Will the Enhanced Budget Allocation make Women Safer in NCR and Elsewhere?

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Enhancement of budget allocation for the police for the Nirbhaya Fund, for the safety of women, though welcome, is not enough to ensure their protection. The government might have increased budget in the education institutions for gender studies and awareness too, feels social scientist, Bhaskar. He also appeals that the folly of a simple soldier, for circulating a video in the public domain, complaining against his seniors must be pardoned. He must not be detained and should be allowed his voluntary retirement, in the regular column, exclusively for Different Truths.

I wholeheartedly welcome the enhanced budget for the safety of women in the National Capital Region (NCR) – the central government has increased the Nirbhaya Fund by almost 90 per cent in the Union Budget 2017-2018. In 2016-17, the Delhi Police got Rs 3.4 crore in the Nirbhaya Fund; now the allocation has been increased to Rs 28.9 crore. The Budget allocation for Delhi Police includes Rs 5,910.28 crore for Delhi Police (maintaining and enforcing law and order in the city), Rs 439 crore for the police infrastructure (office building and residential building projects) and the remaining for the Nirbhaya Fund.

Is the safety of women, be it in Delhi or elsewhere, a finance question? My straight answer is no. While I welcome enhanced money to be spent on police for the purpose, my understanding is that more fund may go to basic educational institutions with new course curriculum on gender education. More training centres in towns and cities are required to train the present and would-be mothers on how to educate their sons to behave at home and outside. The government may think about funding more on civil society organisations that go for rescuing women in distress that take care of girl children, make their studies safe in schools and stay anywhere they like.

Fund or finance may fail to evaluate why the women feel unsafe after sunset in major towns and cities in major regions in India. Most of the distressed girls till date may not come forward to assert in the public domain, as they are unclear about the power that is in the patriarchy. Sadly, the victims are further victimised and accused of dressing norms, timings to go out, stepping out without male guardians and so on.

My D.Phil. scholar, who is married, told me that the look of the male individuals on the road changes when they see the girl married. She pointed out that the look is vulgar and gross when an unmarried girl is alone. The tell-tale signs on being married because of the vermilion on the forehead, mangalsutra around the neck, etc. act as detriments, somewhat.  I shall not delve into the issue why women need to display their ‘marriage’ signs. My concern for decades is that girls, outside homes, are not safe in most of the regions in India. This of course, does not imply that they are safe inside the homes or within public institutions including police stations. The Ganapathi and Mathur case, of the early 1970s, is perhaps not forgotten, where both the accused were acquitted for consent in custodial rape. Thus, the concern remains that in spite of the acknowledgment of the government in terms of enhanced budget for the safety of women, are they really safe?

Simplicity of a Soldier 

The life and duties of patriots like the soldiers on the border facing hostile neighbouring country is not readily understood by commoners like us. It is more difficult to understand the truth unless it is established by the top authority. Often the authority judges others, unequally, in descending order and keeps information ‘secret’, as far as practicable. But, the present case is a little bit funny. The soldier on the border circulated a video complaining of unpalatable food and alleging that ration (raw food) meant for the troops was illegally sold by officers (in the market).

Hence, the soldier has been reportedly detained by the Border Security Force. It is alleged that his voluntary retirement had been cancelled and he had been kept under arrest by the force. His life is in danger and his seniors have been torturing him.

The bottom line is that the soldier crossed Lakshman-rekha (his boundaries) – he claimed to have known too many wrongdoings of the (top level) officials. A BSF spokesperson in Delhi denied that the soldier was detained, but said his request for voluntary retirement was rejected because a court of inquiry was underway against him. The soldier, however, has been shown mercy. He has been allowed to speak to his wife. Thank god for small mercies!

The military/defence code says that the orders are to be obeyed in ascending order without any question. The question by the soldier could be intra-group rather than video circulation. It seems the soldier took advantage of advancement in technology without fathoming its consequences. But that is no safeguard for him. He has also given opportunities to the top authority to go against him. Allegedly he has already been accused as a repeat offender involving intoxication and discipline. So a probe has been ordered.

My idea for consideration by the higher authority is to allow him to go back to his family, allowing him voluntary retirement. After all, he is not leaving the country in disguise. The top authority in defence or in polity may feel relaxed that the soldier did his duty for long for the nation and that there should not be any confinement that goes against basic human rights. I understand complaining against what one thinks as unpalatable food is not a major punishable offence in society though military code might be different. But the right to life applies to all – food ensures preventive health care and is the first step to ensure life.

As a pedestrian social scientist, I would plead for the sanction of voluntary retirement of the soldier for the positive services that he rendered so far for the nation. The trial may continue as per the law of the land.

 ©Bhaskar Majumder

Photos from the internet.

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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.