• May 25, 2018
Indian Minister Jasvantsinh Bhabhor greeting members of the community on his first visit to New Zealand. Photo: Vandhna Bhan
The Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Jasvantsinh Bhabhor visited Auckland briefly last Saturday to talk about building international relations, but avoided comment on India’s rape culture.
In light of recent events where five females living in rural India have been violently raped and then set afire, Mr Bhabhor refused to comment and restated his visit to New Zealand was solely relationship building.
India’s Tribal Affairs sector focuses on issues in rural Indian communities such as farming, education and cultural laws – which cover how community elders make their own laws surrounding rape.
In one of the past cases, the society’s elders said they had already punished the rapist and murderer with 100 sit-ups so police involvement was not needed.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised for his response and inaction to these incidents.
“Our government is committed to building cordial relationships to work towards the progress of all Indians,” said Mr Bhabhor.
The brief stopover was en route to Samoa where the Indian government is working closely with Samoa’s medical centre.
High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli said Mr Bhabhor’s visit to Samoa is a first for any Indian minister in history.
“We have provided Samoa with their entire dialysis units and have even brought patients from Samoa to India for intensive surgeries.
“We are aiming to extend this aid to other countries,” says Mr Kohli.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sukshant Nand who was present at the event said that the Indian minister failed to answer the big questions.
“The elephant in the room was rape culture in rural India which is a matter for Tribal Affairs, but here they are promoting their work in Samoa.
“There is work to be done in their own country,” Says Mr Nand.
Mr Bhabhor said that they are taking ‘major steps’ in areas such as demonetisation, GST, free electricity and electrification in rural communities.
However, it remains that both Mr Bhabhor and Mr Kohli were silent on rape issues and intended to keep the night running on a positive note.