Sunday, May 15, 2011
The Prince and the Show Girl...!
Vizag moments - so vivid! That's Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, one of India's most prominent Gay Rights' activist, and the publisher-editor of FUN. With him ( and moi!), the cast of 'Waiting for Godot', an Applause production, headed by Soumya, a Telegu movies' actress with a promising future. Nice mood!
This appeared in the Sunday Times today.....encouraging reactions, especially from an old friend, B.R.Sharan.
‘Poribartan’ now! Demand the women of India…
Namaskaram Amma. Nomoshkaar Didi.Congratulations ladies! Yenjoy! Bhalo Khobar! You’ve done it and deserve the applause.To borrow Mayawati’s words, the time for ‘dramabaazi’ is over. You have won. The people of your respective States have given the verdict. Jai ho, and all that. Your time begins now. Showing the door to rivals is the easy part. Both of you can confidently take the oath, look and feel smug… and if you so wish, dance in the streets … or on the posters of your vanquished opponents. No doubt your myriad followers will join you with abundant joy. Gloat away! But this is about your future agendas – especially those involving your own gender.What specific policies will you be working on that will benefit the women of your state… and maybe even, the women across India?Come on, you two. You can do it! Mamata has spoken eloquently about the appalling conditions faced by rural women in West Bengal. She has said she wants to create infrastructure for underprivileged pregnant women,who are forced to walk up to fifteen kilometers to deliver babies. Well…. action it, Didi. Get those clinics to happen taada-taadi. It cannot be a significantly better scenario in Tamil Nadu. We are also aware of the ‘Corporate Bladder’ syndrome ( no loos for working women in urban Indian), but for how many more years will our village women have to wait for the protective cover of darkness before they can ‘go’? These may look like chhota-mota issues to powerful politicians in search of bigger issues to tom- tom – like attracting instant foreign investment. But please don’t take women’s bladders and wombs for granted! We need clean facilities. Period. Whether it’s maternity wards in which to deliver babies, or conveniently located latrines that are safe for use, day and night. This is not a tall order, but it is an urgent one. If this initiative can be announced and undertaken on a priority basis by both of you, you will win the whole hearted support of countless deprived women who have put up with painful urinary tract infections, botched up births by the roadside and other related horror stories for decades…. no, centuries.
Women of India have waited long enough.Too long. So far , their voices, their expectations, their anxieties were of zero consequence to successive governments. Much was expected from Pratibha Patil as President. Much more was hoped for from Sonia Gandhi. No miracles. No waving of magic wands. Just simple plans and projects that would have made it easier for women to hang in there and be counted . Nothing of any consequence was announced by either one of them unfortunately, and women meekly went back to the starting post to patiently begin their vigil all over again. Perhaps it’s not such a good thing that our women are as passive, as docile.We let off our netas a bit too easily. We make far too many concessions. Mamata’s win was largely based on “Poribartan’’ ( change). But there was little mention in her manifesto of gender specific policies that would be beneficial to women. As the railways minister, her track record was disappointing at a time when women travelers cried out for safety on trains. Mamata’s perceived indifference to the woes of women commuters was seen as being callous and short sighted . Ditto for Jayalalitha, whose past records aren’t exactly impressive with regards to women’s issues. If anything, amma remained aloof and indifferent when confronted. This time, she didn’t bother wooing women… or men, for that matter. In fact, she didn’t woo anybody! She didn’t have to.Her old foes ( the DMK gang led by the old war horse, Karunanidhi)obliged amma by committing hara-kiri while she romped home, without lifting a finger. Our female politicians are street smart and canny. They’ve been told by their minders that raising womens’ issues during elections is not politically wise. It alienates men! And political pundits have consistently insisted it’s men who are the real game changers in any election. The big numbers are driven by men. Why bother courting women? Today, we are crowing about four important women leading four important States of India. Forget, the most important woman in the country ( you-know-who) . It’s time to ask a few uncomfortable questions to these Chaar Deviyaan. Starting with Sheila Dixit and Mayawati, who have been around long enough to have got things moving.But their mahila gaadis stalled a long time ago and refused to change gears, as these two steam-rollered their way past other, more critical-to-their-survival obstacles , conveniently forgetting all about their less privileged sisters.
It’s a terrible fact of life, but the bitter truth is that women in politics have not leveraged their position to do anything substantial for other women. Perhaps, those vintage Ekta Kapoor serials had a point. Which is why they worked. But even Ekta has moved on and away from those dreary subjects to sexier ones. Why can’t our female politicians do the same?This is their chance to win the loyalty of what is, in reality, their core constituency – women. Woo us with policies that transform lives and you’ll never have to worry about your warm kursi going to someone else. Neglect us now… and watch! Just you watch! We’ll show you! Remember,there is no ‘next time’ in politics. Mind it!