The rape of reason – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

The sentimentalist orgies our political masters indulged in following the rape and battering of a young physiotherapy student inside a moving bus in Delhi highlight their own insincerities and hypocrisies. Instead of coming up with something solid to make the country safer for women, they took recourse to tokenism, made stupid statements, and tried to derive political mileage from the agony of a tormented girl.

Leading the pack was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who visited the hospital where the 23-year-old medical student is fighting for life. Sonia also wrote two letters to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in which she expressed indignation at the incident. “It’s a shame that these incidents recur with painful regularity and that our daughters, sisters, mothers are unsafe in the capital city,” she wrote in her letter to the Delhi Chief Minister.

The letter to Shinde also echoed similar sentiments: “It’s a shame for all of us who are responsible for security of our cities. This monstrous crime deserves not only universal condemnation but also the government’s most urgent attention. It is imperative that the police and other agencies concerned are sensitized to the danger our daughters, sisters, mothers face every day. The security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped to deal with this menace.”

You are right, Mrs. Gandhi, but why the passive voice? Why “security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped…”? Why not specify the subject―who’ll do this? How’ll they do this? And by what time they will be able to do this? After all, you have a tremendous say in the state of affairs; your political opponents even call you ‘super-prime minister.’ You wanted the rural employment guarantee scheme―it was chalked out and implemented. You want the food security legislation―and the government is furiously working on it, despite the reservations of important functionaries about it. You wanted reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in promotion―and it’s there; even the Bharatiya Janata Party found it politic to support it. You just have to order; the government will do anything to please you in earnest. Thy will be done.

Now that the gang rape has attracted “the government’s most urgent attention,” Sonia and other luminaries of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) must tell us how we would get rid of the shame. Unfortunately, this is what they are loath to do.

While the Congress-led UPA is busy in making bombastic statements, the BJP is no better. In the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj sough death penalty for the guilty. Now, this sounds sensational, but as women activists rightly point out that such a provision would goad the future rapists to kill their victims: if both crimes attract capital punishment, it is better to get rid of the victim who is also the eye witness. After all, a person can’t be hanged twice.

Another knee-jerk reaction from her party colleague Ram Jethmalani was the demand for the removal of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, as if the blood of a sacrificial goat could wash away the sins of the entire system.

But it was Rajya Sabha member and actress Jaya Bachchan who became the personification of political sanctimoniousness. She was “terribly disturbed” and “shocked.” She wept in the House and said, “I am very ashamed that I am sitting in this House.” The solution is easy: just resign and do something substantial to make the country safer for women. Even if you don’t want to quit Parliament, you can prevail upon the chief minister of UP to improve law and order.

That is the crux of the matter―law and order. No politician wants to do anything to improve law and order, without which any civilization fades into anarchy. But it can’t be improved without making fundamental changes in public administration and political discourse. And these changes can’t be executed without reining in corruption and its parents―mindless welfarism and the government’s proclivity to intervene in the economy. Few politicians want to hazard such a journey.

So, they take recourse to the time-tested practice of fiery rhetoric. Reason and commonsense be damned.

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