By Dhan Singh

It is imperative that our country has to craft its foreign policy in such a way so as to meet the numerous challenges of the twenty-first century. The challenges that the foreign policy has to contend with include inter-continental terrorism, piracy over high seas, global gun-running syndicates and the looming threat to disruption of sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) and illegal exploitation of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) critical for the growth of the economy of our country.

Strategic location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

India is strategically located in the centre of Asia and at the head of the Indian Ocean. By virtue of its geographical location, Andaman and Nicobar Islands enjoys a strategic location as the far south-easternmost part of India. Landfall Islands, the northern most island in the Andaman archipelago, is just about 20 km from Myanmar's Coco Island (which is reportedly under Chinese control) while Indira Point at the tip of Great Nicobar, the southernmost island in the Nicobar archipelago, lies about 80 km from the tip of Sumatra in Indonesia. Thus, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is located at the mouth of the Straits of Malacca which is a significant trade route through which majority of trade occurs amongst various countries over the seas.

Evolution of the Defence Architecture in Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

The evolution of Andaman and Nicobar Islands from being simply an outpost in the Indian defence architecture to becoming an important strategic base has indeed been a long-drawn one. The Indian Union set up the Indian naval base named INS Jarawa in late 1960s which had primarily amphibious ships and to protect the Islands post the Sino-Indian war of 1962.The INS Jarawa was renamed Fortress Andaman (FORTRAN) in 1981.The naval air component in the form of INS Utkrosh was established near INS Jarawa in 1985.

The paradigm shift in the defence architecture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands occurred when the first integrated theatre command of the Indian Armed Forces was set up in the form of ‘Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC)’ at Port Blair in 2001.But with the limited joint capability among the three armed forces, ANC, hitherto, has had mixed results. ANC definitely is a step forward for the eventual reorganization of armed forces of our country into integrated theatre commands which will be better suited to deal with the security challenges decisively in a holistic manner.

With the nature of warfare changing from being manpower-intensive (as during the World war periods and some decades thereafter) to more technology-centric, there is an urgent need to institute a Force Structure Commission with an aim to improve the tooth-to-tail ratio resulting in an agile and responsive defence force.

Role of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in furthering the national interests of India:

Since the foreign policy is guided by the national interests of India,viz.,securing a peaceful and an amicable external environment to ensure the sustainable development of India so as to pull out the remaining millions from poverty and to ensure equitable development inside the country. In order to achieve a conducive external and internal environment for our country’s inclusive development, securing national borders is as significant as securing the exclusive economic zones which are repository of natural resources of various kinds and protecting the SLOCs from disruption in coordination with other countries both in immediate and extended neighborhood of India.

About 90% of India’s trade and oil imports are moved by sea lanes of communications (SLOCs), the prominent one passing through the Straits of Malacca to which Andaman & Nicobar Islands have geographical proximity. As our country’s economy becomes more globally integrated, it would become more dependent on the oceans.

The re-emergence of China has led to renewed interest in the Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean has acquired a great salience not only because of the various trade routes that pass through it but also as a bridge to connect the various countries located in the Indian Ocean region through initiatives like ‘Project Mausam’ and with the help of multilateral organizations like Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). ‘Project Mausam’ (being coordinated by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts IGNCA, New Delhi) aims to revive the historic maritime, cultural and economic ties with the 39 Indian Ocean countries including China and Pakistan.

In order to secure the maritime interest of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands acquires a significant place because it hosts the first tri-services command of our country (Andaman Nicobar Command) which aims to provide a holistic security solution to strengthen the strategic position of India in the vicinity of the all-important Malacca Strait.

Evaluation of the Security & Strategic Policy in relation to Andaman & Nicobar Islands:

In present times, jointness amongst the various arms of the defence forces is the essential component of the military doctrine of any country. This is evident in the recent reduction in the size of the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China which has gone in for organizational restructuring of its armed forces in favor of increasing jointness and has set up Theatre Commands (to have a holistic view of the war zone) in the place of separate commands of army, navy or air force.

Recently in March 2016, Indian Navy, Army and the Indian Air Force participated in joint war game named 'Jal Prahar' in Andaman & Nicobar Islands under the aegis of Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) where joint exercises in amphibious battlefield scenarios was practiced. Though such joint exercises which are being carried out at tactical levels are a step forward but for a leap forward in enhancing jointness amongst the three wings of Armed Forces and also the Coast Guard will happen only when there is jointness at strategic level amongst the various armed forces of our country.

The present obsession of the security establishment of our country with Pakistan has to give way to a more balanced approach to future security scenarios in which China should be given due importance in the long-term since China, the economic power that it is already, is also asserting itself militarily both in the South China sea and also in the various islands of the Indian ocean region. Andaman & Nicobar Islands becomes important because the maritime approach to South  

China Sea is through the Malacca Strait. Apart from being the storehouse of natural resources underneath the South China Sea, South China Sea is also important because more than 50% of India’s trade comes through the South China Sea if crude oil is excluded. Indian oil exploration companies like ONGC-Videsh has won contracts to prospect petroleum in blocks in South China Sea under the territorial jurisdiction of Vietnam. So, it would be prudent for our country to conduct joint exercises with Vietnam in the region of South China Sea (under the territorial jurisdiction of Vietnam) to protect mutual interests. India has rightly decided to stay put in Vietnam despite Chinese protests because ONGC-Videsh is prospecting in territories under the sovereign control of Vietnam from whom ONGC-Videsh had won a competitive contract. ONGC-Videsh should remain in Vietnam despite poor prospects of oil in order to maintain India's strategic interest in the South China Sea.

With the ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy of United States coming into play, US has deployed a large number of its forces and military equipment in the Asia-Pacific region which includes the Indian Ocean region. Moreover, in April 2016 US and India have concluded the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) vide which respective militaries of each country can access each other’s military bases for repair and refueling purposes. LEMOA is a step forward because it has formalized the existing arrangements of sharing of repair and refueling facilities between the militaries of US and India that had been existing earlier also. For China, it is important that India does not become the ally of US. Thus, India can use its strategic closeness to US as a bargaining chip with China to secure its national interests including an amicable settlement of the boundary dispute.

Since the trade routes converge in the Northern Indian Ocean, therefore China is primarily interested in the Northern Indian Ocean. The Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago located in the Northern Indian Ocean could thus be used as a ‘metal chain’ to block Chinese access to the Straits of Malacca, as argued by naval analyst Zhang Ming. While China is embarking on the grand plans of infrastructure development across the Indian Ocean region through its One Belt One Road (OBOR) that comprises the establishment of Maritime Silk Route through which it proposes to connect the various Indian ocean countries by developing ports (like Gwadar port in Pakistan, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Marau which is close to Male in Maldives), our country while being a part of the OBOR also needs to explore other strategic alternatives as it is attempting through Project Mausam by leveraging its core competencies, most notably its soft power and its age-old civilizational ties with the Indian Ocean countries. The Indian diaspora in Indian Ocean Region countries can be an added advantage that India enjoys unlike China, which is another important player in the Indian Ocean.

The way forward:

The stated policy of India is to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands by virtue of its strategic location is well suited to become the springboard using which our country and its military, most notably its navy (which is steadily developing its blue water capability) can project power deep inside the Indian Ocean and protect India’s national interests which extends from the strait of Hormuz in West Asia to the strait of Malacca in the East. To realize India’s full strategic potential in the Indian Ocean, Indian Navy needs to fast track its efforts in building maritime capacity especially in island states that occupy critical locations in the Indian Ocean and in these efforts Andaman and Nicobar Islands can become the winning ace. 

The author is presently a Research Scholar in Management department in IIT Kanpur. He is a Gold Medalist in MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. He has graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kerala. His areas of interest are diverse, encompassing Strategic Management, Supply Chain Strategy, Social development, Decentralised Planning, Organisational development. He has several research papers to his credit. Before moving to academics, he has had a seven year stint in the INDIAN ARMY as a commissioned officer.

World Consumers Rights Day (WCRD), on 15th March, is an annual occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement. The theme for World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March, 2016 will be “Antibiotics off the menu” and Consumers International will be campaigning with Members around the world for fast food companies to make a global commitment to stop the sale of meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics important to human medicine. Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. The World Health Organisation has warned that, without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which important medicines stop working and common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

Growing antibiotic resistance is driven by over use of antibiotics.  Despite worldwide concern about the overuse of antibiotics, their use in agriculture is due to increase by two thirds by 2030. Consumers have an important role to play in persuading food companies to make the changes that are needed to stop this global public health threat and protect our medicines for the future. The widespread practice of routinely dosing farm animals with antibiotics is contributing to this threat. Around half of the antibiotics produced globally are used in agriculture, with much of this being used to promote faster growth and to prevent, rather than treat the disease. Global restaurant chains can affect change faster than governments alone by using their purchasing power to hasten the phasing out of the practice of routinely administering farm animals with antibiotics used in human medicine. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. These resistant bacteria make many infections much harder to treat. Combined with a lack of new drugs, this constitutes a major public health risk this overuse is generating more antibiotic resistant bacteria. Resistant bacteria carried by farm animals can spread to humans through consumption of contaminated food, from direct contact with animals, or by environmental spread, for example in contaminated water or soil. The World Health Organization (WHO) is co-ordinating the international response through its Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. Along with addressing over consumption of antibiotics in human medicine and promoting the development of new drugs, changes in farming practices are on the agenda of policy makers everywhere. Government action alone however will not be enough. Business, civil society and consumers will need to play a role. Multinational food businesses with global supply chains are in a position to drive changes faster than legislation alone. This day is an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers, for demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and for protesting the market abuses and social injustices that undermine them. The fundamental aim of WCRD is to bring about important and needed benefits for consumers world wide. We intend to do so through inspiring and sensitising consumers on their basic consumer rights, which include:

•               Right to safety

•               Right to choose,

•               Right to be heard,

•               Right to healthy environment,

•               Right to be informed,

•               Right to consumer education

•               Right to redress.

Furthermore, we encourage consumers to get involved in questioning the safety of food (meat) produced from animals (including birds) administered high doses of antibiotics and gain knowledge on health implications on antibiotics resistance. Farmers also have an important role to play by giving fewer antibiotics to animals.

Let us work in solidarity to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria, which travels across national boundaries in myriad ways. The aim of this theme is to curb the widespread over-consumption of antibiotics in human medicine and the use of antibiotics in Agriculture to promote faster growth of livestock rather than as a veterinary treatment.  Indeed, about 50% of the world’s antibiotics is used in Agriculture, most of it to promote rapid growth and artificially quick fattening of chicken and other farm animals.

Many people are aware of the dangers of over-consumption of antibiotics in human medicine but few are aware that all the meats they consume at fast food outlets, as for example chicken, have been artificially grown and fattened by antibiotics and that when they eat such meats they are ingesting dangerous amounts of antibiotics resulting in their unwittingly developing resistance to antibiotics used medically.

It simply means that bacteria become resistant to the use of antibiotics. When antibiotics cannot act, simple infections such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea become more difficult and sometimes impossible to treat.

If urgent action is not taken, we could be heading for a post-antibiotic era in which important medicines become ineffective and stop working.  It is one of the biggest public health crises the world is beginning to face. 

(Contributed by:- Dr. Dinesh, Member, State Commission , A&N Islands)

By R.Murugan, Work Assistant, O/o EE, PBND, APWD

Winner of Police Essay Competition Organised as part of Community Police Programme

Citizen is an individual who is legally recognized as a member of a state with certain rights, duties and responsibilities. Every citizen is bestowed with a host of fundamental rights by the statute while obligating him to carry out a slew of duties and responsibilities. The Article 51A of the Indian Constitution provides for certain fundamental duties which each member of the vibrant democracy is required to carry out.

Since independence, the society has made innumerable strides in terms of scientific and socio-economic development. Conversely, the vast development has brought along a number of by-products. While the society is reaping the benefits of development, some of the baneful consequences have started peeking and these issues could be quelled from plaguing the society only with the inclusive and individual participation of citizens. 

Today, the society has become obsessed with claims forgetful of duties and responsibilities. Given the scenario, it warrants that, every citizen is volunteered to exercise a slew of extra-constitutional duties in the interest of the progressive society in order to subdue the negative effects.

All pervasive social media: Be a responsible netizen

Today we are in an era of information technology revolution where penetration of social media is very profound and strong. While the social media has made communication across the globe very faster and easier, its negative impacts are posing great risks to the hitherto peaceful society. Social media has become a platform for gossip-mongers to unravel their imagination. Such elements use the social media to give an arm and a leg to petty matters in order to spread aspersions and invectives against the government and individuals. In this context, it will be ample if each one of us rises to the situation and become responsible about using social media. We should realize that, usage of social media does not end with merely clicking on the “like” button and forwarding the messages sent by someone. Everyone should exercise due discretion and prudence in weeding out unnecessary messages from going forward and to remain responsible netizens in the arena of cyber world.

Exercise abstinence

Immense Progress coupled with the influence of western culture on our societies has resulted in many people turning to the use of abusive substances like alcohol and narcotics. Despite the government propagating ill-effects of abusive substances, many indulge in such habits and get addicted. Hectic work schedule, bad company of friends etc also contribute to the changed attitude of people thereby drawing them towards alcohol and other substances. Many consider such habits as a tool to show-off their status while many others indulge in order to keep their friendship updated. Citizens must realize that, real pleasure does not lie in debauchery and they are the actual root cause of many socio-economic problems.    

Growing communal disharmony, intolerance and extremism

Communal disharmony and intolerance are two major challenges the progressive society is confronting today. Despite having made many strides in the spheres of science and technology and even after six decades of independence, these two problems continue to plague our societies till date. Renewed sense of patriotism with tolerance alone could solve these problems. Being citizens, everyone should strive to ensure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to all irrespective of religion, caste and creed. The mantra “Unity in diversity” should always play pivotal role.

Terrorism and extremism are the two ghosts which continue to haunt the societies around the world. It is the citizens who can be the best exorcists to drive away the evil spirits of terrorism from the society. Whatever the agendas of extremists may be, if every one of us stand united in one spirit and become vigilant about the evil forces, no one would dare to come into our societies with an ill-will. Citizens should be watchful of the movement of strangers in the neighborhood as it will not be that easy for such elements to execute sabotage plans in the midst of vigilant citizens.

Being humane

In the constantly evolving competitive landscape, advanced technology coupled with hustle and bustle of modern life have taken a toll on the humanitarian side of citizens as they are left with little or no time for others’ concern. As a result, something fundamental to humanity has been left behind. Values such as empathy for our fellow human beings have been gradually eroded. Money and happiness are considered analogous in the progressive society. In the mindless pursuit of money, nobody in the society has time to appreciate the beauty of life. Being a citizen, one should deem that real pursuit lies at simple act of kindness to fellow-human beings.  

Civic sense: clean and green city

Cleanliness is next to God. As the society has progressed, it has brought along a host of civic issues in its stride. Lack of civic sense among citizens is a worrisome trend and this is taking a big toll on further development of the society. Civic sense is largely attributed to individualistic mindset of citizens. Spitting in public places has become a nuisance to the modern society where littering also tops the list of other nuisances such as excessive use of plastics, stray cattle menace etc. Citizens should stand up to the grave situation and become responsible about cleanliness.

Traffic and road safety

Traffic snarl is a major subsidiary of progress. The growth of automobile industry coupled with liberalized economic policy of the government has resulted in rolling out more and more vehicles on roads which eventually contributed to incessant traffic snarls and congestion. Road accidents have become order of everyday and there is no perennial solution for traffic woes. Adding fuel to the problem is people’s defiance towards traffic rules. Unless one rises to the situation and become self-disciplined about following traffic rules, traffic violations and accidents would continue to hound our roads. Another major factor which contributes to road accidents is the drunk and rash driving. Despite stringent rules and the presence of cops on roads, people resort to reckless driving. Given the scenario, it is the foremost duty of every one of us to strictly adhere to road safety norms and traffic rules. 

Adhering to town planning rules for infrastructure development

Another by-product of the progressive society is the growth of realty sector which led to indiscriminate use of land for the purpose of construction. Fast paced urbanization has driven the demand for more houses resulting in many tracts of agricultural land being converted into housing plots. Amidst such chaotic run for development, many fail to comply with mandatory town planning rules leading to civic issues like improper drainage, sewage overflow, flooding etc. There are many instances of cities having been inundated in rain water and this is primarily due to failure on part of citizens to adhere to civic body rules while constructing homes and buildings. Unless each and every citizen vows to adhere to town planning rules, the progressive society would not be able to address those recurring problems.

My Earth, my responsibility: be an agent of change.

Global warming is a major challenge confronting the world. This is one of the most dangerous by-products of development the society has attained today. As predicted, if the climate change continues unabated even at the present rate, the Earth will face unprecedented levels of water rise due to fast receding of arctic ice leading to inundation of many low-lying areas. Though global warming is perceived as a universal issue, we are individually accountable to this global phenomenon as the acts of every one of us have driven this local issue into a global one. Being citizens, we can do our bit to reduce the per-capita carbon footprint. Opting for car-pooling, occasionally using public transport etc would go a long way in reducing the per-capita carbon foot print and these can be initiated at citizen level.  Replacing energy efficient LED lamps instead of conventional bulbs and tube lights, use of solar powered equipments instead of coal and coke fired equipments etc also would pay rich dividends in mitigating the effects of global warming. While the Government is planning to embrace clean fuel standards called BS-VI from 2020 AD onwards, small measures on our part today would prove to be most beneficial in the long run.

Mahatma Gandhi had said that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed”. But, feeding much to its greed, the society is inclined towards unsystematic and indiscriminate use of water. In the marathon of life, we have forgotten the fact that water is the elixir of life not only for the human-beings, but also for other living-beings on Earth. Considering this, we should strive for judicious use of water as it will have a far-reaching consequence on our attempt to protect the Mother Nature.

Vote to enthrone right people

 “Democracy is a form of government by which revolutionary changes are brought about the economic and social life of people without bloodshed”. Dr.B.R. Ambedkar tacitly referred to the importance of voting which determines the fate of rulers. In this modern progressive society, many are shying away from exercising the right of franchise thereby failing to fulfill the constitutional duty. Citizens should realize that, right to vote is an integral part of democracy and for the democracy to remain vibrant; citizens should always strive to vote right candidates to power.   

Contribute to nation building

A country and the society are considered analogous in the context of economic development as the society reaps the benefits once the country attains progress. Economic development of a country is largely dependent on the revenues like foreign remittances, taxes, duties etc. Tax evasion, black money and corruption are major factors contributing to weakened economy in today’s society. Besides, NPA in the form of bad debts in banks also hurt the cause of a robust economy. Repayment of loans, timely payment of taxes should be accorded priority and every citizen must play key role in fulfilling their own obligations to the society.

On the other hand, population explosion also takes a substantial toll on nation building. People’s inactive participation in census and survey operations results in extrapolation of deficient data thereby impairing the delivery system of the government. Large corpus spent on welfare measures of vast population incurs huge expenditure to the states exchequer thereby depriving the state of resources.

Brain-drain is another issue prevailing in a progressive society. As the society progresses, it affords to provide education all. In the quest for lucrative career, those educated section starts migrating to economically advanced countries leaving behind a vacuum of talent in their own society.

Fullest contribution of citizens towards nation building would stem only from the sense of patriotism and integrity. Citizens with integrity would refrain from tax evasion and amassing black money. Those with patriotism would never leave the society in search of lucrative career, instead, with their acquired talents, they would strive to turn their own society a self sufficient and prosperous one. It is high time citizens renew their sense of patriotism and integrity in the interest of society.

Be indigenous

In the evolving era of liberalized economy, the world has become a global village where intercontinental exchange of products is very common. However, invasion of foreign products often take a toll on indigenous products as it generates an uncompromising competition in the market as many opt for imported goods. In doing so, indigenous producers are left to battle for survival without a conducive market. On the other hand, import of foreign goods entails a large part of domestic exchequer being flowed out. If we determine to buy indigenously produced goods instead of imported goods, it will help local producers grow while protecting the domestic resources from draining out. Against this backdrop, every citizen is in need of reviving the Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of “Swadeshi” for patronizing the local products in order to protect the economy of progressive society.

Conclusion

                When there is righteousness in heart,

                there is beauty in the character.

                When there is beauty in the character,

                there is harmony in the home.

                When there is harmony in the home,

                there is an order in the nation.

                When there is an order in the nation,

                there is peace in the world.                                   - Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam                                                                           

As Dr. Kalam had opined, righteousness of citizens is key to peaceful world. Peace is always synonymous with a state of contentment with all sorts of requirements having been fulfilled. Righteousness symbolizes a combination of good character with a sense of duty and responsibility. The more the progress, the greater the impacts will be. Whatever the impacts may be, whether positive or negative, but it is the duty of citizens to transform negatives into positives with their sense of duty and responsibility. As the most intelligent species on earth, citizens should take their fair share of responsibility and sincerely think about the path they should follow in the progressive society. As Pt. Nehru said, today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. We should also strive to pass on the virtues of duty and responsibility to our posterity so as to make this society a best place to live. 

By Adv Bhuneshwari Devi               

Protection of domestic violence act 2005 and many other laws.Whether in Indian Penal Code, Hindu Marriage Act and others it’s all speaks about violence which is illegal in any form .Let us see, what is violence? Violence means strength of emotion or of a destructive natural force. It can be of any form;, it can be physical, mental, economical & sexual. Domestic Violence Act speaks in detail about the kind of violencebut mostly we all are familiar with the physical violence type.

This physical violence is experienced by largelyall the women in one way or the other. Many accept this as part of life and many as “KISMAT”.

Is it because most men are by nature “Violent”? Or it is our understanding that being violent is being Manly? The argument is here is that, why men are so violent, not all but fairly large number of them are and cases of domestic violence is on rise is the best evidence. I amnot saying that women are not violent, but when theyare, they are usually termed asmen like, is that the reason we have laws only for the protection of women against domestic violence? Why don’t we have law which is gender neutral, like protection against violence in a matrimonial relationships?

 The day we accept our self as equal may be then we will be having gender neutral laws.Acceptance is the key. The day we accept that we have a problem in out mentality that day we will rise to see the change in perspective. Yes we need to accept the fact that law is the last resort and not the only one. It’s always better to prevent it.Laws like DV Act came after very long struggle and after accepting the fact that we have problem and we have to address it, it’s a first step towards change.

Gender based violence is a universal phenomenon it’s there in all the culture , race , caste but this needs to be address and needs to be either control or to be change. On the occasion of Women’s Day I would like to say at least have a thought of being equal not superior or inferior or special. Just be yourself just be normal.

This should not be only for women’s day keep this thought on every day of your life.

The author can be contacted over email ID: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Almas Shamim

How often have we heard a female friend or a colleague say this? You might have heard this when there was a late meeting scheduled in the office, a farewell party for a colleague or a group of students meeting to finish some group work assigned to them. The going-home-before-dark is all too common a practice, so common that it might have gone unnoticed by some.

What IS, after all, the relation between “dark” and “women”? Why do women get to hear this advice so commonly even though men/ boys find it way easier to traverse their way around the world in the dark? Do women really have some biological abnormalities that make them breathe less effectively when the sun goes down? Or do they automatically turn into statues at sunset?

The usual rhetoric that we hear is of safety. Didn’t the Nirbhaya tragedy strike in the dark? Aren’t the women who stay out at night, usually “those loose charactered women” and so it’s okay to harass and abuse them? Women who choose to be out on the streets at night, whether for work or for leisure are, in a way, accepting that they DON’T want to feel safe. They are admitting that they have a “loose character”, whatever it means.  In a way, any woman out at night is “asking for it” and hence all other women who “do not want to ask for it” should remain indoors.Of course, no such warped logic exists for boys/ men.

Just as we educate our girls, even though there are still pockets in our society which believe that education can corrupt girls’ minds; just as we have begun to embrace our daughters choice in marriage, even though it is still not acceptable by all- why aren’t we also telling our girls to go out freely and walk the streets at night? Women being out after dark will continue to be taboo as long as we keep it as an exception. One girl seen out after 8 pm may be targeted, two girls seen out after 8 pm may be looked down upon, but just go on increasing the number of girls out on the street…at point it would become absolutely normal.…

Women are half of this world population. They should also be half of the street population- in all places, at all times. The best way in which streets, nights and darkness can be made safe for women is by “reclaiming the street”- by keeping the presence of women on the roads a norm and not an exception. Of course, police patrolling, cctv cameras are all legit and absolutely essential demands. But, it goes without saying that no change is truly possible without a change in mindset. To realize, understand and accept that your daughter has as much of a right on the street as your daughter, that your female students have as much a right to return to the hostel at any time as your male students, that girls are only as desirous of being “attacked” as boys- is a change that we need to see. It is this collective change of mindset alone that can bring women out on the streets- thus, enabling many more to join them.

“Reclaiming the street” should be more than just an event, more than just a movement of a few- it should be the way things are every day, everywhere. 

Almas Shamim is a public health specialist with a great interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and feminism among Muslim women. She currently works for an international humanitarian aid organization in New Delhi