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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014
National shame
Farhan Akhtar
December 29, 2012
First Published: 23:56 IST(29/12/2012)
Last Updated: 02:44 IST(30/12/2012)

When I first sat down to write this guest column, I'd planned to adopt an optimistic tone.

The year has not been particularly great for the economy, or for the scam-tainted system in general, but still a certain sense of social activism had percolated down to the expanding middle class and given us a renewed hope for the coming year.

Also, despite the overall economic gloom, my industry did fairly well. We saw milestones, be it in the form of women-oriented films such as Kahaani or a political expose like Shanghai, gaining unexpected acclaim from the masses. I'd also planned to take a dig at the way people seemed worried about the Mayan prophecy of doomsday. But then on 16th December something happened that sent shivers down the spine of our nation.

In the days that followed, the world didn't end, but humanity did. As the details of the brutal gangrape of a Delhi girl emerged, I realised there are unimaginable depths our country can be made to plunge to, by the heinous acts of some.

The girl died yesterday after a spirited but painful struggle. Ever since, I don't even feel like looking back at 2012. I want a new, faster system of justice for such crimes. I want the guilty to be treated like terrorists. I want an environment of absolutely zero tolerance towards such crimes. Without these we will not be in a position to enter 2013 with our heads held high.

Ending this with a few lines I wrote some days back.

What is this country that I live in?
With no equality
And the quality of life
Differs from husband to wife
Boy to girl, brother to sister
Hey Mister, are you the same?
Contributing to the national shame
Replacing your mothers
With the bent ideology of another's perception that women
have a particular role in society
Fills my heart with anxiety
Where is all of this going?
What will emerge from these seeds that we're sowing?
It makes my head spin
But I'm not giving in
Will keep asking the question
What is this country that I live in?
That takes away her right to love
Brutalises her with an iron glove
Rapes her without fear of there being justice for her tear
We've demeaned our goddesses
Gone back on all our promises
Become a gender distorted nation
Given our conscience a permanent vacation
What do I tell my daughter?
That she's growing up to be lamb for the slaughter
We've got to make a change
Reboot, reformat, rearrange, and never give in no matter
how much our head may spin
Just keep asking the question
What is this country that I live in?

(The author, a multifaceted personality, is a writer, lyricist, composer, singer, and a national award-winning actor-filmmaker)

Tomorrow: Watch out for Delivering the Goods by Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal. Also in Yearview Mirror, a look at the year that was in politics, social media, sports, education and health.


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