The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. Parliament pulled up the Union government for lapses in security which allowed the Pathankot attack to happen, caustically asks why Pakistan was invited to be a part of the probe.
2. AgustaWestland deal: Ex-Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi “admits” he met Finmeccanica amid chopper talks.
3. Vijay Mallya’s resignation letter has been rejected by Rajya Sabha Chairman and Ethics Committee.
4. Ted Cruz pulls out of the United States presidential race after losing his seventh straight primary to Donald Trump.
5. IPL: the Delhi Daredevils thump the Gujarat Lions by eight wickets.
The Big Story: Calibrated sorrow
In 2012, a brutal gangrape in Delhi shook India. Forever immortalised as Nirbhaya, fearless, the victim had been brutally assaulted by six men on a Delhi bus. The incident galvanised India, with protests spreading out all across the country and the rape even went so far as to even affect the Manmohan Singh government politically.
In all of this, a dour group of contrarians stood out. Nirbhaya’s assault was no doubt terrible, they said, but wasn't the first time such brutality had occured. Rapes against India’s marginalised women are almost clockwork-like in their frequency. In some cases, the most powerful people in the land are even involved, as in the case of Maya Kodnani, a minister in the Gujarat government of Narendra Modi, convicted of masterminding the Naroda Patiya massacre in which gangrape was widely and clinically used as weapon against poor Muslim women.
These sceptics claimed that much of the outrage over Nirbhaya’s gangrape was simply a function of her caste, class and location in Delhi. They weren't sure whether the outraging over a long-term impact.
This week provides some answers. On Thursday, a 30-year old Dalit woman was raped and murdered in Perumbavoor, Kerala. So brutal was the assault that her intestines were pulled out of her body. Seven days have passed since the assault, every bit as brutal as Nirbhaya. It’s all the same – save the level of India’s outrage. This time the country isn’t as shocked. English-language newspapers aren’t railing against the Union government on their front pages nor are anchors screaming their head off. For India's aspirational classes, this Malayali Dalit woman isn’t a PLU, a person like us. There’s the odd news report, of course, but no one is really cut to the quick.
Friends of the victim even allege that the police covered up the crime, but even this explosive accusation hasn’t caught on. The media across India mostly remain apathetic. Perumbavoor is too far. And perhaps, Dalit rapes are just too common for real outrage.
Politicking & Policying
1. Giggles in the Lok Sabha as Bharatiya Janata Party legislators attack the Modi government over rising prices.
2. Why Patels, including Anandiben, are unhappy over Gujarat’s 10% quota for upper castes.
3. The Supreme Court now favours a trust vote in Uttarakhand.
1. Afghanistan poses the next challenge for Indian foreign policy, says KP Nayar in the Telegraph.
2. Behind the Bhagat Singh controversy lies an attempt to impose one notion of nationalism, argues historian Mridula Mukherjee in the Indian Express.
3. Forest fires highlight a larger cycle of threats in the western Himalaya. Increasing the area under broadleaf forests throughout is the only way forward, says Peter Smetacek in the Hindu.
4. Has corruption disappeared under Narendra Modi government, ask TK Arun in the Times of India.
9,600 handpumps, 20 mechanics and a caste divide: Supriya Sharma explains how one district in MP is dealing with drought
In the Dalit quarter of the village, the only source of water – a handpump in the school compound – has gone dry. A non-profit is supplying water to people through tankers.
As the tanker, yoked to a tractor, chugged its way past the Thakur homes, there were raucous demands that it stop and supply water to the neighbourhood. “We need the water to bathe, we need the water for our buffaloes,” shouted a Thakur seated on an elevated platform. “Fill up our tanks, or we won’t let you pass…”
The tanker-operator, a Yadav, folded his hands, and said, “In Bundelkhand, first of all, if there had not been Yadavs and Harijans, you would not have been seated here. But now I, alone, am more than capable of taking you on…”