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Tolerating sexual violence for any purpose erodes the overall stigma against it, opening a moral space where tormentors can run amok. The lack of national outrage against the mass rapes perpetrated under Modi reduces their true cruelty, breaking down the psychological walls that would at least prevent nonsociopaths from going on a rampage. Hindus who turn a blind eye to the rape of Muslim women can’t ultimately protect their own.
How India can restore moral boundaries is a difficult issue, but it certainly won’t be solved by electing Modi to higher office—even if he were Adam Smith himself. Protesters shouldn’t just seek justice against the six accused in New Delhi. Modi, too, has much to atone.
An earlier version of this column
appeared in Bloomberg View.