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Why prejudices still fail India

The India story, evidently, is riddled with contradictions, with extremes of hope and abysses of despair traversed on a daily basis. On the one hand, our scientists are putting forward elaborate plans to conquer the red planet Mars, while on the other, women are becoming targets of unimaginable violence, not just in the remote rural corners, but in the so-called hubs of growth and development, such as Gurgaon and Noida.

Tales of horror are reported every day, and the ones that leave us particularly scarred come from the hearts of our metropolitan cities. We have barely managed to grapple with the public protests that erupted in the wake of the 16 December Delhi gang rape incident, that we reports of even more gruesome deaths of women have filled up our newspapers and television screens. Despite the Supreme Court’s recent order to speed up rehabilitation and compensation of acid attack victims, reports of deaths by similar assaults have started pouring in.

But the incident that has rocked not just the national Capital but has set the entire country ablaze is the latest episode of gore in which a top official of the judiciary has turned out to be the prime suspect in his wife’s murder, ostensibly because she couldn’t produce male heirs, and indications of years of domestic abuse also rearing their heads. To top it all, the icing on the proverbial cake of the Indian horror story is perhaps underlined by the ghastly death of the dalit youth Ilavarasan, whose body was doscovered on the railway tracks in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, and who had dared to marry an upper-caste girl because they were in love.

In spite of the thunderous trials by media and the outcries emanating from the civil society, India does not seem to have registered the change in sociocultural attitudes that is a must to substantiate the growth story. Doggedly pursuing the high GDP figures and double digit growth rates, when the heart of the nation is engulfed in moral and ethical darkness, with entrenched prejudices cutting across gender, caste, creed and other axes of discrimination, will only lead us down an alley of shame, for neglecting huge chunks of our demography.

The endless stories of violence and exploitation ensuing from our heartlands have already compromised our position as an emerging global power to reckon with, with the media worldwide heavily criticising the dark side of incredible India. Moreover, more and more reports of terrifying violence from the sprawling centres of urban efflorescence completely break down the purported idea of ‘Bharat vs India’, wherein the conurbations, considered to be the engines of growth and progress, are made out to be free of the moral and sociocultural turpitudes responsible for the escalated crime rate in our country.       

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