India’s daughter – second post

Late on Sunday night (08.03), I circulated the following link to my mailing list with a strong recommendation to read. It has elicited some reactions with the number of those who disagreed with that post exceeding the number who agreed, by one. The total number of responses received is 5.

This is my response to the naysayers. It is possible for me to hold the following thoughts/views simultaneously in my head:

(a) Having allowed the documentary to be made, the ban is a big a self-goal. Should not have been banned.
(b) India has a law and order problem and a male attitude problem towards women. Probably most other societies do. But, that is besides the point.
(c) The Supreme Court is grossly derelict in its duties for having sat on the appeal of the convicts against their death sentence, for more than a year, especially considering that it has heard several relatively less important petitions at very short notice. Simply put, India has a big problem here.
(d) That there is mischievous western propaganda and there is hypocrisy in their attitude towards India and India’s weaknesses over theirs and inconsistency in the treatment of Indian issues compared to that of other societies.
(e) With (d) having been said, India and Indians should not come across as too touchy and sensitive to western gaze at India but find a way to respond intelligently and craftily. India and Indians are a long way off from finding that magic formula of ‘responding without appearing to respond directly.’
My sense is that R. Jagannathan shares some or all of the five above. Hence, my appreciation for his article.

India’s daughter

The moment a filmmaker – with a cultural superiority and racist attitude – decided to make a movie on this, India already had a problem, regardless of whether the UPA Government gave or denied permission.

If the UPA government denied permission to her to interview the rapist, she could have made that into an ‘Embarrass India’ event. Of course, that India could and should ride out in future, simply based on reciprocity. Indian filmmakers do not even think of making films on systemic racial bias in American police or bigotry in the society or on British society’s ills. Of course, Indians in the film industry would not even dream of them. That is a different tragedy.

So, the first-best options are that India has far too few rapes to be talked about, that foreigners look at India with objectively or finally, Indian governments know how to deal with foreigners and their agendas politely, promptly and professionally but firmly.

Now that the permission was given and the movie was made, India was left only with second and third best options.

One is to ban and give the movie and the producer more publicity and more brownie points. That is the third best option

The other option is to let the movie be aired and just ignore it totally – from the government point of view, that is. This is the second best option and I prefer this.

In order to get the first best situation, what the government can do and should be doing are these:

Continue with actions to improve law and order, street lighting, education of young males and their parents (as the PM did in his Independence Day speech) and employment opportunities for men. This is a multi-pronged approach to the issue.

Discussions on Indian male patriarchy, misogyny and prejudices are neither here nor there. If one walked down that path, one gets needlessly defensive. There is no way to generalise these things.

All of us have our prejudices. A civilised society keeps them private. In all interaction with others – small or big groups – if all our thoughts are visible or audible to others, societies will grind to a halt or tear apart.

Hence, there is really no need to get defensive about prejudices nor is it correct for others to feel smug about their lack of prejudices. That simply is not true and in any case, unproven or unprovable.

By banning the documentary from being aired in India, the government chose the third best option. That is unfortunate.

The government, in the meantime, has to work on the first best options:

(1) Reduce incidences of rape (see some non-mutually exclusive approaches outlined above)

(2) Learning to deal with the West. Well, this one is a long story and has a long history.

Here is the link to a good and reasonable piece on the documentary by Smita Barooah.