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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/ men 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.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Apparently, no Nirbhaya, no Uber, can change d ways of the govt

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Browsing through this blog, which I had started following the dreadful Nirbhaya incident, over two years back, I find that apart from the functioning of the courts that have improved to a great extent, with a lot of the info being made available on the net (check here - supposedly accomplished through a "mission mode" project), very little else has changed.
On the 16th (on the occasion of the 2nd death anniversary of Nirbhaya), NDTV had presented a report on the checks its team had made on the various safety features that the Transport authorities had ordered to be provided on public transport vehicles (buses and auto's, mainly) in Delhi. Quite as expected, none of it was working. GPS devices, emergency buttons, spy-cams, etc, were either not fitted on, or those fitted on were dis-functional. In essence, there's absolutely no guarantee that, if you choose to avail the (dis) services of these public transport modes, all of what happened that fateful night, cannot happen all over again.  
In such a scenario, the cab aggregators coming into the picture was like god-send, particularly for the women-folk and senior citizens, what with their ready accessibility 24x7 through mobile phone, automated billing (without haggling), etc, etc. The one mistake they made was of depending on government provided data - driver licence, vehicle registration, police verification, etc (check this), leading to the unfortunate "Uber" incident in Delhi. Following that, they have all now been jolted into action, and are in the process of building up their own data base, apart from incorporating additional fool-proof safety features too, and, resulting out of it all, one can hope for increased dependability on them in the near future, provided of course the government agencies involved don't let loose their licence-permit raaj on them, on top of the initial knee-jerk clamp down that we have already seen.
Incidentally, the NDTV team had also shown recordings of repeat calls, made by its team members, to emergency call centre numbers, not being picked up, and many of the police stations found to be operating without women staff on duty during night hours, etc, etc. In fact, the list was endless. Besides, an earlier episode had shown the recording (through hidden camera) of the whole sequence of one of its team members obtaining a driving licence, from Aligarh (if I recall right) RTO, in a matter of a few hours, without any valid documents, all for the payment of just Rs 300/-, to a tout. And, mind you, the licence is valid throughout the country. It was on the basis of such a licence that Uber had engaged the rapist driver.
Immediately the incident happened, there was a near total clamp down on the cab aggregators. But, has any action been taken against any of the Transport Department, RTO, police officials? None whatsoever at all !
Very clearly, there can be very little accountability as long as these systems are operated by government agencies, which once again goes on to reiterate the points I have listed in my opening post (In addition to the point made out at sl no 1, I need to add that a large part of the back-end work of driver licensing, vehicle registration, etc too needs to be outsourced to professional agencies, apart from the voter lists).
Muralidhar Rao
kbsyed61's picture

It's a mindset that needs to change!

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Well we try to typecast every criminal act based on our prejudices. Which are true in some cases. But even then reality lies somewhere else. In most criminal acts, the alleged criminals educational and financial background plays a role in determining his chances of getting acquittal. In cases of rape, most number of convicts seem to have been from low economic strata. Is that a truth or circumstantial, is all of us to judge. But more often criminals with high education background and economic status is seldom talked about.

Here is case of how people with power can change the course of allegation of sexual harassment. I am not sure who do we want to call them?

The Deccan Chronicle articles starts with these observations:

"...A State Bank of Mysore employee has allegedly been forced to withdraw her sexual harassment complaint against her seniors so that her transfer orders can be executed according to her choice within the close proximity of her area of residence..."

murali772's picture

a different issue

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Syedbhai - There are plenty of such cases - "senior officials sexually harassing women working under them", or whatever you may want to call them - the ones involving Tarun Tejpal and Justice Ganguly come readily to mind. There have been plenty of debates too - both in support of the victims, as well as against, and the situation today has changed a lot in favour of the victims. In some cases, it may have gone a little too far that way too. 
In the specific case cited by you, it is surprising why the lady involved hadn't explored all the options fast enough. Now that she has, I am sure her tormentors are going to be in a bit of a spot.
So, I don't know what and whose prejudices you are talking about. Besides, this blog is largely about safety issues relating to public transport services. As such, perhaps your comments are misplaced here. Do open a fresh blog on the subject if you wish. 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

India’s other daughters

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The village that plants 111 trees when a girl is born
Worthy of emulation by all villages, and cities and towns too, to the extent possible. 
Muralidhar Rao
blrpraj's picture


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With regards to 3) Police Reforms & 4) Judicial reforms of your original post; you must have heard of the saying "Yatha raja, thatha praja". We can make as many reforms and laws as we want but what is the use if they can't be implemented against the rulers? Everyone must have heard and seen the video of the now famous case where a sitting MP assaults and manhandles a doctor - 


As per law, the person can be charged and put in jail for 3 years. But in this case the MP got away scot free and the doctor & MP were asked to mutually settle the matter bacause of the political pressure on the doctor. The least i would have expected is -

1) The MP to be held up to the strictest and highest standards; thereby applying the fullest extent of the existing laws and throwing him in jail.

2) Permanently disbarring him for life from ALL politics and not allowing him to stand in any public office.

The shocking fact is that nothing was done inspite of conclusive evidence in the form of a video of the assault. The problem with this is that this emboldens the average public to do whatever they want and get away scot free when the law could not do anything about a sitting MP with connections openly flouting the laws. There is absolutely no fear of the law or the uniform that enforces the law..which is the sad story of India.


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