The recent demonstrations in Delhi, an outpouring of outrage against the gang rape of a young girl in a moving bus have raised several questions. The first is that you must realise that you have come to the internet age when a spontaneous collection
of people can take place without any organised body leading it. Through sheer communication on the internet, people can gather at one place. But the more important point is why such an outrage. After all rapes have taken place before, rapes take place in almost all parts of the country and even a gang rape of this manner is not something which has happened for the first time. However two things are important, one that it has occurred in the capital and secondly the outrage is not so much only against this rape but against the general governance or lack of it which the public has been feeling for the last one or two years. The Delhi police is under the Central Government, not under the State Government. The public is angry even with the Delhi Government though mistakenly; Sheila Dixit has in her own way tried to assuage the feelings of the people and taken a lead in trying to make the laws better. However what the Government must realize is that unless it redeems its credibility at the Centre, it will find it more and more difficult to govern. The reaction of the police was an overreaction. During the time of the protests, people visiting Delhi felt that New Delhi has become like a ‘Chawni’ (military area). This is not a good thing. For such an incident and gathering of people who are hardly rioters in nature, you don’t have to go overboard by blocking all the roads as if you feel everybody is going to barge into the Prime Minister’s house or Rashtrapati Bhawan. Several steps need to be taken. The first is that the police have to be sensitised. I think the police must sit down and find out how they will do better policing. The charges which are being made are that a large part of the police force is used for VIP protection. VIP protection is important. Why not have a separate force for that? Why not employ people who are professionals like security guards but with a police set up, paramilitary forces? Why don’t you separate these from the normal policing for law and order and catching criminals? That will obviate the need to block all the police force and also the criticism that is made against VIP security. The first thing they should do is to raise a separate force for VIP protection, so it does not disturb normal policing activity. The second thing is that any ambiguity which is there between the Delhi Government and the Central Government needs to be removed. Of course the overreaction that rape should have the death penalty should be approached with caution. The death penalty, even for murder, in normal course most countries have abolished it. And in India also there is a demand to abolish the death penalty. To now add the death penalty even for rape will probably be a retrograde decision. I can understand the anger. Probably I am more angry, though I was not in Delhi on that day, I am equally or more angry at what has happened. But the death penalty is not the answer. The answer is better policing and a deterrent punishment, death is hardly a deterrent punishment because the person who has done it dies and that doesn’t deter the others that you have seen. I think the Prime Minister himself of course has reacted, but I think he should set up a special committee of people who are sensitive and experienced, so that a long term strategy can be made. Another thing is in Delhi, it is the perception of the people that women in Delhi are handled badly. They get bad treatment compared to other metropolitan cities in India. Why is that so? How can some social study be made on that ? This behaviour towards women, trying to degrade them, rape is only a symptom of the disease. The real disease is male chauvisnism. The male wants to show superiority — that is one of the main reasons. He wants to insult the women. I think some social study is required. Why is this psychology more prominent in the north, especially in Delhi ? I think the problem is far more serious than just a demonstration or trying to quell demonstrations by water cannons – these are very temporary things. And of course, the earlier the Government goes for elections and gets a fresh mandate, it will be in a better position to govern.