Foreign Policy Blogs

Three Pictures About India, Yesterday

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A picture of Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde; a picture of murderer and rapist Ram Singh; a picture of a guileful, fatal bus ride, caught on CCTV.

Ram Singh, age 34, the leader of the gang of six that raped and murdered a 23 -year-old physiotherapist, was found dead yesterday, hanging in his jail cell in Delhi. Now, criticized for the way in which the original case was handled and the national public outcry that surrounded it, the Indian Home Minister has promised an investigation into the case and the manner and means of Ram Singh’s apparent suicide.  The other five accused, one of them, Singh’s brother, have not yet been duly prosecuted.

Is this the story of India? And if so, is there anything anyone can learn from it? Do we assume that a young woman’s brutal rape and murder and a government’s lagging efforts to prosecute that and other acts of sexual assault and murder can constitute a teachable moment? Or do we condemn both this act and the societal conventions that allow these acts, and similar ones to go unnoticed, unreported, unseen?

India may be a lot of things: Bangalore’s rise; shantytowns next to Bollywood; billionaires and new art markets. But it is also the grounded anchor of the story of a deeply divided, deeply sexist, classist, unequal society slowly coming to terms with–and sometimes failing to make common cause with– the cosmopolitan conventions that we hope now make up conditions of a humane contemporary world.

 

Author

Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link: http://blackandwhiteandthings.wordpress.com

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