Why is Indian political class offended by ‘India’s Daughter’? Why is Rajnath Singh (Union Home Minister) uncomfortable with its public screening? No, the interview of the rapist has nothing to do with that. If that was the case, his sensibilities would have been offended by daily lashing of Yogi Adityanath, who is his colleague both in the party as well as in the parliament.
The political class is uncomfortable with ‘India’s Daughters’ because it documents the fact that Indian state is reluctant to make any change to status quo by unapologetically showing the brutal response of police on the protests. Displaying police brutality – saviors cannot be murderers, is ‘anti national’ for many patriots in media, parliament and for general citizenry. The protestors make subtle references to Soni Sori and others, who were and are victims of state repression and have been sexually violated by the ‘protectors’ of world’s largest democracy. The audacity of public sharing of those episodes makes the Indian political class uncomfortable.
The reference to Sushma Swaraj’s (Current External Affairs Minister) highly offensive statement of ‘Zinda lash’ or living corpse in the parliament is not something which the ruling party wants to hear.
The state actors are upset with the documentary as it instead of demonizing the rapists- it humanizes them- places them in a particular socio-political context. Instead of leaving viewers with the feeling of disgust, it makes us empathetic to both the perpetrators as well as the victim. This doesn’t go down well for those who govern us as they always need ‘Satan’ or ‘Anti Christ’ for expanding their divisive agenda. For them he has to be an image of demon or possessed by satanic forces, isolated from everything with the supreme desire of assaulting and violating human beings. It needs a lot of courage on the part of the film-maker to humanize the criminals and that courage these days is referred as ‘white women’s feminism’ by the self appointed guardians of Indian society.
They are not happy with the fact that shortcomings of Indian democracy and its failure to deliver economic prosperity are placed in front of international audience, especially, at a time when we are claiming ourselves to be both moral and economic superpower in the global arena.
A lot has been spoken and written about the selective projections of the narrative in the movie, and its quality has been in question from past many days, discussions on the motivation of the film-maker are ongoing, and all the big-shots are spending their time on writing or speaking in television studios, therefore I shall abstain from saying anything on that.
Last but not least, it is important to share that it is just deeply disappointing to see the strand of white woman’s feminism being contested by the feminism of upper caste and Brahmin women. One wonders about the fact that why we all desire a cushioned pedestal for ourselves, why can’t we get together to question the repression of state and how it is violating our daily lives.
The ongoing conversations remind me of the age old debate between traditionalists and rationalists on the correct understanding of Quran, in the court of Caliphs. Caliphs including Mamun were interested in expansion of their territory, more money and leisurely life while scholars in their court were busy in assaulting each other for distinct views on divine nature of Quran. Here Quran is replaced by the ‘perfect idea of feminism’.
Contestations are important, but a house already divided and fragmented will not be able to stand against the strong conviction of ruling class who is on a ‘mission like approach’ to polarize and marginalize the folks who disagree and tend to dissent.