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Review: India’s Daughter (BBC Documentary)

March 5, 2015



Just finished watching the controversial BBC Documentary by Leslee Udwin ‘India’s Daughter.’ I hope its not a legal offence as I am not viewing it in India where it is banned.  I shared the link first but then removed it because I don’t want to find out how cranky my government can get. Don’t wanna bite more than I can chew. Atleast they couldn’t prevent me from watching it overseas… And anyway its available on the You Tube.

About ‘Nirbhaya’ the young Indian woman who lost her life to brutal rape and murder in the capital Delhi a couple of years back, my reaction to the documentary is first involuntary tears.

Nirbhaya was older by my son by a mere 5 years. Could have been my daughter. My heart goes out to her parents – looks like she was their only child. This is very common in Hindu families now – stopping with a single child. So any child – be it a boy or a girl – is very precious to us. Who says we don’t celebrate our daughters. I am a daughter of India and where I come from, families are partial to daughters over sons. Cause for many family rifts to speak the truth.

We never expected this kind of crime in an ultra-urbanized city like Delhi. Its a very forward city and I have friends there who are very progressive. I am yet to meet a weak Indian woman honestly. ‘Nirbhaya’ therefore shocked many of us.

And the nature of the crime is – so horrendous. Indescribable. As someone who had a normal delivery, I still remember the spatula my gynaec would use inside me. Such an agony – but I bore it all like any other mother because the incentive that was waiting in the form of a life (a baby) at the other end gave me such an enormous patience and tolerance. Many of us women also use the IUD – OMG. Why do we Indian women put up with this kind of torture self-inflicting ourselves with such a pain. We do because our men’s pleasure matters more. The fastest moving family planning device in India anyday is IUD – which should speak about male mentality. To what lengths an average Indian Nari has to go to feed an Indian male’s desires and ego is huge. This is within the framework of marriage. Imagine otherwise.

Which is why I and most of my friends cannot get over what Nirbhaya went through. We can understand what she must have gone through. Most of us in our generation also had arranged marriages. Some of us took weeks/months to let our partners/grooms anywhere near us. We all come from such a conservative background. First thing an Indian woman comes to think of about marriage is ‘pain’ associated with it – the physical pain. Without a warning we are thrust into an arranged wedding with total strangers. Mentally and socially and physically we suffer a lot. Initial adjustment is very tough. May be that’s what finally makes us emerge stronger. Takes us girls years to discover the pleasure part of relationships really. What is so casual and like any other biological function in the west is not so in India.  If a western mind understands this logic first, then they can understand the phenomenon called India.

One of my friends bit her husband’s hands on her wedding night. I almost bit my gyaec’s hands trying to put a device in me. I was restrained with a group of trainee nurses. The doctor slapped me and asked me some filthy questions.

In India, if you have a single child, they refuse family planning surgery for you until the child turns 6. Even after that, doctors generally don’t advice it unless you are willing to go for a second child. So all of us who have opted for a single child necessarily have to go through the IUD procedure. Every married woman’s nightmare. Even after years of marriage we dread the very thought. Family planning is mostly a woman’s responsibility. I admire my grandfather who would boast to me he had had a vasectomy after the birth of his 2 daughters. I have not found another brave man like him till today.

So to think of a young unmarried Indian girl going through the brutal rape – the pain part of it is horrible. The very crime of rape is many more times magnified under the circumstances. As a typical Indian girl who has never experienced a man’s caress before, the rape could be a 1000 times or more traumatizing. Which is why rape in India should not be viewed the way it is viewed elsewhere. I never dwell over this murky subject. Just block it out of my mind. I am writing this up here because, Indian women by and large are like me. Very protected by our families. Marriage is the only way we admit any male into our lives. May be that is changing and changing fast today. But a vast majority of us still live by this unwritten code.

I have no words to console Nirbhaya’s parents. I have seen my grandparents die day by day after my mother’s untimely demise. She was their eldest daughter. They stopped taking pills and my grandma’s heart enlarged soon. They did not live long after my mother. Theirs was like slow suicide – like slow poisoning. ‘Putra Soham’ is something that not even our worst adversaries should beget. I often wonder whose loss was more – mine and my sister’s or our father’s or our grandparents. In the land of rapes, my father had had only one woman all his life – my mother. My father never took on another woman after her. We girls grew up and married and got our own families. My grandparents never recovered from the loss of my mother – their eldest daughter. They never wore new clothes after she left. They gave up sugar and all sweets. They even gave up on God. I hope they are happy now in the heavens with their darling daughter. A daughter is that special.

The documentary highlights the mean streak in Indian men, ours being a patriarchal society. But India is changing for the better. You cannot generalize, all Indian men are like this. My grandmother could read the newspaper ‘The Hindu’ when I was a little girl. She could read and write in 3 languages and she had studied upto only 5th class. My mother-in-law is 78 but is pretty assertive. She can fill up challans and tax forms and does banking on her own. A very sharp, shrewd, intelligent woman. Women in India today are far educated and are well accomplished in their chosen careers but India also has a rich and native tradition. Indian men are finding it difficult to come to terms with the pace of progress Indian society is seeing today. The adjustment is taking time.

Neither is India the only country where rapes are happening. What about rape figures for UK and USA.

I have the following questions to BBC:

*Revealing the rape victim’s identity was not a good idea. India has safeguarded her modesty and honour so far. It is important in our culture. Coming out with her name is cruel. We called her ‘Nirbhaya’-the fearless. You have just opened up  Nirbhaya’s grave. You have disturbed the peace that death alone could give her finally. You have sullied something that was preserved with such a respect and dignity. What an insensitivity and callousness cashing in on others’ pains and humiliation.

*Certainly the crime is not glorified (or is it?) but then BBC should also do such stories on crimes in UK and broadcast primetime. What is the motive behind the documentary.

*So who is the hero of the documentary, the rapists?

*Its unbelievable that a hardcore criminal like Mukesh Singh would have spoken on the camera without cash incentives.

*Which criminal in the world ever expressed remorse for the crimes he committed. Do serial killers in the US ever repent for their victims. And which criminal went undefended in the court of law.

* Juvenile name protection – why? Is it because he is a muslim. Considering the nature of the crime, the juvenile has to be hanged first. It was he who inserted the rod into Nirbhaya. It was he who tricked the couple into getting into the bus. But I agree its not for BBC to decide on the sentence.

But when BBC did not hesitate to unmask the protected Nirbhaya identity, their unwillingness to expose the juvenile delinquent in front of the camera is unjustifiable. The producer should have come out with the name of the first offender.

* Leslee should also do a documentary in the same spirit about Brit girls becoming the meat for Pakistani men. And also on the staggering statistic of rape of men in UK.

Actually this should matter more to UK over what is happening in India.

* I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a daughter-in-law coming from a conservative and middle-class Hindu family. My family over-protected me true – just the way the defence lawyer argues girls are like flowers, diamonds to be worshiped in our ‘pooja.'(hate to quote him really, he is such a shame). My father and my father-in-law drew line around me not because they thought they had to keep me under their power or control. But because they loved me dear and thought I should be protected. That was the way they showed their care and affection. My husband and son are generations apart. They think I can take care of myself. My husband asks me to use my 6th sense to stay safe. He asks me to leave for airport earlier to avoid midnight taxi trips. My son suggests I must carry pepper spray. None would escort me ever. There is a world of difference between my father and father-in-law and these younger men. One thing common about them is, they have never lacked respect for women. They belong to different times, that is all. The west did not give voting rights to women for a long, long time too. Each society grows up in its own pace.

I really miss the protectiveness of my father and father-in-law to speak the truth. They would never want to keep any woman under their thumb. Rather they held women under their protective wings so lovingly. They cherished us women very much unlike what BBC is trying to portray. Its how every father I presume will look upon his daughter. I won’t say that is wrong and thus I differ with feminists in this regard. I have girl cousins working abroad, studying in other cities, staying in hotels alone for work purposes etc. My niece who works outstation keeps baulking at her dad who goes to the railway station to pick her up and drop her everytime. ‘Appa I am by myself most of the time, travelling in night trains, and you still come to get me from the Central?’ and he patiently and gently replies, ‘there can be no better work for a dad!’

So this is how Indian fathers are, Indian families are.

Nirbhaya is unfortunate and until she happened I never thought much about women’s safety in my society. I myself board a call taxi in midnight hours for my frequent airport trips. Hate troubling others and the men in my family would like us to be strong and independent. ‘We can’t keep women all the time in closets. Don’t expect me to come to your help everytime – I am not a bollywood hero!’ is my husband’s usual dialogue. But I take my personal safety seriously. I give the taxi no. to my MIL and keep calling her and son the entire time of my journey. Keep the talk going in general telling them my route. In short, I anticipate trouble and am on super-alert mode in lonely stretches during night travel. Stay vigilant at all times. Its a good technique. I don’t trust even now the mobile-application taxies. May be they are good, still we have had an Uber.

Night work and night travel have become inevitable for women today. In which case, we have to identify and practise a method that can ensure our personal safety and security.

As a woman, I don’t look forward to male escort or male protection and I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Our men still extend this old world courtesy to us which I find is charming. I won’t say I am not enjoying their attention. No society is 100% perfect, there are lechers and gentlemen everywhere.

During my airport rides I am seeing young women return home alone in 2-wheelers in my city. I see women dropped by cabs from night duties. At the same time I would ask women to exercise some caution. There is no harm in being prudent. See to that you are well protected and if you can defend yourselves in times of unexpected crises and emergency situations. Expect the worst and stay prepared. Not all taxi drivers are rapists. But trust your instincts under all circumstances, they can never go wrong.

I have blogged about this in other posts. Don’t want to repeat over and over again.

I still ask my son to drop back his girl friends who come home late after midnight. Even if the girls’ parents are bold, I am a bit old fashioned. The girls are smart but I wouldn’t want to trust their safety to third parties.

See when a crime like rape happens, primary issue is not about whose fault it is. Who is the casualty. Who is the victim. What is the damage. This is how we must think first. Rest can wait for later. Can Nirbhaya be healed and brought back to life now. How she has become a content of entertainment to some of us.

Why do we want to analyze the sick, criminal minds. Such a negative thinking. Are BBC guys perverts. There are so many, many things beautiful about India. Can’t you showcase the positives here.

Do I believe the prime accused Ram Singh committed suicide in the prison. You must be joking. Not even the other inmates could have agreed that what Singh did was palatable. Quiet justice?

What I would want the State to do: Quick dispensing of justice. The juvenile cannot be allowed leniency considering the nature of the crime. He must be the first to go.

Education will no doubt go a long way in reducing the crimes by bringing in awareness. At the same time we have to take care to provide equal and just opportunities to all and see to that our development is not lopsided. Frustration builds up in masses when they come to realize they are ‘left out’ and can never make it or ‘belong.’

Easy and most vulnerable targets are urban, educated, accomplished Indian women who are bold, assertive, independent and progressive who represent everything these failed men cannot hope to become.

And then we have to compute India’s crimes or train accidents taking into cognizance the sheer size of our population which is 1.3 billion or more and our mammoth geographical extent. The crime percentage in the west or even in Arab states could put India to shame  – if you may do an honest survey. 

How many rapes and muggings in New York subways or car parks hello BBC. When the first world nations that are very liberal in social and political life and attitude cannot control crimes, how do you expect a fledgling third world nation like ours to be crime free. Crimes happen everywhere – we have to factor that into our daily life and hope to stay safe.


Women in India – especially urban India – are very independent. Such a nonsense and utter irresponsiblility on part of BBC to air a selective and minority opinion. As I said Leslee should next do a documentary on the brit-arab fatal attraction. A number of Brits are joining ISIS and this must be your prime concern. A no. of brit girls are eloping and marrying their men. This should be your top priority. Not India. India can take of herself.

This cartoon on India’s Mars Mission explains the typical western mentality that reeks of sheer jealousy. If I would be a brit, I would rather do a documentary on radicalization or islamization of UK first. Britain’s existential crisis.

I don’t expect a Brit or any woman from the west to understand my culture or my priorities – rather Indian values. Or even Hindu values. For one thing, chastity is no big deal for you guys whereas it is a big deal in India. Most of our boys and girls stay chaste and save themselves for their partners until today. This is my India, take it or leave it. Exceptions are there everywhere – I am talking about the majority case. You want to know why Nirbhaya happened, probably this is why. You may say the rest of the world is not like this, yes to some extent I agree. Where consensual sex by 12-13 years is permissible and accepted norm of a society, where is the scope for rape. I am not justifying the gang rape crime in India. I am merely showing why sexual assaults are happening in India more these days. For the simple reason: Prostitution is not legalized in India. And another reason is, Indian women don’t come a dime a dozen.

I really find it incongruous that these guys dare to talk about child marriages when they allow their pre-teens – daughters  and sons  – to get pregnant or use condoms by 10-11 yeears… Is this what civilization all about.

May be if we Indian women are not so prim about our morals, we can expect the crimes to go down as well. We women in India are so prudish, aren’t we. May be that’s why our men lack the kind of maturity or mindset the way the men in the west have.

Skewed male-female ratio in northern India could be a reason for spurt in crimes as well.

Feminists can raise banners and shout slogans. But how many of them would not go drop their daughters at airport or railway stations at midnight. Or would approve of their daughters getting into live-in relationships for instance. India is still not ready for that kind of culture. All that is western is not good and all that is eastern or oriental is not bad. I don’t think my nation or my culture is inferior to any other. Yours is yours, mine is mine. If you want to wash my dirty linen in public, I wouldn’t hesitate doing return favours.

The entire family system is collapsing in Europe. What is your divorce rate. How many single parents. Is this what you call culture and individuality and progress and development. Spare me please. Now you must know why your women elope with Arabs.

Not denying our men have problems coming to terms with women’s sexuality. You invite remarks if you wear tight clothes. You get physically and verbally abused everywhere. In middle-age I am coming across quite a few interesting cases of another kind. A couple of my friends have complained to me about loss of ínterest’ of their partners (in private)!  ‘I want it, I am going crazy without it!’ says a friend who has not been with her husband for an year. She is missing sex like anything. Indian men for all their bravado, lose out on libido in their middle-age, neglecting their fitness. Should these women be from a different part of the world such as yours, they would be filing for divorce. But what our girls do is, gulp down a glass of ice water and go to sleep. ‘Male menopause’ I explained to my friend, ‘give your man some time or take him to a doc. Do it gently and discreetly. And more than all, find out if he has work related problems. And never offend him under any circumstances’ (What I refrained from telling her was to check if he was having an affair).

All in the family. Family comes first over anything in India.

Where divorces can happen even if the partner snores heavily, you cannot expect to understand anything Indian.

In the same land of rapes also live couples like albatrosses – lifelong. This is the beauty of India. Show me one like us in entire world.

Indian men: I have seen/am seeing the best of them: My grandfathers, my uncles, my male cousins, my nephews, my father-in-law, my husband, my brothers-in-law, my son, their friends, my professors, my friends who are all men. Our men cherish us, celebrate us, protect us. Are proud of us.

Daughter of India – is really a princess. Ask any Indian father. Apple of his eyes.


A daughter 5 minutes late from school, college or work can create pandemonium in our homes. I am thinking of my gentle father-in-law who is no more. He came with me to my bank the first day I resumed work after marriage. He checked out my canteen, union room, work desk, office atmosphere everything and had a word with my manager. There is none like the Indian father/husband/son, believe me. I refuse to believe or accept the typical Indian male is like Nirbhaya’s rapists. I respect and reciprocate such a love and affection and care. Brings tears to my eyes. So selfless.

The stereotyping of Indian Male is happening I can see. Time we put an end to it.

If my culture disgusts the BBC guys, then I have to say I am civil enough not to word what I think of Britain’s daughters.

What India can do:




NOTE: In no way I am trying to be defensive – rape is such a heinous brutal crime unthinkable. My intention is to convey the view that I am concerned by the deliberate stereotyping of the Indian male, India in general which I cannot agree with. Such a hypocrisy.






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