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A nation stained and shamed

 | July 12, 2013

The question is, must the politicians indulge in this kind of blame-game when India stands battered and bruised by criminals.

COMMENT

India now stands shamed and stained.

The past several months have seen the nation with the world’s second largest population wracked by one crime after another. In the closing month of 2012, a young New Delhi woman was brutally raped and beaten up in a bus by several men, including a 17-year-old boy. She died after she was taken by the government to a Singapore hospital in what clearly looked like a shameful lip service.

A debate whether the boy should be charged and punished like an adult came to nought. It now seems he will be treated as a juvenile delinquent and let off free to roam the streets and, who knows, to rape once again. It is said he was the most heinous of the lot on the bus.

India witnessed several more rapes after the New Delhi incident. Even foreign women were not spared, forcing some countries to issue warnings to their citizens travelling to India.

A few weeks ago, a Himalayan tsunami killed thousands of pilgrims to shrines on the mountains. Heavy rain led to landslips trapping men, women and children for days on end.

Of course, nobody can blame a state because it is struck by a natural catastrophe. But in this case, the hills came crashing down because for years they had been plundered of their forests. Trees were illegally felled for a dual profit — to make money out of selling the wood and to make more profits by planting buildings in spaces cleared of majestic pines, coniferous and others.

Last week, despite several warnings from intelligence agencies, the state of Bihar let 10 bombs rip through the abode of Gautama Buddha. At Bodhgaya – where Buddha was enlightened after years of suffering and penance and which is revered as one of the holiest Buddhist shrines in the world – terrorists had the temerity to place an explosive device on top of a 20-feet statue!

Luckily, nobody died. Only a couple of monks were hurt.

And while the extremists planted the bombs, the security guards slept through. I am told literally! This happened at a place protected as a United Nations World Heritage Site.

Much like in the case of the Himalayan tragedy, political parties began to blame one another soon after Bodhgaya exploded.

In several instances, representatives of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress sat next to each other in television studies and merrily pointed a finger at the other.

To me this seemed like an unruly classroom of boisterous kids. When one gets caught doing a mischief, the child will blame the rest of the class.

The question is, must the politicians indulge in this kind of blame-game when India stands battered and bruised by criminals.

And now comes the Supreme Court ruling, and I write this without any malice to the judgment. It states “…that chargesheeted members of parliament and members of legislative assemblies will be immediately disqualified…”.

Good, but I feel that even those – and this should include ministers – with criminal accusations against them must be asked to step down. They can always return to their posts once they have been found innocent.

This is the least that the nation can do for its people.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]


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