Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Parting Shot

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Justice JS Verma Committee's report is that it reminds us we're not helpless in tackling the complex mess that is gender justice in India today.
This report reminds us how effective democratic intitutions like the judiciary, parliament & government-run agencies can be if their functionaries have the will.
When I think about this report, this remarkable parting shot of Justice J.S. Verma, the words 'helpless' or 'defeatist' do not figure even once.
That's saying a lot for a female citizen of India who has witnessed the widespread apathy & disdain for women & children's issues in the past few months. 

On the same day that Justice JS Verma passed away, Delhi Police's commissioner Neeraj Kumar gave a press conference that was a masterclass in defensiveness, showing a complete inability for self-reflection. Watching this leader of the national capital's police force throw up his hands, refuse to take responsibility for a total breakdown within his ranks and belligerently defend his professional failures, has been extremely depressing. This man, whose position gives him such incredible power to effect change claims helplessness & defeat. This man whose job it is to protect citizens is consumed only with protecting himself.

Even as deep sadness descends on the news of Justice Verma's passing, it's important to remember what his leadership has resulted in: A report that addresses a bulk of the excuses that people like Neeraj Kumar make. It does the legwork (even if you disagree, it gives you the framework to debate within) and the tedious brainwork that most of us may not have the time, energy, skill or inclination to do. 
The next time a heinous crime happens on our watch, (and it's happening over and over again as I type), we shouldn't need to guess where our 'moral responsibility' lies. We have a powerful guide to point us in the right direction. It's a great place to start.


Must read: Legacy of change through justice by Karuna Nundy

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