January 18, 2007
Cry My Beloved Country
I welcomed the New Year 2007 with gladness and sorrow. The forces of economic globalization are very excited about India. The economy grew by over 8.5% in the last year. The Finance Minister gave a confident and glowing interview on an Indian channel and was upbeat about the economic development. Various media channels put up their Indian of the year and a number of them were those in the fields of business and technology. And of course foreign direct investment continues to flow freely.
The shops in India are filled with goods that Indians could only imagine a decade ago. The hotel industry is booming and the costs of booking rooms in India’s star hotels is now higher than what one pays in the USA.
The television channels splashed the lavish lifestyles and expenditures of the rich and famous in Mumbai, New Delhi and of course that state of enjoyment and spending money – Goa!
I had to travel home to Belgaum after Christmas and was struck by the fact that the Mumbai airport looked like the Victoria Terminus of yesteryear – the crowds at the airport, mostly Indians, all trying to catch a flight during the holiday season.
There is no question about it. India has changed. India is changing! Today’s new political slogan is ‘India Rising’.
But the other side of India’s brutal reality hit the nation during the same beginning period of the New Year. This was the barbaric case of 30 children, boys and girls of the poor, a lot of them from the low castes, sexually abused, brutalized, killed and their body parts likely sold in the New Delhi suburb called Noida, a new city where multinationals have put up their shops, malls and factories. (Outlook magazine offered a poignant editorial on the topic on January 15. http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20070115&fname=GSagarikaGhose&sid=1 )
Soon thereafter, stories started about missing children in India. Mumbai reported more than 4,000 missing children. Hyderabad estimated the figure of 8,000 missing children in Andhra Pradesh. More figures began to pile up. The Government, which was on the defensive, said that about 50,000 children were missing in India, but then the NGOs said that the number of missing children in India was closer to one million. ‘India Today’ a reputable magazine in India said that the NGOs were closer to the truth.
Think about it. The India that is rising has about one million missing children who are most likely sexually abused, dehumanized, killed, maimed, and body parts sold without any mercy and compassion. Most of these children would be from the Dalit community and other low castes. Most would be poor; many would be lured, and some would be kidnapped by hoodlums, criminals and those who deal in human trafficking and the sex trade.
Permanently transfixed in my mind is the picture of two mothers crying on national television for their missing children who were killed in Noida. They were crying and angry at how the police system had failed.
Cry my beloved India for your children of the downtrodden and poor, for even as some are ‘rising’ many more are ‘drowning’ under a system that does not value all human lives as precious and equal.
Rise my beloved India to undo this historic injustice that the minority powerful continue to inflict on the majority powerless before the India that is not shining rises up in violence as it did in Maharashtra after the killings of the Dalits in Khairanji.
Posted by klajja at January 18, 2007 09:21 PM