Bharat Mata kay Maathay ka Kalank (Stigma on Mother India’s Forhead)
My Op-ed published in Urdu language at Urdu Times, USA, Canada, UK, Europe on January 02, 2013
Urdu version can be read at following PDF file. English synopsis is also shared below:
Bharat Mata kay Maathay ka Kalank – بھارت ماتا کے ماتھے کا کلنک
Bharat Maata kay Maathay ka Kalank (A Stigma on Mother India’s Forehead)
Activist like me who have always been praising and supporting India’s secular democracy and its impact on the modern civilization, have been traumatized and saddened by the brutal gang rape of a young Indian girl in Delhi.
My column in Urdu language published in Urdu times acknowledges several Indian Noble Laureates, especially economist Amartya Sen who has criticized the ascendancy of Hindu religious fundamentalism and other social issues curtailing India’s leadership potential in moden times.
It then mentions the details of heinous crime of brutal gang rape committed against a young Indian girl that has shocked India and removed the saffron silk curtain that has been covering many sores and evils of Indian society despite its material economic progress.
In my column I share the statistics that according to some reports that for the last several years there have been an average of 20000 rapes per year in India, that do not include many incidents that are not reported because of victims’ fears of dishonoring their families. Indian law enforcement agencies also avoid registering rape cases and providing justice due to the societal traditions and pressures.
The article suggests that Indian society is still in the clutches of archaic social rules and traditions that blame the progress of Indian women, some liberty of urban woman, their education, and urge for equality with men, that bring the attack on them. These highly conservative traditions still allow Indian men to treat women as their chattel and consider them as lower class citizens, just like in Pakistan and other conservative Muslin countries.
Indians have been using gender selection and abortion of female fetuses despite the fact that for the last may years the practice has been declared illegal in Indian. Such ill treatment of Indian women is not limited to India, but Indian girls living in the west also face similar problems.
It quotes reports that suggests that several Indian parliamentarians and members of legislature have been accused of rape but roam around with impunity.
The article mentions that for several days after the brutal rape Indian political leadership including the president, the prime minister, and Sonia Gandhi were conspicuous because of their silent on the incident. They finally came out after huge public pressure and demonstrations. People protesting this incident were initially mistreated and brutalized by Indian police.
It criticizes the Indian system that, despite perceived secular democracy, controls the freedom of expression, and quotes examples of banning of Salman Rushdi’s book, and appearances in India, self exile of great Indian artist M F Hussain, opposition to many ideas of writers like Arundhati Roy, and banning of films by Canadian director Deepa Mehta.
It suggests that while the western audiences are exposed to the glamour of Bollywood, they are oblivious to the sexist nature of many populist Indian movies that are rife with catcalls against Indian girls, and sexual objectification of Indian women.
It also acknowledges the role of conscientious film makers like Shyam Benegal, Naseeruddin Shaha, Shabana Azmi , and others who have attempted positive social change in India.
It urges the activists interested in the promotion of Indian’s secular democracy to join hands with those who are struggling to free the Indian women from the yokes of regressive traditions and for providing respect and equity to Indian and all women.