Monday, March 10, 2008

Not So Incredible India

January 1999: Graham Staines, a Protestant missionary, is burnt alive with his two sons, as they sleep in their station wagon in Orissa.
March 2007: BB Mohanty, son of former Orissa director general of police, Biti Mohanty, is found guilty of raping a German researcher in Rajasthan.
September 2007: Two Japanese nationals allege that they were gang raped by three men in Agra.
February 2008: 15 year-old British national, Scarlett Keene, is found dead on Anjuna Beach, Goa.

India has long been known worldwide for her hospitality. No one does it quite like the Indians when it comes to welcoming a guest, complete with garlands, decorated platters, fireworks and colourful fanfare. So then, how would the recent numerous atrocities against foreign nationals in the country be explained?

For those of us who have travelled abroad and have been racially discriminated against would recall how degrading the experience was. It was humiliating to be treated poorly because of the colour of our skin. We know how we seethe when we read of inhuman working conditions of Indian labourers in the Middle East. We ask, what right do these sheikhs have to ill treat our people? And we wish we could gouge the eyes out of the foreign nationals who endorse the thriving child sex-trade industry in Goa and other parts of South India.

We could blame it on the steady diet of anti-foreigner facts that we are fed on through the media or resentment towards all goras for their wrongs against us in the past – ultimately, anything that numbs us to violence committed against them. But not all foreigners are demons and don’t deserve to be heinously punished. From smaller offences of spitting on them from buses, to passing lewd comments at them, of a general attitude to exploit them when they're on Indian soil and finally larger ones of rape and murder – non-Indians have not been treated very hospitably.

It's strange that for a country that worships women, we don't protect our own and rape our guests.

The government has now decided to review the safety measures at tourist spots. But how is such an effort likely to work without education of the masses or public cooperation?

The world is coming closer together. Several countries are waking up to the potential called India. We’re likely to see plenty of traffic from overseas. In view of this climate, it’s in our best interest to clean up or act rather than being branded with the growing misnomer of being the ‘World Rape Capital’.

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