No Girls are Safe in the Badlands of India!

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Bhaskar talks of the regularity of girls’ assaults, repetitively, in our society that shows that something is terribly wrong in the upbringing of the boys, be it inside their houses, during childhood and adolescence, or in schools, colleges and elsewhere. State laws might have failed to curb this ugly, animalistic power, publicly revealed by living beings that see and celebrate, of course wrongly, the physical power of men. Stopping the assaults on girls, starts inside the family that teaches to respect women, in general. The first responsibility lies with the adult women members in every family. They must teach their sons to behave kindly, in a civic manner, with the fair sex. The menfolk should ensure that women are not used as abuses in their homes and elsewhere. He also takes a tongue-in- cheek jibe at the laidback approach of Allahabad and lastly, recalls what a student had to say at the end of a class in the Allahabad University. Here’s an inside view, as seen be a social scientist, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Every morning, I consume with several of cups of tea, insane male-sponsored unnatural deaths of girls, mostly teenagers, in some select states of our ‘Incredible India’. Either the girls are being stalked or directly assaulted in full public view. They are even murdered on the busy roads, due to strangulation, stabbing, throwing acid, running bike or car over her. There are reports of shooting as well. Often a girl’s dupatta is pulled off. She is groped and eve teased, harassed, and cowered, before she is brutally assaulted. The girls are often scared.

I have strong reasons to believe that this has nothing to do with the ‘dress code’ of the girls often advocated strongly by the self-appointed, jingoist guardians of social morality – all in the name of hallowed Indian traditions. And I am not going to echo the voice of some moralists that the girls should not move alone or remain inside their houses. The infamous Nirbhaya case of Delhi comes to mind, where the girl, who was returning home with her friend, was brutally raped and murdered in a moving bus, in the presence of other passengers. There have been cases where these lampoons, backstreet toughs have broken into homes to molest, rape and murder girls.

No girls are safe in the Badlands of India!

I have no hesitation to say that beauty always attracts but it is not for polluting or brutalising it. Beauty is not necessarily girl-specific. Nature is beautiful. And it requires no imagination to say that nature is for protection and preservation and not for destruction or annihilation. But unfortunately, nature too is not spared.

Coming back to the core point, the regularity of girls’ assaults, repetitively, show that something is terribly wrong in the upbringing of the boys, be it inside their houses, during childhood and adolescence, or in schools, colleges and elsewhere. I have reasons to believe that state laws might have failed to curb this ugly, animalistic power, publicly revealed by living beings that sees and celebrates, of course wrongly, the physical power of men. I strongly believe stopping assaults on girls, starts inside the family that teaches to respect women, in general. The first responsibility lies with the adult women members of the family.

They must teach their sons to behave kindly, in a civic manner. The menfolk should ensure that women are not used as abuses in their homes and elsewhere. It’s high time they realised that their daughters, sisters and wives too are in grim danger. What goes around, comes around!

City of Joy

The city of Allahabad is a wonderful place for a large number of people. Trust me, it’s extremely unworthy of living here for some people like me. Every year, during the Hindu month of Magh, it hosts Magh Mela that a section of the media has renamed as ‘mini Kumbh’ – millions of people come here for pilgrimage and holy bathing at the Triveni Sangam (Confluence of three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati). Every 12 years, its Kumbh and every six years, Ardha Kumbh, when the number of people swells astronomically, making it the most crowded place on earth, on a single day (Mauni Amavasya). It’s mind boggling!

Personally, I find this city very interesting. It has made me like Abhimanyu – I cannot leave it whether I like it or not. You may say it is very similar to Hindu marriage!

Most of the people living here, in the landlocked, laidback city, seem happy – they take the time to get up in the morning. Men don’t think twice to spit betel or tobacco juices wherever they fancy. Sometimes they are in utter shock and surprise, when I seek their kind consent on public roads, if I might be allowed to move ahead, unharmed, by the spray of their spit fountain, obviously when they are just about to spit.

I often find five people, some of them children, including one on the lap of a woman pillion rider, on a scooter, on public roads, negotiating though cows and buffalos, ambling along on the road or squatting in the middle of a busy road, chewing cud, leisurely. The ‘regal attitude’ of these cows and buffaloes are no less than that of the king of the jungle, lion. Public transport system is yet to replace private vehicles.

Cycle rickshaws and swanky cars crawl behind the flock of buffaloes on their way to grazing or back. The entire traffic moves at the rate of the buffalos walking casually. You would be lucky not to get an ugly swish of their tails driving flies. Among all these, I also find lawyers on scooters riding their vehicles, still donning their black coats. It’s perhaps a statement of power for them, methinks.

Perplexed, I asked my students what all these mean. They responded, “It’s a City of Joy, Sir!”

Sir, Aap Phir Kab Ayenge?

It was an occasion of my delivering lecture for the postgraduate students, in Economics, at the Allahabad University. Like every other teacher, I also try to learn while teaching, that is, interact in the classroom with the students keen to learn. At the end of my class, one of the students asked me, “Sir, aap phir kab ayenge?” (Sir, when will you come again?)

I was a bit surprised for several reasons. Students in some regions, in India, do not dare to ask teachers any questions – Allahabad is one such place. And at the beginning of my lecture, I had a herculean task to convince them that a teacher also was questionable. So, after limited academic interaction, this was the question I was asked.

I queried, “Dookh se bol rahe ho, yaa shukh se?” [Are you saying so sadly (under duress) or happily?] His polite response was, “Sir, aap ka class subah-subah ho to aacha hai.” [Sir, it would be nice if your class is in the morning?] I understood his point. It was actually a lecture that was difficult for them to absorb in the afternoon – after the entire day’s drudgery, on empty stomach. All these play an adverse role.

Obviously, my response was in affirmation, though constrained, since I was engaged as a guest teacher there.

I recall that for asking a similar question, one student, a decade back, was going to be rusticated by the decision-making authority in a premier social science research institute in Allahabad. I had to resist that action, then.

©Prof. Bhaskar Majumder

Pix from the Net.

Prof. Bhaskar Majumder, an eminent economist, is the Professor of Economics at GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad. He was the Professor and Head of the Centre for Development Studies, Central University of Bihar, Patna. He has published nine books, 69 research papers, 32 chapters,15 review articles and was invited to lectures at premier institutes and universities over 50 times. He has 85 papers published in various seminars and conferences.
He also worked in research projects for Planning Commission (India), World Bank, ICSSR (GoI), NTPC, etc. A meritorious student, Bhaskar was the Visiting Scholar in MSH, Paris under Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme. He loves speed, football and radical ideology.