Vasundhara Raje’s victory will be the victory of every woman!

Let me start by stating the obvious; ours is a patriarchal society where men have always been the primary authority figures and over the years nothing much has changed as far as the Indian society is concerned. Being a woman in India is tough; it’s tougher if you are a woman into politics and the going gets even tougher if you are in Rajasthan.

Before I actually discuss Rajasthan and its politics, let’s see how women politicians have been wielded upon. If we move to the Eastern India, we have a woman ruling the state and Mamata Banerjee’s journey to the CM’s office has not been easy.  Who can forget the infamous incident when she was dragged by her hair and shoved out of the Writer’s Building in Kolkata when she had gone to the then Chief Minister seeking justice for a rape victim? Moving down the Southern India, we have Jayalalitha who was manhandled by the DMK members who even tried to pull her sari. These two instances pose a larger question, that, had there been men in their positions would it have been the same? Can we imagine a male politician being dragged by his hair or being stripped off his dhoti? No!

Being born into the desert state, I realize how difficult it would have been for Vasundhara Raje to ascent to power. Rajasthan is one of the states which has one of the lowest literacy rates, child marriages are still a norm, sex ratio is highly skewed and female infanticide is one of the gravest problems faced. I have so many marwari friends whose families still don’t allow their women folk to join the ‘barat’ during weddings, ghoonghat is very much a reality in large number of homes, and many more conservative practices!

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Vasundhara Raje has been a target of sleaze and muck by the Congress who has always tried to pull her down. Many would argue that isn’t that obvious in any democracy? Yes, it sure is but one needs to draw a line somewhere! In its desperation to save its seat, the Congress party came out with CD’s and posters of utterly disgusting nature that talk about Vasundhara Raje’s personal lifestyle. Raje is quite famous in the state because of her drinking. Hence, Ashok Gehlot’s speeches saw lines like 8 PM, No CM’ hinting at Raje’s habit of drinking in the evenings. One of his ministers also asked the people once “How can you vote for somebody who drinks?”  According to Congress ministers drinking is a sin and if women do it then it’s next to a criminal offence. Otherwise, what could explain making drinking an “issue” in the election? If that was not enough, Gehlot raised another point in his speeches where he talked about Raje’s visits to London. He said Latka-jhatka dikhati hai… pata nahin London gayi thi ya kahan gayi thi’ attacking her character. Of course the Congress and its ministers wouldn’t have bothered had it been a man instead of Vasundhara. Much of it has to do with the fact that our society smells of sexism and chauvinism. Raje might be an alcoholic; she might be even in love with someone but how does that make her a woman of bad character? How does that make her less worthy for the post of Chief Minister?

What’s even more surprising is that Vasundhara Raje doesn’t have so many well-wishers in her own party too. Her first term as the Chief Minister saw a lot of infighting among the party men and much of it had to with the fact that the men in her party were just not happy with a woman calling the shots and often called her autocratic. For a state where most women are still confined to the four walls of the house, having a woman chief minister was of course a humongous change. Many attribute BJP’s loss in 2009 due to internal bickering. Later in 2010 she even stepped down as the Leader of opposition in Rajasthan. But little did BJP realize that the only hope of their party in the state was Raje. Eventually, things were forgotten and she was back to take hold the charge of her party. The BJP realized that there was not even a single leader in the state that could get into the shoes of Vasundhara. Her charisma, confidence, ability to connect with people, oratory skills had no match. The same men who made her step down now had to stand behind her because they failed.

As I write this post, most of the exit polls predict a thumping victory for the BJP and Vasundhara Raje in the Assembly polls held in the state. Her victory will be a slap on the faces of all the men who tried to pull her down by questioning her character. Her victory shall be the victory of every woman who dreams of achieving something in life. Her victory shall be the victory of every woman who wants to break the glass ceiling. Her victory shall be the victory of every woman who wants to come out of the shackles of patriarchal society. Her victory will be the victory of every woman who wants to come out of the four walls of the house. Her victory will indicate that the society is changing and a woman drinking or a woman in love is not considered a taboo anymore. Her victory shall be the victory of every woman!

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An open letter to Shoma Chaudhury

Dear Shoma Chaudhury,

Hope this letter finds you in the best of your health; though I am not sure given the recent controversy that has surrounded your magazine. You must be wondering why I write this letter to you. I write this letter because I am so angry and disgusted with the way you have handled the recent incident of sexual assault in your organization. Your magazine has always taken a high-moral ground and has emerged as a crusader for everything that’s wrong around us. More importantly, as the Managing Director you have always been vocal about the issues related to communalism, corruption, and specifically women rights & empowerment. Your twitter timeline smells of morality, justice, truth and everything that an ideal world should have.

In your first encounter with the journalists after the email was leaked, you wore a smug look and instead of trying to answer them as the Managing Director of the magazine, you had the audacity to ask one of them “Are you the aggrieved party“? What if I put the same question to you? Were you the “aggrieved” party when you spoke about those dead in the communal clashes of Gujarat or were you the “aggrieved” party when you talked about the rape victims in Chhattisgarh? Sorry ma’am, but one need not be the victim always to speak about what’s not right. Like it or not but we all are the “aggrieved” party. DEAL WITH IT!

I also happened to see your interview with NDTV and CNN-IBN and I was amused to see the always articulate Shoma repeatedly coughing (acting?) and trying to answer in a low baritone.  You even ‘lost focus‘ and were ‘confused’ towards the end. You also had the arrogance to say ‘I should start speaking in Spanish‘ to Rajdeep Sardesai during the interview which showed how irritated you were while trying to defend the indefensible. Anyways, I was more nauseated with the way you guarded yourself. I would bring to your notice few points:

1. The email which you wrote to the employees implying that there has been an ‘untoward‘ incident. After reading the victim’s account in the form of another email which she had sent you, I was aghast. Do you really think it was an ‘untoward‘ incident? What stopped you from calling a spade a spade? Wasn’t it downright an incident of sexual assault?

2. Moving on, I am sure your command over the language English is much better than mine but even a school student can tell you that ‘Rescuing‘ is NOT the same as ‘stepping down‘. The accused decided to go on a break for 6 months and you call it ‘Atonement’? And this comes from the woman who had this to say a few days back! Hypocrisy thy name?

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3. A magazine that has been so vocal about the setting up of ‘Lokayuktas’ in certain states couldn’t get its own house in order and set up a committee as guided by the Court in the famous Vishakha case? Why? It is only now that you have decided to probe the matter when voices have been raised demanding an inquiry.

4. You also called the whole incident an ‘internal matter’ between the two persons. Doesn’t looks good coming from the Managing Director of a magazine that is known for its sting operations.  Going by your rationale, all the ministers caught taking bribe in your magazine’s sting operations shouldn’t be probed at all. After all it was an ‘internal matter’ between the parties taking and giving bribes.  The Vishakha Committee expected you to take ‘action’ as an ’employer’. What did you do?

5. Justice doesn’t always come through police and courts. Really? Why bother doing stories on your favorite Narendra Modi or for that matter anyone who is accused for any crime. Ishrat Jahan case which your magazine so passionately took up shouldn’t concern you anymore since according to your logic justice has little to do with courts. No? We should probably ask all criminals to take a six month break for repentance and come back. No?

6. The incident doesn’t involve Tehelka. Sorry, but it very much does! Quite like how every corruption case concerns Congress/BJP. Don’t you demand answers from the said parties even though those accused in scams are involved in their personal capacity?  You can’t just escape!

7. You also said there is ‘another version‘ of the incident and the matter is with the standing committee. Pretty much like there is another version of the Aarushi Talwar murder case where you defend the accused. Forget cases, I see a different version of Shoma Chowdhury in the last three days.

8. Lest I forget, when asked by Nidhi Razdan why Mr. Tejpal was not fired immediately you said ‘We are a small organization and there are financial considerations’. I was shocked when I heard it and couldn’t believe you actually said that! Your efforts of always putting up a high moral ground fall flat. Where did you sell your soul lady? Where are your ethics?

I wonder if we would have ever known about this incident had the Email written not leaked on the internet. You of course had no plans of getting the accused justice as ‘unconditional apology‘ and a ‘six month break’ seemed perfect to you. It takes guts for a sexual assault victim to come out and speak about it. Rather than helping her and setting an example you chose to cover it up. It shows your inability to stand up for someone who needed your support. It shows your intellectual hypocrisy.

As I end, I would like to leave you with something you said some time back;

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Heaven or hell is not important. What is important is that how will you face yourself? Remember, this will haunt you always. thInk!

By the way time you change the line that defines your magazine; TEHELKA – Free, Fair, Fearless FARCE, FARCE, FARCE!

Regards,

Aggrieved Indian

Politics? HELL YEAH!

“I hate it/ Not interested/ Sucks/ Apolitical/ Not interested/Fuck Politics” These are some of the common answers which one gets to see under the ‘Political Views’ column if you visit the Facebook profiles of your friends or acquaintances. First I thought it might be a problem with my friends. In order to be sure; I stalked (Yes, I did) random profiles and interestingly the answers remained pretty much the same. And that exactly is my problem – The growing apathy of the youth towards the politics of the country. Politics/ Raajneeti has become what film line was years back; good people don’t enter it. While the people consider cribbing about the state of affairs in the country as their right; they don’t remember their duty when it comes to voting. And what’s even more worrying is the percentage of voting being less in urban centers than rural. So, the same youth who wore the ‘cool’ Anna Hazare caps doesn’t like to stand in the ‘hot’ sun to vote.

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A recent survey indicated that India will become the youngest country in the world by 2020 with the median individual age of 29 years.  If the young population of world’s largest democracy show such detachment from the politics of the country, we are in grave danger. Whether you like it or not but politics in any country is closely related to its development. The policies, procedures, laws determine to a large extent the way an economy moves.  Governments need to do lots of things to encourage development – they need to build and maintain infrastructure, and raise and spend finance wisely, on the right projects. When governments are inept at managing infrastructure, development is impossible. Today, we stand at a point when the economy is in shambles and market is down. As a country that already faces high rates of unemployment, we will be faced with even more unemployed people in future.  Mining, exploration, industry in the country is dying. We have made a world record with the number of scams that unearth everyday. Isn’t it important for us as the young brigade to understand politics so that we can vote wisely? Isn’t our future at stake?

Call me sexist but this ignorance is more in females. I still remember that my best friend who is from Uttarakhand didn’t know the Chief Minister of her state! Don’t you think you do grave injustice to the country when you vote by looking at how deep someone’s dimples are or how fluent one is in English or even the style with which one flips hair? It is NOT a Mr. India pageant! You are bloody deciding who will govern you for the next five years!

As our government plans to launch the Food Security Bill scheme in the country, how many of us even know what it is all about? Do we understand how this populist and non-sense scheme will impact the already weak economy? Do we understand that it will worsen the fiscal deficit situation? Do we understand that India’s trade deficit will be hit hard as the programme will require 70-80 million tonnes of more food grain every year. India which does not produces that much will have  import in order to meet the requirements! Isn’t it vital for us to understand what is going on in the country?  Why can’t we discuss this with friends along with our many discussions on films, fashion, cricket and music?

What sort of individual you are if you don’t have a political view? You are 18 years old and you don’t know what’s your political ideology? What are your views on economy, markets, social stratification? How can you be ‘Not Interested’ in the politics of your country when it impacts us immensely? How can you be more interested in knowing who will head the cricket team rather than knowing who will head the country? Having a political view is much more than supporting a particular party.  For example; I am a rightist but I don’t entertain the idea of ‘Ram Mandir’ which the ‘Indian Right’ party proposes.

Arguments against Politics!

  • Politics is Boring– Are you kidding me? Just listen to any of the sessions in Parliament and I bet that you will not find anything more entertaining and gripping. Our parliament (when functions) sees some brilliant debate. Not to forget the drama. It can shame any of our ‘saas-bahu’ sitcoms.
  • Nothing is going to Change – For heaven’s sake, every single vote counts! What if everyone were to say “Oh it’s not important”?  We wouldn’t get anywhere in the world.
  •  All politicians are corrupt – For every Lalu Prasad Yadav, we have a Manohar Parrikar. For every Advani, we have a Vajpayee.
  • Don’t like the candidates – India doesn’t give you the option of ‘No Vote’ so please go and vote for the lesser evil. Your not voting will not make any difference but your vote will!

The success of every democracy and the making of a responsible government is directly proportional to the voting power of the citizens. A stronger democracy can be built with greater participation of people! Okay, it’s going very preachy and I should stop but with the hope that the ‘Y’ generation will say a big YES to politics and get involved in bringing a change!