23-29 Oct, 2012
small world
The Vocabulary of Rape

NEW DELHI ~ About three years ago, many in India were celebrating a progressive judgment by the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality. India, they believed, was embarking on a new journey of liberty and personal freedom. But three years later, we seem to have gone the Taliban way. Forget homosexuality, our politicians are checkmating one another with their bizarre discourse on rape.

For starters, we have Mamata Banerjee, the firebrand leader from West Bengal, who brought the Communist government in the state to its knees. According to her, rape is news pollution. She believes that more incidents of rape are being reported across the country because men and women interact with each other too freely. She is nostalgic for the days when boys and girls holding hands would be reprimanded by parents. In the recent past, Mamata has also dubbed
incidents of rape in her state as fabrications to malign her government.

In Haryana, local politicians, of course, have khap panchayats to take inspiration from. One such panchayat in Jind district has blamed the increasing number of rapes on chowmein, saying that noodles cause a hormonal imbalance.

Another khap leader has said that girls should be married off early to escape rape. However, nobody asked him about a six-year-old girl who was gangraped in the state. But then, who can blame khaps when the Congress spokesperson in Haryana, Dharambir Goyat, believes 90 per cent of rapes are consensual. The state education minister, Geeta Bhukkal, has taken her cue from Mamata and called such incidents a conspiracy against the Congress government.

In just the first half of this year, 367 rapes have been reported. Many go unreported because of a sense of shame attached to rape in a feudal society like Haryana’s. If there were a spate of murders in the state, what could it be blamed on? Momos possibly.

Take Two
Lessons from Bigg Boss
The tricky delusion of believing that you have a good side

The reality show Bigg Boss is obviously manipulated at a number of levels, but, if you can keep your expectations of honesty in abeyance, it is still an insight into human nature. The immediate question it throws up is why would anyone want to participate in a show which is clearly out to screw you? Contestants do get paid and since most of them are performers, they are comfortable with the exposure. But it doesn’t take too much self-awareness to know that most human beings have an ugly core which is kept well hidden most of the time. When there are cameras on you all the time, they are in effect performing to show that they are not performing and that can be difficult.

Take the odd case of what happened to Navjot Singh Sidhu recently inside the House. He decided he didn’t want to nominate two people for eviction that week because it was a matter of not just principle, but faith. No voice was forthcoming from the heart, his conscience had zipped his extremely voluble mouth and he wouldn’t do anything that went against his ‘dharm’. As punishment, everyone was therefore nominated for eviction. Naturally, a few objected, and then Sidhu’s conscience woke up the next day. His conscience answered, and he took a couple of  names—of those people who had objected to him.

There are two ways to look at it. It could be a silly pre-planned stunt. The show needs some excitement and if no one went crazy it would be bad for TV ratings. But even if you give him benefit of doubt, he comes across as much worse. Earlier he was just slightly nuts, now he’s slightly nuts and vindictive.

All in all, the plan of revealing your beatific nature to the rest of India does not work. Sidhu perhaps cracked a little early. Human beings are deeply flawed and to constantly project a false image takes impossible energy. It is why after three months of marriage, a man who was thought to be decent and tested by years of dating, starts coming home and bashing his wife.

The only trick to a successful deception is to not project a good image but instead concentrate on hiding your real self. And so open your mouth as little as possible. Those are the people—Rahul Roy, Ashutosh, Juhi Parmar—who also win Bigg Boss.

No fun please, we’re ministers

A minister, as a ‘top executive’, is above the law. This is the new theory (though very old in practice) proposed by Kerala’s Forest Minister KB Ganesh Kumar. He virtually said this to the media when quizzed about his boat ride in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, where boat journeys are prohibited after 6 pm. On 8 October, Ganesh Kumar and Tourism Minister AP Anilkumar took a tourist boat and steered it through Thekkady Lake to a heritage resort in the forest, well past sundown. The minister was issued a ‘show cause’ notice by the Director of Ports for violating the Kerala Inland Vessels rules that prohibit night rides in the tiger reserve because it disturbs wild animals. Trying to explain the event in his report to the Director of Ports, the Deputy Director of Periyar Tiger Reserve Sanjay Kumar said that the ministers were actually on a ‘forest conservation’ mission. On official work. He even cited a law that lets officers on such missions undertake boat journeys at night. Media reports also alleged that the tourism minister, who has no training in rowing boats, was steering the boat on the way back and hit a tree stump. No law was cited in defence of this episode. Both ministers simply denied the incident.