Thursday, January 22, 2009



The horrific gang rape of a young woman in Noida which falls within the National Capital Region –is yet another gruesome reminder of just how unsafe our national capital is for women. Each time the press headlines any incident the public is outraged, government official’s mouth stock condemnations the police promise thorough investigations and nothing changes. Life goes on. As if it were not enough that this case was unconscionable, the reaction of the sarpanch of the village where the alleged perpetrators hail from, and the stand taken by the Samajwadi Party are outrageous. The sarpanch is quoted to have said that it was just a matter of rape and not such a big deal. The SP called for a bandh, alleging that it was impossible for 10 people to be involved in a gang rape, and that those taken into custody were being framed. It is this callous attitude towards crimes against women that emboldens the perpetrators. In the absence of effective deterrence, and encouraged by the primitive views held by a section of our society, they continue to commit such dastardly acts with impunity.
Delhi is by far the most unsafe city for women in this country. But it is not just here that women are vulnerable to crime, especially of the sexual sort. The National Crime Records Bureau, in its report for 2007, documents that there were 513 reported rape cases in Delhi city. This was way above the number of cases reported in Mumbai, which stood at 171. Bangalore reported 62 cases, Indore 74, Pune 65 and Chennai 46. And this is just a count of those cases that were reported.
There are several instances where rape victims in India do not report the atrocity committed against them for fear of attracting social stigma and for fear of physical safety. This speaks poorly of both our society—which is deeply patriarchal in its attitudes—and our law enforcing machinery. Instead of enabling women who have been victims of sexual assault cope with their trauma, large sections of our society often heap indignity on them.
India aspires to great power status. It prides itself on an impressive economic growth record and increasing international clout. This is perhaps justified given facts about the overall performance f our economy, especially when compared to that of other countries in this time of global economic gloom. However, India’s progress is, and will continue to be, severely stymied if it does not secure the life, security and dignity of one half of its population. No matter how rapidly its economy grows, its prestige will not improve much if its women continue to be treated with scant respect.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Words like recession economic slowdown, jobcuts were just a jargon for me, till I had to face the heat one day and joined the thousands who were fired by their companies.
I remember, it was a Wednesday and everything seemed to be going well. I was called by my manager in the evening and was handed over the pink slop. The ground slipped from beneath my feet as my hands trembled and my mind asked, “Where did I go wrong? What was my fault?”
With a heavy heart, I walked towards my home. How would I give this news at home? My wife, my kids and above all my in-laws; would that understand or criticize me as they do often?
On the way home, I watched everyone else with tears in my eyes. Everybody looked so happy…even the sweeper appeared to be laughing at me, saying”You are jobless, But I have a job. I’m still on my feet…But what about you?”
The clouds of insecurity wrapped me like a blanket. I wished I could go back and scream at people in the office. I felt cheated. Why me, I wondered.
I imagined myself sitting with the newspaper, searching for jobs, going to various companies, giving interviews, negotiating salaries…a wind of rejection made my steps heavier.
The salary earned by me was used to pay my kids’ fees, and for household expenses. How would we manage now? I would become a burden on my husband till I managed to find a job. I tried to stop my endless trail of tears, my body shivered and made me stop under a tree.
Looking up at the sky. I said my daily prayer to seek blessings from Him. I saw the sun setting and birds flying back to their nests. Nature appeared to be talking to me at that moment.
The sun will rise again; the birds will fly the next day to search for food for their fledglings; flowers would blossom and spread their fragrance. Tomorrow will come…and it’ll come for me as well. A smile lit my face and dried my tears.
I thought again. New Year was approaching. I now had time to spend with my kids. I could hang out with them, cook goodies they loved to eat, and be with them both physically and mentally (which I was unable to do in all my working life). Side by side, I could begin my, search for a new job, and reach out to better avenues.
There are thousands going through the same mental block…we cannot give up so easily. Recession taught me a lesson; hopes should never die.
I felt as excited as a five-year-old blessed by Santa. The words of Oscar Wilde echoed in my ears, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”