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LEST IT IS FORGOTTEN

There was nothing in the beginning to suggest the end. The year 2012 did not begin dramatically but its end is shrouded in tragedy. A young girl for no fault of her own lies dead, brutalized by some men. She had done nothing to them because she was not known to them. Her gender alone provoked them to attack her, rape her and throw her out of the bus in which they had perpetrated the heinous crime. All the protests on the streets of New Delhi could not save the girl. A precious life was lost. The year ended in a death with not the smallest sign that such a thing would never be repeated again on the streets of Delhi or anywhere else in India. India’s year of shame: 2012.

There are good reasons for hopelessness and despair. The reactions of the people who run the country to the rape were slow in coming. It took the prime minister eight days to issue a statement on it: a statement that was bland beyond belief. What stopped him from going out to the thousands of young men and women who had come out to protest and to seek some reassurance? The president of the Congress did meet the protesters only in the wee hours of the morning but nothing that she did or said was enough to bolster confidence in the sincerity of the powers that be. Rahul Gandhi, who many people think is the prime minister in waiting, was conspicuous by his silence and his invisibility. It did not strike him that it was the young, whom he represents, were out on the streets and he was nowhere to be seen. To compound matters, there were irresponsible comments galore beginning with the home minister and other luminaries. No individual in the political class seemed to have the depth to grasp the sheer inhumanity of what had occurred. The death of the girl only highlights the enormity of the utter unconcern of those who claim to govern India.

It would be facile of course to make the politicians alone responsible for what has happened. A rape and the consequent death are most emphatically societal phenomena. It is a sickness that knows no name. There is an insufficient recognition of this among Indians, even among so-called educated ones. This is what makes politicians and, even at times, ordinary men and women callous about the humiliation and the trauma suffered by a rape victim. This is evident in the comments being made about the woman who was raped in Park Street in Calcutta. It is no one’s argument that there is an immediate remedy to the sickness that produces the mentality of a rapist. The problem is too deep-rooted in attitudes and forms of socialization for anyone to suggest such an immediate solution. But is it too much to expect a little more sensitivity from everyone? The rape and the death of a girl have revealed the vicious underbelly of Indian culture. There is no beginning and no end to the shame.