Open Windows

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

In Conversation


Nirbhaya's father, Champion of Change, IN

April 9th, 2015


Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh are the parents of the late Nirbhaya, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern.  Post her barbaric rape on December 16th, 2012, in India, and after enduring severe damage to multiple organs, Nirbhaya passed away. The enormity of their daughter's destruction brought to light Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh’s character and courage, and despite their unfathomable agony and grief, they turned into champions of change.


A father’s role is crucial in a daughter’s life. It’s thanks to your encouragement that your late daughter progressed. How did high-thinking thoughts germinate in your mind?

In my home, some would study, and others would not. But my thinking was to do right—educate our children, immaterial of girl or boy. We saw that those who had education were able to have better lives, and their children benefitted. So I thought: what if I haven’t studied, I will educate my children. In my children’s education lies my education. I sold my land and worked double shifts to educate my daughter.

My father and my brothers thought differently: “But you will get your daughter married; what’s the point in educating her?” I know, 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 didn’t 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 a father abuses and humiliates a daughter, the extended family, neighbours, and society as a whole join, whereas if a father treats his daughter 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. We all know that on getting married, the daughter goes to another house, but what does the daughter take from her father? A father’s role is significant; he must support the daughter no matter what.

I could have said: “This terrible, terrible thing [the gang rape of Nirbhaya] 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’s my responsibility.


I applaud you, Badrinathji. You come from a low-income 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 organisation, and till today I practice what they taught me. I get a lot of peace from it [teachings]. Whatever we have achieved in our lives 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 lions. Look at our situation, years have passed, but there is no progress with our case. What do I do? I am suffering.


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 unique about your late daughter.

I used to tell my daughter [Nirbhaya] that if she were born to a wealthy family, she could have studied as she pleased, but my daughter said: “Papa, chances are 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.