehow I had a tiny ray of hope that she, who had succeeded in awakening so many emotions in so many people would not, herself, rest in slumber. The tragedy of our nation or, perhaps, of mankind, in general, is that we all have short-term memories! Once a person dies, we forget about him or her in some days and our life continues with its usual monotony. I hope that the protests that have been happening continue until justice is delivered instead of fizzing out like many other such instances. We all seem to have developed the bad habit of only living in the moment. Once a tragic moment has elapsed, we just forget about it, move on and focus on the other moments that are more likely to be pleasurable.

The media has played its role in bringing to light not just how unsafe women in our country are but also the mind-set of many of the people in our country who continue to treat women as second-class citizens that need to succumb to whatever they are being subjected to - for women, survival should matter (it is all about "saving intestines"); dignity is secondary, if at all, important.

I am not a radical feminist. I do not think it is a crime to objectify women based on their looks and on the basis of the sort of clothes they wear; these days, even men are subject to such objectification (for example, John Abraham in Dostana) even if it is to a lesser degree.  Yet I would like to live in a country where women are treated with respect.

This is where, I feel, the problem lies. How do you teach someone to respect a woman in a country where everyone wants a son over a daughter? How do you teach a family of well-to-do,"educated" individuals to respect a woman for what she is and not for the amount of dowry she is going to bring to the household? How do you teach a man working at the topmost executive level of his firm that it is not acceptable to displace his anger towards his boss by beating up his wife?
From the time a son is born, he looks at the way his father treats his mother. He sees how partial the mother is in his favour between him and his sister? How easy is it to change so many years of conditioning? I am not sure if candle-light marches or setting up fast-track courts is where the solution to the problem lies...It is a much bigger issue at a macro-level that we need to address.

Even though she is no more, I hope her demise will bring about a change that will make this country a better place for women. Although the government seems unmoved and has to make use of tear-gas machines in answer to the protests, the cries of the protesters and their pleas are, hopefully, real and will succeed in bringing about some positive changes in our country. I hope it isn't a lot that I am hoping for...