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Dec-16 as Nirbhaya/ Damini (rather, the actual name) Raakhee day

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The Delhi gang-rape case has brought to the fore the need for fast-tracking of not just the courts, but all of the following:

1) Professionalisation of preparation and maintenance of voters' lists:
In a nation marked by deep disconnect between ruler and ruled, there's also cause for cheer in youth`s new assertiveness against a `chalta hai` political mindset. If 2011 witnessed mass participation of young people in the anti-corruption movement, 2012 saw protest against crimes against women.

While that sentence from the ToI editorial (for the full text, click here) may be true, the unfortunate part is that the incompetence, incapacity, apathy, lack of accountability, all put together of the EC/ SEC/ NIC combo, in the preparation and maintenance of the voters' lists, has resulted in non-enfranchisement of vast sections of the youth, at least in Bangalore. And, if it is true of Bangalore, I expect the situation can't be any better in other parts of the country, either. As such, when the youth have been talking of voting out the callous lot of politicians, how can they do it when they are not even empowered? The answer to that lies plainly in outsourcing the job to professional organisations like TCS or Infosys, one of whom is currently doing the back-end work for the Passport dept, and the other for the Income Tax dept. To add your voice to that demand, click here.

2) Enforcement of display of vehicle registration number plates strictly in accordance with the M V Act:
Now, while rule-50, sub-rule-2 and proviso-D of Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, specifically states that the letters on vehicle number plates should be in English and the numerals in Arabic (as the regular 1,2,3 - - is identified as, and which is what you have on the currency notes also, readily understood even by the least literate of our countrymen), it is merrily being breached by all kinds of vehicles (at least in Bangalore), including those belonging to government departments. While the Transport Dept (through the RTO) is supposed to ensure compliance at the time of the registration of the vehicles, and at the time of the annual licence renewal in the case of commercial vehicles, and the Traffic Police is also empowered to enforce this (as admitted by the City Police Commissioner, pursuant to an RTI exercise - check here for details), both are shirking the responsibility, and trying to pass the buck onto each other.

Going about with number-plates in Kannada (alone) is plainly to allow for anonimity for ill-intentioned drivers (read this to learn more), under the cover of chauvinism, which in itself is bad enough. This is posing a serious security threat to the citizens.

3) Police reforms:
Based on the Soli Sorabjee Committee recommendations, many states including Karnataka, have instituted the Police Accountability Authority, Police Establishment Board, etc, essentially to distance the police as much as needed from the political establishment. But, these are repeatedly being by-passed (as seen here), weakening them, as well as demoralising of the entire force, in the process.

There is a lot more to the Committee recommendations, and implementation of all of them in toto, is the urgent need of the day.

4) Judicial reforms:
As the eminent lawyer, Mr K T S Tulsi, observed during a TV debate, publishing the progress of cases on court web-sites will in itself lead to speeding up of trials, which is the urgent need of the day. Apart from this, is the matter of appointment of 'professional court managers' (check here for more), in order to allow the judges to concentrate on just the judicial matters, which will help the process of speeding up of the trials considerably too.

Simultaneously, providing a cleaner and enabling environment for the judges to function from, is also something that calls for immediate attention, and this can come about through outsourcing of the maintenance of court complexes to professional agencies, as compared to the present practice of entrusting the job to the PWD (check here for more).

And, as urgent as the need for fast-tracking of cases against 'crimes against women', is the urgency in the fast-tracking of all kinds of cases against elected representatives, they being the decision-makers.

5) Need for Single Emergency Help-line:
The following excerpts from the Indian Express report (accessible here) is quite typical of most government-run helplines: "A helpline for women set up with great fanfare by beleaguered Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit through advertisement in newspapers in the morning itself appeared to be “helpless” as it was not working. Calls to the number were greeted by a long beep sound".

Shouldn't the answer then be to outsource the job to a professionally run, time-tested, PPP set-up like the EMRI, which operates the "Number 1-0-8: single integrated number for medical, police and fire emergencies" service (check here for more)?

6) Public bus trasnsport services reforms:
The banking sector was nationalised during the emergency. Realising the impracticality of state-run banks alone providing this vital service, the government gradually relaxed its grips on this sector to where, today, there is an almost level-playing field for all the players, whether public or private. And, together with the effective regulatory mechanism put in place by the RBI, these steps have taken the sector to a level where it is rated amongst the best in the world.

There is no reason why this can't happen in public bus transport services sector, as also in other infrastructure sectors. In fact, amongst the most urgent needs of the day is the induction of players like TVS (who started off as the public bus transport service providers in the city of Madurai), which can happen with the proper opening up of the sector, like has happened in the case of banking and other services. As compared to that, the present "licence-permit raaj" has led to the hijacking of the services by various kinds of mafia, with Delhi's controlled by the dreaded Ponty Chadha types (amongst which, the bus involved in the Delhi incident, could fit in), and Mangalore's, Kochi's and Kolkata's (the few cities that allow private players to operate too) controlled by mafia's having a shade lesser notoriety (check here for more). Mangalore and Kochi private sector operations were in fact good; but with the government not allowing them to increse the fares commensurate with the input (particularly diesel) cost increases, they are facing serious issues, including of survival itself (check here for more).

And, the monopoly government service providers (which rule the roost in most cities and states) are actually a more dreadful mafia operation (though, they may not match the Ponty Chadha types), since, besides everything else, they have the stamp of authority of the government to carry on in their nefarious ways, even as the gullible common man thinks that the government can do no wrong. Here is what Bangalore commuters have to say about their city's BMTC (as also the state's KSRTC), supposedly amongst the best amongst all the state-run operations across the country. The situation in other cities and states (except perhaps Ahmedabad's Jan-Marg) can only be imagined. The need of the hour here is facilitation of the entry of reputed players into the providing of the bus services, articulated more in detail here.

Nirbhaya Jayanti
Jug Suraiya has suggested "What should a one-day strike of all Indian women — irrespective of caste, class, community or age — be called, and when should it be held? An appropriate day for the birth anniversary of a new grassroots women`s movement would be — what else? — Nirbhaya Jayanti" (check here for the full text in ToI).

Also, now that the parents of Nirbhaya have welcomed the suggestion of Mr Shashi Tharoor to lend her name to a comemorative effort, perhaps Dec 16th every year can be observed as  "Nirbhaya (rather, the actual name) Raakhee day" when boys/ menon tie "raakhee's" on the hands of girls/ women as a gesture of support for their freedom.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

Admin reforms need to be part of the process too

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There has been a hue and cry for police reforms but the Dharmaveera Commission report on the subject is gathering dust since its submission in 1980. How can police reform alone ensure a peaceful and crime-free society when the rest of the administration is rooted in archaic laws, procedures and red tape? The investigating agency depends upon several other wings of the administration in order to complete investigation and prosecute a case successfully. It will be futile if cooperation is not forthcoming from others.

For the full text of an excellent related article by Dr S T Ramesh (former DGP), in the New Indian Express, click here

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Mayawati owes it to Nirbhaya's memory

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Mayawati stated "The Delhi gang rape has awakened public conscience. Now mere condolences will not work. We need concrete steps. Stricter laws against rape. The centre and state governments should involve chief justices of the Supreme Court and high courts to expedite cases related to crime against women, including rape, for speedy justice".

Significantly, Mayawati also said that her party agrees with the view that those accused of rape should not be fielded by political parties in elections. However, she gave ticket to a rape accused in 2009 Lok Sabha elections and fielded one in the assembly elections held last year. In fact, in UP, four MLAs have rape charges against them which include three from the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and one from BSP. The SP MLAs include Guddu Pandit (MLA from Debai), Anoop Sanda (Sultanpur) and Manoj Kumar Paras (Nagina). From BSP, MLA from Bulandshahr Aleem Khan is facing rape charges.

According to Mayawati, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has extended help to the Delhi gang-rape victim but unfortunately he is silent over other incidents of rapes taking place in the state. BSP president said that though Delhi gang-rape incident has created awareness, there has not been much change in the attitude of governments.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

That Mayawati has made such a statement is in itself an improvement. Now, she owes it to Nirbhaya's memory to follow it up with action. If she does, that will send the right message across to all parties.

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