Do Delhi Protestors Deserve Democracy? Do They Even Understand Democracy?

Editor’s Note: This article is likely to anger many readers, especially those who are from Delhi. We humbly ask that you read the entire article and think about our points a bit before you get angry. And if you do get angry, please share that anger with us.

This week, the horrific story of a 5-year old girl who was abducted by a neighbor and brutally raped created outrage in Delhi. The outrage was magnified when it became known that the police offered a bribe to the girl’s father to keep quiet. The emotional rage vented in these protest almost rivaled that of the protests against the Delhi rape-murder of a 23-year old woman in December 2012. Women got in the face of policemen and blocked the entrance to the hospital in which the young victim was being treated. One of the protestors was slapped by a senior police officer which further inflamed the protests.

We think the Delhi rape-murder of the 23-year old woman was very different in scope than this week’s equally tragic and depraved rape of a 5-year old girl. With deep regret, we come to the conclusion that Delhi police are not to blame in this case. In fact, this case and especially the protests actually show that Delhites are simply not ready for democracy, at least the type of democracy practiced in America, Europe or Australia. This is likely to be a very unpopular stance and we ask readers to withhold judgement until they read our reasoning below.

1. Delhi & Indian Police

The Indian police force was never meant for the protection of the Indian people. Since its creation by the British rulers of India, the overriding mandate to the Indian police force is to protect and guard the interests of the ruling class. This is why the Indian Police were and remained completely obedient to the British and opposed every Indian leader including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Even the Indian Army jettisoned their loyalty during the Azad Hind Sena or Free India Army of Netaji Bose but never the Indian police.

This mandate of protecting the ruling class and guarding their interests has remained the same even after 65 years of India’s independence from British rule. The hiring, promotion and entire career of a police officer is entirely in the hands of the ruling class, the political leaders of the village, district, city and state.

Secondly, the police force is pitifully small. On an average, there is one cop for every 761 citizens and the figures are even worse in many states with one cop for 1,658/1456/1173 citizens in West Bengal/Bihar/UP resp. Given these figures, it is amazing that Indian cities don’t have far worse crime conditions. These cops have pathetically poor salaries and it is widely believed that they make up for their salaries with less than ethical, shall we say, contributions from businesses in their area.

Now the new anti-rape law, the judicial oversight and the protest environment has made their lives miserable. Nothing has changed in the political class or in Indian society. So depraved and criminal behavior continues unabated often with political blessing. Yet, the policemen, the lowest people in the administrative ladder, are alone held responsible.

Is it any wonder that these police simply avoid registering any rape cases under these circumstances? Without senior level support, they can’t do anything and things don’t get to senior level unless street protests get vehement. No wonder police are now resorting to bribing parents of victims to stay quiet. Very frankly, we are surprised that we have not heard of either police brutality or police going on strike as they did in Egypt a few weeks ago.

This is not to suggest that the rage of Delhites is unjustified or unnecessary. Our point is that the rage needs to be be directed at political leaders and not against helpless, hapless cops.

2. Depraved act of rape of the 5-year old girl

This is a disgusting depraved act and it needs to be punished. Unfortunately it is not an uncommon act. Look what a simple google search revealed:

  • April 2013 – Los Angeles, USAThis week a man who allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 10-year old girl was captured in Mexico after a month long manhunt.
  • March 2013 – Philadelphia, USAA child care worker was arraigned on 14 criminal counts, including rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping and indecent assault of a 5-year old girl.
  • March 2013 – Sydney, Australiaa girl was abducted and brutally gang-raped by five men as she walked home from a party in Sydney.
  • April 2013 – Ottawa, CanadaA teenager woman, allegedly a victim of gang rape in November 2011, and bullied since then committed suicide. The police investigation had ended without any filing of criminal charges.

These cases are almost as horrible as this week’s Delhi case. But none of them resulted in mass protests in the streets. In none of these cases, was either President of USA or Prime Ministers of Canada & Australia required to comment. In contrast, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh was forced to make a comment about depravity in
Indian society and the anti-Indian activists went on emotional tirades
about the evils lurking in Indians.

And frankly, the police in America, Australia and Canada would not have allowed the mass protests that Delhi saw like the one below. No police force in any civilized democracy would tolerate this. These protestors would have been arrested in New York City.

                                                             (source New York Times)

The above cases are frankly not the most reported either. Last year, prominent American universities were stunned by allegations of young male athletes forced into sexual acts by their male coaching staff. During the past few years, the Catholic Church has been rocked by allegations of systemic rape of young men by priests. Like in conservative semi rural India, rape of women is tolerated or ignored in American towns as the infamous Steubenville Ohio rape case demonstrates.

Note the above instances are from America, Australia and Canada, countries that anti-Indian activists consider far above India and countries that these activists would love to live in. Yet they and their  backers in Western newspapers never report these instances to Indian readers.

But none of the above suggests that Delhi should accept the horrific child rape or that the rage of Delhites is improper. We simply believe that their emotional tirades and street protests are unlikely to result in any change at all.

So what should Delhites do? How would a civilized democracy address the problem posed by the abduction and rape of the 5-year girl?

3. Action plan for Delhites

The word democracy means rule of the people and rule means responsibility. No civilized democracy would expect the police to come into a building and protect a young child from abduction or rape from a neighbor without a previous complaint or without reasonable grounds for suspicion. 

In a democracy, the first responsibility for protection of children rests with parents and then with the community where the children live. Frankly, this should be easier in India where neighbors are far more intrusive than in America. Whether it is a Delhi colony, or a community in a smaller town, Indians love ferreting out gossip about their neighbors. From here, it should be a simple step to organizing colony task forces or neighborhood patrols to protect their children and women. That is exactly how people in a civilized democracy would behave.

What we cannot understand is how the 5-year old girl was abducted by a resident of her own building and kept hidden for couple of days? What were the neighbors doing? Didn’t they go around to knocking on every door in that building and those of adjoining buildings? Or did they simply shrug their shoulders and go about their own business leaving the girl’s father to go to the police station?

We suspect the latter because Indian families run away from any scene of trouble and shut their doors & minds to the plight of their neighbors. The overwhelming emotion is “lets not get involved”. This is why the world saw the terrible scene in Delhi of a family lying by the roadside after an accident and other cars simply driving by without stopping to help the injured family.

This is the biggest difference between Indians and citizens of civilized democracies. This tendency of Indians to congregate in celebration but run away from trouble is the greatest impediment to collective action. And a society without the urge and drive for collective action is unfit for democracy. All they deserve is a ruler to whom they can run in supplication and prayer.

In our humble opinion, Delhites continue to demonstrate that they are unfit and therefore undeserving of democracy. They should get back to serving a badshah or a foreign ruler. 

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