RIBHU RANJAN | 13 MARCH, 2019
'You will find in life people who will say you can't do this, you can't do that. Never accept that.'
NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu has been in the news because of a sex abuse scandal that recently came to light in the western town of Pollachi. A 19-year-old woman complained to the police last month that four men tried to disrobe her in a car and filmed the assault.
The victim's brother was also assaulted by the group of men which reportedly included a local functionary of the governing All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Four men, including the functionary, were arrested for the assault on the woman's brother.
After the political reaction and the emergence of a leaked video, the AIADMK expelled the functionary, a ward secretary, from primary membership of the party on March 12.
The state government has decided to hand the investigation of dozens of sex abuse cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Addressing a large gathering of 3,000 women at the Stella Maris College in Chennai on Wednesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi talked about education, gender inequality, discrimination, the economy, corruption and humane values.
He said, "There is an ideological battle in the country today and they are sharply divided. One ideology is a unifying one that believes: the country should not be dominated by any one idea. No state should feel oppressed. The other ideology represented by the current government & PM where they believe that one idea should be imposed on our country. They have a particular view about the role of women in our society, different languages and cultures are inferior to one centralising culture and idea."
Stressing on women's inequality and gender discrimination, he said, "South India is significantly better than North India in the way women are treated. Tamil Nadu is one of the leaders in how it treats its women. However, there is still a lot of improvement required in Tamil Nadu."
In his interaction with students he said, "I want you to remember that as women you have every right to the space that you deserve. You will find in life people who will say you can't do this, you can't do that. Never accept that. Always believe in yourself."
Replying to a student's question on the failing structure of education and research in India, Gandhi said, "We are convinced that India is spending very little money on education. We will increase the allocation to education to 6%."
He later reiterated the promise, which dates back at least to UPA 1 days, of increasing the budgetary allocation to education to 6% of GDP. He also mentioned that we need spaces where students can ask questions freely and independently.
While discussing the economy, demonetisation and corruption, Gandhi said, "You can't have a negative atmosphere in the country and expect economic growth. Economic growth is directly related to the mood of the country. We will move the country to a place where people feel empowered and happy."
On being questioned by a student on Robert Vadra he replied, "The government has every right to investigate every person. Law should apply to everybody equally, not selectively. PM Modi has his name in government documents that say he is directly responsible for negotiating parallely with Dassault on Rafale. Investigate everybody, be it Mr. Vadra or PM Modi.”
On being asked by a student whether fighting a war could resolve the "terrorism problem" he said, "When we came to power in 2004, the policies of the Vajpayee government had set fire in J&K. We decided to fight terrorism strategically. Firstly, we isolated Pakistan all over the world and then we engaged with the population of J&K."
He also focused on the need to bridge the gap between Kashmiri students and people in the rest of India.
During his interaction with the students he said, "How many times have you seen the PM of India standing here like this, being open to any question from anybody? Why doesn't the PM have the guts to come and stand in front of 3,000 women and be questioned by them?"