It is perhaps impossible to shut one's ears to the public protests going on all over India, and Delhi in particular, in response to the medieval act of brutality meted out to a young lady and her friend. Impossible, unless you are the Prime Minister of this country, or so say some. I would rather say that the Home Minister and his likes have been responsive to the situation in all the wrong ways; unresponsiveness probably would have served somewhat a better purpose. (The last statement was made out of an inherent respect for Dr. Singh's above-the-average academic achievements and not for his failure as the leader of world's greatest democracy.)
I am not here to discuss what the Government should or shouldn't have done. Having studied in a public university, I am well aware of how government officials are expected to react in such turbulent times that hurt their slumber; as a rule of thumb, this is what they do: buy time! This is not difficult to see given that the mass suffers from 'short-term' memory. We've seen that in recent cases of protest against corruption and in the past, during protest against reservations. The current rage is all-pervading, except that it is likely to die down very soon, that the media now already has other breaking news such as Sachin's retirement from one-day cricket or more ridiculously, the success of Dabangg-2. This is not surprising, especially because the ones protesting are driven more by passion and less by thoughts. Let us assume the ideal situation where as a result of the huge participation in the nationwide protests, the case is fast-tracked and all the accused are sentenced to death. The country will rejoice, come down to streets and the media will be somewhat relieved at not having to figure out what would feature on their cover page that particular day. What would hurt me most is that my Facebook news feeds would be flooded by the same status updates, slightly varying in some cases, some teary-eyed, others full of pride. Case closed- until the modesty of another woman is outraged the very next night.
Some people complain that the Government has been too complacent about the way it carries out its duties, others say that the policemen are worthless pot-belly haggards, good only at accepting bribes. True, to a large extent. But I still fail to understand how an efficient policeman would have been able to prevent the crime in this country of ours. How would a policeman know what's going on inside a moving bus? Does one realize how many cops are required to keep a firm vigil on all vehicles- public and private- moving across just Delhi, with so few security cameras at our disposal? One might call the Government's failure to install security cameras a total disappointment. But unlike popular road-signs “accident-prone area”, one does not expect anything called a “rape-prone area”; atrocities such as these could occur in the remotest corner of Rajasthan to the posh locale of Mumbai. Does a government go about installing CCTVs everywhere? Even with an incorruptible system and higher taxes deducted from your salary (which again has the potential to start a fresh round of protest!), this would still not be feasible.
As has been oft said, punishing the criminal serves no purpose unless you look carefully where exactly are things going wrong. When people say “hanging” the criminal would deter others from doing the same crime again, think again. I can readily provide the example of Dhananjoy who was hanged for the same crime, after his mercy plea was rejected by the then President of India, Dr. Kalam. Probably it 'brought justice to the girl' and her family, as they were quoted to have said. But justice wasn't brought to the millions of women who come so close to have escaped a similar fate as that girl, every day. Most readers would by now be thinking that I am here to discuss that there's no solution to this problem. Well, there is. Investigate further. How does one decide whether or not to commit a particular crime at any give moment? Since I am neither a criminal myself (really, believe me or not) nor a Sigmund Freud, my vision is limited. But from what I understand, there has to be some spur- a catalyst- some lightning-fast life-altering decision driven by an unsettled mind, wanting to break free of certain customs fettered by one's upbringing. What they lack at that moment is perhaps control of the self.
Education, I would argue, largely takes care of this problem, except in certain physiological cases. By education, I don't mean literacy. Literacy certainly forms the big chunk in education and could help curb these crimes to half the current number. I cannot but agree with Shashi Tharoor when he points out that if there has to be one solution to all the problems in this society, it must be: Educate the girl child. By educating the girl, we are educating not one person, but a family. An educated mother would mean informed decisions, better family-planning and broader outlook that would disseminate to her children (both male and female). Educated families would mean an educated society. An educated society would mean greater respect for women and reduced crimes- not just against women. It would also mean not accepting dowries which, as one of my seniors rightly pointed out on Facebook, originates from the same misfortune (or so shall we say) of considering women as “objects”. It is thus no surprise, as Amartya Sen argues, that the states of Kerala and the North-eastern states, which have an above-the-Indian-average literacy rate, registers extremely few cases of crime against women while states such as Uttar Pradesh presents horrific statistics. An interesting point to note here is that abundance of wealth has no role to play in this context. An opulent state like Punjab or Delhi could be put to shame by the poverty-stricken Nagaland, if their statistics of crimes against women were to be compared. While there is no comparison as to which states are better and which are not, there certainly are lessons that the rest of the country can learn from the so-called disadvantaged states; they deserve utmost respect and applause, simply because they need not drive Audis to learn and respect the basic principles of living in a human(e) society.