Dear Mr. Prime Minister (An Open Letter to Dr. Manmohan Singh)


English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the ...
English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Opening Plenary – Resillient india: 25 years of Economic and Social Progress. Participants captured during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi, 8-10 November 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I hope you are doing well, although in light of recent events, I find it difficult to fathom how you remain so calm and effortlessly continue with your graceful, enviable demeanor. I was hoping to post this letter to you personally, but unfortunately, I’m almost 12,000 km away from the country right now and I just couldn’t trust the postal offices and courier services for delivering a letter containing something that touches all of us Indian women so deeply.

I’m sure you must have heard about Rape in India (I’m also hoping it is common knowledge by now, given the fact that there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to the topic). A few minutes ago, I heard about a five-year old girl struggling to live after being raped and having a bottle and candles shoved inside her. A few days ago, my friend told me about a three-year old girl who was allegedly assaulted and raped by her playschool owner’s husband. A few weeks ago, I heard about a woman who was raped in a moving bus followed by the rape of another woman in an auto-rickshaw a few days later. A few months ago, I heard about the rape of a single mother by men in a car. There are a number of cases I hear about every day, but mentioning them all here would be preposterous. What is also preposterous here, Mr. Prime Minister is that men have taken rape to an all new level in our country. I am slowly beginning to believe that ‘Delhi Rape Victim’ should be a title set in stone, for there is always a female around to claim it.

I made a decision to leave the country and study abroad last year. All through the decision-making process, while packing suitcases, while on the flight and even after starting university, a question kept bothering me: Had I made the right decision? Or should I have just stayed back home? I always told myself that I should follow my dreams and explore the world before returning home to India where my heart truly lay. But now my questions have changed. Knowing that I made the right decision, I find myself thinking, would I be living in constant fear had I moved instead to Delhi? I do not think I could continue the same lifestyle and do things as independently as I do here without moving around in a group for safety purposes? I do not know if my fears are valid, but because of everything that has been done (or rather, hasn’t been done), they exist.

I could say that I’m angry, but in this situation, that emotion is a given. What I will say is that the lack of sensitivity, the lack of respect and the continued breaches of law simply break my heart. The women could go to the police, if only they weren’t mistreated and hit by the security force put in place to protect them. They could go to the government, but the government may turn them away and call them conspirators. They could go to society, but they’re already outcasts there. They could go to the court, but will find anything but justice there. During a South Asian Studies course, I learned that somewhere along the course of the freedom struggle, the freedom fighters came up with the concept of Bharat ‘Ma’, the reason being; the men could now be motivated to protect the honor of Bharat Ma from the atrocities of the British empire, a metaphor providing the spark for igniting the passion for struggle.   Isn’t it ironic how this idea has been twisted and presented today? I’m no expert, but I can say beyond a shadow of doubt that Mera Bharat is anything but Mahaan today.

As a child, I was over-protected. My mom didn’t let me do a lot of things; going anywhere by myself was out of question. Growing up, I often felt disconnected from the relevance of such an environment. But today (and I never thought I’d say this), I’m in fact glad I grew up in that environment. My point here is that that’s not how every family functions (or needs to). We cannot protect women by locking them up. It doesn’t work, sooner or later, we find a way to break through the bars. It’s high time India started regarding females as an equal gender of equal (if not more) capabilities instead of third-grade, emotionless objects solely intended for a rapist’s play time, it’s high time India turned its education system around to create better men for the sake of its own future. Instead of hiding behind excuses of influence of Western  culture sending the Indian youth’s moral compass spinning, those in power need to begin helping those in need. Soon, if the current circumstances fail to change and as far as the people of India are concerned, it wouldn’t matter what the Economic Times says about the country, we will have begun our downfall even before we reached our peak.

Lastly, I would like to bring to your notice that our image internationally has already begun to change. My friend picked up a British newspaper to read on her flight from London and much to all of our embarrassment, there was full page coverage of the Delhi rape case. My cousin, who told her professor she was from India, had to hear about how unpleasant the scenario there was (read: the rape scene was out of control).The New York Times is reporting the ‘New Furor’ invited by the five-year old child’s rape.  My concern, apart from the hopelessness of certain Indian men’s mindset, is this: Are we ready to give up everything we have worked for and become our own worst enemies? I am one of those obnoxious Indians who go from normal to crazy patriotic at the slightest hint of belittlement of the Indian people or region. I have always had much to say to refute the senseless theorizing or stereotyping of the Indian practices or culture. My biggest fear is that someday, people will mention rape in the same breath as they mention corruption and pollution as typical ‘India-identifiers’…and that day, Mr. Prime Minister, I will have nothing to say.

I hope that the Government of India will not let its people down, both within its geographical boundaries, and outside them.

Sincerely,

An Indian Woman

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25 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Prime Minister (An Open Letter to Dr. Manmohan Singh)

  1. Feel so ashamed of being an indian hearing such rape stories. Being a female in india is a sin. I wonder from where these rapists take birth from.
    Mannat sidhu , I wonder when will they listen to these letters and take some strict actions. I am living in canada too. Such cases are forcing people to leave their homeland.

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  2. A specific letter with touching words. It may make anybody emotional. But it means nothing.
    Madam’ why don’t you to some Indian newspaper for publication. Hope it will have its own way to torch the govt and society as well.
    Really we, Indian, are living in such society where “paper works” are preferred much and hypocricy prevails. And govt machinery, in most respects, appear to be ineffective following political interference at various levels.
    Hope this touching letter penned by you with pure words but sad mood may affect our system to some extent.
    And it may be a good and positive starting.
    Jaihind

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I used a medium of expression that was available to me at the moment. If/when an opportunity arises to bring it to a newspaper, I most definitely will.

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  3. The biggest problem is that indian govt itself is not serious about this issue, and this is probably because of the status of women in India, women almost have no respect in India, so how can you expect strict laws against such crimes?

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    1. As far as the question of objectification of women goes, yes the scenario is pretty bad in the country. Women need to take things in their own hands instead of waiting for good things to happen.But looking at the built-up pressure on the government, I hope it’s here to stay.

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  4. I live in Canada and the news is widespread even here. Normally news like this would not concern the wider world. The good news is that it is a world story now and the world is watching how things develop over the time. The fact that it is not secret anymore, I hope will have a positive effect on your home country. This letter broke my heart.

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    1. It’s true, I live in Canada too and I see everyday how the news keeps getting bigger. What you mention about positive change occurring as a result of the news going international is what keeps me motivated and I sincerely hope that would be the case. Thank you for your support.

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  5. I m happy to see that even after goin abroad u have put so much concern nd I believe this letter would surely have its huge affect across the nation. …..proud of u….nd good job….

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  6. Firstly, the little girl is fortunately out of danger and is in a stable condition
    Secondly, the 22- yr old rapist has been caught in bihar
    Still, unfortunately no one still knows what punishment is this monster going to get !! .
    You’ve written an amazing letter .. let this be on your blog, and even if u dont trust the postal services, post this to our very own respected ‘Mr.Prime Minister’
    We know, he’s going to keep mum yet again, but he must know, where is the practical wordly scenario of our country going ..!!

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    1. Shrutarth, thanks for the update! I’m glad she’s safe, and as for the arrest, when was the last time that really made a difference in India?
      Thank you for supporting!

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  7. :'(… I had tears in my eyes when I heard about 5 yr. old girl victim in the morning… I was almost crying as I read this letter.. Shame that India has turned unsafe for women. I hope Govt. becomes sensible and Female can live freely as men do..!!

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    1. Equality and respect is what we’ve been hoping for, but I believe it’s about time we did something about it. I wish more people felt as deeply as you do, thank you.

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  8. good job its good to ssee people abroad still concerned much about their homeland’s scenario!!Shame on such men!
    Support the MARD initiative!!

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  9. Almost had tears in my eyes and goosebumps throughout while i was reading this!…I really wish and hope this letter becomes a huge reason that moves the Indian government and comes a day very soon where women in India gets AT LEAST EQUAL status as men and there are no such men in the society who could even think of committing such sins!!!

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  10. I too am glad that you are not here. And i wish all the women of my life could find safe havens. As i am scared by these events life was definately good in the old india when our grandfathers where men of honour now it is a paradise lost and i am and will always be scared for all the women but vow to never close my eye once and be a constant gaurdian till i lay in my grave as time asks so i have little or non existent faith in my government abd belive an individual is responsible for his or her safety in this dog eat dog world.. Call it paranoia but i belive constant watch is the key to a non tragic life in this humane deficient world so i would say be on vigil gaurd yourself as i will of you and all the women in my life to the very end in this filth ridden world..

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