Wednesday could have been just another bad mid-week day. But it went on to become worse. Wednesday evening came with news that should shame us as a nation. It should shame women and even men.
A road accident in Bangalore not only took the life of a woman, it also exposed us. It exposed a society that pretends to be posh and ‘cultured’, but has demons fighting to come out. I see no need to even point out that the man driving the car was from Sudan, and the woman caught by the mob was from Tanzania. We have limited knowledge of geography and I still have to explain to people that my home state is no longer a part of Assam. So expecting a mob to realize the difference between Sudan and Tanzania is asking for too much. But why is it even news? Had the Tanzanian woman been a Sudanian, would the mob get to strip and beat her? I have also read that the woman was in a different car. How does that matter too? If the woman was in the same car, does it give the mob the right to harass her? Even if she was driving the car, does the mob get to lay their hands on her?
Tanzanian Woman Episode proves our base instincts
Wednesday’s incident has not only stripped the Tanzanian woman, it has also stripped us as a nation. And this is not the first time it has happened. What plays in the mind of the mob that strip women to punish them? Glimpses of a woman frantically trying to cover her breasts while they bare her to the world gives these men an adrenalin rush? Or does it give them a sense of justice? These are the men who go back home to their wives, mothers and maybe even little baby girls? And today we pretend to talk about progress and trash the past, call it dark ages. How much has really changed? Draupadi was dishonoured all those centuries ago to settle scores with the five brothers. And today as we dream of a digital India, a mob strips a woman because another man from her race has committed a crime. We have seen it before and we saw it again on Wednesday. And we will see it again. Because like the people who stood by and watched, many more will stand by and watch in future. She isn’t anybody’s daughter. We will wait till our daughters are stripped; our sons are lynched. Why doesn’t our sense of justice become furious only when the supposed ‘crime’ has been committed by a commoner? We let the influential perpetrators get away right?
Tanzanian Woman Episode proves that we are inherently racist
Wednesday also raises one question again. Why has India become so racist? What is the use of talking about unity in diversity when we cannot just accept the ‘other’? And I refuse to accept that the Bangalore incident had nothing to do with racism. Let us face it. We still cannot accept people with dark skin. And who looks at Africans with respect? Even our movies do not. Remember Fashion? The same Priyanka Chopra film, where she realizes the depth of depravity only when she finds herself in bed with a black man! The symbolism is disturbing. It is as disturbing as a common man looking at young men and women from Africa with contempt. Or even the drug racket in Shaitaan run by black men. The portrayal of Blacks in our society is mirrored in popular cinema. The narrative of Housefull and the little black child, therefore, gets more disturbing and not exactly comic.
Or even if we go the seventies, where a graceful Helen dances to Aa Jaane Ja , what logic did the makers have in placing a caged black man and his almost scary expressions? Is it Bollywood’s way of instilling fear in our minds? Fear of the other, fear of an entire race? Only once probably a blackened Dharmendra played the parallel lead of a black slave in Razia Sultana, the film’s box office collections show how difficult it was for the audience to accept the idea.
Tanzanian Woman Episode is not a political issue
Tanzania is also not a vote back. So this Tanzanian Woman molestation incident will be brushed under the carpet. The act of violence against this girl will not form part of any feminist discourse. The young Tanzanian woman does not have a caste on her torn clothes. So Rahul Gandhi will not remind people of how Gandhi stood by blacks in Africa. The Gandhi discourse is limited to Rohith Vemula because that coffin had a caste. The dharna expert Kejriwal wouldn’t find it disturbing enough, because haven’t they already got away with harassing African women? How much of our conscience sat up wide awake after the infamous Somnath Bharti incident? This intelligentsia of this nation talks of ‘intolerance’. I wonder how many of them would come forward and return their award now. Isn’t every act of violence against mankind an act of intolerance? How is Wednesday’s incident different from Dadri? Or is it really very different because the young woman doesn’t have caste or religion to favour her?
Tanzanian Woman Episode is not a moral issue
The intellectual harangue harps around how India has changed for the worse after Modi. Even if we accept that, it is the test for the intelligentsia. The incident is not just a one-off incident. But let us also not forget, it has happened in a Congress ruled state. The award wapsi gang cannot just get away with a slight ‘Wake up Sid’ for Siddaramaiah. Let them question Siddaramaiah with the same energy they have while slandering Modi. Let them cut across party lines and for one question about the safety of not just foreign students but all us citizens.
Tanzanian Woman Episode is a blot on Bangalore
Without getting into city shaming, I would still say the mob has left me disturbed. I have seen my friends carry that one aspiration of shifting to Bangalore to better their careers. I have family settled in that city. They talk of only the good that the city has to offer. But is that enough? What about the devils that lurk in that city and in other parts of India? How will a nation even attain progress? How will the Tech capital invite more foreigners and win their confidence if mobs such as Wednesday’s start ruling the city? Where have all the good people gone? When will the good people come and raise their voice?
P.S- We are sorry Tanzania. We are sorry Tanzanian Woman. That mob is not India. Those faces are not us. We had opened our hearts and homes to the world centuries ago, and they are still open for you.