Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No Molesting, Please

An article I'd written in 2008 on how to deal with rapists. Still relevant today, sadly. Here goes:

The sudden rash of rapes and molestation incidents in India has brought to mind a line from my favourite book of insults: ‘He’s tall, dark and hands!’ Trust me, that’s what women all over the world will soon witheringly describe Indian men as. Of course, not all Indian men fall into this bracket -there are lots of permutations and combinations to play around with. For example, some could be defined as ‘medium-height, fair and hands’, others as ‘short, wheat-complexioned and hands’... Okay, okay, I’m not being fair here, I have to admit that after the recent Juhu molestation incident, a number of Indian men too have strongly condemned their own sex. Hoorah for them, but that’s not good enough. Why, I’ve just read on the net that a nasty man was thrown off a Mumbai-Jaipur flight (not while air-borne unfortunately) for patting a flight attendant’s posterior. He got off very lightly indeed- a fine for a mere Rs. 1,200- when what he truly deserved was a pat on his posterior too. With a whip!

Of course, when these cases hit the headlines, our ever-alert moral police brigade rush to the offender’s defence with the usual self-righteous sneer, ‘Her skimpy clothes made him do it.’ Really? Have 7 yards of modestly-draped fabric ever made a rapist sweetly change his mind? Spare us this rubbish please!

We need to take concrete steps to ensure that this stops (after all, we don’t want our men to have a lousy reputation abroad, do we now?), and while Renuka Chowdhury, Union Minister for Women & Child Development, has sworn to do something about it, the wheels of legislation move so slowly that our granddaughters will be doddering grandmothers before positive steps are implemented. Which is why I’ve thought of a few things we could easily do right away to keep women safe.

1. Instead of teaching girls to cook chicken, teach them how to cook a predator’s goose. Self-defence classes are a must, preferably karate with kicks aimed at mid-level. Also, with women out of the kitchen, predatory Indian males will probably be too weak with hunger to get into attack mode.

2. The corporate world can pitch in too. Some of them donate artificial limbs as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, and that’s all very well, but how about life-size silicone dolls for Roadside Romeos too? This suggestion has immense possibilities, keeping in mind our new friendly trade agreement with China. If we give them the contract to manufacture billions of dolls, China will be happy and may not molest parts of India, and Roadside Romeos will be happy and way too busy to molest women.

3. Get a bunch of sex offenders together and ply them with alcohol, then fling chilli powder into their eyes and make them fight each other. Why, since the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on this revoltingly barbaric bullfight ritual in Tamil Nadu, we can safely use this method to punish sex offenders. After all, they’re animals too, and in their case, even PETA won’t raise any objections.

4. But surgery, really, is the best option. Let’s turn sex offenders into eunuchs, and put them back on the streets in pretty saris. Women won’t be frightened of them anymore-it’s other men who will tremble with fear. And when men are scared of men, we may finally see some action, right?
More suggestions, anyone?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How do you solve a problem like Mamata?


(Published in Hard News, March 2012)

We’re all agreed that scams hit the UPA where it hurts since last year. But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee hit the UPA even harder. And she hasn’t stopped kicking and screaming yet, like a spoilt brat determined to get a pony for Christmas instead of a Lego set. My heart goes out to senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, who has the unenviable task of attempting to mollify her. I’m pretty certain that he sings a different song in private, though. I’m thinking of that song in The Sound of Music, the one that goes,” How do you solve a problem like Maria”. Since I’m rather fond of Pranabda, I’ve adapted the lyrics to help him let off steam. Here goes:
How do you solve a problem like Mamata,
How do catch a cyclone cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Mamata,
A whimsical despot, a paranoid schizophrenic, a clown?”
Gosh, I can hear him singing it in the shower in his deep baritone!

Frivolity aside, I really do feel tremendously sorry for people who have to deal with Mamatadi. Much as I appreciate her for getting rid of the Left, I’d appreciate her even more if she saw a good doctor and sorted out her problems that, as far as I can see, include paranoia, bipolar issues and megalomania - to name just a few.

Now, I know that there are a fair number of Mamataphiles out there and to them I say, love her by all means, but do get her treated first! Let’s start with the paranoia: When Mamata was Union Railways Minister, she blamed every single accident or attack on a conspiracy. That’s much easier than actually taking responsibility for it, isn’t it? A few months ago she blamed the Left for infant deaths that occurred during her reign because the babies were conceived while the Left was in power. Ridiculous! And recently, when a mother of two was raped in Kolkata and had the courage to report it, Mamata called her a liar and accused her of being used by political forces to malign her government. It didn’t help that one of her favourite ministers (evidently on hire from the Taliban) made several nasty insinuations about the victim’s morality. According to the cave man, good mummies don’t drink and visit nightclubs. I’m hugely grateful that the cops finally solved the rape case – and shocked at the same time because the media has reported that the cops were pulled up for finally doing a great job and making Mamata look like an insensitive jerk.

Let me make it clear that I do not know Mamata personally and if I do get to meet her, I’m open to the idea of being charmed by her. But even if we get along like a house on fire, I will never allow myself to be her best friend. That’s because of the new twist on an old saying that’s doing the rounds: “With friends like these, who needs Mamatadi?” I have spent hours explaining to my young nephews and nieces that they must not treat their friends in the shabby way Mamata treats her allies. They are hopelessly confused because her attitude is just like the footwear she favours: flip-flops.

But I must give the devil her due: As an agitator and popular singer of West Bengal’s beloved song “We shall overcome” she has always been brilliant and will continue to be so. In fact, she’s inspired so many leading washing machine manufacturers to make their agitronic-soak function more dynamic. The time for agitation, however, is over and we need efficient administration to right the wrongs of the Left. Nothing so far, sigh. The jungle tom toms remain eerily silent on this point. She refuses to do anything because everything is “anti-people”. If she carries on like this, at the end of her reign she will be branded as being “anti-people” herself. History will remember her not as a heroic game changer but a petty name changer - that’s all she’s actively done to date. And even there she has failed to impress. Can another secular political party step in to save West Bengal please? Hurry, because we may be forced to take back the (gulp) Left parties!