ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rape in 'Feudal Bharat'

There has been a lot of hue and cry over the recent remarks by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, over the rapes and violence against women. Bhagwat is reported to have said that “such crimes hardly take place in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’”. He also reportedly remarked that “marriage is nothing more than a social contract where the husband promises the wife food and security while the wife will take care of the household duties. If the wife fails to deliver, the husband should leave the wife.” These quotes have very rightly evoked public anger and indignation. However, one cannot be sure if the real import of these words has been understood precisely.

When the RSS chief speaks thus and is ably supported by elements like Abu Azmi or the Muslim and the khap panchayats, or the Muslim and Hindu theological gurus, these are not just a few sick minds, runaway lunatics, or if we were to use former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s words, “a few bad apples”. This is the feudal class that rules India in alliance with the bourgeoisie and speaks thus in defence of its hegemony over feudal India. It is not that this class exhibits a “bizarre ignorance of rural India” as India Today said of Bhagwat’s comments. Its representatives are perfectly aware of the crimes against women or the rapes committed against dalit women in rural India. Indeed, raping dalit or tribal women (one is really hard put to recall as to when one last heard of a rape being committed against a Rajput or a brahmin woman) has been a widely prevalent punishment meted out to the oppressed peasantry, a large part of which is constituted by the dalits and the tribals, whenever they have tried to transgress or challenge the existing power relations in rural India. But for feudal India, this is no crime; it is albeit the most legitimate act to “show them their place”.

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