[Update: 29th Dec 2012: The Delhi-Gang rape victim "Nirbhaya" covered in the article below, died in Singapore Hospital after she succumbed to her severe internal injuries, a lung infection and brain damage. May her soul rest in peace and hopefully, now the justice will prevail.]
This question is to my fellow Indians, who off late, have been getting rightfully angry at the appalling state of things around the country.
As another year ends, it leaves us aggrieved and shocked beyond belief. This year would clearly be remembered to be at the nadir of shameful activities in India. There were so many revelations this year and the shock value of each one was just too high to digest and move on. But that's exactly we did, with pain in our hearts.
Here are four randomly selected recent cases -
Delhi Gang-rape case: The most recent incident that shocked the nation (again) is the brutal gang-rape of "Nirbhaya" (as TOI named her rightly) last week. Truly horrible. The culprits are nabbed. Case is promoted to "Fast-Track" court. Justice is WIP.
Kasab: We took 4 years to hang a terrorist, who should have been publicly tortured and hanged the very next day. The height was we offered him a defense lawyer.
Corruption and Scandals: A. Raja epitomized corruption with '2G scam' a couple of years ago. Then we had Commonwealth Games, Coalgate, NRHM scam, etc. All syphoning thousands of crores of rupees from our exchequer. Need more? There's a whole page on "Scandals in India" on Wiki.
Bad Governance (a.k.a Plummeting confidence in Indian politicians): We've gotten used to "Bad Governance" phrase by now. It's become a catch phrase in a Page 3 party. Sadly, GOI and the elected parties are (still) not doing anything about it. I guess they're waiting for another reason/ motivation/ push/ stick or may be the Mayan Apocalypse to get things right.
So, what is common in all of them? We got pissed off. We protested. We took to the streets. We lit candles in the night. We cried. We stood united. Then resumed our routines, waiting for another skeleton to come out of the closet so we can again mourn together. The GOI was still mum. We were still hopeful. We still are.
I feel the problem is severe. The real problem I feel is the "casualness" with which people commit such crimes/ scandals. The casualness is the result of bad governance. They know "nothing will happen" .. They know "they will get away".. They know "Have gotten away before, will get away again"..
The real missing thread is lack of severe and timely punishment.
Unless there are strong laws (and quicker case closures), criminals/ corrupt politicians will continue doing what they do best. Unless we pin them down, nail them down quickly, what message are we communicating?
Some argue that Sociey needs change. Of course it does. But society as a whole is such a complex mesh that it is difficult to decipher how exactly we can change it. Which element to change for a better society?
What can be monitored is the "The Rightful and Timely Action". Once people know there is a strict action taken, and that they can't get away.. the rate would drop.
There are two aspects - Internal Deterrent (Values) and External Deterrent (Punishment). To build mechanisms for Internal Deterrent take times. Values are not build overnight. We can sow the seed, nurture it and pray. We can argue for a longest time that Values - as an incentive to not be a criminal - are more important than Punishment.
But we can't pray that people with bad conscience will play fair, can we? Punishment is required for such bad souls, who don't want to change.
Politicians are used to fooling us. We are used to getting fooled. In broad daylight. We are also used to the feeling of helplessness. People will debate, crib, protest at the degrading state of things.
But there's about one thing we will not lose - Hope.
Hope that the next day we will not hear another rape case. Hope that our corrupt politicians and criminals will grow a conscience. Hope that India will become a developed nation, someday. Hope that sense will prevail.
Hopefully, our GOI will become like Avengers - crime fighting super-"Common Men" in their cape (or not) fighting injustice, rape, dowry, corruption, bad governance, and everything that's worth fighting for and everything that's worth living for.
-A hopeful Indian