Sunday, May 03, 2009

Systemic Hijack of Culture

In the last few years there has been a systemic attempt to hijack religion, culture and nationality in the name of ancient values in many parts of the world. It has happened in our neighbouring countries and frequently in our own country. Somehow, fortunately in India, so far, such attempts have been made and have usually died their natural death. But looking at other countries we cannot afford to be complacent.
Recently we had attacks on pub going women. Not much action has been taken against the perpetrators of this act. Nor has the society made sufficient show of their anger at the wanton act. Now a group of young women have started a campaign on their blog to collect pink underwear and send them to the perpetrators of these mindless acts of trying to subjugate people to their way of thinking through acts of force.
The idea of the whole campaign, The Pink Chaddi campaign, does not seem to go down well with people who don't understand the underlying purpose of it. The idea is to mock, to trivialize a section of society which wants to assume the role of guardians of society.
True, its also attention grabbing, but then the more people, specially the young, realise the dangers inherent in any sort of dicta being issued by any section of society, even when they are non violent,( in the case under discussion they were violent too! ) the better.
A number of articles have been written about the dangers of allowing other people to dictate our lives. I too wrote one, but did any of them serve the purpose? Absolutely not. So if this method serves the purpose, then what's wrong with it? It’s not hurting anyone. It’s just making people aware of the dangers of letting someone else takeover the reins of our lives.
Drinking or pubs might not be the ideal things in life. Any number of other activities might also injure us. Do we abdicate the responsibility of teaching what is right or wrong, moral or immoral to any self proclaimed guardians of our society and culture? Do we inculcate the sense of right and wrong in our own children when they are growing up and then not trust them when they are adults? Do we assume that our progeny would never become adults enough to make their own choices? The choice is our own and the time to make it is right now. Tomorrow will be too late. The whole world is reeling under these tendencies which manifest themselves very innocuously and by the time we will wake up it will be too late.
You can deal with a few alcoholics in society, you can deal with most other ills but once the right to choose has been frittered away, there is nothing more left to deal with except dealing with the business of survival itself. Cannot we see what is happening around in our neighbouring countries? When it starts it commences with simple values that many people in a society hold dear. So it is allowed to go on for a few years. By the time people realise that these are no longer their values that are being thrust upon them, the stranglehold of such groups is too strong to break free or to even protest.
If Indian culture or even the Indian way of life has survived so many invasions and centuries of foreign rule it is only because of the reason of our flexibility, adaptability and the non rigid nature of our religion and culture. Take that away and nothing worth cherishing will be left. Even a non believer was accepted in our fold. There are examples of debates being held on all kinds of issues including what was dharma, truth and the like. Most other societies had a holy book to tell them how to live. We believed in finding our own answers. If this special and distinct quality of the Indian way of life does not survive there is nothing left to distinguish Indian values from any other or one religion from the other. How can we, in the name of this culture or religion, do the very opposite of what we stand for?
Even if we go by our Constitution, which we should, I am sure the basic principle is of freedom without any discrimination. How and why are we discriminating or allowing anyone to discriminate between the sexes, age groups of adults? How can we assume to preach to adults? In case we do not consider young people to be adults even at the legal age of marriage or using their franchise then we ought to increase that age assuming Indian minds do not mature like the rest of the world's.

Mired Mirage

PS:I wrote this article during the height of the pink chaddi controversy.I did not post it on my blog at that time due to some vague reasons. I don't even remember them now. :) The reason why i am posting it now is because someone pointed out to me this article which mentions a few Hindi blogs including mine regarding this topic.

Mired Mirage

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rachida Dati and Being A Woman

Being a woman is not easy. Being a working woman appears to be tough. Being a working woman who is in the public eye appears to be tougher. Rachida Dati, the French minister of justice is a brand new mother. There is nothing unusual about it. She is 43. That too is not unusual these days. Lots of women are having babies in their forties. What is unusual is her being back at office, attending meetings, just five days after delivering her baby by caesarean section. I for one can’t say how good that is for her health. If her obstetrician has allowed her and she feels fit enough, good for her. Who are we to intrude?
The trouble is that things that would not raise an eyebrow in case of men, tend to get everyone’s hackles up very often in case of women. (not that there could ever be a similar example of a man delivering a baby and joining work!) Sometimes, like in this case, one can’t even complain. What she has done, should justifiably be hers and her business alone. A lot of people could have been admiring her for her commitment to her work, her resilience, her will power. But here she appears to have generated a controversy. Women, specially the feminists, see this as an act of treason to their sex. They feel and rightly so, that her example could be used by employers to undermine the hard- fought and harder-won maternity rights.
A man could have a heart bypass, get a leg amputated, or donate a kidney and go to work any day he chose to and no one would bother to judge him. In Rachida’s case, the feminists would have been on her side had the traditionalists been sanctioning her for being a careless mother. But here are women, who want the right to choose more than anything else, denying Rachida the very same right! Does not seem right and yet, can they be blamed?
This act of the minister might not, though, lead to a law denying women the maternity leave; yet, it might change the expectations of the employers, especially in case of women occupying higher posts. They might expect another woman, high up on the corporate ladder to emulate her. But should that be her problem? Should that stop her from doing what she thinks is right? Or is it that she is doing this only out of a sense of insecurity? Is it that she feared that if she did not join office soon enough, she would lose her job? If a woman with her kind of powerful and prestigious job succumbs to such worries and pressures what would be the plight of her lesser sisters?
‘Sisters’ seems to be the keyword. It’s like preindependence India, when every Indian had to wear his/her nationalism in the form of khadi. The value of choice had to take a backseat when the more immediate one of independence was at stake. Perhaps what women expect from her is the same. Renounce the value of choice for the more immediate one of right to maternity benefits, the right to not to be penalized for being women and being mothers. Often women have to choose between motherhood and career.
Sisters, sisterhood… however sinister the implications of being put in a category, a class might be, yet women have to unite under a banner, which might as well be SISTERHOOD – a symbol of WOMEN OF THE WORLD.

Mired Mirage

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The latest nursery rhyme from Hyderabad

Here is the latest nursery rhyme from Hyderabad,India.

Raju Raju
Yes papa.

Cheating the shareholders?
No papa.

Telling lies?
No papa.

Open the company's balance sheet.
Ha ha ha !

Mired Mirage

PS: Inspired by the latest corporate fraud.

Mired Mirage