Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


The existence of feudal cultural values in a society where mass poverty exists together with a boom in upper middle-class wealth exacts a horrific social cost. The main victims are the minorities and women.


The six hundred and thirty seventh case of reported rape (leaving aside all the unreported ones) in the nation’s capital could be treated as just one more case of rape or as proof of the social, cultural and political degeneration of India.


However, this recent rape and violent assault of a young lower middle-class woman with modern ambition to become a medical professional exposes the seamy underside of a society that appears to be steadily losing its cultural and social moorings.  It shows the cultural and political degeneration of India, which has yet to touch bottom.  Rape is not about sex; it is a violent method of expressing male power over women and girls.

Women, not men, are demanding justice. Political parties are out to bash the ruling Congress; some of them want the solution to be the resignation of Delhi’s (woman) Chief Minister.  The police is promising extra vigilance. Undoubtedly, social problems are the most difficult to deal with. But the least Indian political parties could do is to take note of the problem rather than diffuse the issue by mounting tirades against the ruling Congress Party.


There occur many more rapes and molestations than we are revealed in the media. Many go unreported because of the shame and stigma attached to the ugly act. The problem is more acute in the north of the country.  Delhi, in particular, is notorious for “eve teasing” a form of verbal assault on women by men, which can quickly degenerate into physical violence. The bestiality of rape is the ugly expression of a male supremacist culture. As the article from the British paper Mail reveals, about 260 candidates, belonging to various political parties, with the sole exception of the communist parties, facing charges related to rape, assault and outraging the modesty of a woman contested assembly elections in the last five years. This simply means that for many of the political parties, with the exception of the communist parties, rape and molestation is just another minor wrongful act, but does not bar a candidate for political office. The same attitude extends to the condoning of violent assaults on minorities. Legislators from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s so-called secular Samajwadi Party were a party to the recent attack on Muslims in Ayodhya.  Shiv Sena, and the various offshoots of Hindutva, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and its patriarch Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) all blossomed in independent India and have been perpetrating violence against minorities for the 50 years.


No doubt, religious fundamentalism has emerged as a world-wide phenomenon with many expressions. Some acts, like the demolition of the Babri mosque, the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, the attack on Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzai, the wanton murders of the Shia and Ahmadi minorities in Pakistan, and the killing of female polio vaccinators in Pakistan are recognized and condemned but a genuine secular social movement in South Asia has yet to emerge.


Indian culture is built on caste discrimination and discrimination against women and it has multiple expressions of social injustice. The least the left political parties can do is to incorporate the issue of combating fundamentalism in all its forms as an essential part of their agenda.

We recognize that gruesome crimes happen all over the world. A man entered a school in a small town in Connecticut, USA and killed 20 children five to 10 years old and six adults. The whole country is demanding gun control; whether President Obama or the politically powerful gun lobby will prevail remains to be seen.

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