Thursday, 29 September 2011

Why are parents of girls' silent spectators

Yesterday's Times of India carried the shocking story of how a doctor reportedly murdered his well educated wife. (  

The story further states a few important points - both families were from Jharkhand and from the same profession, the fathers did have some common links and there was already a doubt about the reputation of the boy and his family even before the marriage. But once the marriage took place, apparently the pointers that something was drastically wrong were strong enough – not only were there difficulties in the marriage, the girl was not even being enough to eat, she had been admitted to a mental hospital, the husband was violent enough to have been reported to the police several times – apparently therefore everyone knew that matters were extreme. Now the actual facts are known only to the people involved and will perhaps be better understood as police enquiries get underway, but here I am presuming that the above is correct.

The whole appalling episode raises the fundamental issue of the role of the girls’ parents in such cases. While prima facie the very raison d’etre for the wedding to take place is not clear, it can be assumed that the initial reservations and misgivings were not strong, and benefit of doubt can be given. But what about thereafter? The parents of the girl had also not cast her away / disinherited her. Like all good parents they encouraged their daughter to try and make a success of the marriage – not to give in just because the going was not as good as it should have been. But is this their sole role and does their duty and obligation end here? The clues were not just pointers giving an inkling of something wrong – there was clear evidence that the matter was serious. The girl was well educated and professionally too at that – this was surely adequate for the parents to feel that she could, with their support, create a life for herself. And when she had also received a good job offer, the parents knew that she could become financially self supporting. She was an only child – her returning back to the family fold would not have adversely impacted the life and opportunities of younger sisters. So what held them back from extending their full support to their daughter?

In general, and in Indian society in particular, the position of the girl and her parents still continues to be subordinate. But to what extent and for how long should they keep quiet. Do they not have any responsibility towards their daughter once she is married? And why did the daughter put up with this situation - she knew she could become independent.  As a woman and the mother of a professional daughter, I wish she had had the confidence to step out and make a life for herself. But coming back to the parents – I feel very strongly that they abdicated their responsibilities. And when a girl and her parents have been given strong legal rights vis-a-vis the boy’s side in dowry cases, why not enforce their responsibilities legally.
We need a wakeup call for the parents of girls. As a woman and the mother of a girl, I ask – along with the boy, why not charge the girl’s parents with abetment to murder? Maybe then the fear of action, of jail, of real social dishonour, will overcome their fear of social stigma on the mere failure of the marriage of their daughter. And maybe in future, the parents of girls will hesitate in being only spectators.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ending Corruption - Who really is the weakest (or strongest?) link

Ensuring that corruption is brought down very quickly and very significantly is the need of the hour. I am however unable to understand why the bureaucracy / senior officials and day to day lower level staff are being treated as disjointed entities even though they represent one office or department.

In a public sector bank any corrupt act on the part of the junior-most employee requires explanations not only from the branch head but even those above working in the administrative office on why the senior officials were not vigilant enough and what mandatory or random checks they had conducted – in any case it is invariably a black mark, if not worse on them.

In a government organization the indifference and blind eye of the seniors to what is happening in the office is absolutely unbelievable. In a corrupt office, they can be active participants to the situation by being part of the ladder from top to bottom or, at best, passive participants by allowing corruption below to exist or even flourish.  In any case they gain significantly by continuing to get postings of their choice, by the status they enjoy compounded by their absolute disdain for their juniors, and for the common man. This explains why the general view is that departments which are pure administrative in nature are perceived to be more corrupt than say departments which offer more specialized services e.g. Railways, Delhi Metro, Government Hospitals etc..

It is not adequate to determine whether a “Group A” officer is personally corrupt or not. It is essential that he /she is also held accountable for lack of vigilance on what is happening below.  This aspect does not appear to have been considered in the Lokpal Bill.

Recently the newspapers reported that FIR has been filed against some DDA officials in the Siri Fort CWG Project. But why is no action being taken against the top man or woman in DDA.  Is it not his/her responsibility to ensure that non-corrupt practices are being followed in the organisation and that he / she has exercised due diligence, been vigilant, conducted random / mandatory checks? That the Head has not turned a blind eye to the happenings, has not shown total indifference and apathy to what is happening in the office?

Perhaps the first step in bringing down corruption would be to hold the Head accountable whether for malafides or for gross and repeated negligence towards what is happening below.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Terrorism - Some are More Equal

One more terrorist attack, some more lives gone and all our politicians, those self called leaders who are actually our servers (not “rulers” as Mr. Chidambaram loves to call himself) have to say is – it will take time, we are used to it. And look at some pathetic statements that have come. Our Prime Minister says “... obviously there are unresolved problems and weaknesses in our system.. “  Did he not feel ashamed of saying so? The BJP Leader L.K.Advani slams the Congress but has nothing to show about what their party has done. Mrs. Sushma Swaraj talks of non-installation of the CCTVs as though this was the single factor which would have eliminated the attack or led to the terrorists. And the less said about some of the others, the better. Let them at least have the courtesy of shutting up when the common man grieves.

Let’s not only have talk of zero-tolerance, let’s have some real action.
Let us have some exemplary punishments – each time there is a successful terror attack let at least the following be dismissed ON THE SPOT without any benefits, and with no right to take any future assignment that draws on public funds.

-          The top man or woman heading the Police in the State, the district, the specific Police Station.

-          The top man or woman in the country in RAW, IB and all other intelligence agencies, and their counterparts at corresponding lower levels.

-          The Member of Parliament, the Member of the Legislative Agency in that area.

-          The Home Minister of the Union and of the concerned State.
Of course there will be several who will say that this is not fair, that before any punishment the concerned should be allowed to exercise their right to defence – but then the victims of the terror attack who are usually ordinary citizens are not given any right to defence, any say in the matter? Why then should rights be given to those who have taken on certain responsibilities but failed to discharge them or to ensure safety? If there is a strong feeling of injustice, the family members of those dismissed can be given Rs. 0.10 lacs to Rs 1 lacs or whatever compensation is immediately announced by the State authorities to those who are injured (NOT those who lost their lives) in the attack. In India today, where the politicians and bureaucracy enjoy the benefits of lax or no accountability, let’s see if terrorism continues unabated even when the concerned functionaries have to put their jobs and their reputation on the line.

 We also had politicians making their standard visits to the hospital which resulted in aggravating the difficulties of the victims and their families. It would perhaps have been more helpful if they had stayed away, had deputed a few capable staff to help on the ground, announced helpline phone numbers and monitored the calls and responses at these numbers, ensuring that the affected persons were not facing any difficulties and getting maximum support at this traumatic time.
We have cases of mercy petitions in respect of those who have been found guilty of acts of terrorism. While not going into the merits of the individual cases, I strongly speak out against those of our politicians who have asked for clemency. If they feel that convicted terrorists need leniency let them first put their money where their mouth is – are they willing to give up their Z – security (or other security) cover? Are they willing to take the same risk to their life and limb that they expect the common man to take. And if not, if they want special rights of protection let them at least not be brass-faced enough to speak out at the cost of the lives of ordinary citizens, while living in fortresses themselves.

I agree that the issue of a timely decision on mercy petitions is well taken, no steps appear to be taken to plug the loopholes in the system and till then those on the death row continue to enjoy high security cover.  As a taxpayer I see no reason why my hard-earned money should be so grossly misused.

Enough of people living in ivory towers and adopting a high-falutin’ attitude.