Part 7: Modi phenomenon: Propaganda or Reality?

In part 6 of the case study, we analyzed some of the development projects related to rivers, ecology & public recreation initiated & implemented by Govt of Gujarat under Modi’s leadership which had received international accolades.
Link to earlier parts of the case study:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/tag/modi/

In this part, we shall analyze about Women Security & Empowerment in Gujarat under Modi’s leadership.

A few weeks ago, there was a palpable hue of anticipation in Social networks over Rahul Gandhi’s first television interview with Arnab Goswami on Times Now. The nation eagerly tuned into the channel that night but within minutes realized that it was nothing short of a comical tragedy. As one would have expected, on the same day itself, twitter & facebook erupted with jokes which were especially ridiculing over one particular phrase: “Women Empowerment”. The phrase was exploited by Rahul Gandhi throughout the interview to the extent of diminishing it’s meaning.

rahul_interviewhttp://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/536218/20140128/rahul-gandhi-interview-arnab-goswami-twitter-jokes.htm

After the dust settled, I began to wonder what really was the meaning of women empowerment from the perspective of a Govt. There are several factors (social indicators) which can be considered to evaluate how women fare in a state but it must be noted that Govt does not have a direct control over all of those factors. For example, female infanticide is a grave issue in India but if a couple has decided to deliberately kill a girl child (usually in secrecy behind closed doors) and if the Govt is not aware of each case, there is nothing much the Govt can do except for launching initiatives to spread awareness and gradually change people’s minds which can take decades. Hence, putting the blame squarely on Govt might not be the best way to evaluate it.

Having said that, there are certain factors which are in the hands of Govt. For example, security & crime control. Every family wishes that it’s daughter can go out peacefully and reach home in time. This requires a vigilant Police dept and initiatives from Govt especially framed for security of women. Also, in the last few days, a plethora of ads including the “Humari betiyon ko suraksha na dene walon, janta maaf nahi karegi (People are not going to forgive those who cannot provide security for our daughters)” have been trying to portray Modi as a “protector” of women/girls:
http://youtu.be/jvHa6-54JDE?t=8s

janata

Has Modi really made Gujarat safe for women? Or is it all just a propaganda? Do women in Gujarat really feel safe? Has Modi’s Govt really put some effots to ensure security for women? It was time to find out the reality. Due to one of his earlier comment about “50 crore girlfriend“, I had a perception that Modi did not care for women/girls and I had written him off as a narcissist. But since I had taken this up as a case study, I wanted to analyze this with an open mind without any pre-conceived notions.

Hence began my research on how Gujarat fares in terms of security for women, and the information I could extract from several reliable sources was astounding.

Never before could I have imagined that in India, a lady stranded in the night could get a free pickup & drop just by calling a toll-free helpline. Apparently, it is a reality in Vadodara (Gujarat) where police has deployed more than 40 vans just for this purpose.

gujarat_pcr_vanshttp://www.firstpost.com/india/vadodara-police-to-ferry-women-stranded-on-road-at-night-1379953.html

Nor could I have imagined that in India, a Govt could introduce a special helpline for women in which even if the victim does not speak, the system automatically identifies it’s location and sends it to the nearest station which will then rush to the spot to rescue.
gujarat_heart
http://ibnlive.in.com/news/gujarat-police-launches-mobile-phone-helpline-for-women/392366-3-238.html

In order to empower women with self defence mechanism, a training initiative called PADKAR was launched.
gujarat_padkarhttp://deshgujarat.com/2013/12/11/gujarat-govt-launches-padkar-a-self-defense-program-for-women-across-gujarat/

http://www.padkar.com/

Few years ago, a highly ambitious project (which was one of the first in it’s kind in India) of using CCTV for city-wide surveillance (CCTV for traffic surveillance is usually the norm but this project extended it to the whole city) was implemented in Surat (Gujarat) to curb crime & terror and improve women security.
surat_cctv
http://www.crn.in/news/security/2013/02/20/innovative-implements-first-phase-of-safe-city-project-in-surat

Further initiatives were taken to strengthen existing programmes & to curb incidents of women atrocities and domestic violence.
gujarat_gswsc
http://mail.dailypioneer.com/nation/gujarat-cm-wants-gswsc-to-expand-its-activities-for-womens-safety.html 

Due to such initiatives & emphasis on women security, Gujarat has emerged as one of the safest states in India and several surveys conducted by various independent bodies have confirmed the same.

For example, a survey conducted by NDTV & Hansa Research concluded that Gujarat is the safest state for women.
ndtv_women_securityhttps://twitter.com/ndtv/status/444493979388624896/photo/1

A survey conducted by TripAdvisor (titled “Women Travel Survey 2014”) revealed that Ahmedabad (Gujarat) is the safest city for women travelers.
women safest ahmedabadhttp://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/ahmedabad-safest-city-in-india-for-women-travellers-114030600519_1.html

Adhoc interviews conducted by journalists & reporters reveals that girls in Gujarat feel safe due to women-friendly police initiatives and also due to quick response from police.
For example, the following snapshot from Headlines Today shows a college girl from Gujarat claiming that women are the safest in the state and police rushes to help them with just one phone call.
headlines_today_gujarat_safest

Since the handling of Nirbhaya case had shown the dark side of politics and insecurity in India, I wanted to find out how Gujarat fares in terms of rape cases compared to other states. Data of statewise breakup of rape cases was collected from PRS Legislative Research Institute and the data of population information from all states (except Delhi) was collected from Wikipedia. For every row, the number of rape cases per state was divided (to normalize the data) by the state population (in lakhs) to obtain “rape cases per lakh population”. It is something similar to “per capita”.

Finally, a chart with Y axis indicating rape cases per lakh of population was plotted for every state:
statewise_rape_cases

As the chart suggest, Gujarat has the lowest “per capita” rape cases. The reasons for it might be many but it cannot be denied that the initiatives taken by Govt for women safety can be one of the major reasons.

Data of rape cases:
http://mla.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/policy_idea/State%20wise%20rape%20cases.pdf
Data of population:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_and_union_territories_of_India_by_population
Spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0As1pDmZjSpwFdGlGRlZJNDg1dC1IS2E0UnZsMnkwbFE&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Note: This case study is not to support or criticize any politician/party/govt but to dig out the reality and to quash false propaganda, if any. This article will be updated based on more inputs & unearthing of further facts.

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