It's easy to look at the pictures of the two girls raped in UP, harder to do anything about it
The gruesome picture of two Dalit girls raped, killed and left hanging on a tree in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh has triggered a debate on social media. But will it lead to justice, not just in this case but in the countless cases of sexual assault on Dalit women?
They were cousins, aged 14 and 15. With no toilet at home, the Dalit girls had reportedly stepped out to answer nature's call on Tuesday evening. When they did not return home, their family went to the police station but policemen refused to investigate the case. Next morning, the bodies of the girls were found hanging from a mango tree. A postmortem confirmed that the girls had been sexually assaulted, reported the Hindustan Times.
TV news channels showed video footage of the bodies swinging from the tree surrounded by a gathering of villagers that included young children.
While the TV channels mosaiced the footage before using it, an unedited photograph made its way to social media, triggering a debate on the ethics, law, justice and voyeurism.
The debate over the pictures will probably die down soon, as will the outrage over the rape and murder of the two Dalit girls.
If the conviction rate for cases of sexual assault is low, the rate for convictions in cases involving Dalit women is arguably even lower.
In 2010, of the 14,263 cases of rape that were decided, the accused was convicted in 3,788 cases, or 26.6%, reported the Wall Street Journal.
In comparison, a study done by the Centre for Dalit Rights on 50 cases of sexual assault on Dalit women in Rajasthan found that the conviction rate in the cases was less than 2%, The Times of Indiareported.
In 2012, The Hindureported on the findings of a study done by the Gujarat-based non-governmental organisation Navsarjan, which sourced and analysed data on 379 cases of violence against Dalit women by non-Dalits in the state of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Of the 379 cases, the outcome of only 101 cases was known. Only three cases had resulted in convictions. The conviction rate came to a measly 0.79 per cent.
While the Badaun case has drawn greater attention in the media, several other cases of sexual assault on Dalit girls have been reported in the news this year.
In March, four Dalit girls were raped in Bhagana village in Haryana. About 90 families sat on protest for several weeks in Delhi to protest against police and government inaction.
In January, a 14-year-old Dalit girl was raped in a village in Punjab while she was headed to school. When her parents sat on protest outside the office of the police inspector-general to demand the arrest of the accused, the police reportedly picked up the parents.
Unequal by both gender and caste, Dalit women face the worst kind of violence in India. As this report, prepared on the basis of interviews with 500 Dalit women in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Uttar Pradesh, notes:
"The majority of Dalit women have faced violence in public spaces – streets, women’s toilet areas, bus stands, fields, etc. – in and around their villages and towns. The open or public nature of violence committed against them indicates both their specific vulnerability outside of the home, as well as the element of combined individual and collective community punishment meted out through particularly public physical assaults and verbal abuse. Many Dalit women in the study pointed out the perceived additional humiliation of public violence they face from dominant castes, as compared to the generally more private nature of violence committed against dominant caste women."
Making transportation more sustainable even with fuel-based automobiles
These innovations can reduce the pollution caused by vehicles.
According to the WHO’s Ambient Air Pollution Database released in 2016, ten of the twenty most polluted cities in the world are in India, with Gwalior and Ahmedabad occupying the second and third positions. Pollution levels are usually expressed in the levels of particulate matter (PM) in the air. This refers to microscopic matter that is a mixture of smoke, metals, chemicals and dust suspended in the atmosphere that can affect human health. Particulate matter is easily inhaled, and can cause allergies and diseases such as asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Indian cities have some of the highest levels of PM10 (particles smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter) and PM2.5 particles (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter). The finer the particulate matter, the deeper into your lungs it can penetrate causing more adverse effects. According to WHO, the safe limits for PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter.
Emissions resulting from transportation is regarded as one of the major contributors to pollution levels, especially particulate matter. A study conducted by the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science estimated that the transport sector constitutes 32% of Delhi’s emissions. It makes up 43% of Chennai’s emissions, and around 17% of Mumbai’s emissions.
Controlling emissions is a major task for cities and auto companies. The Indian government, to this end, has set emission standards for automobiles called the Bharat Stage emission standard, which mirrors European standards. This emission standard was first instituted in 1991 and has been regularly updated to follow European developments with a time lag of about 5 years. Bharat Stage IV emission norms have been the standard in 2010 in 13 major cities. To tackle air pollution that has intensified since then, the Indian government announced that Bharat Stage V norms would be skipped completely, and Stage VI norms would be adopted directly in 2020.
But sustainability in transport requires not only finding techniques to reduce the emissions from public and private transport but also developing components that are environment friendly. Car and auto component manufacturers have begun optimising products to be gentler on the environment and require lesser resources to manufacture, operate and maintain.
There are two important aspects of reducing emissions. The first is designing vehicles to consume less fuel. The second is making the emissions cleaner by reducing the toxic elements.
In auto exteriors, the focus is on developing light-weight but strong composite materials to replace metal. A McKinsey study estimates that plastic and carbon fibre can reduce weight by about 20% and 50% respectively. A lighter body reduces the engine effort and results in better fuel economy. Additionally, fuel efficiency can be increased by reducing the need for air conditioning which puts additional load on the vehicle engine thereby increasing fuel consumption. Automotive coatings (paints) and sheets provide better insulation, keep the vehicle cool and reduce the use of air conditioning.
Most emissions are the result of inefficient engines. Perhaps the most significant innovations in making automobiles and mass transport systems more eco-friendly are being done in the engine. Innovations include products like fuel additives, which improve engine performance, resist corrosion and reduce fuel consumption while offering a great driving experience, and catalytic converters that reduce toxic emissions by converting them to less harmful output such as carbon dioxide, Nitrogen and water. Some of these catalytic converters are now capable of eliminating over 90 percent of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.
All of these are significant measures to bring the negative impacts of vehicular pollution under control. With over 2 million vehicles being produced in India in 2015 alone and the moving to BS VI emission standards, constant innovation is imperative.
Beyond this, in commercial as well as passenger vehicles, companies are innovating with components and processes to enable higher resource efficiency. Long-lasting paint coatings, made of eco-friendly materials that need to be refreshed less often are being developed. Companies are also innovating with an integrated coating process that enables carmakers to cut out an entire step of coating without compromising the colour result or the properties of the coating, saving time, materials and energy. Efforts are being made to make the interiors more sustainable. Parts like the instrument panel, dashboard, door side panels, seats, and locks can all be created with material like polyurethane plastic that is not only comfortable, durable and safe but also easily recyclable. Manufacturers are increasingly adopting polyurethane plastic like BASF’s Elastollan® for these very reasons.
From pioneering the development of catalytic converters in 1975 to innovating with integrated process technology for coatings, BASF has always been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to making transport solutions more sustainable. The company has already developed the technology to handle the move of emissions standards from BS IV to BS VI.
For the future, given the expected rise in the adoption of electric cars—an estimated 5~8 percent of car production is expected to be pure electric or plug-in electric vehicles by 2020—BASF is also developing materials that enable electric car batteries to last longer and achieve higher energy density, making electronic mobility more feasible. To learn more about how BASF is making transport more sustainable, see here.
Watch the video to see how automotive designers experimented with cutting edge materials from BASF to create an innovative concept car.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.