First as Rape, then as Mango


The terrible beauty of the state apparatus lies in its ability to commodify a painful memory by removing a Face that haunts  from our proximity and substitute it with a product, a place or an image. 

Dr Manmohan Singh’s government used this possibility  by transporting the girl attacked and raped in Delhi last December to Singapore, where she died. It empowered us to migrate anger into sympathy: from Rape in Delhi to Death in Singapore.

And Chidambaram institutionalized this sympathy by announcing a Rs 1,000 crore fund and named it Nirbhaya to empower women. Despite Soniaji saying the ‘death will not go in vain’, five months after the incident, the government has no clue on how the fund would be used. Meanwhile, the Union Women & Child Development Minister, Krishna Tirath has written to the prime minister sharing her concern over other ministries planning how to use the fund. Her ministry, already cashstrapped, is demanding the fund since “we are already in the process designing the details of the structure, scope and application” of the fund.

The girl’s memory is also now embodied in Indian Penal Code Section 354-A, as Nirbhaya Act. Recently two money lenders were booked under the Act in Andhra Pradesh for harassing a woman.  In another case three men were arrested for raping a tribal girl.

The girl, now dead and gone, has also inspired artists and a play by the name Nirbhaya to be staged at the Edinburgh Festival in August. The production was planned only for 2014, “but because sexual violence against women is so topical at the moment, we thought, ‘Why not try to do it this year?'” A tamil movie, Nirbhaya Bharatham will reach the theaters soon.

Last but not the least, Padmashree winner  and father of mango grafting in the country, Kaleem Ullah, after successfully naming mangoes after Amitabh Bachan, Aiswarya Rai and Sonia Gandhi has named his latest achievement as Nirbhaya.   


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