On Barkha Dutt, Statistics and Distraction

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Barka Dutt, a popular Indian news anchor for NDTV, recently attended a panel hosted by CBS This Morning at the Women in the World Summit in New York City. Her remarks clarified the concept of India as an unsafe country for women as she vehemently defended that her nation does not deserved to be tarnished this way. Her main weapon of argumentation, aside from citing development guru Amartya Sen, was a difficult one to refute: statistics.

More women are raped in the U.S., she says. Unlike India, the U.S. has yet to elect a female political leader, a fact Dutt knows firsthand from interviewing 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. To Dutt, and to millions of proud Indians across the globe, these facts are irrefutable: how can we dub India a dangerous place for women when the United States, the one and only land of the free,has more cases, statistically speaking, of violence against women?

For anyone with a very basic understanding of math and less of the blind bias that Dutt has, these arguments aren’t actually arguments at all. What Dutt is essentially saying is: yes, Indian society and culture has fostered a terrible environment for women to be independent and respected, but let’s not focus on these issues — let’s talk about a country that probably also has some of these issues. Distraction is the best refutation, according to the Columbia University educated journalist.

Aside from the fact that nearly all of India’s rapes and assaults go unreported due to negative social stigma and unresponsive police forces, Dutt’s refusal to focus on her own country’s flaws by masking them in the glorified Western world’s flaws is pathetic. Yes, America has its own issues with campus rape and sexual discrimination — but criticizing a similar problem in a far off region of the world doesn’t lessen the impact of a very real, very damaging mentality that is crippling India’s growth as a respectable world player.

These misinformed, red herring arguments are a reflection of why India has failed to overcome the negative perception of women as property and lower class citizens, and why India has become infamous for cruelty against women despite other nations facing similar cases. India is unable to reflect upon itself in order to internally assess and reverse backwards pedagogies. Turning the other cheek may have been an applicable concept during Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance, but turning one’s head away from the issue at hand to cast judgmental glares at the West is not a practical approach to rebuilding India’s tarnished image.

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