Washington: The popular protest across India against the brutal gangrape case of a 23-year-old medical student, in a way is the country's Arab Spring, believes Fareed Zakaria, one of the most influential foreign policy journalist in the US.
"In a way, this is India's Arab Spring. But it needs to sustain itself. And to lead to real reform and change. This Indian spring will only work out better than the Arab Spring if its national leaders recognise the need for radical and thorough change in their country," Zakaria said.
Mumbai-born Zakaria, 48, received 'Padma Bhushan' from the Indian Government in 2010. He is editor-at-large of Time and host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.
On his latest edition of his popular Sunday talk show and also appearing on the CNN Monday, Zakaria said there is a culture of impunity in India.
"After 600 rape cases reported in Delhi this year, only one has led to a conviction. That's why the current set of sustained protests are something of a silver lining. People are genuinely upset. The rise of India's middle class has activated a powerful civil society. One that is now demanding better government. It did so a year ago regarding corruption," he said.
Zakaria said the national attention over her death is shedding light on how unsafe Indian women actually are.
According to the national crime records bureau, there were more than 24,000 registered rapes in 2011. That's one rape every 22 minutes in India. And those are just the ones we know about, he said.
"By some accounts, only a tenth of all such crimes in India actually get reported. Why such a shockingly high rate of violent crime? Indians are debating the reasons. The reality is this: This is one more example of a government that simply does not deliver. India has a broken public safety system, little to no public surveillance and CCTV systems, and a pathetic and corrupt police force," he alleged.
According to the UN's office on drugs and crime, South Asia has one of the lowest ratios of police officers to civilians in the world. It also has among the fewest prosecutors as a percentage of the population, he said.
"There could be other factors.India has a demographic crisis. According to its 2011 census, there are only 9 women for every 10 men in urban India, that's one of the worst sex ratios, and that doesn't happen naturally. It happens because tens of thousands of Indians opt for abortions if they know they're having a daughter," Zakaria said.
First Published On : Jan 8, 2013 09:49 IST