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 spunkybong.com.
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