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Women don't feel safe in Delhi
By Ragini Shankar Sinha



The national capital is fast becoming the crime capital but the local government led by a woman remains indifferent and ineffective.

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Delhi can boast of the efficient security arrangements and hospitality during Commonwealth Games and visits of foreign heads of states, but when it comes to safety of women in Indian capital there is always a question mark. With the rise in number of rape and molestation incidents in Delhi, the day is not far when the metropolitan will also be termed as the crime capital of the nation.

Delhi has never had good reputation regarding the safety of women. Molestation of women, looting and rapes have become regular news and still authorities are desperately searching for solutions. In an effort to hide their incompetence, the police force and bureaucracy put blames on all and sundry. Recently, P. Chidamabaram, the home minister of India, blamed migrants for the rising crimes in Delhi. Faced with massive opposition, he had to retract his statement but that exposed the mindset of authorities.

Media could have put sustained pressure on the police but it remains very selective about reporting crime against women. It creates a lot of noise when the victim is an educated women or a corporate executive but willingly ignores the news when poor women get molested or raped. Unfortunately, most of the women victims come from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. Government authorities very well understand this and act only if a lot of hue and cry is raised by media and subsequently by citizens.

But whenever such incidents take place, so-called activists show their temporary anger, demand stringent laws for protection of women and then leave everything on the Delhi government, which incidentally is led by a woman. Her indifference to rising crime against women allows police to remain lethargic and passive. On more than one occasion, she put blame on the woman victim or her employers for being not careful enough about her safety, but didn’t take the police officials to task.

In some cases the cab drivers ferrying the female employees were found to be the criminals but their employers continue to ignore the guidelines on women safety. Such incidents often trigger the authorities to demand action from companies having multiple work shifts but it also fades with the same speed.

“Of course safety is most important because any thing can happen even in daylight. So night shifts and other things do not matter much. What matters is the proper monitoring of services and if some unfortunate incident happens then immediate action should be taken. Police should not wait for other incidents to happen”, says Ishita, a BPO employee.

“The major limitation is the implementation of laws and absence of fear among the criminals. If the laws are firm and the implementation is quick, then probably we can expect lesser crimes. Otherwise vulnerable women will remain soft targets for the perverts and criminals”, says Khadijah, a lawyer associated with an NGO.

Recently, the government has proposed compensation and relief amount for rape victims but activists say the financial aid without swift punishment to the criminals will be of no use. They say that till the laws are not made stringent enough to tighten the security and punish the accused, women in Delhi will not feel safe and the criminals will continue to get away with heinous offenses despite newspapers flooded with reports on crimes against women.

Ragini Shankar Sinha  |  ragini@d-sector.org

Ragini Shankar Sinha is a reporter with d-sector.org.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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