Taslima, Fiona, Tibet… and we don’t give a shit

ALOK PRASANNA writes from Hyderabad: While India launches a slick, high-decibel campaign to attract foreign tourists to Atulya Bharat, Indian state governments are simultaneously engaging in a crude, high-decibel campaign to throw out two foreigners from Indian territory.

Taslima Nasreen and Fiona MacKeown hardly fit the category of criminals or miscreants, but if you hear the announcements and statements being fed to the press by mantris, babus and assorted officialdom, you would think that they are somehow responsible for undermining the very existence of Indian state and society.

Consider Taslima’s case.

She has been assaulted (in Hyderabad), driven out of her adopted home (in Calcutta) and kept in a state of house arrest (in Delhi) all because she wrote a book. We let corrupt legislators off, watch as serial killers walk free, but treat an author like this because “religious sentiments” are hurt.

Never mind that not one person who claims to have bruised “religious sentiments” actually seems to have read the book.

The ultimate irony of this whole situation is that the campaign against her is being led most stridently by the apparently atheist, pro-feminist Left front government in West Bengal. It would be tempting to point out the BJP’s position on Taslima Nasreen’s fate, but knowing the BJP’s true position of freedom of speech and expression, the stench of hypocrisy is too difficulty to ignore.

Or what about Fiona MacKeown?

She would be, what British newspapers tend to derisively call, “chav”, but does that mean she has no right to see her daughter’s rapists and murderers punished? How does her parenting abilities exonerate the Goa police and government from the shoddy investigation and cover up that they engaged in?

The cake is taken by this statement issued by home minister Ravi Naik: “The girl died because the mother acted in an irresponsible manner. Tourists must behave properly and respect Goa’s culture and law of the land.”

Notice how casually the statement glosses over the guilt of the actual rapists (and possibly murderers). While they are presumed innocent till proven guilty, Fiona is presumed guilty of being responsible for daughter’s death.

Pray tell us, Mr. Home Minister sir, is “Goa’s culture” built around drugging and raping young girls? Are you so depraved a people that misguided young women are seen as nothing more than prey for the sexual predators among your people? And will this be the message that you want her t

o carry to all tourists about your “culture”.

It is not a mere co-incidence that both the victims/accused are women, and in one case, woman plus religious minority.

It is perhaps something of a national trait to blame women and minorities for the crimes committed against them. Think back to see how often the quick reaction to any rape/molestation /harassment is either quickly blamed on the kind of clothing worn, or responded to by imposing stricter dress regulations.

Or remember the ridiculous argument that “they deserved it”, every time a religious riot breaks out, because “they” ruled us once.

Is it thus any surprise that the Indian Government’s reaction to the events in Tibet is nothing more than the institutional equivalent of “We don’t give a shit” in diplomatese? After all, the Chinese also blame the Tibetans for the violence and the uprising despite the fact that the Dalai Lama has been repeatedly calling for peace and calm.

In any India-China comparison on the quality of life, infrastructure, economy, education and health we lag way behind China. We can be glad now that we match them blow for blow in human rights violations.

Photographs: durdesh.net, abcnews.com

Also read: ‘India is the loser if Hindus become communal’

‘In the name of Bhagwan, Allah, Christ…’

What’s the correct word for a Hindu fatwa?