India’s Criminal Noise Pollution

Noise Pollution in India

Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Benaras, Lucknow, Hyderabad…big cities. Asansol, Howrah, Ranchi, Aligarh…midsize towns. Or, no-name places in the middle of nowhere…everywhere you go. Across India. Across the subcontinent. Terrible noise. Filthy noise. Noise that makes you sick to death. Noise that keeps you sleepless at night.

I remember how my grandmother cried in fear on the eve of Diwali. Why? because local machos would explode loud firecrackers right in front of her ground-floor shack. A very religious person, she never enjoyed Diwali that coincided with Bengali Hindus’ annual worship of Goddess Kali. She would cringe. She would faint.

I remember how my father slowly went deaf. Yes, it was because of his old age. Last year, he passed away around this time at the age of 93. But over the years, his hearing sharply went down, also because of the unbelievably loud microphone blasting in his neighborhood. He was confined in his home, and even after shutting all the windows and doors tight, there was no escape for him from the horrendous noise 24/7.

And those are two minor stories, compared to the gravity of the situation. Media never talks about it: they have other pressing stories to report. Like, a film star’s third divorce. Or, a cricket or football player’s million-dollar purse. Or, the chief minister’s new antics. Or, the prime minister’s helicopter tour above the flood-stricken areas. You know, the usual routine.

Nobody is dropping dead in front of you, because of noise pollution, right? Nobody is bleeding to death. Therefore, as one of my Columbia University journalism professors used to say, “If there’s no dead bodies, and if there’s no blood…it’s not even news.”

But people are dying every single day in India — across the country — because of the grotesque violation of human rights. And it’s both Hindus and Muslims and capitalists and communists — who are responsible for this criminal violation.

Microphones blare any day, any time. Anywhere. Randomly. Unexpectedly. You don’t know what the reason is, and when it will start, and when it will stop. It’s pure nightmare.

Noise. Full blast. No questions asked. If you are a club member in the neighborhood, you can decide to turn on the pathetically high-decibel loudspeakers — on any occasion. It could be somebody’s marriage, it could be the local politician’s birthday, it could be a temple or mosque’s three-day festivity, it could be the death anniversary of a poet, or it could be one of the countless holidays. It could even be France’s winning the World Cup.

It doesn’t matter. If I have the microphone and loudspeakers and high-volume stereos, I shall turn them on. Electricity — I can steal from municipality. Any day, any time…and I shall not comply to anybody’s requests to turn it off, or turn it down.

I belong to the ruling political party. I belong to the opposition. Police would not touch me. Media would never bother to report on it. I am the king. I can do anything I want.

And I would not care if there is a sick patient. I would not give a darn if there is a group of young students studying for the final exams next day. I couldn’t care less if small children can’t sleep. Let alone the countless, hapless innocent people who do not want to be subjected to this gross atrocities on their humanity, and their right to live a quiet life at home. A small but powerful, violent and illiterate group of people has taken over.

There are rules of law. And there will be new rules of law. But in India, if you are a political mafia, you rule above all rules. Nobody can touch you.

Criminals run amuck across India. Ordinary people fear them to death.

Extremism has reached a new level — with zero action from the government, police and media. Along with many other grotesque flays of human rights in India — brutality on women and children, barbarism on poor Muslims and “low” castes, rampant destruction of the environment…etc., noise pollution and noise barbarism have become a “normal.”

There is no escape from this brutality.

India is not a civilized country. I know it’s not, however much I love my motherland. I can’t do much about it because I have no power to change things there.

This expression of my anger, frustration and hopelessness is my only power. And I know very few people actually care to read today. Or, do anything about it.

Totally aghast,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York


Photo courtesy: Hindustan Times (for one-time, educational, non-profit use).


How to Stop the Rape Epidemic in India — Part 5: Action Now!!



I dedicate this multi-part article to the memory of Jyoti Singh Pandey, the 23-year-old brave woman from India who gave her life to wake us up from our slumber and inaction. This moment is precious. Mobilize. Cure India from this horrific epidemic. Cleanse India’s soul of this pervasive apartheid.

This is a major moment in India’s history.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:


This part is all about action. Act NOW!! Read the action plan below. Suggest yours.

In Part 3 of this article (please click here to read it), we have a chart to show the reasons behind a biological epidemic and their interconnectedness.

Some of the reasons in that Intel Education chart are:

1. Extreme climatic conditions

2. Lack of timely medical intervention

3. Increase in population

4. Civic amenities

5. Epidemic control program

6. Govt. health policy

7. Increased awareness or interest

8. Absence of doctors

9. Role of NGO

Divest from India on human rights ground. No justice, no business!
Divest from India on human rights ground. No justice, no business!

I’d like draw a comparison between the above reasons (and there could be many more — feel free to add them to the list) behind a cholera-like epidemic and those behind the rape and violence on women epidemic. They are not the same; however, they are similar to various degrees.

I’m including some of the reasons off the chart here, replacing them with similar reasons behind the rape epidemic we’re discussing now, and suggesting some action plans to address them. The action plans I am suggesting, based on some ideas I received from friends and readers (see Part 4 — link here), are either proactive or reactive, or both.

Note that I am only suggesting action plans to address some of the problems outlined below. I invite you to suggest your action plans to address any one or all of the issues. I do not want to ever pretend that I have solutions for all of them.

I hope they make sense. Please comment and criticize.

1. Extreme climatic condition — replace it with extreme social climatic condition. — A pervasive culture where the society is extremely patriarchal and the powerful people in the society consider the woman is (1) inferior and never meant to be equal — due to religious and social doctrines plus archaic traditions and distorted history; (2) a dispensable commodity where her body and mind are subject of physical and emotional pressure as well as considered easy for sell and profit — Bollywood and market-mainstream movies and today’s rabidly pro-West corporate culture made it so; (3) too much speaking up for fairness, dignity and justice, which the powerful and deeply-entrenched consider a threat to their power, (4) therefore worth getting a lesson through various means of punishment including violence.

How do we act on the above? Both short-term and long-term actions are needed — proactive and reactive. Proactive actions are ordinary men and women and young peoples’ resistance against and rejection of the people in power — locally and nationally. What is happening now across India — big cities and small towns and no-name villages — must get support from a new kind of social and political force. This force will break down the iron wall of feudalism and patriarchy, and kick out the elite and the powerful. But it’s easier said than done: a section of Indian media is still not completely sold out, and they can be on our side.

Divest from Apartheid India.
Divest from Apartheid India.

2. Lack of timely medical intervention — replace with lack of timely social and political intervention. — As we reported before, thousands of rape and violence cases could either have been averted had there been a caring and efficient administration; timely and honest intervention would promptly apprehend and try the criminals, delivering justice. That would create a sense of security for the others who are vulnerable. Indian administrations have rarely done it; in fact, on countless occasions, a cruel and indifferent police, law enforcement and political leaders have either committed the crime themselves, or sheltered the perpetrators. This has greatly exacerbated the problem.

No equality no justice!

3. Increase in population — Nobody in the Indian administration talk about the catastrophe of a exploding population as if it’s not an important issue anymore. Other than its unbelievably dangerous health and environmental impacts, even the few and far between honest and sincere government and private organizations are terribly under-resourced, and civic amenities that ensure safety, security and a dignified living for women (and men) are simply absent.

4. Civic amenities — Police, protection for women, easy access for women and their families to government and law enforcement agencies and the legal system. Shelter and support for victims. India’s police is perhaps one of the most corrupt, anti-people, violent and inefficient. Overhaul India’s police system. Force the people in power to do it. Put enormous local pressure all across the country.

5. Epidemic control program — Control begins proactively at the schools, colleges and communities. Control begins at home. Control begins with equal rights and equal justice awareness where women are not treated as inferior or dispensable. Reactive measures include quick arrest, trial and punishment. DISCONNECT THE CRIMINALS FROM THEIR POWERFUL PROTECTORS. Reactive measures include social, political and economic support for the victims and their families so that they are not subjected to shame, ridicule and humiliation — common in the Indian society.

6. Govt. health policy — Replace it with government policy for women and violence. We force the government and other people in power and also media to lay out policies protecting women and keeping them safe from the pervasive attack of this epidemic. Just like health epidemics such as cholera, plague or small pox (or other disasters such as fire or terrorism) need well-designed, practical policies for prevention, this epidemic also deserves it. Force the government to discuss with grassroots organizations and social scientists, now.

Even New York Times noticed Bollywood's profiteering on rape and violence.
Even New York Times noticed Bollywood’s profiteering on rape and violence.

7. Increased awareness or interest — Media, schools and colleges as well as religious institutions can play a big part to create awareness about this new epidemic. Media and Bollywood must fulfill their responsibility to work for the benefit of the society, and not just for profit by creating crazy sensation. I want to repeat what I said before: Indian education system must create a new, modern curriculum where equality for women is a foreword for any textbook.

8. Absence of doctors — Replace with absence of law enforcement. In case of India, we might say: absence of honest law enforcement, lawyers, political and social leaders. It is time to overhaul the vile, corrupt and violent socioeconomic and political system of India. This is India’s Tahrir Square moment. Moreover, to keep an eye on domestic or street violence on women, create groups to keep 24/7 vigil, without creating militia or armed vigilante groups such as the anti-immigrant Minutemen here in the U.S. We do not want violent gangs to fight violent gangs.

9. Role of NGO — Grassroots groups working in India and supportive groups across the world can come to seize the moment and make this new revolution — this new mass uprising against violence on women — a reality. Human rights violation in India should be used to pressure U.S. and European corporations and governments to DIVEST FROM INDIA, and put Indian market on a no-business list. Global economic pressure is one of the most powerful tools today to bring an end to such a horrific, gross violation of human life and dignity. Let us use it.

(To be continued…)

Think about reasons behind the rape epidemic. They are strikingly similar.
Think about reasons behind the rape epidemic. They are strikingly similar.

How to Stop the Rape Epidemic in India — Part 2: Shameful Saga

Even after this episode of horror! Even after December 16, 2012.
Even after this episode of horror! Even after December 16, 2012.

Part 1: Pledge to My Sisters. Look up


Part Two: the Shameful Saga

To understand the enormity of the problem and why we must address it as a plague, small pox or cholera-like epidemic, let us revisit the shameful, horrific situation of rape and violence on women in India.

I am quoting the following numbers from Outlook India magazine, their date of publication January 14, 2013. Their web link is here. The information below shows how all-pervasive the epidemic has become over the years — encompassing all races, castes, religions, geographical areas, economic classes or ages. Just like any other epidemic, rape and violence on women in India have now impacted them ALL.

20 Horrific, Landmark Cases Up To December 2012

•1973: Aruna Shaunbag: A junior nurse at King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai, tied with a dog chain, assaulted and raped by a ward boy. She lost her eyesight and has been in a vegetative state since. Supreme Court turns down mercy killing.

•1978: Geeta and Sanjay Chopra were kidnapped for ransom in Delhi in the infamous “Ranga-Billa” kidnapping case. The culprits raped Geeta before killing them both.

•1982: Tulasa Thapa, a 12-year-old Nepali girl, was repeatedly raped before being sold into prostitution. Ten months later, she was brought to JJ Hospital in Mumbai where she died of brain tuberculosis and three sexually transmitted diseases.

•1990: A 14-year-old school girl was raped at her residence in Calcutta and killed by a security guard. Dhananjoy Chatterjee was executed in August 2004, the country’s first hanging since 1995. [Note: India uses capital punishment sporadically. Now, facing public anger over the Delhi rape case, both the ruling Congress Party and main opposition BJP are trying to amend the constitution so that rapists are also subjected to the death penalty. There is hardly any discussion now about the various aspects of the punishment.]

•1996: A 16-year-old girl was sexually harassed and assaulted continuously for 40 days by 42 men in Kerala. In 2000, a special court sentenced 35 persons to rigorous imprisonment but the Kerala High Court acquitted them in 2005. [Note: Kerala is a southern Indian province where education rate is very high, many people are Christian, and the society is by and large matriarchal — extremely rare in India.]

•1996: 25-year-old law student Priyadarshini Mattoo was found raped and murdered at her house in Delhi. Ten years later, the Delhi High Court found Santosh Kumar Singh guilty. [Note: it shows even in the very few cases where there is an ultimate criminal conviction, the law and justice system drags on forever. On the other hand, in case of foreign nationals’ rape cases — now more frequently than ever before — justice is served promptly.]

•1999: The estranged wife of an Indian Forest Service officer, Anjana Mishra’s car was stopped at a desolate place on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. She was gangraped in front of the friend she was traveling with.

•2002: A fourth-year medical student was gangraped at knifepoint on the terrace of the Khooni Darwaza monument situated on the busy Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in Delhi.

•2003: Shari S. Nair, a teenaged girl hailing from Kottayam, Kerala, was sexually abused after being promised roles in TV serials. Shari later died after giving birth to a daughter.

•2004: 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama was tortured and allegedly executed by personnel of the paramilitary force of 17 Assam Rifles stationed in Manipur, after being picked up from her house. (Below is a picture of the historic “Manorama” protest by Indian women in the nude — just to put it in perspective.)

Shame on us. Salutation to them.
Shame on us. Salutation to them.

•2005: 28-year-old Imrana was raped by her father-in-law in Uttar Pradesh. The village elders and Sharia courts nullified her marriage saying her husband was now her son.

•2005: A Delhi University student was gangraped by four men inside a car for several hours and dumped in south Delhi, unconscious and without clothes.

•2009: Two young women were raped and murdered in Jammu under mysterious circumstances, allegedly by CRPF (military) personnel. One of them was two months pregnant at the time.

•2010: A 30-year-old tech employee was raped by five men near her home in south Delhi. The woman was pulled into a mini truck, raped repeatedly and thrown out two hours later.

•2011: A nine-year-old mentally disabled girl was raped on a Mumbai train in front of five other passengers. The child could not scream or shout or speak because she was disabled.

•Feb 2012: A 37-year-old woman was gangraped in a car on Calcutta’s Park Street after coming out of a bar. Mamata Banerjee (Bengal’s current chief minister) had said the case was cooked up to embarrass her government.

•Dec 2012: An eighteen-month-old baby, the daughter of pavement dwellers, was found by her mother one morning covered in blood. Doctors said she had been raped and tortured.

•Dec 2012: A two-year-old was raped, allegedly by her maternal uncle, and thrown into a thorny bush in Baroda, Gujarat. She died after being taken to the hospital.

•Dec 26, 2012: A 20-year-old woman was allegedly gangraped by 10 people on the banks of Manimuktha river in Tamil Nadu, according to police.


Violence - Violence = 0. But who listens!
Violence – Violence = 0. But who listens!

EVEN AFTER the December 16 Delhi gang rape tragedy that has rocked India, the country has not seen any respite in the number and frequency of rape and violence on women. The following news from India’s NDTV tells the story. Link to news here.

Amid nationwide furor over the gang-rape and murder of a paramedic student in Delhi, five fresh cases of crime against women were reported on Wednesday in neighboring Punjab, prompting the state police to constitute specialized investigation teams. [Note: this is how the news was reported — focusing on the state of Punjab.]

A six-year-old girl from Singhpura Munnan village in Moga district was raped, Senior SP (Moga) S S Grewal said. The accused Soni Singh took the victim to his place about 20 days back and raped her, Grewal said, adding that Singh had confessed to the crime about which police came to know only on Monday. The accused has been arrested, the SSP said. Medical examination of the girl confirmed rape.

In a separate case, an eight-year-old girl of a migrant labourer was allegedly raped and killed by a 25-year-old youth at Simbli village in Hoshiarpur district. Mehtiana police booked a youth, Sanjay Kumar, of district Purnia (Bihar). The accused is at large.
Both, Kumar and the victim’s family, were living at a farmhouse in Simbli village. On Wednesday, the girl’s body was found in nearby fields.

In the third incident, a 14-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by three persons at Talwandi Kalan village on the outskirts of Ludhiana city. Police Commissioner Ishwar Singh said that all the accused, aged between 28 to 30 have been arrested.

In another crime against women, three villagers were on Wednesday booked on the charge of teasing and beating up a woman of the same village. The accused Ladoo, Sonu and Kaka, all residents of Bassi Mustafa village were booked. The girl alleged in her complaint that while she along with her sister was returning home from work, the accused first teased her and then later thrashed her up.

In another case, police on Tuesday booked ten persons in connection with the alleged abduction of two sisters at Jalala village of Hoshiarpur district. The accused went to the victim’s home on the night of December 29 and allegedly kidnapped them, police said.

(Please continue on to Part 3: Proactive and Reactive Measure. Click here.)


The Land of Tagore and Gandhi!
The Land of Tagore and Gandhi!