The outrage over the rape in Delhi seems to have triggered the creative instincts of Karnataka’s ministers in finding solutions for the harassment of women.
They mean well, but still, consider this advisory to students by the state higher education department. At a high-level meeting of university vice-chancellors, the department issued a 12-point advisory which included ‘character-building’ among students and organising ‘awareness workshops’ in colleges. Teachers were to impart lessons on morality at least twice a week. So far nothing to complain about, but then it went a step further and sought the development of ‘brotherly-sisterly’ feelings between students. After a row broke out on this bizarre ‘advice’, higher education minister CT Ravi said, “Promoting brotherly-sisterly feelings is not something new. Don’t we see girls tying rakhis to boys’ wrists on Raksha Bandhan?’’
Not to be upstaged by her male cabinet colleague, power minister Shobha Karandlaje announced that the 24/7 electricity consumers’ helpline in the state would also double as a women’s helpline. She reasoned that this complaints cell received fewer calls than anticipated and so it can be better utilised. This would be in addition to the dedicated women’s helpline, she added. She is yet to clarify how employees trained to answer questions about faulty bills will deal with issues like stalking.
With ministers getting so creative, everyone in government seemed to come up with interesting solutions for everything. This one had nothing to do with rape, but if you can count reduction of road accidents as part of women’s safety, then a motor vehicles inspector in Mangalore, GS Hegde, had a radical suggestion. He told autorickshaw drivers that they should have a small family photograph on the dashboard, reasoning that this would be a constant reminder of their responsibility. They would then drive more safely. And this would bring down accident rates. And maybe also evoke some brotherly feelings for female passengers sitting in the back.