Saturday, 29 December 2012

Mirror, Mirror.....

With all that is happened in the last few weeks as we grapple with the India we now live in. We now know, that we cannot just blindly rely on the status quo to protect our mothers, sisters and brothers whether its from sadistic monsters with rods who ride in buses or the ones who hide behind uniforms and use their lathis on its unarmed citizens. It is imperative to look at the current state of affairs and sift through carefully what the world is mirroring back at us .

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”
Edward Murrow

It’s a time for deep self- reflection. The easiest thing to do is to point at the perpetrators, the incompetent lobbyists, corrupt politicians or the misogynist cops or the impotent machinery that is OUR government today.
I’m not denying that the fault lies with them but for every finger that points outwards at them, there are that many that point at us.
 This incident is not the first or fifth or the ten thousandth one of violence against women in the last so many years.It is one of millions that are happening even now all over our country, as thousands of protestors are right this minute marching to Juhu and Jantarmantar.
How did this get so far?
Who is to blame? 
Politicians? Cops? Law makers? 

Whether we like it or not, these people have been put in power because someone voted for them.
We have tolerated and stood by while they have drafted & implemented archaic laws that defy logic or justice.

This level of violence from rapists like these or inertia on the part of the authorities has not risen out of nowhere.
What we are seeing today is the culmination of a mindset, cultivated & engendered over decades that sees and treats women as the inferior gender, as the disposable section of society that no one wants and are considered a “bhoj” or liability.
Perpetuated by Bollywood fims, B grade advertising and Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi type of TV shows; that portray women as pawns & accessories, commodities to be traded and negotiated over.

Why, in the second largest democracy in world, do women still have to fill in their father's or husband’s name on any legal form as proof of identity? Men are not asked to put their mother’s or wives name down first to prove their validity.
The alarming rates of female infanticide and still widening chasm in the female to male ratio in India is proof about the value our nation assigns to its women citizens.

The ridiculous comment about  “dented and painted women“ made by the MP from Jangipur and the subsequent PR smooshing over by  the party involved, is a frightening window into the archaic, sexist  mindset of the people who make up our government and to whom we look to, to make our laws and protect us.

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”
Mahatma Gandhi

So as we look at them, we must also look within and ask ourselves 

What kind of cinema do you watch and support?
Are you a proponent of those Bollywood masala films where the guy pursues the girl by teasing her on the road, grabbing her, singing her a love song till she gives in?

What are the advertisements that have your attention?
Are they like the one where the young cool dude frightens away the fat aunty by showing her is propensity for violent driving on his phone? Did you find that amusing? If that was your mother needing a ride home, would it still be funny?

When you see a woman on the road or in a club or in your office who doesn’t conform to your idea of what a woman should be?
What do you think in your head?
How do you talk about her with your colleagues or friends?

How many families do you know off, where women are slapped around by their husbands or in laws or asked to pray and perform special rituals to ensure the birth of a boy?

Do you have the image or statue or Yantra of any of our Devis in your home, car and office?
What does that really mean to worship the Goddess?
Are Lakshmi, Durga and Kali mere idols for worship or are they facets of Divine Feminine that live inside all of us, men and women, waiting to be excavated, arrogated and embodied!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

So lets march to Jantar Mantar and boycott Republic day and show our solidarity through verbal & written protests but let us also self reflect in to how we have all been complicit in this discrimination against women; in the way we see, think, feel and talk about gender issues.

Only by taking responsibility for our part in being bystanders to the policies and laws that have allowed for such gross injustices in the past, can we hope to move forward towards creating governance that we can actually trust.

For the change we are fighting for on the roads, in our buses and in the mindset of those who run our country must first start with us, in every area of our own lives.

 From A Tryst with Destiny by Jawaharlal Nehru

“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams.”

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