.. of a new level, that’s what the last few days have been, haven’t they? First the senseless shooting in America, and now the horrific gang rape in Delhi. I couldn’t sleep last night. Sitting up listening to the news, reading.. Made me stay up, wondering, worrying.. Just how brutal can people be, how confident they must have been of not getting caught.. Just reading all this made me feel so very helpless. And if we, are feeling this hopeless and helpless, I can’t even imagine how the victim and her family must be feeling right now.

What kind of country are we living in, when the systemic failure ensures that half the population could be attacked randomly, repeatedly, and we can do nothing about it. When women are told to be ‘careful’, to keep themselves safe, when nothing, absolutely nothing is done to keep those criminals off our streets.

I hear of people saying that this is why we need to teach our daughters self-defence, that we, the people have to take measures to keep ourselves safe. Yes, absolutely. But again, these are individual measures. What about the responsibility of the government to ensure that such crimes do not happen again and again? I’ve been reading up on this, and this article makes so much sense. It talks about deterrents to prevent the crime. Ways of ensuring that potential rapists are warned away so that crimes themselves stop happening. The way I look at it, one of the most important things to do, is to try to ensure that crimes of this sort are prevented. At least as the first step.

Looking at all the issues crop up – police reforms, judicial reforms, stricter punishment, mentality of our people, it sometimes gets so disheartening. It makes me wonder if anything will ever change. If we will ever be able to live in our society without the constant fear. It makes me wonder if a day will come when I can call the police and not be scared. To be honest, I think it is, us the innocent, who are more scared of the police than the guilty. Remember that
problem we had with the maid, well, we had to go to the police station to report it, and we were actually a little scared, while she was totally comfortable. We could only assume that she had been there before, and knew how things worked. Sad, isn’t it? Is it any wonder that people would rather not report a crime, if they have an option.

All I can do is hope that one day, if not me, at least daughter will be able to live in India, confidently, knowing that we have a system we can depend on. Knowing that the police is there to protect us, knowing that the criminals are the ones scared, not us. A day when a woman knows that she is safe in the country that she lives.

PS: The one good thing that has happened is that, at the very least, the case is not being referred to with the victim’s name, as used to be the case, until a few years ago. I just wish they wouldn’t hide the faces of the suspects.

Too dangerous to walk?

According to a recent survey by the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mumbai ranks the highest on the walkability index, while Delhi is a ‘pedestrian-unfriendly city’.

It is quite amazing that in a country where 40% of trips do not involve motor vehicles, our major cities are still so walking unfriendly. Most of our cities do not have well planned for pedestrian crossing or subways.  I remember while driving down a highway, a rather new high-speed highway, suddenly, two people jump onto the road and peacefully cross the road, unaware of how much we had to brake, to slow down. We were amazed at their courage, but then, that is the only way they could cross it. There are hardly any underpasses or bridges to help people cross. So we see people, cattle, and everything else on the so called high-speed roads.

Both husband and I love walking. We used to walk a lot when we were in Bangalore. A couple of years back, in Bangalore during our holiday, we decided to walk to somewhere. We ended up being jostled, pushed and finally hailed an auto – it was just not worth the trouble. For the amount that the population has increased, the pavements seem to have shrunk. Roads have been widened at the cost of pavements for pedestrians.

The other day, I met a young Indian man, who was telling me that he was a planner of roads, motorways here, in the UK. So,  I joked that he is really needed in India, that we need a lot of planning there and he told me, that there was no job for him currently in India. He hopes that in five years time or so, they would understand the need for such intense planning, right now, there was no demand. Stunning, isn’t it? I would have thought that they should be in great demand, with so much of infrastructure work going on.. Or is it just that our authorities prefer unplanned work – makes it easier to commission a new phase of development, when this one cracks? Why plan long term, when short term is more lucrative?