The dramatic events that unfolded last month with the Home Ministry at the helm are an ominous portent of the sinister developments underway in today’s India. The Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, declared war against a documentary which, according to senior members of the government, was made to ‘defame’ India. As if India is not already defamed, thanks to the misogynist violence that is integral to the fabric of the Indian society. What the Home Ministry hasn’t perhaps realized is that it has defamed the country once again in the eyes of the world through such mindless statements.
India’s Daughter tells the moving tale of Jyoti Singh and her tragically short life that was dedicated to lifting her family out of the poverty they lived in. It portrays the strong resolve of the parents to impart higher education to their daughter, selling land in the process – something that is only done for sons in this country. The documentary couldn’t have been complete without voicing the opinion of one of the perpetrators of the ghastly crime. But what is in there to make our leaders so nervous as to impose a ban? Did the incident not happen, and did it not send shock waves around the world? Will the ban fill the rapists with remorse? Or will it prevent scores of rapes, molestations and harassments that are being experienced by Indian women every day?
India’s Daughter is an important work because it holds up a mirror to Indian society. It does this by working on two levels. On one hand, it depicts the dreams and aspirations of a young India that is determined to cobble together a better life and make India a better country. This young India, ironically, also comprises of many of the first time voters that brought the Narendra Modi government to power. Lurking in its shadows are, however, the dark forces of a callous, intolerant, misogynist India, ruthlessly colonized by men so as to evict women into a state of subjugation and silence. This other India is quick to relegate a woman into the vile lot when the woman dares to go out in the evening in the company of a man who is not her husband, father or brother. The woman’s body is used as an object for perpetrating hate crimes. This other India is rotting at the core; as you dig into the moral rot, you can almost feel the stench of decay.
Since the honorable Home Minister has spoken about defamation to the country, it is time the citizens draw up a list of potential items for him. It is when it takes three years for justice to be done in a case like that of Jyoti Singh that India is defamed. It is when the juvenile justice act protects the most brutal perpetrator of the crime that India is defamed. It is when a six year old child is raped and brutalized with an iron rod and has to face the apathy of the police that India is defamed. It is when a 72-year-old nun is gang raped by criminals who are her grandsons’ age that India is defamed. Above all, it is when the ruling class of a seemingly liberal nation behave in a heavy handed manner that India is defamed.
We are told that ‘democracy’ is a matter of our rights. It is your right, say our leaders, when they want us, the electorate, to back any of their agendas. However, thanks to the struggle for democracy, at least a section of the electorate is no longer gullible and has seized the right to know the truth for themselves. Somebody tell the ministers that they can ban as many videos as they want. They cannot ban the truth.