Where are our leaders when we need them?

A population that is usually complacent, almost defeatist, has suddenly forced politicians to sit up and take notice with its fierce and unrelenting demonstrations in Delhi in protest of increasing violence against women. The anger had been simmering for long, but matters came to a head with the gang rape of a para-medical student last Sunday.

This anger, which finally roused the apathetic millions from their long slumber, could have, and should have been channeled effectively to force change. But instead, it exploded without direction, and TV channels brought us familiar images of angry hordes going on a rampage and indulging in large-scale vandalism. Police were forced to use tear gas and water cannons to control the protestors. Many were seen pelting stones at India Gate, a symbol of our nationhood.

No doubt these demonstrations will die down and the protestors will retreat into the comfort of their lives soon. It is unfortunate, however, that yet again, our leaders failed to gauge the sentiments of the people, and instead of harnessing their rage to achieve change, they turned a blind eye.

Instead of shedding tears or making meek, politically correct noises in Parliament, the Prime Minister or even the President should have addressed the people via media avenues. Instead, they lapsed into a baffled silence. The nation was looking to its leaders for a response to the atrocity — a strong, effective message that would have fostered hope for change. Our leaders should have known when it was time to step in, reassure, and most importantly, act on the words they spoke to prevent the rage from spilling onto the streets and declining into violence and hooliganism.

Of all the people, our talkative, quarrelsome babus should know that silence isn’t always golden.  

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