In the changing social scenario, new challenges have emerged. Following independence the country was struggling with establishing itself as a political and economic leader, bridging gaps through infrastructure development and indigenous growth formulae; but today the context has changed. Not to say that the challenges of a nascent India have been overcome, but additional problems have accumulated. Our growing population and the oft cited social and economic unrest, have catapulted to the fore increasing number of crimes. What concerns me today is not the Herculean problem of crimes in general, but the increasing incidence of the same towards women. The growing number of cases along with a visible apathy among the mass and the leadership towards these crimes is rather disconcerting. It seems somehow that in the run to making ourselves a better, more prosperous nation and people, some of the basic things have been lost. Our value of and for people, their lives, our sensitivity and connectedness with their pains and struggles, seem like notions of a long forgotten past. What has happened is that more and more of us have gotten increasingly mired in the daily hassles of our existence, trying to make ends meet and generating a better lifestyle. At the same time, our threshold for shock seems to have been raised, given the increasing desensitization which has happened on account of the number of incidences of rape and violence towards women happening around us. It appears that we need increasingly gruesome crimes and events to get some kind of a reaction out of us. Our society, it appears, is in a state of “apathy”, especially towards women. What is worrisome is the burgeoning challenge of building a state of “empathy”, creating a feeling of oneness and concern for the other – an “other”, who may well be unknown, not having a face, yet bringing with her the experience of being brutally victimized and reduced to an object. Everything starts at the grass root level, right from the children in schools going on to the adults in society. A sweeping change is required in the way we approach these situations, creating a sense of responsibility and applying a dynamic approach to building stronger mechanisms of support. What needs to happen legislatively would happen in its due course, but the question is more about the individuals in society. We need to move towards bringing a sense of sensitivity, targeting the population through media and creating awareness in schools.

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