Thursday, August 9, 2012

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander


(Published in Hardnews, August 2012)

A few days before the Higgs boson aka God Particle experiment at CERN threw up exciting results and made the world cheer, I posted the following comment on Twitter: ‘Tsk, why are scientists looking for the god particle in Switzerland? It’s here in India – ask any Indian mum who has a son.’  Incidentally, I was dead serious. Most Indian men (not all, thankfully) are treated like incarnations of God from the time they’re born. And while they are aware that they can’t get away with murder, they’re pretty sure that they can get away with eve teasing, molestation and rape. It’s so easy, isn’t it? They just have to blame the victim for dressing provocatively and our unenlightened patriarchal society heartily agrees with them.

What is even more alarming is the behavior of the National Commission for Women (NCW) after the Guwahati molestation case. First, a panel member, Alka Lamba, blithely revealed the name of the victim instead of doing her job – i.e. protecting her.  Thereafter, the NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma said that women should be “careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West". I must add here that I think Ms Sharma is a very reasonable person, and I’m hugely relieved that she didn’t suggest we should wear burkhas - thank god. However, comments like these make me wonder if the NCW has been infiltrated by female imposters in pretty sarees and bindis. I find it impossible to believe that modern educated Indian women would make insensitive statements like that.  Hello, are we supposed to change the way we dress because some Indian men have absolutely no self-control and behave worse than animals? Why can’t men be ordered to change the way they think instead?

Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh, a khap panchayat has laid down a list of things that women below the age of forty cannot do. It’s the usual Talibanesque rubbish: they can’t use mobile phones, wear jeans, wander around alone after dark et cetera. The Taliban, sorry, the khap panchayat frowns on love marriages and solely blames denim jeans for men going astray.  Now I know why that phrase ‘village idiot’ came into being. By the way, as a woman over forty I am planning to sue that khap panchayat for the sexist undertones: How dare they imply that forty-plus women are unattractive? I’m also planning to set up a Women Only panchayat to lay down a set of strict rules for men across the nation. Hey, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Here are a few of the rules I have in mind:

  1. Indian men are not allowed to go to pubs. That way, pubs will be safer for Indian women. Also, we’re treated so cruelly by our society, we’re the ones who need to swallow gallons of alcohol to drown our sorrows.
  2. Indian men are not allowed to wear jeans or trousers. Dhotis or kurta-pajamas must be their dress code. How dare they stain our wonderful ancient culture by wearing vulgar western clothes?
  3. Indian men are not allowed to step out of their homes/offices after dark. That’s the only way we can ensure that our streets are rape-free.
  4. Indian men are not allowed to use mobile phones. Particularly not mobile phones with cameras because some of the perverts tend to film the women they rape / molest and circulate the footage or use it as a blackmail tool.
  5. Indian men are not allowed to harass women they don’t know on Facebook with friendship requests. Having been at the receiving end of many persistent friendship requests from absolute strangers, I know exactly how annoying it can be.
  6. Indian men are not allowed to treat public spaces like roads, railway station platforms et cetera as their personal bathrooms. We find it extremely vulgar and smelly besides.
  7. Random Indian men with pre-historic mindsets are prohibited from laying out codes of conduct for Indian women. The Indian constitution clearly states that we’re equals. If you can’t respect that, you deserve to be behind bars.
  8. And finally, Indian politicians who support anti-women diktats of khap panchayats should be made to break rocks in jail too. I look forward to seeing the son of the Union minister of civil aviation in starched jail-wear, together with several other politicians. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Random thoughts on the Presidential Race

Angst in My Pants
(Published in Hardnews, July 2012)

Before UPA 2 formally announced Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as their presidential candidate, I was very worried. There was talk about producing not a cute rabbit but a dark horse out of a hat, and we know what happened the last time round: Pratibha Patil, for heaven’s sake! The only inspiration I’ve drawn from her is an idea for a book which I shall call, ‘Around the World on Tax-payers Money’.  So yes, I was hugely relieved when Mukherjee’s name was announced, despite the fact that the charming Arvind Kejriwal who is so keen on the BJP winning the next general elections grabbed the mike and belligerently started demanding a probe into Mukherjee’s past. I must add here that several people I respect have also murmured mildly about Mukherjee’s not so illustrious past but I don’t care. The man has worked hard for years, he’s not a slacker and if he wants to retire in a fabulous house with fragrant Mughal Gardens attached, well, he’s earned it. Much more than the likes of Pratibha Patil, at any rate.

And now on to the BJP: Poor LK Advani must be torn in two: half of him is still hoping that he’ll become prime minister in 2014 despite the fact that his party seems dead against the idea, and the other half is probably shattered that no one in his party recommended his name for president at the very least. His name will not feature in history text books (with or without cartoons) and for that I am grateful. In my books, he is not a nice man. Even the gallivanting Pratibha Patil is better than him.

Former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma disgraced himself by shamelessly going around the country with a begging bowl, pleading “Vote for me! Please! Please! Please!” And if the Opposition (this includes a troublesome UPA 2 ally as well, of course) does put him up as their candidate and he eventually wins, I think I’ll be sick. We’ve already started disrespecting him - and if and when he’s sworn in, rest assured he’ll be sworn at on twitter. Maaf karo!

And now on to the troublesome UPA 2 ally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. What can I say about Mamatadi that I haven’t said before? Let me put it this way, if she starts a blog, it really should be called www.ramblingsofaseverelydelusionalmind.bongspot.ugh or www.arroganthumourlessdictator.bongspot.ugh or www.regressivesubversivewailingbanshee.bongspot.ugh – well, something along those lines. She wanted to humiliate the sitting prime minister by naming him as one of her recommendations for presidential candidate – the cheek! In the end, it was lovely to see her getting her comeuppance – the slippery Mulayam Singh Yadav slimed out of the deal and Mamatadi was left screeching with egg splattered on her face, hooray! Even her Facebook page solemnly telling us why we should support former president APJ Abdul Kalam left us unimpressed– hello, we can’t vote in these elections, so what was she hoping for - a revolution on social networking sites? Come on, we regard her as a joke, there’s no way we’ll take her seriously. One thing, however, is clear. If, thanks to Mamatadi’s populist policies people in West Bengal can’t afford to buy soap, at least they get soap operas for free! Oh, and another thing is clear too: If Mamatadi doesn’t ditch the histrionics and start improving the economy of West Bengal, fragrant garlands will be prepared for the Left parties during the next state elections. Admittedly, we aren’t fond of the Left – but we’re growing less fond of Mamatadi every second. And it’s all her fault!

Now on to former president APJ Abdul Kalam: I cannot understand why such a big deal is being made of him, but I suspect his rockstar status is mainly because he’s a scientist and has never been a politician. Frankly, the only thing he inspired me to do during his tenure as president was to find a good barber for him. He seriously needs a decent haircut. Interestingly, Kalam has dashed Mamatadi’s hopes by bowing out of the race – and now she’s got enough egg on her face to make a masala omelette for the entire city of Kolkata.

As I write this, there is still a week to go before the president is elected. Anything can happen between now and then, absolutely anything - so get ready for more laughs!