Friday, September 28, 2012

Human Kindness in a Feudal Society



I drive from Delhi to Hisar in Haryana state very often. I see a lot of infrastructure development. New 6 lane highways are built. New flyovers are being constructed. All around connectivity is being developed. Haryana is one of the most prosperous states. People here have a lot of money. 

However, Haryana has a dark side. Haryana is a deeply patriarchical society. Her girls are killed even before birth. In this state, there is one of the most skewed male to female ratio. Because there are not enough girls for every boy, not everyone gets a life partner in this state. Frustrated and high on testosterone boys/men go wild and undertake a variety of atrocities directed towards women. Young women are directed and controlled by their family and village elders on whom she can marry. A few months before a dictat was passed by Khap Panchayat that included people from Jat communities residing in Haryana and Western UP, that women cannot carry cell phone and cannot go to market after a time of day without a male member. Women can violete such dictat at their own risk. 

Recently, it came to light that a young woman from a dalit caste was gang raped by a group of upper caste men. To add insult to the injury, the brutal act was filmed and circulated in the village as an act of retribution. Hapless father of the girl, on not being allowed to lodge a complaint, committed suicide. I can feel the helplessness and agony of the unfortunate father. My heart bleeds, I hope there will be justice. It is also important to remember what good is development if we cannot act as human.

In the midst of doom and despair, this story has a subplot that is so refreshing. Even though the girl cannot get her father back, an evidence is emerging that human empathy, fellow feeling, kindness and sense of fairplay and justice is not dead. An upper class jat girl, from the same village as the jat boys accused of rape as well as the dalit girl, went against her community cousins and informed police about one absconding boy. I also read that the whole village is taking the issue as their own and trying to help the girl. May be this jat girl and her village are an exception. However, this is one tiny seedling of human goodness that is growing amid tension among castes, religions, races etc. This tiny seedling must be nurtured with care and grown into a big banyan tree. That is only how our diverse country can progress. I feel so proud of this young girl who could feel pain of another girl from different community. How many of us can do such act of bravery?



Sisterhood triumphs over caste in Hisar - The Times of Indiat.coThe case has roiled Hisar, infamous for jat-dalit tensions. But in small mercies, a dalit girl's rapist's arrest — the first in the case — took place on information shared by a jat girl.


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