After the Rape … India Ripe for Revolution?

First it was corruption. Now it is crime. It was a particularly inhuman crime of rape that broke the back of Indian tolerance.

As far back as April 14, 2011 this writer posed the question: “Has India’s jasmine moment arrived?” After the revolutions that swept across several nations to cause the Arab Spring one thought that India too was ripe for change. The hope was premature then. Is it relevant now?

There have been innumerable cases of rape and other crimes as horrendous as what happened recently to the 23 year old girl who battles for her life in a Delhi hospital. But this case was the last straw. Something snapped in the Indian consciousness. Educated Indians, students, women and activists are tumbling out in the streets across the nation to protest. They demand justice. They want change.

However they seem confused about the kind of change required.

The solution exists in our Constitution that was distorted from day one.

For the most part there is demand for harsher laws and the introduction of capital punishment for rape. People want the rapists to be hanged. Others caution against capital punishment. They say that civilized states should not kill criminals but reform them. This approach is widely shared in western nations. Many Indians influenced by Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence agree.

Gandhi himself was influenced by Christian values that teach non-violence and turning the other cheek, by fighting hatred with love and anger with forgiveness. One does not want to enter into the pros and cons of the debate on capital punishment. Most of this writer’s friends believe that it is politically correct to oppose capital punishment. This seems to go against Hindu teaching.

Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita did not extol non-violence as an absolute virtue. Instead he taught dispassionate action in the pursuit of Dharma, or duty, by eschewing lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. Contrary to popular perception Islam taught the same. Recall how Hazrat Ali, the warrior saint, refused to kill in battle an opponent pinned to the ground that spat on him. Ali refused to kill because his opponent’s action had angered him and precluded dispassionate response.

Spiritual values unite inspirers of religious movements.
It is priests that divide communities.

However, whatever the kind of laws that need to be introduced the truth is that the most urgent reform required will come about not through introducing new and harsher laws but by ensuring that existing laws are implemented and the courts deliver speedy justice to those charged. Existing laws are for the most part adequate. The implementation of law is dreadfully inadequate. Courts clogged with untried cases take decades to deliver judgment. Fast track courts for dealing with just rape cases will not suffice. The nation needs speedy time bound justice across the board for all legal disputes. It is achievable through radical judicial reform.

This is not the time and place to explain how. The underpaid, badly trained police force recruited through corruption quite often commits crime instead of preventing it. Protesters in Arab nations have an obvious goal to aspire for. They seek democracy because they have none. But what goal might India’s revolutionaries seek?

India has democracy but lacks justice and governance. India needs reform. The system needs to be revamped. That will not happen by creating new laws. It will come through creating a new system. That new system will not be created by introducing a new Constitution. It will be created by respecting the existing Constitution.

The confusion of seeking new law instead of focusing initially on the failure to implement existing law became glaringly evident during Anna Hazare’s movement for enacting the Jan Lokpal. This writer had pointed out then that without clarity about who would appoint the proposed Lokpal and to whom will that office be accountable the entire movement was farcical. There already exists the Central Vigilance Commission CVC) to address corruption, the Comptroller Auditor-General (CAG) to monitor official expenditure and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe corruption. Why would the Lokpal deliver satisfactory results if all these institutions could not? As predicted at the start of the agitation demanding a Lokpal, the issue is fading into irrelevance.

Similar confusion seems to surround the current crisis. The public is busy protesting in the streets and the government is promising new laws. It intends thereby to defuse public protest. But will it in any significant way solve the problem? Is the government deliberately trying to confuse or is it badly confused?

It has been stated in these columns earlier and I state it again. The solution exists in our Constitution that was distorted from day one. According to it the President is the sole authority, with Governors in all states appointed and accountable solely to him, entrusted with the ultimate responsibility to ensure that law, procedure and Constitution are implemented in letter and spirit. The President is the only official under solemn oath to preserve and protect law and Constitution. If the President discharges this single responsibility all governance would dramatically improve. Corruption, crime and terrorism can occur only when some law or procedure is violated. The observance of all laws is the single panacea for addressing all lapses in governance. If the President, already empowered by the Constitution and under oath to deliver it, were to comply the office would be transformed into a Super Lokpal ensuring good governance in all departments of the administration. This, then, is the prime issue that needs to be addressed. The enactment of new laws can wait.

Need one recall that on September 2, 1953 the late BR Ambedkar was so frustrated with the manner in which the Constitution was being implemented that he told parliament that as far as he was concerned they could trash it.

It should be noted that in our Constitution parliament consists of the two Houses of Parliament and the President. It might also be recalled that on November 4, 1948 in the Constituent Assembly Ambedkar said:

“Under the non-parliamentary system, such as the one that exists in the U.S.A., the assessment of the responsibility of the Executive is periodic. It takes place once in two years. It is done by the electorate. In England, where the parliamentary system prevails, the assessment of responsibility of the Executive is both daily and periodic. The daily assessment is done by Members of Parliament, through Questions, Resolutions, No-confidence motions, Adjournment motions and Debates on Addresses. Periodic assessment is done by the electorate at the time of the election which may take place every five years or earlier. The daily assessment of responsibility which is not available under the American system is far more effective than the periodic assessment and far more necessary in a country like India . The Draft Constitution in recommending the parliamentary system of Executive has preferred more responsibility to more stability”.

It should be clear from this statement that Ambedkar opted for the parliamentary system not for eliminating the executive role of the President but to make it more accountable. What Ambedkar envisaged was closest to the French system. By a minor amendment ordinary voters could elect our President.

Our politicians have failed to grasp the obvious systemic reform that would accrue from the President discharging responsibility as laid down in our written Constitution. Perhaps the public unconsciously has recognized this truth. In a departure from the past for the first time protesters in the current rape case crisis converged at Rashtrapati Bhawan instead of focusing only on ministers.

 The public is conveying a message. Will President Mukherjee heed it?


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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Views: 3371      Comments: 9

Comment Whatever our founding fathers thought and did will not matter the moment they allowed universal franchise.The high number of illiterates and their abject poverty will ensure that their votes will be bought by the crooks.So it has been almost from the time of mid 60s.Why are we now splitting hairs that the crooks get elected as MLAs/MPs and they systematically strike crooked deals during their entire tenure?It is the idiocy of the english speaking idiots who keep on harping about all the wrongs as they are the least bit courageous to take on these crooks.No constitution, no laws or system of governance will succeed where there is huge disparity in wealth and education.Things will become lot more worse before any semblance of better and the present youth of India will be the biggest sufferers.

31-Dec-2012 03:33 AM

Comment One of the signs in the protests said, 'Aagle janam mohe bitiya na kiho' ( O, God, don't make me a daughter in my next life ). Truly, this is no nation for girls. Kill in the womb, don't feed her well, don't educate her at par with her brothers, burn her, beat her, rape her, discriminate at work places, jeer and laugh at her- this is no nation for girls. This morning, when we hear that the brave-heart has died, it's looking very bleak. Let's see. Let's still hope...

Prof. Shubha Tiwari
28-Dec-2012 23:43 PM

Comment Your clarion call was for the President of India to heed the Constitution and follow it rigorously. There has been no input from him so far, worth the mention. Meantime, should one consider his son Abhijit Mukherjee's outrageous and uncivilized remarks as a proxy statement of the President?

Roy D'Costa
27-Dec-2012 10:55 AM

Comment The problem is serious. Rashtrapati should direct PM and
CMs of each state to act on to solve the problem on the war
basis and to boost the character of people. Nothing is achieved
easily. People should coperate with tan, man and dhan to solve the problem facing the nation. Judiciary should also ready to act on cases
involving the problem (even defining it in clear words) as expediently
as possible. Sun is certain to rise. India will come out as cream as it
(cream) does from milk.

pranlal sheth
27-Dec-2012 08:21 AM

Comment It joyful to see youth get involved in social cause let the problem ends but not awareness of our YOUTH.

Through you page I wish to share some of my thaughts

1. It is inhuman to load/force wishes on any other persons without his/her willingness.

2. When there is a major difference in SEX ratio of population what releif/measures GOVT takes to subsidy this problem? Out of those furstrated youths a few of them turned voilent/uncontroled with the help of our NATIONAL drug 'ALCHOHAL' and of very GOOD company and HELP of our WEAK implication of LAW and general IDEAS u can get away with any thing if u can pay.

R K Gaur
26-Dec-2012 22:27 PM

Comment This article deals with a cultural crime against women. Because of the religious and cultural bias it defies both a common sense and morally simple solution.
- Joe Madison
[From Linkedin - Thinkers and Strategists Group]

Joe Madison
25-Dec-2012 21:44 PM

Comment Any crime is an act of opportunism. Opportunity indicates vulnerability in the nature of circumstances. The crime of rape is no exception. Crime would not occur if the opportunity did not exist. We take care to prevent crime by endeavouring to eliminate the opportunity. In fact, it is acknowledged that crime, even rape, is often the outcome of failing to eliminate the opportunity. This tends to apportioning blame to the victim of crime. However, normal circumstances themselves become vulnerable circumstances for crime, for which the victim can only be one of circumstances.

All action is by virtue of being enabled by circumstances, and can be said to manifest the nature of circumstances in their specificity. We will to act, yet only those actions occur as enabled in the given circumstances. The enabling of action is as much an act of circumstances as it is a subject act. In the case of a criminal act, we judge the criminal as excluded from the circumstances that enable his action, but have to admit that if the circumstances had not availed the crime would have been avoided. To eliminate the same form of crime the circumstances must be tackled as denying a context for its enactment.

In the case of the gang rape of the student, the act availed in the circumstances. The criminals are blamed. This is not to say the girl was to blame in the normal circumstances of bus travel. But the fact of the crime indicates availing circumstances.

Every act is a fulfilling act: it shows the truth of circumstances. This is evident in the form of everyday circumstances where all things occur, taken for granted as to the truth manifested. In being a fulfilling act of circumstances, each act is what it could not otherwise be, you could emphasise, from all eternity. A crime is no exception in being a fulfilling act of circumstances, showing forth a truth that would be hidden otherwise.

That a crime could not be otherwise than what it is from all eternity does not alter the perception of it by society as an avoidable wrong; something that society will not readily admit as a manifestation of its own condition of which the criminal is a mere exponent. To tackle the crime is thus to tackle the society standards that enable the crime, and not punitive measures on the criminal alone after the event to deter it.

Making fast and loose with a woman as in the rape case shows up society's easy sexual morality, its contraceptive basis that makes sexual licence between consensual partners unaccountable. In these circumstances, the crime of rape is perversely justified by the perpetrators to themselves, but its enactment is its own vindication as a judgment on the sexual licence in society.

25-Dec-2012 20:22 PM

Comment Actually many eyebrows would have been raised if President of India summoned the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. Let there be a debate in the coming weeks when he will be at liberty to do so. Meanwhile I suggest a women protection force in the capital under a Deputy Commissioner of Police in all states be raised.A sole police force under Home Minister should administer Capital Police Force looking after Central Government person and properties. The Delhi State Police force should be under the control of Lt Governor of Delhi or Chief Minister of Delhi, giving protection to general public. Meanwhile, as a man I seek pardon on behalf of all rapists and criminals in general. I am sorry we have not been able to make men better in their outlook and approach to fellow citizens. I am sad and full of remorse.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
25-Dec-2012 07:28 AM

Comment India needs change. And the change is ordained to come. It has to come. This incident that has captured everyone like a storm will not stop. The politicians will have to change. The administration will have to change. The judiciary will have to change. And last, but not the least, the Indian ethos - the culture - will have to accept change. Enough is enough. It is the onset of revolution and it will not stop.

Pawan Kumar
24-Dec-2012 22:49 PM

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