‘ We need to change me­dieval mind­sets’

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

From p1 Even though the Lok­pal Bill is yet to be passed by both houses of Par­lia­ment, gov­ern­ments, po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the me­dia and busi­nesses have ac­cepted that greater trans­parency is a must for sur­vival and growth. How­ever, the move­ment didn’t ask any­thing of the com­mon man. Af­ter all, it takes two hands to clap. A mo­torist who is read­ily will­ing to bribe a po­lice­man for a traf­fic vi­o­la­tion has no right to crit­i­cize a fail­ing sys­tem. His ac­tions are con­tribut­ing to that very sys­tem’s im­per­fec­tions. Com­mu­nal vi­o­lence too has re­duced over the years be­cause of stronger laws and more vig­i­lance, but many In­di­ans still har­bour feel­ings of mis­trust and even hate to­wards those be­long­ing to dif­fer­ent re­li­gions.

While the Delhi gang rape has re­sulted in youth de­mand­ing greater accountability from gov­ern­ments, we must also tackle In­dia’s wide­spread gen­der in­sen­si­tiv­ity, which is where I be­lieve the crime finds its roots. If we as a so­ci­ety don’t re­spect women, se­nior ci­ti­zens, the en­vi­ron­ment or the law in gen­eral, gov­ern­ments alone won’t de­liver. In the US, ci­ti­zens keep their streets clean, en­vi­ron­ment pris­tine and de­pend on their gov­ern­ments only to frame laws and take swift ac­tion against of­fend­ers. In­dia is yet to evolve into a democ­racy where we can ad­min­is­ter our­selves with min­i­mal state in­ter­ven­tion.

Re­cent gen­der in­sen­si­tive com­ments by politi­cians of dif­fer­ent par­ties are man­i­fes­ta­tions of the bi­ases preva­lent in many In­di­ans. Un­less we change, our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and gov­ern­ments won’t. Those of us want­ing to pay homage to this 23- year- old girl should start from here.

2012 will un­doubt­edly be re­mem­bered as the year when gen­der in­sen­si­tiv­ity and as­saults on women be­came a na­tional and a po­lit­i­cal is­sue. From here on, po­lit­i­cal par­ties will have to dem- on­strate their com­mit­ment to the cause in or­der to achieve elec­toral gains. But each of us must also work tire­lessly to com­bat me­dieval mind­sets in our homes, work­places and com­mu­ni­ties in or­der to make In­dia a safer place for women.

This grue­some tragedy has posed a tremen­dous chal­lenge and an op­por­tu­nity to en­sure her death is not in vain. As we look at 2013, as a min­is­ter in the UPA government and an MP from South Mum­bai, I will do ev­ery­thing I can to achieve a mea­sure­able and sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in re­form­ing our po­lice to start with. But more im­por­tantly, I com­mit my­self to iden­ti­fy­ing and de­stroy­ing any bi­ases within me while I work with oth­ers to shed theirs. This I prom­ise in the me­mory of a beau­ti­ful 23- yearold, who im­pacted our lives for­ever.

The au­thor is a two- time Lok Sabha MP from South Mum­bai and the min­is­ter of state for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, IT and Ship­ping.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.