National Interest: Ears wide shut

One problem with anger, particularly at such a mass level as we have seen lately, is that it makes us overlook, even forget, what or who it is that we are angry about. Particularly when it happens to be a mere individual. So, as we scream, pull out the barricades at Rajpath and vent, from the streets to Facebook to the year-end party circuit, spare a thought for the lonely 23-year-old still hanging on in distant Singapore. Most human beings would not have had the strength or will to survive a fraction of what she has had to suffer. That she is still there, battling, surprising teams of the most experienced doctors, and also inspiring them to not give up, is a part of the story that must not be forgotten. We have to think of her, pray for her, and draw inspiration from her. Because this anger, ultimately, is about her first. All the rest of us, our fury and frustration, our slogans, our disgust for the police and the "system", our concern for our children, come later. Hers is the story of a 23-year-old from a family of modest means who did not have the dad's car and driver to take her home at night, and whose eyes lit up when a bus stopped and offered her and her friend a ride home.

This is about a public transport-using, ordinary, but aspirational and modern, Indian, and not some "dented and painted", clubbing stereotype of an 18th century mind. She is what this is about, first of all. And least of all about us in the media who, while congratulating ourselves for articulating and leading this anger, haven't exactly been above the usual milking of the story, with a dash of voyeurism: see a TV channel using the silhouette of a model in a flimsy black dress, head buried between her bare knees, covered with equally bare arms. Or some of the others fictionalising, even Bollywoodising, the story, by assuming names for the victim, one even drawn from a Sunny Deol-starrer on the theme of rape. So take a break, once again, and pray for her as she, whatever name you may choose to give her, fights the most formidable odds.

... contd.

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