Holi And India’s Daughters

By Sunil Kumar

At the outset; a Happy Holi to everybody! There’s something to be said about the festival of colors; another occasion for people to get together; in the wider pantheon of the country‘s multiple festivals. Personally; I have detested the colors sprayed around; but like the revelry and the lively nature of a unique celebration.

The other social media hot potato; India’s Daughter has again put the focus back on the darker side of this country’s society; its so-called contours of patriarchy; or the eternally vexed topic of the treatment of women.

With a large tribe of female journalists generally labeling this as misogyny; and condemning established opinion as a patriarchal mindset; let me examine this subject; from my perspective; unabashedly male.

The horrific incident at Delhi notwithstanding; centuries of a social order cannot be changed overnight. Women’s lib and feminism come across as a bulldozing concoction; rarely achieving the success it aims to espouse.

The futility of rehearsed opinion that comes across every day on 24×7 media and the internet does not seem to change the status quo; and true change will actually be a gradual process; if not forever.

Theology; and most religious texts; invented by men in any case; have usually made goddesses of women; or kept them at a lower pedestal. Pick up practically any book on the subject; and you can find something objectionable to a feminist.

Notwithstanding this; most women have been very devoted followers of religious tenets; and the world has always existed in this flux between street-smart defenders of the faith; a skeptical section; and a devoted mass; lampooned in many movies; including the most recent entrant to the tribe; the semi-intelligent; partially derogatory “PK”.

The broader field of God and divinity is something still open to speculation; so with all the humility I can summon; do not attempt to critique. Leslee Udwin’s supposed mirror to Indian society can be admired or soundly dissed depending on which side of the fence you’re at.

The nationalist version stems from her conning government babus; a notoriously clever bunch who take orders from the existing minister. Our country’s famed tolerance also drops a little; when I found expletives aimed at her ethnicity; an Israeli Jew.

Taking aim at the Pakistanis may have been a tad more difficult for Udwin; but then the Western mind seems to conveniently sidestep the more explosive option. In any case; a Digital India is already in place; and despite the cabinet; freedom of expression cannot be stemmed in the internet age.

A subliminal change has already occurred in the country’s Victorian mindset; and at the moment; we seem to be confused about adapting the absolutely explicit; permissive and crass morality of the West; or stick to our much-vaunted cultural heritage.

The responsibility to defend “India’s Daughters”; and ensure justice in Nirbhaya and countless other episodes lies squarely with the government; but it would be wrong to hold only those in power accountable. Women are a potentially volatile; clever; explosive mix that drive many grown men to unspeakably stupid acts; and need some sort of self-regulation.

The Indian “Middle Way” can be a Buddhist compromise; not veering towards the extreme fanaticism of religious zealots; or the social elite attempting to ape the West. As a country; we can be certain that the BBC; a colonial relic; would still reflect the commercial, self-serving and condescending attitude of a bleak island; currently spawning jihadis by the dozen.

24×7 debate may again remind this country of the barbarity that always exists at the fringe; but cannot effectively remove the tumor that is the cause of this current cancer. Familiarity breeds contempt; and we should ensure that desensitization does not occur. Positive change will occur when all parties concerned honestly introspect; and do not eternally keep repeating the same platitudes that will ultimately be counterproductive.

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