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The Damini (actual name Jyoti) gang rape case in Delhi in December 2012 not only jolted the conscience of the whole India, it also became a global news. The whole incidence was characterized by perverted barbaric acts by the group of 6 men, lapses in police surveillance and related law enforcement (fake address submitted by the owner of the bus). In the days and weeks to follow, massive protests by the public were symbolic of anger against the inefficient governance, insensitive statements by political, social and religious leaders of all colors and hues. Very unfortunately, Damini ultimately succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore Hospital leaving behind a sense of guilt in all of us!
In a recent survey of G-20 nations, Canada has emerged to be the safest place for women to be in! And India is at the bottom of this list. USA stands at # 6.
Damini case raised intense debate in media over the status of women in our society. Is a woman safe in our country? The question is being raised as to why so many rape cases occur across India. One statistic data showed that every 40 minutes, a woman gets raped in our country. In the year 2011, there were about 25,000 cases of reported rapes all over India : Madhya Pradesh accounted for 14 % of all cases. Now you will agree that several of the cases are not even reported, hence the actual number might be much higher. And obviously, this data does not include the other forms of violence against women.
Why rapes happen?
In Indian (Hindu) society, we grow up worshiping goddesses like Parvati, Lakshmi, Durga. Our value system teaches us that women are to be treated with respect and humility. Yet, there is a disconnect. Significant disconnect, actually! The discrimination against women starts even in womb as exemplified by female feticide. We treat women as subservient to men: at birth, she is probably considered as the property of father, and after marriage, a property of husband. Similarly, dowry and domestic violence re other manifestations of this bias against women. A usual Indian man can not generally stomach the idea that women too can have an independent existence. In other words, the feudal mindset in Indian males gets ingrained right from childhood when he experiences this at his home (sisters, other women getting less preferential treatment than men) and in outside world.
The horrific rape-case has ignited a debate all over the country demanding tougher laws and more accountable police. The central Govt has announced Justice Verma commission to undertake the judicial review of laws dealing with rape and related violence. Voices are also being raised that rape cases should be dealt in fast track courts.
Combating the menace of women violence requires a multi-pronged approach. It goes without saying that a stricter and efficient criminal justice system will be a great deterrent, but the societal reforms are equally needed. The things must start from home: giving women its due! In other words, gender equality and gender -sensitivity! Also, schools can help provide a balanced dose of health and sex education. NGOs should play a role in injecting the social input in the society on the overall issue of women’s rights and place!
Do see the documentary ‘Our Daily Bread” by Nikolaus Geyrhalter. This silent documentary is a powerful depiction of how the food industry – vegetarian as well as meat- works in a high tech manner. Sensitivities of the animals are of least concern as we have a bigger task ahead: feed the humanity!
The USA and the whole world is under economic recession. So is the news I hear all around and I am not doubting the veracity of this either! I am not an economic expert, but I can feel that the way jobs are being lost.
Whatever, but come July 2009 and you will see an airline service being launched exclusively for animals. Yes, for pets only! Pet Airways will fly only animals!
The website declares: “A Pet Airline where pets fly in the main cabin, NOT in cargo.”
Without offending animal lovers and animal right activists, I am amused at this news.
The web link is: http://www.petairways.com/
The other day I was talking to one of my colleagues Vidya who grew up in USA but has keen knowledge of India and its affairs. The conversation veered towards democracy and ways to strengthen it. She obviously is very familiar with the corruption-infested Indian system. She even said that donating money for charitable cause in India is like putting money in a bag and throwing it in water: no one knows where it will end up. When I countered that despite all these odds, Indian has to come up with a credible system of deliverance if our democracy is to survive.
Our conversation continued. Not very impressed that corruption can be uprooted from India, she added: “Removing corruption from Indian system is like converting Americans to vegetarianism.”
I could not help laughing , but her observation has merit. Corruption has become a way of life for us. Undeniably, it has its pitfalls.
A person becomes sick and his condition is worsening rapidly. His family members take him to the emergency department of the local civil hospital. If it takes 3 days (I am just throwing up a number) for the emergency department to assess him and take next step, will you call it an effective Emergency Services? No, rather this will be a blot on the very term ‘Emergency’. If it takes courts years to decide a case of murder, will you call it a functional judiciary? Not at all!
The very concept of a democracy is existent on basic premise: where there is injustice, there shall be a redressal system. Hence, judiciary is sine-qua-non for a meaningful democracy. A sleepy and exhausted judicial system will result in a limping democracy. And that is precisely what is happening in India! The slow and over-burdened judicial system has failed to take adequate care of the grievances of the citizens. If a murder trial takes years to decide, it is tantamount to pushing the aggrieved party to immense physical and mental torture, leave alone punishing the victim to the desired extent.
Think about it! Where does lie the problem? Before I go into these issues, let me throw up a few common scenarios:
Why do we have paucity of judges? When a district has number of hospitals (main civil hospitals to Community hospitals to Primary Health Centers) and hundreds of doctors to cater to the health needs of its population, can a single-digit number of judges tackle the legal health of the district?
Why judges are such a scarcity? Rather why such a crisis is produced? Why judges are made such a precious commodity? Are they very costly to the system? No, they are like other gazetted officers, essentially affordable. It deifies any logicthat our judicial system is so severely understaffed.
I remember a car accident involving my family member took 3 full years to be decided in a Haryana court. This is simply ridiculous. Looking at the pace of the case, I got a feeling that the whole judicial system had adopted a sadistic attitude, where both parties suffer endlessly. Believe me, it is totally un-necessary. We as a state and country can afford to make our judicial system more efficient.
There is a perception that the judiciary has not been aloof from the virus of corruption. It raises more doubts when it is left to the State government to select judges for the district and lower courts.
- Obviously, we need more courts and more judges to expedite the cases. A paralyzed judiciary is a great deterrent to the functional democracy.
- The judges should be selected by a centralized judicial commission and out- of – state postings should be a norm even at the lower courts.
The judiciary should be free from political interference.
A healthy judicial system will help our democracy to be more mature and transparent.
Today in a sensational news Times of India reports that the US has slapped sanctions on the charity group “amil Foundation”for its alleged involvement in fund-raising for banned LTTE. The Foundation has been designated under “Executive Order 13224”, which “targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism,” the US Department of Treasury said in a press statement. The foundation is accused of raising money in the US in the name of charities, which ultimately ended up in the hands of LTTE.
It may be noted that Tamil Nadu foundation has been operating as a not for profit (NGO in Indian parlance) in America for many years and many of its Directors on the Board are well-established professionals (doctors, engineers). Dr.S.Palanisamy ( an MD) is its President. Others include: Vice-Presidents: Dr. S. Deivanayagam from Cookeville, TN (Tennesse), Dr. Parimala NathanTampa, FL 33647, Mrs. Mani ManoharanPittsburg, PA 15241. The Secretary is: Mr. P.K. Aravazhi from Naperville, IL 60564 (Ph: 630-430-2158).
The website is http://www.tnfusa.org/boardofdirectors.html but I am sure the website will close down sooner than later.
TN Foundation states its objectives as:
“NF’s objective is to help promote educational, social and other charitable projects in Tamil Nadu as part of a humble attempt by its members to share their fortunes with less fortunate people.It’s aim and objectives are distinctly different from those of the local cultural organizations. In fact TNF is the only organization in the world that is entirely devoted to the promotion of economic, and social welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu.What was started as a small attempt by a few individuals to offer their contributions to Tamil Nadu has evolved into a well-developed foundation through the dedication of several members throughout USA.”
It is hard to say what went wrong, but some of the patrons and donors may not be knowing what had been happening!