‘ We need to change medieval mindsets’
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.