The irrelevance of politics
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The news about rape does not get any better. Relentlessly, week after week, we have news of young and old women as well as girls being brutally raped, physically abused and often burnt or killed. The system fails to do much more than wring its hands, limply pointing to the Act it passed. The police continue to have feudal mentality. Politicians, when they are not rapists themselves, are not much help. The idea of politics in India is tied up with patronage, handouts and subsidies to voting blocsócaste Hindu or Dalits or Muslims. There is no idea of human rights and most 'leaders' of these voting blocs are men who are as likely to burn their daughters-in-law for dowry if not do something worse.
The forthcoming elections will fail to address the demands of women for safety or for their rights. Indian politics only recognises groups, not individuals. Someone like Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasrin has no rights since the group to which they 'belong' is hostile to them. M F Husain was driven into exile because a secular government let Hindutva bullyboys hound him. The whole notion of secularism is about religious collectivities and not about individuals. An atheist Muslim will be abandoned by the authorities. When he spoke about the ubiquity of corruption in Indian politics, Ashis Nandy was left to fend for himself because some Dalit groups took umbrage at what he had said, having failed to appreciate irony. No political power stood up for his freedom of speech.
Whether the Congress or BJP wins the next election will make no difference to this political culture. The young women and men who are marching every day in our cities and demanding some response from the powers that be will find that the elections will be fought on clientelist concernsójati, minorities, reservations, subsidies etc. That is called inclusive development. The reform of Indian society to improve the downtrodden position of women who suffer indignities from the time they are foetuses till they die a lonely old death will not be addressed.
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