28 January 2013

India: Protests 2.0, pt. II

"A female protester shouts as she is hit with an Indian police water cannon during a violent demonstration near the India Gate against a gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus last week, in New Delhi, on December 23, 2012. The attack last Sunday sparked days of protests across the country. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)"

Here we go with the second part of Saransh's article

"As it has been noticed, information diffusion is no longer a centralized process. Dispersal of information through social media attained unprecedented heights this time. Within minutes of an event taking place, the word would spread all over the country. Such hyper connectivity even though talked about for a while now could be seen real time. Once out there, information spread like wildfire and the task of information dissemination went from one to many. Social media campaigns acted as aggregators of information and people were able to garner huge support in holding protest marches in their own regions leveraging on these platforms
What was heartening to see was that it wasn’t just the women groups protesting for their right to safety but men (the average Joe) in equal numbers fighting for a secured life for their counterparts, the opposite sex. This may be said to indicate a gradual change in the mindset of our young male population particularly those from the urban class.

Aftermath. The rapes haven’t stopped in the backdrop of active debates, discussions and protests going on. The question still lingers. What should be done to the culprits? What should be done to ensure the safety of women who constitute half the population of our country? A few still throng places like Jantar Mantar to raise a voice and keep the momentum built up, but what now?

With so much of independent talk and views, what has become difficult to comprehend is the general stance of the people. It is like the last revolution that India had with its "Anti corruption" campaign. The idea, though extremely noble still has its implementation strategy not yet clearly laid out.

The problem with such scattered revolts is that individual protestors tend to forget who they are fighting against and who exactly is the enemy? Is it that constable who is firing those water cannons at the protestors simply because he had been ordered to or else is it that local mundu (delivery boy) who whistles at every passing girl because he enjoys it? Is it the minister who has 4 cases of rape against him or is it the parents who instill in their children the idea of male superiority right from their childhood?

The question that India needs to ask itself is, “who is the enemy? Why no one cares when local instances of violence take place against a woman in private or public spaces?”

What we as Indians need to introspect about is that to what extent are we willing to intervene to help curb this menace and provide a safe place for ourselves and others. A simple example is that the boy and girl had been dumped and were lying; bleeding profusely on the road after the horrendous incident that took place in December and no one came to their help for nearly 20 minutes. Passerby’s walked, drove past maybe muttering to themselves how miserable the situation of the country is, with not one of them even covering the bare victims with a cloth till the police arrived.  Is this how a country with a great future potential behave? How are we supposed to develop socially and economically if the last few traces of humanity are also disappearing at such a rapid pace? Is this truly our path to greatness and glory or are we just becoming a chump of goons running after our 8% growth rate and not giving a hoot about anything else?

A drastic change is required in the social fabric of our nation as well. People need to change, those 45 year old aunties calling their  neighbor’s daughter a slut because of her "revealing clothes" needs to change. The perception towards a girl needs to take cognizance of her ascribed traits rather than her sex? The young boy who is being scorned at by his father for crying and acting like a girl needs to change. Change begins at home. At this moment this statement cannot hold truer.

However we all know that gender sensitivity is not an add on that can be bolted on overnight. It’s a generational change that would complete not over one but several generations. What do we do in the interim transitional period? Or even more pertinent would be the question, "With all that anger and frustration unleashed during the last month, were you able to do something to improve the situation?" If not, then how are we in a better position?

I am sure that we might not have the answers but at least we are now much more aware of the right questions."

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