NEW DELHI – Last year ended for India on a note of public outrage that has burdened the country with anger, frustration, and pessimism. The cause, as all the world knows, was the fatally brutal rape of a young woman on a moving bus, after which she and her male companion – himself beaten nearly to death – were thrown, naked, into the street on a freezing night.
The savagery and wanton cruelty of the attack shocked the country to its core. But there is more behind the spontaneous protests that have choked the great central vistas of Delhi (to such an extent that the government was forced to change the venue for meetings with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin).
The anger that has poured onto the streets of Delhi and many other Indian cities was fueled by a great accumulated discontent – at the bestial rape and murder of that still-unnamed woman, yes, but also at pervasive public and private corruption, the absence of governance and accountability, and much more. Years of pent-up rage are now flowing out.
Of course, the government deserves – and has received – no quarter. The government failed to prevent the crime, then failed again when its unresponsive, inefficient, and crooked police force was unable to respond appropriately. A wholly moribund and sclerotic administration simply did not know where its duty lay.