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Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 20

Light and Dark

Editorial

Friday 9 May 2008, by SC

Several major developments have taken place of late on the national plane as well as in the international sphere. One such was the working visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New Delhi. Even before the trip it had caught the headlines because of the US’ “advice”, in characteristic Bush-style, that India should take a tough stand on Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, a move that boomeranged with South Block issuing a sharply-worded statement that Washington had least anticipated.

But as far as the visit was concerned, it was definitely successful in the sense that as a consequence of the trip the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project has suddenly once again come alive. Ahmadinejad announced in the Capital that the three Petroleum Ministers of Iran, Pakistan and India will finalise the terms of the agreement on the project within 45 days following which the heads of government will take over to formalise it.

The Iranian President was exceptionally warm with regard to India despite New Delhi having voted twice against Tehran in the IAEA meetings that discussed Iran’s nuclear programme. No doubt a chill had enveloped India-Iran relations in the wake of such steps on the part of New Delhi. That has now been removed since Ahmadinejad himself is convinced after his talks in the Capital that Iran’s relations with India won’t be affected by Washington’s designs. He thus declared on Indian soil that India-Iran bilateral ties being deep and historic cannot be damaged on account of interference by “bullying powers”. As for the IPI pipeline, he made it abundantly clear that the project was significant because “it is not just a gas pipeline but also signals peace and brotherhood between our two countries”.

The value of such a pronouncement cannot be overemphasised.
While the visit of the Iranian President and his talks here have been widely commented upon (thereby also signifying the success of the trip), one particular horrific incident once again exposing the brutality of our caste structure has merely been reported in the media but nothing has been done to evoke a sense of revulsion against such happenings (which in any case are not few and far between).

The incident falls within the purview of atrocity on Dalits. Yet such a description barely brings out the enormity of the crime: a seven-year-old Dalit girl was thrown into a pit of burning waste and suffered 50 per cent burns. What was her crime? Playing near a pond in the ‘Thakur area’ of the village in the Mathura region of western UP. Incidentally, the girl belongs to the Jatav community, and UP CM Mayawati too is a Jatav.

Has there been no change after Mayawati’s assumption of power in UP (this time on her own steam)? The answer is: yes, or else the girl’s father could not have gone to the police to file a case by lodging a complaint. That is, of course, a positive sign but what is, nevertheless, alarming is the nature of the crime in spite of Mayawati being at the helm in the State.

This only goes to show the real state of affairs in the country which is about to join the league of major powers. Unless a crusade is launched to root out such inhuman crimes emanating from caste prejudice all our advance will be of no avail. But who is prepared to initiate such a campaign when we have all been desensitised and the media too continues to display callous indifference to such abominable assaults on human values?
- May 2 S.C.

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