Petty politicking should stop when India faces international embarrassment
Both the Congress and the BJP are guilty of often putting petty politics ahead of India's image and inetrests.
Our history books tell us that India was conquered first by the Muslims and then the British because our rulers were so divided that they couldn't withstand the foreign invaders. Hence the country's enslavement for more than seven centuries. Unfortunately, we haven't learnt any meaningful lesson from history; our political masters are still hopelessly divided; and a big casualty is India's image. The Thomson Reuters Foundation's survey, which claims that India is the world's most dangerous country for women, should be seen in this background.
Needless to say, what has been passed off as a survey is nothing but a dump of lies and claptrap. One has to be a moron or an incorrigible India-hater to believe that India is worse than Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, etc.
It is true that India does not match the levels of gender justice and women emancipation prevalent in developed countries; there are crimes against women in our country, but there is surely no epidemic of rapes and molestations. In fact, on certain metrics, India fares better than several Western nations. There are 5.7 rapes in a population of one lakh in India; for the UK, the corresponding number is 36.44 and for the US, 35.85. Yet, the US is the only Western country in the top 10.
The Indian government has rightly rubbished the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey. "Reuters has used a flawed methodology to arrive at this claim. The ranking is based on a perception poll based on responses to simply six questions. The results are not derived from any kind of data and are solely based on inherently subjective opinions," said the Women and Child Development Ministry in a statement. "Further, the poll has been conducted with 548 respondents, which have been defined by Reuters as 'experts focused on women's issues.' However, information on their designation, credentials, country of expertise or qualifications is not available thus reliability is an issue." Very valid criticism.
So far, so good.
The problem, however, arises when politicians put their petty gains above the national interest. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "While our PM tiptoes around his garden making Yoga videos, India leads Afghanistan, Syria & Saudi Arabia in rape & violence against women. What a shame for our country!"
While our PM tiptoes around his garden making Yoga videos, India leads Afghanistan, Syria & Saudi Arabia in rape & violence against women. What a shame for our country! https://t.co/Ba8ZiwC0ad — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 26, 2018
What is unfortunate here is that Gandhi is slamming the Prime Minister, not the Thomson Reuters Foundation which brought out the preposterous survey. However, it would be unfair to single out Gandhi or other Congress leaders for being petty; the Bharatiya Janata Party hasn't done much better.
A few years earlier, when the Thomson Reuters Foundation's 2011 survey found India to be fourth most dangerous country for women, BJP leader Amit Malviya tweeted, "The world's most dangerous countries for women http://zite.to/WAAT6x. We seems (sic) to be in some great company! Shame."
Now, he suspects Reuters is following an agenda: "Perception of 548 anonymous individuals is being used to brand India as a country unsafe for women notwithstanding data. I can imagine that Thomson Reuters may have an agenda but what is Rahul Gandhi's stake in belittling India?"
Perception of 548 anonymous individuals is being used to brand India as a country unsafe for women notwithstanding data. I can imagine that Thomson Reuters may have an agenda but what is Rahul Gandhi’s stake in belittling India? https://t.co/aGOkAYXdC6 — Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) June 26, 2018
For hundreds of years, our rulers were too busy fighting each other to unite against a foreign aggressor; they still are. This is not to say that the Thomson Reuters Foundation's experts are the enemies of India conspiring to hurt and malign it. But it is indubitable that they are mostly Left-liberals - the tribe that in general in not favourably disposed towards India, especially under Narendra Modi.
Left-liberal thinking also pervades the United Nations. This resulted in the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently releasing its first-ever report on alleged human rights violation in Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and demanding an international probe into it. "Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir... Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region," the report said.
The government obviously trashed the report. It is heartening to note that so did the Congress. Its communications in-charge, Randeep Surjewala, said, "Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inseparable part of India. We reject the UN Human Rights Report as a prejudiced attempt by vested interests to hurt India's sovereignty and national interests."
The Congress would have covered itself in glory had it shown a similar bipartisan approach towards the Thomson Reuters survey, especially as the BJP had slammed its government when the previous survey had come out.
(Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a journalist and author. He has spent around 25 years in the media. As a freelance journalist, Kapoor has written for a number of leading publications. He has written four books on Indian politics and its associated institutions.)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)