For starters : Am I offended by Wendy Doniger’s book? Hell, no! Am I surprised by what happened this week? Naaaah! Is it the end of the world? You must be joking. Do I think Hinduism is under threat…or that Wendy set out to insult a great religion? Frankly, the answer is ‘no’ to both. Wendy Doniger is a professional scholar. This is her interpretation. She is entitled to it. Those who find the book objectionable , need not read it. There are many Wendys in the publishing space. They do what they have to – spend years decoding , dissecting, analyzing material. It is their chosen vocation. A lot of what is deconstructed is necessarily subjective. After all, it is the effort of one academic searching for explanations and answers. So be it. If you choose to read the material - and react – do it. Go ahead and write your own book. Or,write to the scholar/author and refute the thesis.
Hold a peaceful meeting and state your perspective. There are ways and ways to respond – passionately and spiritedly – without converting your views into an ugly, self-defeating pitched battle. Which is precisely what has happened with Doniger’s ‘The Hindus : An Alternative History’.
Now, let’s see it from the Publisher’s point of view ( I have to state here that I am a Penguin author). But this battle does not begin or end with Penguin Books and Wendy Doniger . Nor with those who asked for the book to be withdrawn and pulped – the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti. The SBAS has been at it for years (remember how 75 paragraphs were removed from several NCERT textbooks?). They will be at it for several more. The thing is, this time their victory appeared easy. Was it really a ‘victory’? And how easy was it? What about the Publisher? The rather facile argument is that Penguin should not have buckled under pressure. That in ‘the old days’
Publishers were bold enough to stand by authors and books, regardless. Well, it’s time to state the bald truth and say it like it is (sorry, intellectuals!). Those old days are over. And the world of publishing has changed. Knock off all the romantic notions surrounding the book business and what do you get? A business under financial threat across the world. A business trying to stay afloat in the face of competition coming at it from unexpected directions and in entirely unknown forms (come on, who could have anticipated e-books and free downloads?). Survival itself is at stake given these daunting developments. Besides, let’s be candid, at the end of the day, publishing IS a business. And every publisher in the universe is a ‘baniya publisher’ ( a term that has been thrown around a lot these days). And hello! which publisher would actively back a book that has a zero sales’ potential? Which publisher is willing to lose money on a book? Which publisher wants a book/author to get into trouble? Not one. Every book is a gamble. It is published in good faith.
Publishers don’t consciously court controversy. They don’t enjoy facing criminal charges (as in this case). And they certainly don’t like losing money! A great deal of it. If that makes them ‘baniya publishers’, that’s okay. And yes, in today’s aggressive environment in which everything is potentially a ‘product’ that has to be flogged in the marketplace, there really isn’t that much of a difference left between selling a book and selling a bar of soap. If that sounds awful, it is a reality one has to accept. Authors and public intellectuals taking a lofty view of the publishing industry, should climb down a few notches and smell the coffee. It is likely to get still worse by the ‘old’ standards, as decisions whether or not to publish a book are taken by marketing mavens crunching numbers and not visionary publishers willing to back a tome they believe in. Yes, it’s that grim. Publishers with a book like Wendy’s on their list, are particularly vulnerable. It is not about having financial resources to fight it out in court. It is about asking basic , practical questions : is it worth it?
Wendy’s controversial book will do just fine . More people will read it now that it has become a hot potato. The SBAS will no doubt, look for other soft targets and gloat over this particular win. The ‘scholar dollars’ won’t dry up. So, relax. Hinduism has survived worse . And will continue to thrive - book or no book. Our various freedoms are definitely under threat. Make no mistake about that. It’s just a question of figuring out whose freedom scores in such wars. And whether there is something called absolute freedom in the first place .A difficult decision needed to be taken .And it was taken. It was not ‘fear’ alone ( despite the rumoured death threats ) that dictated Penguin’s decision, I imagine. It was a question of not hurting public sentiment. There really are no winners here. Least of all the much loathed SBAS.email@example.com
Rahul Gandhi says he is sure about wanting to change the system, empower women, deepen democracy, open up politics to the young and make India a world-beating manufacturing hub.
That’s going by his first formal interview on Monday night, a decade after becoming the latest member of the India’s fabled Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to enter politics.
What the leader of India’s ruling Congress party appeared not to be sure of was how he – and his party – should deal with leaders touched by the taint of corruption or even those who were allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that happened under the watch of his father, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“All said and done, that was brave of Rahul Gandhi,” tweeted journalist Tunku Varadarajan about the 80-minute interview on the Times Now channel. “How many Indian PM candidates have offered themselves up for prime time interview?” (Mr Gandhi will lead the party’s campaign in the forthcoming general elections.)
Mr Gandhi even chose India’s most aggressive prime-time anchor Arnab Goswami to grill him.
Having said that, the media-shy leader’s first proper interview on TV turned out to be a mixed performance.
Mr Gandhi was composed and reasonably articulate – if slightly pedantic – while setting out his vision for much-needed reforms in his party and for India’s development.
He was less than impressive when questioned about why his party had failed to crack down on corruption.
He avoided direct comments on his arch rival, Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, and the leader of the new anti-corruption party, Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party made a spectacular debut in the polls in Delhi and now rules the capital with the minority support of Mr Gandhi’s party.
There were also what many say were tired platitudes which couldn’t have won Mr Gandhi new admirers. Some examples: “Innocent people dying is a horrible thing”; “Anybody who is corrupt should be punished”; and “women are the backbone of this country”. He occasionally lapsed into rhetoric and regurgitated lines.
Mr Gandhi’s agenda for development is unexceptionable.
He used the words “empower” and “empowerment” interchangeably 22 times. He mentioned the word “system” – the existing one, which is broken, and the need to change it – 70 times.
He mentioned women – and their key role – 17 times. Many found it a bit odd that he spoke about himself in the third person seven times.
Mr Gandhi laid the blame on the obvious devil – the system – for all India’s ills.
He quite rightly said the system had to change in order to remould India’s politics, which shuts out outsiders.
But then he also said he had seen his family members, people he loved, “destroyed by the system”. It was not immediately clear how the tragic killings of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi could be attributed to the system.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Can Rahul really rival Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for pole position as the rebel of Indian politics?
He said the 2002 Gujarat riots also happened because of the system, “because people don’t have a voice in the system”. Again, it was not clear how.
Mr Gandhi also surprised many by curiously painting himself as a rebel of sorts.
He said he was being attacked by his opponents because he was “doing things dangerous to the system”. He said he was not “superficial and thinking deeply and long term”.
Observers say that Mr Kejriwal had already taken pole position as the rebel of Indian politics with his unpredictable and unconventional politics and Mr Gandhi may have arrived late to the show.
Some analysts say Mr Gandhi also betrayed his inexperience in politics.
He accused Mr Modi’s government of not doing enough to stop the Gujarat riots in 2002, but floundered when asked to back that up with evidence, even forgetting that a minister in Mr Modi’s cabinet had been sent to prison for her involvement.
When asked about Congress’s prospects in the election, he declared confidently that his party would win – despite opinion polls pointing to a heavy defeat – and then declared he was a “serious politician” who was not interested in power for power’s sake.
So has Rahul Gandhi now truly come of age?
The former editor of Outlook magazine, Vinod Mehta, said Mr Gandhi emerged as a “sincere, candid and passionate person, seriously interested in changing India” in the interview.
But, Mr Mehta said, he had “no answers to specific charges of corruption”. Mr Gandhi, he said, was “half a leader”.
Other analysts like Siddharth Varadarajan said though Mr Gandhi did a decent job of sketching out a future vision for his party, he did badly when it came to “defending the indefensible” – corruption and the alleged role of party leaders in the 1984 riots.
“When things got hairy,” says Mr Varadarajan, “he spoke about [the] system and empowerment.”
In the end, analysts say, Mr Gandhi proved – once again – that though his heart is in the right place, he remains a prisoner of his dynastic party’s legacy. (BBC)firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did I join politics? Ever Since I left IBN7 as managing editor, almost everyone is asking me this question. I was the head of the news channel and at the pinnacle of my journalistic career.
For a journalist, these are exciting times with the parliamentary elections just a few months away. Old politics is making way for new, new faces are taking over from the old ones, new issues are dominating the political scene and above all, change is the underlying theme of the socio-political discourse.
There is too much to understand, too much to report and too much to analyze.
News channels are back to news and to debates and discussions. It, therefore, seems the most opportune time to be working in news.
Still, I decided to move on to an uncertain terrain leaving behind a cushy job, a rather handsome salary and a reputation of being a fearless journalist and jumping into the most cursed profession without any source of income, literally unemployed, dependent on my wife’s moderate salary.
I was never a copy-book journalist who always strove to be an editor who maintained neutrality and tried to seek a middle path without being blamed for a tilt or bias. I always had strong views and never minced my words in expressing them. For me journalism was a passion, an emotional connect to people and issues, and that was the reason I never hesitated in taking a stand and vocalising the truth without worrying about the consequences. For that I was both praised and despised in my peer groups.
The Anna movement came as a breath of fresh air and in no time it caught my imagination. I felt that something was changing fundamentally and Indian politics was breaking new ground. The response to the movement was magnetic and electrifying. I could suddenly see the national discourse changing and the fight against corruption became the most talked about subject but the stubborn old-style politics refused to give way and let it succeed.
It was then that the idea of changing the character of politics by entering it caught the imagination of agitators.
The Aam Aadmi Party was formed and they proved in no time that the impossible was possible and formed the government. During this time, after interacting with scores of people I came to the conclusion that this political movement needs to be strengthened from the inside.
Journalism has its limitations, its own boundaries, it does not let anyone support from beyond a point. I got thinking. This is the historic moment, time to contribute by direct participation and I should not just be a bystander.
But the bigger question was how to earn the daily bread without any salary and meet other expenses? A tough call made easy by my wife. She said “don’t worry we will manage” and will live comfortably in her modest salary.
The urge to be part of a revolution and make some contribution to history and to help make the nation better got the better of me and I decided to quit. Journalism became history for me.
Whenever I will look back, I will remember those fascinating days of journalism with pride and happiness but that is the past and I have to move into the future on a different path.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing on the blog do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
(Ashutosh, a prominent journalist, quit as Managing Editor of IBN7 to join the Aam Aadmi Party in January.)email@example.com
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ
It’s well known by now that income and wealth inequality in most rich countries, especially the United States, have soared in recent decades and, tragically, worsened even more since the Great Recession. But what about the rest of the world? Is the gap between countries narrowing, as rising economic powers like China and India have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty? And within poor and middle-income countries, is inequality getting worse or better? Are we moving toward a more fair world, or a more unjust one?
These are complex questions, and new research by a World Bank economist named Branko Milanovic, along with other scholars, points the way to some answers.
Starting in the 18th century, the industrial revolution produced giant wealth for Europe and North America. Of course, inequality within these countries was appalling — think of the textile mills of Liverpool and Manchester, England, in the 1820s, and the tenements of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the South Side of Chicago in the 1890s — but the gap between the rich and the rest, as a global phenomenon, widened even more, right up through about World War II. To this day, inequality between countries is far greater than inequality within countries.
But starting around the fall of Communism in the late 1980s, economic globalization accelerated and the gap between nations began to shrink. The period from 1988 to 2008 “might have witnessed the first decline in global inequality between world citizens since the Industrial Revolution,” Mr. Milanovic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and is the author of “The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality,” wrote in a paper published last November. While the gap between some regions has markedly narrowed — namely, between Asia and the advanced economies of the West — huge gaps remain. Average global incomes, by country, have moved closer together over the last several decades, particularly on the strength of the growth of China and India. But overall equality across humanity, considered as individuals, has improved very little. (The Gini coefficient, a measurement of inequality, improved by just 1.4 points from 2002 to 2008.)
So while nations in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as a whole, might be catching up with the West, the poor everywhere are left behind, even in places like China where they’ve benefited somewhat from rising living standards.
From 1988 to 2008, Mr. Milanovic found, people in the world’s top 1 percent saw their incomes increase by 60 percent, while those in the bottom 5 percent had no change in their income. And while median incomes have greatly improved in recent decades, there are still enormous imbalances: 8 percent of humanity takes home 50 percent of global income; the top 1 percent alone takes home 15 percent. Income gains have been greatest among the global elite — financial and corporate executives in rich countries — and the great “emerging middle classes” of China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Who lost out? Africans, some Latin Americans, and people in post-Communist Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Mr. Milanovic found.
The United States provides a particularly grim example for the world. And because, in so many ways, America often “leads the world,” if others follow America’s example, it does not portend well for the future.
On the one hand, widening income and wealth inequality in America is part of a trend seen across the Western world. A 2011 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that income inequality first started to rise in the late ’70s and early ’80s in America and Britain (and also in Israel). The trend became more widespread starting in the late ’80s. Within the last decade, income inequality grew even in traditionally egalitarian countries like Germany, Sweden and Denmark. With a few exceptions — France, Japan, Spain — the top 10 percent of earners in most advanced economies raced ahead, while the bottom 10 percent fell further behind.
But the trend was not universal, or inevitable. Over these same years, countries like Chile, Mexico, Greece, Turkey and Hungary managed to reduce (in some cases very high) income inequality significantly, suggesting that inequality is a product of political and not merely macroeconomic forces. It is not true that inequality is an inevitable byproduct of globalization, the free movement of labor, capital, goods and services, and technological change that favors better-skilled and better-educated employees.
Of the advanced economies, America has some of the worst disparities in incomes and opportunities, with devastating macroeconomic consequences. The gross domestic product of the United States has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years and nearly doubled in the last 25, but as is now well known, the benefits have gone to the top — and increasingly to the very, very top.
Last year, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 22 percent of the nation’s income; the top 0.1 percent, 11 percent. Ninety-five percent of all income gains since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent. Recently released census figures show that median income in America hasn’t budged in almost a quarter-century. The typical American man makes less than he did 45 years ago (after adjusting for inflation); men who graduated from high school but don’t have four-year college degrees make almost 40 percent less than they did four decades ago.
American inequality began its upswing 30 years ago, along with tax decreases for the rich and the easing of regulations on the financial sector. That’s no coincidence. It has worsened as we have under-invested in our infrastructure, education and health care systems, and social safety nets. Rising inequality reinforces itself by corroding our political system and our democratic governance.
And Europe seems all too eager to follow America’s bad example. The embrace of austerity, from Britain to Germany, is leading to high unemployment, falling wages and increasing inequality. Officials like Angela Merkel, the newly re-elected German chancellor, and Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, argue that Europe’s problems are a result of a bloated welfare spending. But that line of thinking has only taken Europe into recession (and even depression). That things may have bottomed out — that the recession may be “officially” over — is little comfort to the 27 million out of a job in the E.U. On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerity fanatics say, march on: these are the bitter pills that we need to take to achieve prosperity. But prosperity for whom?
Excessive financialization — which helps explain Britain’s dubious status as the second-most-unequal country, after the United States, among the world’s most advanced economies — also helps explain the soaring inequality. In many countries, weak corporate governance and eroding social cohesion have led to increasing gaps between the pay of chief executives and that of ordinary workers — not yet approaching the 500-to-1 level for America’s biggest companies (as estimated by the International Labor Organization) but still greater than pre-recession levels. (Japan, which has curbed executive pay, is a notable exception.) American innovations in rent-seeking — enriching oneself not by making the size of the economic pie bigger but by manipulating the system to seize a larger slice — have gone global.
Asymmetric globalization has also exerted its toll around the globe. Mobile capital has demanded that workers make wage concessions and governments make tax concessions. The result is a race to the bottom. Wages and working conditions are being threatened. Pioneering firms like Apple, whose work relies on enormous advances in science and technology, many of them financed by government, have also shown great dexterity in avoiding taxes. They are willing to take, but not to give back.
Inequality and poverty among children are a special moral disgrace. They flout right-wing suggestions that poverty is a result of laziness and poor choices; children can’t choose their parents. In America, nearly one in four children lives in poverty; in Spain and Greece, about one in six; in Australia, Britain and Canada, more than one in 10. None of this is inevitable. Some countries have made the choice to create more equitable economies: South Korea, where a half-century ago just one in 10 people attained a college degree, today has one of the world’s highest university completion rates.
For these reasons, I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate firstname.lastname@example.org
A pugnacious outlier called the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or Common Man’s Party, born out of a strong anti-corruption movement and tapping into popular disenchantment with the major political parties, has made a spectacular debut in state elections in Delhi.
It has picked up 28 of the 70 seats and more importantly, over 30% of the votes, routing the ruling Congress party and putting the single largest BJP party under watch. Thanks to the AAP’s bravura performance, the capital may be headed for a hung assembly and forced into a re-election. “AAP proves,” an analyst told me, “the people are desperately looking for alternatives, not merely an option.”
Even its critics concede the Delhi result is a stunning feat for a year-old party in a country where barriers to political entry are prohibitively high.
Arvind Kejriwal, a once-taciturn civil servant-turned popular leader, has emerged as the giant killer, routing Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, a veteran Congresswoman, who was eyeing a fourth consecutive term in office. Not since the emergence of the regional Telugu Desam Party in southern Andhra Pradesh state in the 1980s has India seen such a striking political debut.
Analysts say the AAP has offered itself as a credible alternative to people fed up with corruption, unresponsive politicians and high inflation.
They believe that the party changed the political discourse of the elections. It forced the BJP to change a lacklustre chief ministerial candidate, put out separate manifestos for 70 constituencies, skilfully used social media, successfully garnered the support of the traditional media and promised to pursue “honest, people’s politics”. It also radically altered the debate on the blight of corruption. The new party projected itself as “pro-change, anti-establishment and anti-politician”, as an analyst succinctly put it.
Arvind Kejriwal Arvind Kejriwal has emerged as a ‘giant killer’, defeating Chief Minister Sheila Dixit
However, the AAP’s emergence also points to an inflection point in India’s stodgy politics dominated by identity, caste, patronage, sycophancy, dynastic impulses and opaque financing.
What makes the party unique?
For one, unlike new parties in the past that had their origins in region and identity-based movements, AAP was not identifiable with either.
Also, it is the first party to emerge entirely out of urban India with its leaders mainly belonging to the middle class. “The party,” analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta told me, “is the creation of urban, middle class imagination.”
Moreover, AAP is the first party that has impressed with an innovative use of political techniques. It was clearly demonstrated in its poll spending model – transparent, open donations from the public – and volunteer workers who took time off from their jobs and businesses to work for the party.
Though born out of a vigorous anti-corruption movement that captured the people’s imagination, the party’s identity is forged around the notions of accountability and governance, something unprecedented in India’s parties.
The party is also forcing other parties to rethink their strategies.
“They showed a lot of creativity and imagination. They took risks – the act of Mr Kejriwal taking on Sheila Dixit, for example. The AAP thought out of the box,” says Mr Mehta.
Will the party now capitalise on its sterling performance in the capital and go national?
Historians like Dipankar Gupta feel that the party should entrench itself locally – by contesting municipal elections, for example – before venturing to the national stage. “It should play within its limits,” he says.
‘Changing the system’
But Mr Kejriwal’s party clearly has other ideas: senior leaders tell me that they have opened more than 300 offices all over India and the party plans to contest next year’s general elections “wherever we stand a chance”.
It believes its time has come and it has to capture the zeitgeist: many believe most cities and states have a substantial population of floating voters who are now desperate for credible alternatives.
But can Mr Kejriwal’s party replicate its success outside of Delhi?
Aam Aadmi Party supporter in Delhi The AAP used the broom as its election symbol
Politics is the art of the possible. Many believe that to become successful outside India’s most urbanised state, the AAP will need to forge tactical alliances in India’s fractious and complex politics. Will Mr Kejriwal’s party do that? How will it navigate challenges of language and local contexts in an dizzyingly diverse country and build local networks? (The party is largely seen as a Delhi-centric phenomenon, and most of its existing leadership hail from the city.) Or will it, like other parties, easily become a prisoner of India’s politics and bureaucracy? Will Mr Kejriwal, its charismatic leader, end up fostering a cult of personality, a bane of India’s political parties? Will it be able to marry its idealism and pragmatism?
AAP activists are fond of saying that they are not in politics “mainly to seize power but to change a compromised and corrupt political system”.
But changing a system in a country of high aspirations and fraying institutions requires the party to participate and work it from within. The outlier needs to become the insider. There are questions over the party’s institutional proposals. The AAP’s manifesto is a mixed bag of promises ranging from participatory decision making to cheap electricity and free water.
More seriously, many say, the AAP’s rising is a loud and clear warning to India’s political parties to return to their ideological moorings, be imaginative, engage in a battle of ideas and begin a conversation with people fed up of their grandstanding and rabble rousing.
“I am not sure Delhi’s people voted for an alternative party in the strictest sense. It was more a vote in anger and protest against the existing parties and how they have been conducting themselves,” says analyst Mohan Guruswamy.
If India’s main parties don’t change, the Common Man’s Party could become a formidable national political force faster than many would email@example.com
On the International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women, Ranjana Das from Oxfam India explores official crime statistics to see if there is still a culture of impunity for violence against women in India.
The Delhi gang-rape case of last December 2012 shocked the world and became a turning point in the prolonged history of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in India.
In the aftermath of this crime, the media has increased its reporting of incidents of VAWG, there have been nationwide protests by civil society groups and the police and judiciary have been challenged to improve vigilance and the speed of dealing with crimes.
85.1% of rape cases investigated in 2012 were still awaiting trial. Against this backdrop, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its report for 2012. The NCRB is the only official source of crime data in India, so the data in this report provides useful insights into whether VAWG is still being met with impunity in India.
The NCRB report covers data for the stages through which a crime can pass, from being reported to conviction. In order to make sense of the data for rape cases, it’s worth listing these stages here:
• Crime reported
• First Information Report (FIR) filed by police
• Investigation completed
• Police prepare a report to establish the case (known as charge sheeting)
Now let’s see those stages again, alongside the NCRB data for rape cases in 2012:
• Rape reported – no data available
• First Information Report (FIR) is filed by police – FIRs filed for rape rose by 2.9% in 2012
• Investigation is completed – 63.9% of rape cases were investigated in 2012
• Police officially document the crime (charge sheeting) – 95% of cases investigated were ‘charge-sheeted’
• Trial – fewer than 15% of rape cases came to trial in 2012
• Conviction – 24.2% of rape trials resulted in a conviction in 2012
Is the high charge-sheet rate a cause for celebration?
Sadly, no. The charge-sheet rate is based on the total number of cases for which investigation is completed by the police, which in 2012 was 63.9%. And, for a crime to be investigated it first needs to be registered. In Oxfam India’s intervention state of Andhra Pradesh rates are high across all crime and there have been accusations of attempts to suppress reporting of rapes due to the intense investigation required. Women’s groups in the state also suspect that political parties are pressuring police to under-report cases of VAWG. It is clear that we need a reporting system that compares the number of cases coming to the police against the number being registered. When reporting is suppressed in this way, the situation remains the same or even worse.
So the strikingly high charge-sheeting rate should be balanced against the fact that many cases are simply not registered; but also others are withdrawn before they can be investigated and many others are simply delayed for a long time pending investigation. A charge sheet can take years to be filed as a result of delays at every step of the process, from filing the initial report (FIR), through conducting the investigation, to submission of medical and forensic reports. Charge-sheeting has also been known to be delayed due to evidence tampering.
Close relatives or acquaintances of the victims are accused in 98% of India’s rape cases. We also have no way of recording the rapes that are never even reported to the police. The NCRB report revealed that close relatives or acquaintances of the victims are accused in 98% of India’s rape cases, as opposed to the traditional belief that most rape occurs when a stranger attacks a woman unknown to him. It is these assaults by people known to the victim that can be the hardest to report.
Amongst the other forms of crime against women, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which covers crimes of cruelty against women, shows a rise of 7.5%. Studies conducted by Oxfam India and partners in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh indicate that a large number of Section 498A (cruelty against women) cases remain pending trial because of inadequate advice for the complainant, improper filing of the case and a lack of witnesses and evidence (the burden of which ultimately falls on women).
The rise in reporting of crimes against women is welcome but we still need a long way to go to improve the criminal justice system. The conviction rate is poor, hovering between a meagre 15 to 30% and there is an alarmingly high number of cases awaiting trial: 77 to 87%. Unless the criminal justice system is made more effective and accountable, both at the crime investigation and trial level, women will continue to be let down.keep looking »