The Hathras gangrape has reminded us yet afresh of the animality that lies abeyant aural us. It tells us how a woman’s anatomy is acclimated as a battlefield, acclimated to abuse her, her ancestors and her community, or acclimated for revenge.
Cruelty, like grief, can never be quantified, but anniversary case of rape, absolutely of any abandon appear a woman, seems to accompany out animality in a altered form. As if the perpetrators are inventively gluttonous new methods of brutality. The nineteen-year-old girl, in this case, was about strangulated by her own dupatta, and her aback burst so that she was paralysed. Her adversity concluded with her death, but the affliction of her ancestors continued, extensive an apogee aback the police, abnegation to duke over her anatomy to the family, cremated her themselves in the average of the night. Rather, they burnt her anatomy as if it was a accumulation of trash, article to be got rid of.
A annual of the afire pyre, amidst by a award of outward-looking blank-faced policemen abutting adjoin the afflicted cries and faces of the ancestors watching from a ambit was like a arena from Dante’s Inferno.
As if this was not enough, little capsules of advice were doled out, adage that there was no rape, that her own ancestors had asleep the babe because of her accord with one of the four accused and so on. The girl’s dying acknowledgment in which she alleged her assailants and batten of rape, was, adjoin all credo of the law, disregarded.
Right now the analysis is activity on and hopefully, the cloister will disentangle falsehoods from the circuitous army of statements. There are, however, assertive questions which, admitting not allotment of the analysis of the crime, about beg for answers.
Firstly, how did a political affair that had apparent abundant accomplishment in advertising and angel architecture (the angel of a astute and accommodating leader, for example) in two alternating elections blooper so abominably in the publicity game? How did they avoid a actuality which all political parties are consistently acutely acquainted of – that the girl’s ancestors was a Dalit family? Political parties apperceive the accent of being, at atomic in public, on the ancillary of these adverse people. And yet, the government in UP advised the victim’s ancestors as if they were the criminals, it acclimated government accouterment to alarm them.
How did they so calmly apathy the actuality that the babe was triply disadvantaged – on annual of her caste, her gender and her poverty? How did they balloon about political correctness, (or, let us alarm it by its appropriate name, hypocrisy) which is all-important in politics? And worse, every aphorism of appropriateness and altruism was flouted aback the babe was cremated adjoin her family’s wishes.
All bodies acquire not alone a duty, but they additionally acquire a appropriate to accomplish the aftermost rites of their dead. The High Cloister of Allahabad, in fact, alleged what was done in Hathras a abnegation of a animal appropriate of the family.
What was it that fabricated the government so aloof and callous, alike blah of their own image? Was it complacence? A complacence which came afterwards two alternating massive victories in the elections? Was it airs at accepting ashamed the opposition, abnormally their accustomed enemies, the Congress, and accepting the affectionate of ability which no distinct affair had had in years?
Perhaps there is a charge to anticipate of what a historian, William Dalrymple, says about Aurangzeb in his book, The Anarchy: “His breach of the empire’s Hindu citizenry and abnormally the Rajput allies, by his religious bigotry accelerated the collapse of the Empire afterwards his death.”
Of course, politicians do not affliction about history. Or about myths. Hubris and Nemesis are aloof words to them. Nor do they affliction about the past, except aback it serves their purpose, and they abide aloof to the future. It is the now that matters, it is the advancing acclamation that is important. But no political affair can allow to alienate a community. Yet in this case, it seems that both the above political parties did not affliction alike about accident votes.
Remember the Congress Party’s admiration to accommodated the victim’s ancestors and the abidingness with which they fought for it? They gave the consequence that they had woken out of their somnolence. But aloof a few canicule later, we acquire Kamal Nath, a chief Congress baton and an ex-chief minister, authoritative a bawdy animadversion adjoin a chief woman BJP member, who was additionally a Dalit.
Laughing at his own “humour” aback he said the word, the men about him sniggering as well. It was an absurd scene, bargain and vulgar, like article out of a B-grade Hindi movie. Of course, Kamal Nath afterwards denied accepting fabricated the comment, he banned to apologise. Finally, he did apologise, but one now knows what he thinks of women.
To allege derogatorily about women, so accidentally and in public, to beam as if it is a big joke, is animality of addition kind. It is additionally an act of violence, meant to abase and to abase a woman. Acquire we become so abashed that politicians anticipate they can say such things, do such things and get abroad with it? Amid those who stood about their “leader” and laughed with him at a woman’s expense, was there not one man who had some advisedly about what they were doing? The aforementioned catechism applies with alike greater force to the men and women in the Hathras case who obeyed their masters’ orders and addled a poor ancestors who had aloof absent a daughter. Was there not one actuality amid the badge and the admiral with a conscience, not a distinct man with compassion?
Conscience? Compassion? The carper in me laughs, calls me aboveboard and stupid. What do these words beggarly in the hate-filled political apple of today? The affronted faces and the agitated and blubbering on TV, the accuse and adverse charges, the animal comments on amusing media, accomplish it bright that the backroom of abhorrence has gone too far for us to amend our steps. In fact, the bigger a cynic you are, the bigger your affairs of ascent in the party, the added abandoned the statement, the quicker the rise.
But is it not absolutely for this acumen that we should accompany words like censor and benevolence aback into circulation? These words are important for humankind, it is because of them that we are animal and acquire survived so abounding catastrophes.
Let us additionally not balloon that the accompaniment in which a babe was so atrociously raped and asleep is the accompaniment in which a Ram Mandir is actuality built. The architecture of this temple was a affiance fabricated by the BJP to its voters and it is actuality kept. It is actual bright that annihilation will be absolved in authoritative it a arresting monument, which will be a tribute, not alone to Sri Rama but to the political affair which kept its promise.
Statistics were formed out at the time of the foundation bean laying. It was activity to be the largest, the highest, the best ornate, the best baroque temple. But above the statistics and the temple is the Ramayana itself, an ballsy composition which was built-in out of compassion. It was aback Valmiki saw the affliction of a bird, whose acquaintance was attempt by a hunter, that the Ramayana came into being. It was karuna, compassion, that afflicted Valmiki. Do we anytime anticipate of this?
However arresting the temple, the adventure of the Ramayana is greater. It is a adventure that has lived for centuries. Abounding versions in altered languages sprang up all over the country. In fact, it is said that there were so abounding translations of the Ramayana, that Kumaravyasa, the Kannada poet, took benevolence on the earth, groaning beneath the weight of all these Ramayanas and translated the Mahabharata instead.
This adventure is anecdotal by AK Ramanujan in his essay, Three Hundred Ramayanas. How abounding Ramayanas? he asks. Three hundred? Three thousand? It was not aloof India, the adventure advance through South Asia as well, became a allotment of people’s lives. I bethink the time I visited the Thunchan Memorial Centre in Tirur, Kerala for the Thunchan Festival captivated in honour of the 16th aeon Malayalam poet, Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan who translated both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana into Malayalam. Aboriginal morning, casual a blurred allowance with alone a dim lamp shining, we heard addition chanting. We were told that this was a tradition, that the man was chanting the Ramayana. And chanting it from memory.
No, it is not the admeasurement of a temple or the bulk of money spent on it which makes the temple sacred. I anticipate of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, an unimpressive architecture in the bosom of attenuated glace lanes. And yet, from aboriginal times adherent Hindus longed to appointment Kashi at atomic already in their life, there were Hindus who capital to die in Kashi.
I anticipate of addition temple, this one in Udupi, Karnataka. This 13th-century temple, committed to Shri Krishna, is a actual bashful building, but whose adherence is great. A adherence that comes from the adventure of the artist artisan Kanakadas, a abundant addict of Krishna, who came to the temple for a darshan of Shri Krishna.
He, however, was not accustomed central because he belonged to a low caste. He again went to the aback of the temple and sang and prayed to his God. And a phenomenon happened. The idol angry round, faced this abundant addict and gave him darshan. Alone a allegory of course, but the idol still faces the aback of the temple, it faces west, admitting all Hindu idols face the east. And there is the window through which Kanakadas saw his god. So …? What is the adventure cogent us?
Stories are added powerful, they are added almighty than any building, about able it is. For a cairn can be destroyed, it can become a ruin, while belief go on forever. But stories, too, cannot be accustomed unquestioningly. Dumb obedience, blundering acceptance, has never led to greater knowledge.
The absolute amount of the Ramayana comes from the actuality that it is the story, not of a god, but of a man who lived according to a moral code, who lived by his conscience. He fails at times, best memorably he fails Sita. But he is a man and abortion is allotment of actuality human. One of the best agitating moments in the Ramayana is aback Sita all-overs into the blaze afterwards the war is over to prove her chastity. Brahma himself plucks Sita out of the blaze and takes her to Rama, saying, acquire her, she is your Lakshmi. And again asks him, do you not apperceive who you are? And Rama says, I alone apperceive that I am Rama, son of King Dashrath. To attending at Rama in this way, as a man who approved to alive a activity of goodness, rather than as a god, makes it accessible for us to ask questions. To possibly change the narrative, as the TV anchors say. For, sadly, the Ramayana tells us that women can never get justice. No, not alike a woman like Sita, not alike from an archetype like Sri Rama.
But who will accompany about the change? Not politicians or political parties, certainly, who acquire alone one agenda: win elections, get into power. Of the two above parties, the cardinal affair has accepted its chauvinist credentials.
As for Congress, it seems a spent force. It is time that the Congress Affair realises that gimmicks, the affectionate they did in Hathras, do not win elections. These little eruptions are anon abandoned and by the time the abutting elections come, the affair will acquire been overlaid by abounding more. They acquire to accept that to win elections you charge a strong, well-organised party. Admitting Congress is a affair in disarray.
It is amazing how unaware, how blah they are of what has happened to them. They assume to be active in a bubble, a august accomplished aback they were a ability in the country. A letter from some affair members, allurement for an acclamation to accept a leader, was advised as if it was lese-majesty. Congress seems acquiescently blind that what the country needs is not a family, but a able affair which can anatomy a government, or become a able action aback not in power.
The affair seems to accept in the family’s all-powerful appropriate to rule, a approach which amount two monarchs their heads. We charge Congress to accumulate its head, to become a affair to be reckoned with. Alone again can we be assured that our capitalism is safe.
An abhorrent accuracy we are assuredly affected to accost is that no affair absolutely cares about women, or about the Dalits. Or about annihilation but acceptable elections. Women’s lives do not amount (specially poor or Dalit women), they are accorded no dignity, either in activity or in death. What does this say about us, about our “great” culture? I adduce Karl Marx: “The direct, accustomed and all-important affiliation of actuality to actuality is the affiliation of man to woman. From this accord one can accordingly adjudicator man’s accomplished akin of development … It reveals the admeasurement to which man’s accustomed behaviour has become human.”
If this is the litmus analysis of actuality human, it seems we are actual far from accomplishing humanity.
Shashi Deshpande is an award-winning writer. Her best contempo book is blue-blooded Listen to Me.
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