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Wrong Approach


Rahul Gandhi came under flak on Friday for his ‘rape in India’ remark. It is election season in Jharkhand and parties are leaving no stone unturned to gain voters’ support and no topic is forbidden. It can be expected that the headline hitting events like rape and murder of women would come up. The only problem is that it has to be done with sensitivity and a sense of responsibility. The Gandhi scion, unfortunately, lacks the sense of nuance to do this and comes out as petulant and petty, interested mainly in attacking the Prime Minister personally and with ill-disguised animosity. He is not comfortable with, either, the English or Hindi language. The Congress party’s digging up of a past video of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also raising the rape issue neither offers a defence nor deflects from Rahul Gandhi’s transgression. It is the context in which he said it that has offended others. Union Minister Smriti Irani and other women Lok Sabha members of the BJP may be overdoing their outrage a bit to reach the ears of the Jharkhand voters, but the subject needs to be intelligently approached or not at all. ‘Make in India’ is an exhortation by the Government of India to the people of the nation to strive for an entrepreneur led manufacturing effort that can lead on to export quality products. It is a national cause. It should not be denigrated by conflating it with rape. But one cannot expect Rahul Gandhi to understand this as his political style from the very beginning has been that of personal attacks and denigration. This almost entire lack of positivity is what has led to his present exile from the Congress leadership. It is important for all of India’s political leaders to ensure that a false image of the country is not spread across the world. As such, criticism of law and order failures – a state subject – should be focused and well- intentioned. India is by no means a country with a rape culture – statistics bear this out. It ranks well below most of the world’s nations be they of the developed or developing category. It is just that the population is so large that despite low per capita incidence of rape, the sheer numbers are overwhelming and, naturally, attract the headlines in comparison to other countries. Not a single incident of rape can be condoned, but is also important to be fair.