When Delhi met NCR…

A concerned Rahul Gandhi sat amidst the residents of Bhatta Parsaul, with cameras and mikes glaring into his face. That is not the focal point of my attention though.

Shifting focus from the agitating Rahul Gandhi to a female journalist, who was trying to get bytes of a group of young men to get the youth’s perspective on land acquisition.

After having interviewed them she thanked them for cooperating to which one of the men replied, “sirf thanku se kya hoga madam? Aao aapko bhi bike pe ghuma laye!” (A thank you won’t do, let’s go for a ride!).  Embarrassed, she left to get Rahul Gandhi’s byte.

Well, ofcourse we are all aware of the crumbling position of women in our country. But this article is not just about the deteriorating state of women.

It is about the place from where such ideas have originated since Rahul Gandhi took a bike ride; a political cause that has been picked up rather fashionably.

It would definitely make no sense to say that Bhatta Parsaul, where the poor farmers are fighting for their rights, who are being beaten up and whose women are being sexually assaulted; is the same place where young men have frivolously started eve teasing city girls in a mindless tit-for-tat game. So why am I saying this?

Why is it that the only way for a village boy to communicate with a city girl, in the eyes of most, is through teasing or worse? Well as much as it is a generic and a highly biased thought, there is some truth to it.

Quoting the example of UP itself, Noida has become the new up and coming place like Gurgaon and other NCRs that follow; the sudden inflow of income has changed a lot of things around such places.

Burgeoning highways and infrastructure alone do not mark development. If not balanced, any kind of growth can have severe backlashes on the society.

The urban jungle is expanding at a rapid pace and the merging of two different cultural worlds has led to some serious implications.

Farmers are either exploited or forced into selling their piece of land at a low unfair price. The others who get a good price for their land become a part of the social problem instead of economic development.

Selling land in NCRs has become a quick way to get new and easy money. The sudden over exposure to the hustle bustle of the city life is not healthy.

The farmers get quick money but instead of using it judicially most of them end up imitating the urban lifestyle. They buy expensive cars, hang out in the best of places, and live in big bungalows.

Their life seems changed from a distance, but one you enter their lavish bungalows their women are still clad in pardas, education is given less importance, and old norms are followed.

Amidst that, the sudden exposure of city life can have adverse implications on the lives of both. The sudden influx of money and heavier pockets, make people to act in a manner of authority.

A news channel once covered a story of how the common man easily avails the use of red light on top of their cars. These people are not at a high post in the government but have access to VIP lifestyle.

They not only become influential in local panchayats and friendly with local police and MLAs, but use it for personal advantage.

Breaking of laws with such ease and on the power of money, it has been observed has led people to behave atrociously.

Ever since the NCRs have gotten developed, the security issues, especially for women have increased a great deal. Delhi has become more accessible with the construction of roads and highways and the metro.

Residents of a city have historically feared the people of the outlying zones, particularly during times of rapid social and economic change.

Many of the current attacks on women in Delhi involve gangs of young men from cities or small towns on the city’s outskirts.

The 2008 statistics by National Commission for Women (NCW), show that of the total 2,000 complaints of crimes against women received till mid-December this year, 535 were of rape, 338 of molestation and eve teasing, 361 cases were related to gender and caste based discrimination and 21 for attempt to rape among others.

The Commission also received 553 complaints of police harassment and 192 for sexual harassment at work place.

The NCW, however, had received a total of 1,086 cases of crimes against women in 2007, out of which 634 complaints were of rape and attempt to rape, 249 of police harassment, 110 of sexual harassment at work place, 88 for outraging modesty of women and 5 for gender discrimination.

66% of the capital’s women were molested between two and five times last year and that 70% of men “looked the other way” when it happened.

2009 Crime in India report, Delhi is by far India’s most unsafe major metropolis for women and children. Though it accounted for only 13.2% of all crimes committed in 35 “mega cities” across India in 2009, nearly 24% of total rape cases and almost 40% of cases of reported kidnapping and abduction of women were committed here.

The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010.

Well anyone’s natural reaction would be a repulsed one but that is not the solution to this deep rooted problem. The cultural diversity and general backwardness should not come in the way of development.

The sudden exposure is definitely the wrong way to go about it, and these financial investments must be checked by some kind of moral and social police; that keeps a tab on all facets of development.

Infrastructure doesn’t only mean tall buildings and smooth toll roads; it also means water, electricity, education and safety. Most of these are lacking in the most populous and advanced NCR areas itself.

Gender diversity training at all levels should be provided starting from schools till college and even in work places.

Fast track courts should be deployed for sexual harassment cases and exemplary punishment of minimum 5 years and no recourse to bail for the accused should be implemented. FIR lodging by victims shall be made as quick as possible.

Improving the sex ratio in Delhi and surrounding areas (Gurgaon, Noida) is probably the biggest challenge, because it deals with changing mindsets but this is also a long term solution and probably the one that shall prove most effective.

The problem is rising at a steadfast pace and measures to deal with it must be put in place.  As these tidal estuaries meet the sea of city there is social imbroglio. This commotion needs to be put at rest and in time otherwise a social eruption is bound to happen.