Problem solving in India. The complexities.

Date: December 16, 2012

Place: New Delhi

The brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya shook India and this tragic incident sparked off several debates on how to make India safer for women.

I monitored the debates on several channels. The participants were all intellectuals and professionals from different walks of life. The outcome was very revealing and reinforces the fact that problem solving in India is a real challenge and why nothing ever gets done.

Let us look at the way the debate went and the different reasons and solutions offered by the participants and this will give an idea of how we have neglected our problems for far too long. Instead of nipping any problem in the bud, we let it grow and it grew out of control.

Some of the suggestions to solve 1 social problem were

  1. Delhi is a union territory. Who governs what? Who is responsible? -> Statehood for Delhi. Legislation and other problems
  2. Ban tints on vehicle windows -> Allows others to see inside and prevent crimes
  3. Don’t ban tints -> Women drivers feel it offers them safety and privacy
  4. Police are inactive and insensitive –> Re-train police
  5. Police not equipped to handle and respond on time –> Buy more vehicles, night patrolling, more walkie talkies
  6. Arm the police with guns
  7. Don’t arm the cops as they are not responsible enough.
  8. Police are not gender sensitive –> Social problem which stems from a patriarchal society as most policemen are from rural areas. Improve education
  9. Need more women police –> New laws needed to increase quota of women.
  10. All-women police stations to handle womens issues -> No funds
  11. Police don’t register FIR’s -> Utilize technology like FIR kiosks, mobile apps etc
  12. Police force is under staffed -> No budget to increase manpower
  13. Hang the rapists as a deterrent –> Need new laws
  14. Don’t hang the rapists –> Human rights
  15. If the rapist is a minor should the law be the same?
  16. What makes a rapist? -> TV programs and movies which depict women as objects – Ban such movies -> Don’t ban them
  17. Schools need to provide proper education on sex –> Revamp education system
  18. Schools need to stop segregating boys and girls as this leads to unhealthy (sexual) thoughts at a young age
  19. Parents should not treat sons as superior to daughters -> Create awareness
  20. Public transport is inadequate –> More buses, budgets, congestion, pollution etc
  21. Privatize public transport
  22. Install CCTV recorders in buses –> who bears the cost, who monitors them, who maintains them, invasion of privacy
  23. Call centers should provide transport for women working late night shifts –> Can you trust the driver – police verification – can you trust police?
  24. Media sensationalizes the issue –> Muzzle the media, freedom of speech
  25. Low conviction -> Why cases fail in courts – Forensics can’t provide evidence – modernize forensic labs, import better technology – retrain
  26. Police don’t gather proper evidence –> retrain them – form CSI wing
  27. Corrupt police shield rapists –> new laws to prevent it
  28. Courts take a long time in deciding cases –> back log of cases – more courts – more judges – implement fast track courts only for rape
  29. Lower court judgements can be appealed in higher courts adding to the delay –> new laws to prevent this
  30. Male judges / lawyers defame and embarass victims in court -> Sensitivize them
  31. Women dress provocatively and this leads to rape –> Ban western clothes – don’t curb the individual rights of women
  32. Ban late night movies
  33. Close bars and discotheques early -> Regressive
  34. Ban dance bars -> Loss of livlihood of thousands
  35. Street lights don’t work or don’t exist -> capital outlay, maintenance, power shortage
  36. Install CCTV to monitor all streets -> Cost, maintenance, real time monitoring. 
  37. Auto rickshaw is not a safe mode of transport as they don’t have doors –> ban the auto
  38. Auto drivers are not helpful –> sensitize them by training – minimum education

All these and many more offered by 8 people in 1 hour to address 1 problem. Imagine how many more suggestions will crop up by 1.25 billion people trying to address the millions of problems we have.

It is obvious that our laxity has compounded the problems. One solution leads to several associated problems.

By contrast,  the way Ireland, a predominantly catholic country, handled the Savitha Halappanavar abortion case, a socio-legal issue, is an eye opener.