On rape

If the statistical occurrence of burglary can be discouraged by building houses in a certain way, then the statistical occurrence of rape can be discouraged by women dressing in a certain way. I have seen many who take this argument to be an approval of the criminal mind housed in a rapist, or an argument to curtail the freedom of women, but that is a mistake.

It is the same mistake as thinking that securing a house with a compound, thick walls, grilled windows, reinforced cement concrete ceilings, etc., is an approval of the criminal mind housed in a burglar, or an effort to curtail the freedom of its residents. If in one case people do not depend entirely on the law to discourage crime, there is no fundamental reason why they should in the other.

I am aware that some will conclude that I am equating women with property, but that is incorrect, too. I am not equating women, but that which is lost in rape, with property. Whose property? It is every woman's individual and private property, and, like all property, it is prudent to guard it well from criminals irrespective of how strong the law of the land is, or how effective its enforcement is.

The question of the relationship between the way in which women dress and the incidence of rape, which is but one of the many relationships that one needs to consider, is the question of the relationship between two statistical phenomena. That is, it is the question of the relationship between the general environment created by the dress-sense of all the different women in society and the statistical probability of rape.

The existence of this statistical relationship cannot be rejected on the grounds that particular sample-cases can be produced wherein the victim's dress can be shown to have been the least of the motivations for the crime for the most criminal of minds.

The criminal mind of the rapist is not necessarily set in motion by the dress-sense of the victim under consideration, but by the general impact of the overall environment in which he finds women, especially on television and in the movies. This should be read in conjunction with the fact that rape is, first of all, an act of violence which could have been triggered by many factors, only one of which is the general image of women formed in the mind of the criminal due to the overall environment in which he finds them.

To summarize, I say the crime of rape deserves the toughest punishment: capital punishment. But I am certain this will not solve the problem.

Why can't Bollywood stop targeting S. Indians?

So Bollywood comes up with another movie that plays with the sentiments of South Indians - this time the Tamils. Just saw a Headlines Today debate with Messrs. John Abraham & Co on the one side and Naam Tamilar Kaatchi's Mr. Ayyanathan on the other.

The issue is over an upcoming movie titled Madras Cafe, the depiction of Sri Lankan Tamils in it and the role of the LTTE in the killing of former PM, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. The moviemakers feel they've done nothing wrong and taken no positions in the movie, and the Tamil protesters feel they've everything wrong and taken a position against Tamil sentiments - by portraying Sri Lankan Tamils as terrorists.

I have a simple point to make here. Why can't Bollywood stop making movies about South India or South Indians? The real question is not whether Bollywood moviemakers can take a balanced stand about them. The question is: why take any stand? If their answer is 'freedom of expression', why not limit its exercise to North India? In fact, why let any Bollywood movies be screened in South India at all, when that very act can and is construed as the continuation of a long history of cultural hegemony?

If the answer to this question is 'We're all Indians,' I say welcome to the true India where this political identity pales in comparison with linguistic identities that are thousands of years old. You don't build a multilingual nation yesterday and start making movies that play with the feelings of entire linguistic peoples today. No, not even under one or the other universal-sounding pretext. That only weakens the nation. Mind it.

'The Nation is the greatest evil for the Nation'

Independence from Britain is one thing and Indian nationalism another. Just in case you aren't sure, we celebrate the former today, not the latter. About the latter, or rather, about nationalism in general, I defer to Rabindranath Tagore - yes, that very man who wrote Jana Gana Mana:
Have you not seen, since the commencement of the existence of the Nation, that the dread of it has been the one goblin-dread with which the whole world has been trembling? Wherever there is a dark corner, there is the suspicion of its secret malevolence; and people live in a perpetual distrust of its back where it has no eyes. Every sound of footstep, every rustle of movement in the neighbourhood, sends a thrill of terror all around. And this terror is the parent of all that is base in man's nature. It makes one almost openly unashamed of inhumanity. Clever lies become matters of self-congratulation.

Solemn pledges become a farce, - laughable for their very solemnity. The Nation, with all its paraphernalia of power and prosperity, its flags and pious hymns, its blasphemous prayers in the churches, and the literary mock thunders of its patriotic bragging, cannot hide the fact that the Nation is the greatest evil for the Nation, that all its precautions are against it, and any new birth of its fellow in the world is always followed in its mind by the dread of a new peril. Its one wish is to trade on the feebleness of the rest of the world, like some insects that are bred in the paralyzed flesh of victims kept just enough alive to make them toothsome and nutritious. Therefore it is ready to send its poisonous fluid into the vitals of the other living peoples, who, not being nations, are harmless. For this the Nation has had and still has its richest pasture in Asia. Great China, rich with her ancient wisdom and social ethics, her discipline of industry and self-control, is like a whale awakening the lust of spoil in the heart of the Nation. She is already carrying in her quivering flesh harpoons sent by the unerring aim of the Nation, the creature of science and selfishness. Her pitiful attempt to shake off her traditions of humanity, her social ideals, and spend her last exhausted resources to drill herself into modern efficiency, is thwarted at every step by the Nation. It is tightening its financial ropes round her, trying to drag her up on the shore and cut her into pieces, and then go and offer public thanksgiving to God for supporting the one existing evil and shattering the possibility of a new one. And for all this the Nation has been claiming the gratitude of history, and all eternity for its exploitation; ordering its band of praise to be struck up from end to end of the world, declaring itself to be the salt of the earth, the flower of humanity, the blessing of God hurled with all his force upon the naked skulls of the world of no nations.
For Tagore's complete essay, click here. Happy Independence Day!

A non-violent view of India

It has become a fancy to say "India is a nation that is divided by so many factors" and then to go on to lament and foment. Unfortunately, although those who say this deny it, violence is implicit in this view because all their lamentations and fomentations are geared towards removing what they perceive as "divisions". Unfortunately, those perceived "divisions" are characteristics of life, and removing them is violence.

There is a non-violent view of India. To even understand this view, one must refrain from beginning with the postulate that India is "one this" or "one that" and later looking at every proof of the opposite as something that "divides" India. Once one refrains from this, it becomes possible to view India as a country with immense "diversity". It also becomes possible to ask what it is that we would like India to be "one" in, and what it is that we would like India to be "many" in. Because, to deny plurality is to impose singularity; and that is nothing but violence.