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People want system overhaul, cosmetic changes won’t do

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 - 10:30am IST | Agency: DNA
Alas, the 23-year-old girl after waging a valiant struggle finally lost the battle for her life. She wanted to live a full life.

Alas, the 23-year-old girl after waging a valiant struggle finally lost the battle for her life. She wanted to live a full life. However, the worst possible human cruelty doused the flame of her life even before the young girl could begin to decipher the ever bewildering secrets of life. The outpouring of the sentiment on the streets was absolutely moving. The intensity of public anger which on some occasions even overlapped with insane behaviour provided enough indication that the patience of the general masses with the dysfunctional system has fully sapped. 

The protests for the time being may have slowly petered out, yet the public anger against the system is strongly refusing to die down. It was already known to the people that the accused in the gang-rape case have been nabbed.

The government officials also promised a speedy trial in a fast-track court. And after the tragic death of the victim, the lynch mob mentality demanding public hanging of the accused notwithstanding, it now seems very likely that the prosecution may be able to convince the trial court to treat this case as a ‘rarest of the rare case’, thus making it possible for the prosecution to ask for a maximum sentence for the accused which in this case is death, this broadly concurs with the public sentiment. Moreover, the government has ordered various inquiry commissions including the high- profile Justice Verma Commission ‘to give recommendations on amending laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in sexual assault cases’. When Sonia Gandhi promises that “your voice has been heard” and prime minister Manmohan Singh states that “her death will not go in vain”, it clearly implies that the government is contemplating all necessary actions to avoid the repeat of such a gruesome tragedy in future.

Ordinarily all such steps along with the promised actions should have satisfied the public anxiety. Yet all the hasty steps taken by the government under tremendous public pressure have utterly failed to inspire the confidence of the people in their rulers.

While the government was busy in announcing action after action to quell the public anger, but yet unable to gain the trust of the protesters, the union home minister in desperation during a TV interview was seen pleading, what else do the protesters want? Eventually the rulers by deploying certain coercive methods were able to disperse the peaceful protesters.

Closing down metro stations, putting in effect the prohibitive orders, even the funeral of the victim was not allowed to be a free affair ‑ is this a democracy where the rulers are afraid of their own people? Besides the coercive measures what helped the rulers in taming the movement momentarily was the compulsion of the protesters to return to their daily life routine. Since the protesters were not a band of organised activists and were merely professionals, students or for that matter house makers, they could not have continued their protests indefinitely.

The spontaneity of public sentiment is the bedrock of any popular uprising. But any uprising, howsoever intense it may be, is bound to dissipate without achieving any objectives if the raw energies are not channelised into a sustained effort. Whether it is Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign or the ongoing outrage against the failure of justice delivery system, people have demonstrated an impressive desire for a complete overhaul of the system.

No superficial modification here and there is going to satisfy a profound craving for a change. At the same time, the people have become immensely wary of all the organised efforts; the moment an organisation comes into play the people’s movement suddenly starts melting away.

For an ordinary person the politician, the NGO, even apparently selfless Gandhian, have all turned out to be a part of a self-serving enterprise. That Sheila Dixit was jeered with ‘go back’ slogans at Jantar Mantar, is obviously understandable. Being the chief minister of Delhi, she partly shares the blame for the failure of the administration to protect the life of a citizen. But see how the likes of Arvind Kejriwal found their safety only by sitting quietly amongst the protesters. The disdain for the politics was never as stark as it’s being witnessed today.   

Ironically republic read people fully aware of its rights is juxtaposed against a system that owes its very existence to the republic.  It’s a profound dichotomy that the system claims to represent the people’s interests, yet the same system is fully geared to frustrate rather suppress the inner longings of the people for a change.




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