In the wake of the recent outcry over what « Mukesh » (read monster in-famed 16th December catastrophe) said, many journalistic masterpieces have come my way, each with a different perception. This is a humble try and a not-so-humble cry to put across what I feel needs to change in our ever-regressing society. With Ekta Kapoor adding crores to her bank account by manipulating the already distraught and misguided junta of our country, it is time we think, act and believe, a bit differently. A recent book that caught my attention, curiosity and empathy, a much awaited read titled ‘Blasphemy’ by Tehmina Durrani, the literary work echoed what lied deep within and what needed to be projected in an attempt to make a difference. Hence, the article.
I wonder why I began with a justification even. Maybe somewhere deep down, women are orchestrated to believe that they are to behave in a certain way. I wonder why. Because my upbringing and the societal set-up did not stop, rather only encouraged my creativities from coming upfront and challenging the patriarchal mind set of our country. It is only when I stepped out of Bombay did I realize that the world is totally different from what I perceived it to be, inside my bubble. My parents and professors had warned me of this but as they say, experience is the best and the worst teacher. With increasing instances of crimes and woman-slaughter in this country, it is really high…or should I say the lowest-possible time to introspect. As I believe, the seeds of crime lie deep within our social structures and the way boys and men are brought up, treated and made to believe, since early childhood. The recent advertisement (is it a pure co-incidence that avertissement in French means a warning??) by Madhuri Dixit on “yeh sikhao ki ladke rulate nahi!” is a welcome change that will make you inspect as to whether the boy in the house is following it!
Appalling sex ratios are a testimony to the fact that we are regressing and rooting deeper in the rut with each passing day. The quintessential “HIM” or the need for a HEIR carrying the name of the family has blinded people. How about welcoming a HER as well, educating her and helping her stand on her feet so that she too, like her male counterpart, can lead a dignified and a closer-to-just life? Women too are equally to be blamed in this ‘khandaan roshan’ business with mothers waiting for years to get a bahu rather than their sons getting a wife. Aren’t two mature people supposed to marry each other in equal measure? With more and more girls excelling in every field these days, Indian men are going to have a hard time keeping the ‘Indianness’ of marriages alive. It will take time but a process is already gaining roots in cities and it will surely reach the far corners of the country, albeit at a glacial pace. But somewhere, the change has begun and gladly.
Globalisation is rightly a ‘do-dhaari talwar’ but we must not forget that there are no free lunches. Development will come at its cost but the least that we can teach our children is to respect everyone equally. Our constitution guarantees Right to Equality where caste, creed, gender, race, language etc. should not be a barrier. Having said that, I (read similar-minded, no-male-haters and believer in equal-opportunities group) am in no way supportive of or justifying the ‘ladies-first’ cult! ‘Give ladies a chance’ in itself is an aberration and ticks off the unjust bomb in my head. The very acceptance of being ‘given’ a chance means that I know that I need one. I don’t. I can make my own name, have my own space and still manage myself without a male supporting me, financially or any other way. It is also not to be forgotten that people of equal merit deserve equal rights and if a lady does not fit the criterias, she should be shown the door. Doors are anyways not always meant to be opened for us!
Coming back to the upbringing issue, as they say, it all starts at home, like literally. Parents have a bigger responsibility that any other in teaching their kids to be humane, respectable and respecting, just and open-minded. Irrespective of whom they are dealing with, in the society. A cultured person, man or woman alike is the one who treats another as an INDIVIDUAL. What is the need to attach attributes of gender, religion, region, caste or creed to him or her? Why can’t he or she be respected for what he or she is, believes in or stands for? Roles and statuses are a sociological phenomenon concocted to suit the societal needs. If travelling has taught me anything the most in particular, it is the value that is attached to a person, no matter the origin or no matter the work. Why segregate what a man does from what his female counterpart does? Even worse, why judge people on the basis of that? It comes as a shock to me when people pass a judgment on the basis of what I can’t do or rather refuse to do, than on the basis of what I can. The age-old ‘ghar ka chirag’ needs to flutter to throw light at other issues facing our country. We need, as mothers and fathers, to accept that the bride and the groom have been brought up with equal love, effort and dedication. If anything, parents are more cautious when their daughters are anywhere but home given their vulnerability to the insecure milieu outside and thus put in more efforts. Does that make you not have one at all? And since when did you start having a choice anyway? What thought process can be more pathetic and degrading than this? Doesn’t it make you want to teach your son a few things about how he should conduct himself? He too will come across girls who are someone else’s daughter/sister/mother or even grandmother these days! Inhumane and outrageous crimes have cut all age bars!!
The medieval unjust treatment meted out ever since a child is born needs to be uprooted. ‘Do not indulge in a thing that is unjust, unethical or illegal’ is what needs to be ingrained. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl. No one is above the law and if such behavioral patterns are nipped in the bud, many less “Mukeshs” will be born, nurtured and cultivated and many more Nirbhayas will be saved. Tell your boys to behave themselves when telling your girls too, to be well-mannered. Else, the day won’t be far where more and more unfortunate lynching incidents too will start to be justified, albeit again, equally illegal!