"No One Killed Jessica," read Times of India headline in 2006. Yesterday, I saw a movie by the same name, based on the true story of a murder that almost went unpunished. In April 1999 thirty-four year model, Jessica Lal was shot point-blank by Manu Sharma, the son of a prominent Haryana politician. He killed amidst 300 of Delhi's upwardly mobile socialites, because she refused to make him a drink at 2 am. The film highlighted the corruption and collusion that comes with the political and the powerful. It hoped to inspire, to anger, to reach into our souls and have our conscience wag its moral finger at the injustices in society. I left the theater feeling mentally drained and emotionally conflicted. Despite being an excellent film with laudable performances "No One Killed Jessica" didn't reassure me about Delhi's courts, nor did it make me feel like I could affect change. Instead, it fed me the leftovers of obvious cultural equations, where money can buy lies and the system feeds on its own wretched clout, where the value of your life is determined by your income and the circles you socialize in.
It is true that extensive media coverage and public outrage influenced the high court to appeal the lower court's acquittal of the accused. It is true that Jessica's murderer, Manu Sharma, was put away for life.But India is far from a revolution. It is also true that the Supreme Court is currently looking into India's biggest, baddest scam yet, the 2G spectrum case. It is also true that while our Prime Minister is notoriously honest, he is leading the most corrupt administration this country has ever seen. It is also true that a public sector product like spectrum is sold at exorbitantly low prices to private companies, while a public sector product like food grain is sold at exorbitantly high prices to the poor. It is also true that the survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster in Bhopal are yet to receive adequate economic and medical relief as promised by the world's largest democracy. Where's the justice? Where's the hope?
The way I see it, there's only one way out of this downward spiral: the people need to reach a breaking point where they will be forced to say "Enough!" At some point, a critical mass of the population will demand better infrastructure, better education, better health, and better politicians. Until this point is reached, all of us will continue to apathetically accept the filth, the eve-teasing, the money-laundering, and the poverty. We might speak against it or hold a protest or two, but life will continue as it is. Exploitation will continue unabated. I just hope that the breaking point comes soon, in my lifetime perhaps, though it looks unlikely.
Photo Credit: http://www.moviesmeter.com/no-one-killed-jessica/