Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wake up India!

Once again there is justifiable anger at the molestation of a woman  by a pizza delivery boy. News anchors are hyper ventilating asking the question, Are women not safe at home anymore? They were never safe at home anyway as the domestic violence and rape statistics show.

There was also a discussion on it as a failure of our police and judiciary with a focus on whether we need to redefine the age of a "Juvenile"

There are also write ups in editorial pages saying that we need to address the issue of falling sex ratio if we want to address increasing crimes against women.

While I fully understand the need for better criminal investigation and quick justice and agree  about the possible escalation in violence against women due to shortage of women, to put the current incidents in that context is highly misplaced.

These are not frustrated middle aged men  who failed to get a wife. These are children, 15,16,17 years old who should be in high school dreaming of a bright future, may be having a girl friend, and some recreation.

Instead they are working in least remunerative and exploitative work conditions in jobs as delivery boys, courier boys, cable tv and other mechanics. They are paid less, are not respected for their work. They often face violence and humiliation at work. Most of them have run away from homes or live alone in slums. They see the rich and beautiful and are constantly exposed to the glitz and glamour. They have dreams of riding that beautiful bike with a girl they desire or love. All of which are not possible given their circumstances. The pent up anger and frustration leads to criminal activities or explodes into acts of violence particularly when the provocation comes from a woman who is in a much better position than they are, denting his macho image. These incidents are sexual crimes which are having strong socio-economic underpinnings.

A boy who delivers pizzas in US goes to school, goes back to a home which is comfortable and can afford to buy a pizza if he wants. The pizza boys in India see boys and girls of his age ordering pizzas which may be more than his salary for a month and represent everything that he wants but cannot afford. Imagine what goes in their mind?

The writing on the wall is very clear. We need more inclusive growth. We need more child friendly environment, where bad schools do not force children to run away from homes, where education builds the vocational skills of the students, where housing is decent, and food is adequate.

If the government and all other stakeholder groups do not take note of this as a symptom but as the disease, the incidents are only going to grow. Not just in number,may be in brutality as well.

Time to invest in our youth, otherwise our demographic dividend may turn out to be a demographic disaster.