Why Newtown & New Delhi are joined at the hip

SHAH ALAM KHAN writes from New Delhi: Billy is usually a cheerful, jovial man who rarely sounds solemn. That day he wasn’t his normal self on the phone. He was trying to come to terms with the death of a six-year-old daughter of a dear friend.

The girl was a class one grader, killed in cold blood at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown.

Barely 48 hours after the Newtown tragedy, another tragedy was unfolding more than ten thousand kilometers away in the heart of India’s capital. A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was gang raped in a moving bus, assaulted barbarically and thrown out along with her male friend.

The two tragedies hardly had anything in common except the despair and frustration which common people like me and Billy had at the healthy, wholesome breeding of violent cultures in respective countries.

If a poor and porous gun control was blamed for the Newtown tragedy, a violent patriarchal system with objectification of women was considered responsible for the brutal Delhi gang rape. But simplifying the two tragedies on basis of common explanations would be looking at half the pictures in both countries.

Newtown did not occur first on the US soil. The seeds for the tragedy were sown across the globe.

Newtown first happened in Vietnam. Newtown happened in Baghdad and Newtown happened in each every corner of the globe where American imperialism laid siege in name of promoting democracy and freedom. Newtown was the culmination of a culture of violence, which American imperialist ambitions have planted in the hearts and thoughts of common Americans, both in the garb of nationalism and freedom.

Unfortunately, both at home and elsewhere, the victims of this culture were little children and innocent citizens.

If corporate aspirations govern the national agenda, Newtown is surely the end result.

Delhi gang rape too was the denouement of a spectrum of violent abuse of the weak, the underprivileged and the deprived. Unfortunately the female gender in India qualifies well for being all three- weak, underprivileged and deprived.

We, Indians have bred a “culture of rape”.

Again it won’t be wrong to conclude that the Delhi gang rape first took place in the tribal hamlets of rural India, in the homes of middle-class Indians who abort female fetuses, in Indian towns and cities, which see cyclic communal frenzy and in the frightened Dalit ghettos of vast stretches of this land. Rape is not an act of sexual abuse in India.

It represents the conclusion of a culture of violent suppression of the female gender- the weakest and the most vulnerable element in an exclusive society of the strong. What more can we expect from a society which can have the audacity of killing its unborn daughters?

The objectification of female gender in Bollywood cannot be entirely blamed for the rape culture we have so laboriously bred in this country. It only supplements this culture. It provides a weedy “justification” to the rapist. In a consumerist demand-supply situation the Bollywood feeds the society what it wants.

The ghastly events of Newtown and Delhi cannot be seen in isolation. They have similarities of cultural past. They do not represent isolated events of the frenzied mind. They are products of social orders supplemented by disproportionate and inconsistent national agendas.

The hallmark of the two tragedies is the ease to unleash violence on the vulnerable sections of the society.

(Shah Alam Khan is an orthopaedic surgeon at the nation’s premier medical college and hospital, the all Indian institute of medical sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Visit his blog: India and Bharat)

Also read: Does our sanskriti sanction regressive MCPs?

Ramayana, Upanishads and the Delhi gangrape

Why Delhi gangrape victim shouldn’t be named

Besides Pepper Spray, the Rape-Axe condom too

How TV ads turned us into a nation of voyeurs

Delhi gangrape, liberalisation and Godwin‘s Law

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6 Responses to “Why Newtown & New Delhi are joined at the hip”

  1. Melanie Says:

    A brilliant analysis by Shah Alam Khan. It is shocking that despite the tragedy of Newtown, the US President is unable to do anything about gun control. The NRA and the corporations will never hear of it! The corporations have also brought in a form of ruthlessness that does not involve in shedding blood but only sucking it in the name of the bottom-line! We are bequeathing a pathetic world to future generations. Alam is bang on about the culture of objectification of women in Hindi films just being a reflection of what is happening around us. Will we finally reach a point when the living will actually envy the dead?

  2. Snigdha Says:

    I agree with everything you said.
    And I seriously feel that the way women are objectified in Bollywood truly reflects what the public really wants. Numerous movies these days sell on the shoulders of an (unnecessary) item song (actually I feel all item songs are unnecessary) and it sells like hot potatoes because that is what our men want to see.

  3. ark01rani Says:

    Well said Churmuri…Common thing between Newtown and Delhi is people are becoming more and more insane day by day

  4. Gundaa Says:

    I think the author should first focus on why we don’t have water to drink and why people defacate everywhere and have turned our country into a public toilet!! Mr. Author, tell your indian friends first to respect fellow Indians before you think you have something in common with other nations. This article is complete crap!!

  5. real problem Says:

    the problem is with anglicized exported mindset.
    how come shah alam is so concerned about american kids when 100s die of malnutrition in india?
    how come we dont find such articles in new york times or washington post when such things more horrendous happen in india?
    these people take birth in india and run out of the country and waste time to write such article so that people who are india wake up work work and work and not ask them to come and work – a crafty way to stay away from dirt.

    if all people exported to west come back and take up responsibility in various fields things will improve. nope that’s not possible.
    we dont need these articles. keep selling them there in US and get some more sympathy money for those NGOs you build.

  6. Veda rao Says:

    Working at AIIMS, Dr. Khan has failed to disclose another shameful fact that the victim was air- lifted to Singapore because politicians felt that her dying in an Indian hospital was a liability to them and that the emotionally distraught mob may destroy local property. As if AIIMS could not handle any procedures. All along, they knew she was dying!!!

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