Flying on the Wings of Justice

Editorial: February 2013

Hardnews Bureau Delhi 

Historical conjectures are often unpredictable and out of the box. They run zigzag and take us by surprise. In contemporary India’s present continuous, the discourse has decisively changed, and there is no doubt about it. This epistemological rupture has been transparent and life-affirming. This will decisively shift the debate into an elevated realm of enlightenment, breaking the stasis and stagnation of the status quoism of patriarchy, injustice, and infinite violence against women -- in thought, speech, text, image, gesture and action.

 This sudden crossroads has come around because of the relentless and widespread upsurge against the brutalisation of a young physiotherapy student and her male friend in a bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. The short but spontaneous mass uprising at the citadel of power at Raisina Hill in Delhi (and later, continuous streams of protests at Jantar Mantar), has shaken this discredited regime and political/bureaucratic establishment, so much so that it used police brutality to attack youngsters, and declared a virtual curfew in this sanitised VVIP zone. A sensitive chord has been struck across the remotest parts of this nation; there have been protests everywhere. This gangrape has cracked open an entrenched edifice of injustice and no discourse can escape its impact in the days to come.

Indeed, often a sudden event in history reopens multiple wounds and simmering sorrows and becomes catalytic. It exposes the one-dimensional mirror which reduces bitter realism into a marketing-driven media gimmick, as much as it compels an insensitive ruling elite to introspect and react. No wonder, the Congress top brass spent copious tears in solidarity with the rape victim, even while it seems rattled by the visionary recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee. Clearly, the neo-liberal elite, cushioned by a corporate media, is hell-bent on reducing the upsurge into an upwardly mobile angst of an ‘aspirational class’, which, basically, wants this version of capitalism to work at any cost, including with tougher laws and effective policing.  Surely, this dubious, reductionist deception won’t work.

If there is aspiration, it is a multiple kaleidoscope, across the huge economic and social disparity of this fragmented nation, starting from the vast margins of condemnation, hunger, humiliation and malnutrition, in a country where a handful of sanitised fat cats, with obscene amounts of wealth, are sucking the fruits of the earth. Indeed, if there is aspiration, it is for justice, freedom, equality and dignity, something which has been dumped by the ruling class parties with cold-blooded precision. The Congress Chintan Shivir and its new FDI-obsessed ‘prince’ basically reflected this tunnel vision. This free market ideology tangentially complements the retrograde male chauvinism of the Hindutva forces.

The Hardnews cover story this month joins the dots of the feminist upsurge. A radical, progressive discourse has emerged. But this is no insulated and ghettoised paradigm, as the Verma Committee report proves. It has expanded horizons and exposed the entrenched thresholds of prejudice and oppression. It is challenging the old order, and aspires to create a new order. It is flying on new wings of liberation and enlightenment, creating a different language of protest, resistance and accountability, from the margins to the mainstream. And it will ask questions, many questions, even when there are no answers.

That is why women’s groups and civil society activists are demanding, among other things, that the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act be scrapped; that all violence, or sexual violence, in the name of nationalism or security, be punished. That Soni Sori of Chhattisgarh or Manorama of Manipur deserve as much justice as that young girl in Delhi who was raped and murdered.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: FEBRUARY 2013