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The government is ‘concerned’

The Indian government has announced the ‘Nirbhaya’ fund to improve security for women in the country. The fund was announced following the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old who succumbed to her wounds. The media refer to this woman as ‘Nirbhaya,’ meaning fearless in Hindi. But is the fund merely eyewash to pacify the seething masses or will it really help in promoting women’s safety? Blogger Vishwadeepak is skeptical.

So this is the end – a perfect climax!

Someone said, “It was expected.” Wasn’t it?

Lets us celebrate the occasion! Let us put our hands together and start clapping! Let us bow our heads in respect! At least they have heard us! We should be thankful!
It was finance minister P. Chidambaram’s eighth budget in the parliament. The mood was high and so were the expectations. But for the people of India, we probably have to put a full stop in front of all kinds of expectations; we are bound to live our life in silence, almost unheard. We are continuing as living creatures perhaps because death has not chosen to befall us.
It was a bright sunny morning in New Delhi. A soft breeze was blowing from the Himalayas in India’s north. With his trademark maroon suitcase, the finance minister was about to leave for parliament. His granddaughter, Aditi, 18 years old, wished him luck for the big day ahead. Needless to say, her protection would be of prime concern to the finance minister, who was previously also in charge of India’s ministry for internal affairs.
My mind drew comparisons between all the young girls who participated in the protest for Nirbhaya and the granddaughter of the finance minister. In December last year, thousands of young girls took to the streets without worrying about the cold weather. They were subjected to tear gas shells and baton-wielding policemen. Water cannons forced them to retreat;some of the young women were even put behind bars.
All they were demanding was the freedom to be able to walk on the streets without being harassed and to get the rapists of 23-year-old Nirbhaya punished. History has never experienced such an aggressive protest in Delhi on issues related to women. Even Raisina hills, the president’s residence, came under siege for hours. We thought that at least this time the parliament would take some steps to counter would take some tough steps. The parliament did not act at that time.
Now it has become clear that the parliament has decided to fix a price for all those protests, tears and rape incidents. The fund of nearly 182 million dollars will help women in the country. The amount seems huge at first, but considering the 600 million women in India, the government will spend a mere 30 cents for each woman’s safety. But who cares? Women in this country have been subject to endless torture for centuries – physical, mental, and financial. How does it affect anybody, by the way, if parliament follows the tradition! It is an obscene expression of being concerned if India’s parliament thinks that there is a price for everything!
When the finance minister proposed the Nirbhaya Fund, the faces of all members presented in the house were glowing with a sense of pride and achievement, of doing something great for the people. It was a compensation paid to people to not protest, mobilize and get together on big issues in the future. But the tragedy lies some where else.The whole nation welcomed this gesture of our rule makers (at least they have done something)! I came to know that Nirbhaya’s father also expressed his happiness that the fund was named after his daughter. She is immortal now- he must have thought.
Coming to think of it, the same parliament has not passed the women’s reservation bill. Sonia Gandhi is the president of the ruling Congress party. She is regarded as more powerful than India’s prime minister. Sushma Swaraj, of the BJP is the woman leader of the opposition. Meira Kumar, another woman, is the speaker of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament.
It is high time to do something more concrete for the many more Nirbhayas in India, but our politicians don’t seem to be able to think beyond a framework. They cannot consider women as human beings, except when they need votes. This is the game in our (patriarchal) democracy which has a fixed price for everything.
Nirbhaya, may you rest in peace in heaven. The finance minister has taken care of your sisters on earth!

Author: Vishwadeepak
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


04.03.2013 | 13:54