In the face of mounting protests, anger and disenchantment on the streets of Delhi, the prime minister has finally spoken. In a rare show of solidarity with the protesters, he says that as a father of three daughters “I feel as strongly about this as each one of you” — an expression that cuts little ice with the people who are not blessed with Z+ security, bullet-proof cars, and the law-and-order machinery at their beck and call. No wonder, the agitators are still in a belligerent mood because they know that the daughters of politicians would never have to avail the public transport system, or walk the streets of the capital without the comforting presence of gun-toting commandos.
His wife, Gursharan Kaur, too, has spoken, asking for severe punishment for the rapists. However, what could have worked in controlling and containing public angst were swift, effective measures to curb crimes against women across India. It’s true that “violence will serve no purpose”, and a handful of hooligans infiltrating the ranks of the protestors have given this protest a violent turn. But, the PM would also do well to realise that the dominant emotion on the streets also articulates the frustration of a people fed up with the system.
For many, the government’s response is too little too late. And, it’s unfortunate that it took a gang rape of a para medical student and spiralling violence to force the establishment to come up with “measures” concerning the safety and security of women.
So, are we finally bracing ourselves for a change, with the Union and state governments working in tandem to restore people’s faith in governance? They are impatient, Mr Prime Minister. Please, do not keep them waiting.