Nirbhaya's father, Champion of Change, IN

Published Date: 9th April 2015

Open Windows | In Conversation

Nirbhaya's father, Champion of Change, IN

April 9th, 2015

On December 16, 2012, India witnessed the barbaric sexual violence against Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern. After days of enduring severe damage to multiple organs, she passed away. And in her passing, true to the voice she lived with, she shone the torch on the prevailing ugliness in society as well as fueled conversations on gender equality, education, and safety.

It is through the enormity of their daughter’s destruction that the real character of Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh came to light. In spite of their unfathomable agony and grief, they turned into champions of change. Alongside fighting for justice, they are requesting us to refuse the allowance of criminal thought and slam shame on perpetrators of crime. Their courageous story of commitment is a firm reminder of human worthiness.

Badrinathji, your daughter progressed in life thanks to your support. A father’s role is crucial in a daughter’s life—unless he cultivates high-thinking he cannot pass it on to his children. These thoughts had to have germinated in your youth.

In my home, some would study and others would not. But my thinking was to do right, educate our children. We saw that those who had education were able to have better lives, and their children benefitted. And I thought, so what if I have not studied? I will educate my children and in their education lay my education. It did not matter whether it was a girl or a boy. Education is what takes one forward. This was my thinking since a young age.

I sold my land and worked double shifts to educate my daughter. My father, my brothers, they did not think this way. These were my thoughts. They said: “But you will get her married, what is the point?” With her education, my daughter would have taken her brothers forward.


So immaterial of others’ thinking, if a man desires, he can think differently?

Definitely. If I want to be different, I must think differently.

If I did not educate my daughter, she would have felt that she was not educated because her parents didn’t think of her as worthy enough to be educated. But with our support, she could move forward.


How do you feel about her success?

I hail from a poor family. The day of school results was reserved as a holiday; we wanted our children to pass and come home with good marks. When we saw their marks, we felt good; we knew our children were studying.


The way a father treats a daughter makes a big difference—when the father abuses and humiliates a daughter, the extended family, neighbours, and society as a whole join in, but if he treats her with regard, she is treated well and can blossom.

A man who fails to extend his daughter respect is not worthy of being called a father. The daughter is always attached more to the father, less to the mother. And the father has to reciprocate that. We all know that on getting married, the daughter goes to another house but what does the daughter take from her father? This is a big role for the father, and he must support the daughter no matter what.

I could have said, “This terrible, terrible thing has happened to my daughter, what do I do?” But no, when I saw her plight, when I saw the tears in her eyes, I told her, “I have come, and it’s going to be okay. What has happened has happened, I am here for you.” I am a father, and I should be a father, it is my responsibility.


I applaud you Badrinathji. You come from a poor family, yet you have demonstrated a level of courage that not a single educated person I know can dream of, let alone practice.

When we came to Delhi, we joined an organization, and till today I practice what they taught me. I get a lot of peace from it. Whatever we have achieved in our lives, it is thanks to these teachings. My strength comes from those who have taught me, and from living a simple life. When we listen and embrace good thoughts of wise people the mind becomes clean, it becomes white.


How does corruption propagate violence?

There are two types of people in India, the lion and the sheep. The poor become the sheep, and the rich remain the lions. Look at our situation, years have passed, but there is no progress with our case. What do I do? I am suffering it.


Why are truth and law and order opposed in India?

There are more liars in India, and the only voice of truth is suppressed. If the king does not walk on the right path, how will the followers walk on the right path?

What do you wish for India?

I want women and children to be protected, and what is happening must stop.


On a parting note, please share something special about your daughter.

I used to tell my daughter that if she were born to a wealthy family, she could have studied as she pleased, but she said: “Papa, chances were that if I were born in a wealthy family, no one would have bothered to educate me. I am grateful that my mother and father are educating me. That when you advise me, I listen.” I don’t know where these thoughts came to her mind.