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The Mars Club Member’s Daughter

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By Achyut Dutt

BBC Storyville has produced a hard-hitting documentary on the December 2012 rape and murder of a 23-year old India girl, Jyoti Singh, on a moving bus. In Leslee Udwin’s documentary, India’s Daughter, there are snatches of an interview with one of the rapists, Mukesh, who is seen here in the collage, that most would find abominable. Some of the comments he made are pictured here. In spite of receiving a death sentence, he has not one iota of regret about what he did.

For reasons that only sanctimony-swathed Indians will appreciate and preach, India has banned the video, calling it insensitive to the sensibilities of the girl’s family and all ‘right-thinking individuals.’ The fact that the girl’s parents themselves appear of their own free will in the video, having found finally a voice that those high-faluting Indian news channels – barring NDTV, which had intended to screen the docu in India but was dissuaded by the ban – could  not find the time to air, has escaped the Indian Government.

If BBC had found a way to air the thoughtfully presented video in India, it would have accomplished one purpose – to shame the nation which appears to be immune to shaming, into enforcing the laws and programs that would arrest this diabolically depraved mindset that a large part of the adult Indian male population is afflicted with – treating women like objects.

Of course, if you watch the so-called enlightened debates on Indian TV channels like the sanctimonious ass, Arnab Goswami’s ‘The Newshour’, you will only get to see an incoherent, apoplectic and pompous bunch of guests that are all trying to shout at the same time and being cowed and browbeaten from time to time by the host himself, in a Bill O’Reilly-meets-Rush Limbaugh kind of uncouth and aggressive style.

By stridently supporting the ban of a truly tasteful and revealing documentary, Arnab Goswami has forfeited the right to be called a journalist, let alone a TV anchor. If I had been the producer, Goswami would be out on his sorry ass by now.

Jyoti Singh’s rape hasn’t changed anything in India. There is that Guinness Book record that India still holds and will continue holding – of being the place where every 20 minutes, there is a rape. That works out to 72 rapes a day, a nice round figure.

Oh, there is another Guinness prize that India deserves richly. It is a cribbers’ paradise. Most of the Indian literati are up in arms against the video. Just as they did when Slumdog millionaire was released, they charge that the purpose of the video is solely to ‘shame India and show it in a bad light’.

Well dear Indian literati that is exactly what is required – for an entire nation to be shamed. I have been shamed. Every day at the lunch table at work here in Canada, someone is making snide remarks about this horrendous issue, over which Indians and India have gone into a state of denial. After that fateful night in December 2012, there have been hundreds of Jyothi Singhs, some as horrifying as her case.

Some say, we the diaspora should be propagating all the positive things about India. They beat their chests in pride, ‘Look, our nation has sent a probe to Mars. Hey, it has reached and is busy searching for methane there. Yay! It found methane! Whoopee! What? Searching for methane is important, man. Very important’.

Others are belligerent, ‘Look, the western media is calling India the next regional superpower and even others cry, ‘Hey India should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council’.

Security Council? Whose security exactly? Not 23-year-old Jyothi Singh’s surely?


But then, India, a nation that takes pride in calling itself a democracy, which screams about freedom of speech from its rooftops, stands bared as nothing more than a nation of pub-crawling windbags that love banning stuff left and right, in the hope of pleasing every petty, narrow-minded interest group. It has begun banning almost everything, the latest being the slaughtering for beef rendering jobless thousands who depend on the abattoirs and the sale of meat for their livelihoods.

Speak to a member of the same Indian literati and he will immediately wax eloquent about how the ‘father of the nation’, Gandhi, advocated a ban on cow slaughter. He might even convince you that lying down naked with two nubile unmarried young teenagers is a good thing. Why, the ‘father of the nation’ did it, didn’t he? (Of course, you might see him at the local McDonalds, which is okay, because it is firangi).

Chickens are not living beings, nor for that matter are fish, or even fish or lobsters that Indians wantonly pop into their mouths, after grilling them in a tandoor. Ducks and geese are okay to behead, even though venerated Indian gods like Ganesha and Laxmi use them regularly as their own personal limos and are therefore just as holy.

But cows? Hey, they are sacred. At holy joints like Varanasi, they even worship a bull’s testicles. Stick around at one of those filthy ghats there and you’ll see folks walking up behind a bull sprawled out in the middle of the road, to place their palms on its balls and touch them to their foreheads.


Leslee Udwin’s documentary is a singularly hard-hitting and honest example of film-making but there is only one problem that I see in it – the title. Jyothi Singh is no longer India’s daughter. India has lost the moral right to call her its daughter. It is a matter of shame that Indians in India cannot view the film.


A parting shot:

This was one documentary that only a foreign documentary film maker could have made so incisively. Remember Gandhi, the 1982 Richard Attenborough film? None of those dhoti-kurta clad Shyam Benegal-type art film guys in India could make that kind of a movie. A foreigner had to show us how to make a biopic on an Indian legend.

Achyut Dutt, 60, builds jet engines at Pratt and Whitney Canada. He writes under the pseudonym ‘spunkybong’ and has a blog at

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4 Responses to “The Mars Club Member’s Daughter”

  1. ramblinginthecity

    While I am totally against the ban, Udwin’s documentary is at best mediocre, presents very few points of view and has used questionable methods to get subjects, esp Mukesh, to speak. The issue is far larger and more complex than she presents, nor is it a problem that India alone faces.
    Udwin has tried to clarify this in subsequent interviews and it sounds like a defense to me because she had every opportunity to make a point in the film. But she doesn’t make it, the point that rape culture is global, needs a lot more investment in attitudinal & legislative changes. She focuses on one case and on India without clarifying what the case truly represents to her, in terms of framing an issue. What are we take away from the film except for what we already know?

  2. spunkybong

    This video was a documentary placing facts hitherto unseen, even in spite of there being all those TV channels in India. It does not have to be ‘artistic’. I don’t see what there has to be in it so it won’t be mediocre. Some Bollywood style melancholy songs sung by the parents?

  3. spunkybong

    About the feeling that this is complex issue, as expressed in the first comment, aren’t we making simple issues complex?

    Some years back, in Washington DC, hair dresser, cocaine user and single mother Kathy Myers finished feeding her three children, Tom (10), Sandy(7) and Margie(5). Breakfast that morning was pancakes with syrup and glasses of milk.

    The syrup tasted funny and Margie started to complain. She didn’t carry on long though. After just two spoons, she keeled over, face forward, dead before her forehead hit the table top. Her two elder siblings followed in quick succession. Turns out that half the glasses of milk was pesticide.

    Myers was getting ready to drive calmly down to a nearby lake and dispose off the bodies, when her ex-hubby just happened to drop in. She did it because her new boyfriend, her pusher, didn’t like kids.

    Immediately a debate raged in America on what was the ‘root cause’ – The cocaine that charged through her brain like a Visigoth, destroying the one thing she must have still had, a mother’s love. Was it responsible? Or maybe the street-level pusher or his bosses? Or the guys who mixed and blended the stuff? Perhaps the drug cartels in Cali who had moved the cocaine into the US, a month prior? Or maybe even the peasant who stripped and washed the coca leaves, sitting in a clearing in front of an adobe hut? All these aspects were weighed and analysed threadbare on the social media and opinion pieces.

    Everything and everybody, except Kathy Myers, was found to be culpable.

    In the end, sentenced to death, Kathy fried. She got what was coming to her, simple. It was that simple. There was never anything complex about the case.

    Things are simple as long as we wish to keep them so. The single most significant achievement of the Satan has been to always leave enough in everything, for a lively debate to begin, while he has slipped out through the back door, laughing his ass off at all those stupid talk show hosts doing exactly what he wants them to do – opine, analyse, talk, argue, scream, browbeat and finally arrive at no conclusion whatsoever, except that perverse satisfaction we get, in the feeling of having laid something to rest, as if by doing so, finally Jyothi Singh’s soul shall rest in peace.

    This is just another flash of pure evil, caught inside a petri-dish, make no mistake about it. You fry it, chuck it out and move on, that’s it.


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