A Violently Criminal DemocracyWhere corruption is endemic, and a culture has little respect for its legislators, and is deeply divided through engrained class divisions, and a large proportion of its population lives in dramatically squalid, endemic poverty -- that society becomes enormously debased, and bereft of humane values. Equality under the law and security within the social contract among classes of people and between the genders is an absolute necessity for any society to flourish.
In India that process has been stalled and degraded as the polarizing influence of the wealthy and social elite, increasingly and conspicuously entitled, while the poor and the downtrodden remain mired in hopeless misery remains a reality. Humanity becomes stifled in the process. Impulses to care about one another, the human emotion toward empathy and compassion deteriorates.
Nepotism and immorality have been brought to a fine art when within political parties seats in federal and provincial parliaments are hereditary. Of the 545 federal MPs, 156 hold hereditary connections. 70% of female MPs reflect family fiefdoms. 86% of the leading Congress Party Members of Parliament in their 30s have inherited their family seat.
As though this unethical, inbred situation is not of sufficient concern in and of itself, it is estimated that fully one-quarter of MPs face criminal charges. Those charges include rape and murder. Despite which they can be removed from office only on conviction. Yet because they have the wealth and the position to bribe or otherwise delay the legal process indefinitely, serious crime is not recognized as a deficit sufficient to bar a candidate from public office.
India's courts of law are desperately back-logged. Only 240,000 of the 3.1 million instances of people either in prison or awaiting trial were settled last year in Maharashtra. India has 15,000 judges (along with 3,000 unfilled posts) to move the system of justice along, and given the sclerotic pace of court proceedings and the clogged system, it would take 300 years to clear the backlog of 30-million pending cases.
This is the country where gang-rapes take place with regularity and impunity, where young women and children can be abducted, gang-raped and murdered, their bodies cast aside like waste, and authorities move to take action only when an atrocity becomes a cause celebre, and the embarrassment must be hushed up. It is a society where women's complaints of abuse and pain are answered with a shrug.
It is also a society, aside from its lawmakers, that wants something better for itself. Within that immense population of 1.2-billion diverse souls there are enough young, educated and angry people to exert the authority of the ballot box, to challenge the status quo by mounting challenging new forward-looking parties with a clean record to advance the democratic rights due them.
There is a new India in the future, and it will rise once public outrage over these dreadful atrocities ensure they will no longer be tolerated, and the penalty to pay will be worse than the agony exacted by the malefactors. It will rise once the young and the educated put aside cynicism and hopelessness and begin to shape a new direction for their country and themselves.