Democracy is hypocrisy as long as ‘Wall’ of Shame exists in India

wall of shame

The world’s two biggest and greatest democracies are exhibiting their strength today, in the most undemocratic way. Gun-trotting policemen and security agencies will cover the entire Ahmadabad today, particularly the routes where Donald Trump and Narendra Modi are holding a ‘roadshow‘. Here, people cannot move around freely but can only come and go at the whims of the rulers. Trump is expecting 10 million people on the road. Perhaps, he wish to see and ‘cherish’ India’s millions, as he has mentioned this figure on a number of occasions, on his twitter handle and to the crowd of Republicans in the United States.

Both the leaders are ‘loudspeakers’ and love themselves too much. They speak of their ‘country first’ and nothing else. Just as Modi is a great Hindu, Trump is a great Christian and feels that India must favour America, while Indians feel that they will do more than what they can to please the Americans. Indian right-wingers, even in the heyday of the Cold War, never liked our proximity to Soviet Union and always wanted to be ‘acknowledged’ by the Americans.

Today, when the American President is here, we can see a clear reflection of what Baba Saheb Ambedkar had said about our society long back. He had said that this society cannot treat anyone as equal, because it believes in ‘the ascending order of reverence and the descending order of contempt’. President Trump would get to see ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’ for which India is known, but here too, we always ’embrace’ the guests, provided they are ‘white skinned’ and have ‘dollors’ in their pocket. Our Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam is never meant for those who are considered to be ‘below’ us. The Wall of Shame and Contempt that has been erected from the airport till the Motera Stadium only shows how we try to cover up our poverty. If the Gujarat government was so anxious that Trump should not watch the poverty, then actually, it exists in the minds of the policy planners.

For the last few days, there have been many stories of shame coming from Gujarat, but neither the media nor the political leadership in Gujarat and at the national level bothered about them. The girls in a college in Bhuj were humiliated, and the hostel warden asked them to remove their cloths so that she could check whether they were menstruating or not. Similar news reports have come from Surat, where the Surat Municipal Corporation-run state government hospital had a fitness test for women probationers after three years. These women were humiliated in public, as an outdated and rejected finger-test was done on them to check their ‘fitness’. The women were standing naked for nearly two hours. Think of the trauma and humiliation they underwent. It is reported that nearly 400 women were made to suffer this utter humiliation.

The question is why has there been not much hue and cry? Why Gujaratis, who are so internationally aware, do not even feel shame over it? Why have they keep quiet? They have been very vocal about Hindutva and its defence.

If reports are to be believed, such a humiliating practice of checking women’s fitness exists, and it only got exposed when some of the women, who felt humiliated, reported to some of their friends and colleagues, while many refused to go for the ‘fitness’ test out of fear of humiliation.

The other day, we found reports of the same kind of humiliation experienced by the girl students in a technical institute of Bhuj, which is being run by the Swaminarayan people. (Actually, it is their duty to explain whether they still feel that women are impure because they menstruate.) We also heard about some of the parents defending it, as they felt that it is better to face some humiliation, rather than their daughter getting into a relationship, and then getting pregnant. It is deeply disturbing to hear such kinds of narratives, but what is more shameful is the silence of the state and the media, virtually not making it an issue at all. Political opposition has become virtually bankrupt in ideas, as it does not raise these issues.

Violence against Dalits is quite high in Gujarat, and there appears to be a pattern to it in the form of economic boycott, so that people cannot raise their heads. For the last many days, young SC-ST-OBC students and aspirants for government jobs have been sitting in protest at Gandhi Nagar, against the failure of the state government to honestly implement the reservation policy, but it has not got any support from the media or the political class.

Now, Gujarat is ‘welcoming’ Donald Trump and we say ‘athithi devo bhav’ but we cannot allow our poor people to come out on the street and welcome the ‘guests’. Gujarat model is basically successful in hiding the dirty realities of the state, its below-standard education system, its highly caste- prejudiced societies and in handing over public land to a few cronies, some of whom may be at the dinner table tonight, rubbing their shoulders with global business and political elite.

We hope that one day, the international media will find time and space to discuss this model of ‘development’, which isolates millions for the happiness and success of a few. Those, who will be travelling in the cavalcade from the Airport to the Motera Stadium, should find time to just cross the wall and meet the people, who have been  declared as ‘unseeable’ by the Gujarat government, and listen to their pains and agonies. The wall, constructed along the entire way, is the wall of not merely shame, but hidden apartheid that exists in our villages everywhere and must be exposed now.

Democracy will only be a hypocrisy as long as such walls exist.


Gujarat: Around 100 women allegedly made to undergo gynecological finger test

Four, including Principal, booked for humiliation of 68 girls in Bhuj hostel

Can’t have rules violating students’ dignity: NCW




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