Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Open letter to Sakshi Maharaj

Vintage! Suresh Natarajan, ace photographer, interprets my personality! Please feel free to draw your own conclusions!

               Open letter to Unnao M.P. Sakshi Maharaj

Jai Ram Ji Ki
Oh Mighty One,
I write to you with great pride as a  Hindu woman who has contributed to a good cause by being the mother of six children. Six. Two more than the number recommended by you to all Hindu women. At the time I had my babies, the foolish government in power those days was advising the people of India to stop at two. Remember that meaningless slogan, “ Hum Do. Hamarey Do?”  Being a defiant woman, I totally ignored the campaign and went ahead with my own plans. Family planning was a big thing. But at least we were not punished for breaking the rule and having more children, like they are in China. We have always been far superior to the world in our thinking. That we know, for sure. But frankly, your latest advice to Hindu women, needs to be publicized better. After all, there is a sound theory behind the advice. How else can Hindu religion be saved and  better served? Strength in numbers – that’s what you are telling us. I don’t see why people have a problem with that. What are fertile wombs for if not to produce and reproduce… and produce some more?

As a Hindu women, I had realized my duty decades ago. But my service to the nation had gone unrecognized. It is only now, after your inspiring speech, that I realize the significance of what I had undertaken. Forgive me, Maharaj-ji, but I hadn’t heard of you till you made that insightful comment. We need Parliamentarians like yourself – people who are progressive and forward thinking. You have clearly seen the future. And in that future, Hindu women actively participate in saving Hinduism from shrinking or getting outnumbered. If only the irrefutable logic of this theory had been articulated earlier, perhaps women from my generation would also have followed my own example and India would have benefitted overall. Of course, this era’s Hindu women must make up for lost time… and catch up with ‘others’ who are out-producing us. This is our ‘kartavya’ – our obligation. Through this letter, I want to thank you, for showing us the way forward. I used to feel pretty guilty about having six kids… suddenly, I am on top of the world! Thank you, Maharaj-ji.
                 Who needs a Padma…??    7th Jan 2015
Dumb question : Who needs a Padma ? Apparently, everyone, including the kabbadi player down the road wants one. The insatiable craving for a Padma ( or two!) has reached epic proportions. Why not? The Padmas are being distributed like so much garma garam chana of late, it is but natural an aam aadmi also has the right to believe he is the chosen one… if not him, then a grandfather , distant cousin… koi bhi chalega. When, why and how did these coveted awards become this devalued? And , if indeed, receiving a Padma, no longer carries the same cache it once did, why do a few aspirants go flat out to beg publicly for one? Here are a few answers to the conundrum…National Awards are the only awards to be recognized across the board. It is (perhaps , erroneously ) believed, they are merit driven. It is also believed the awards are decided by an eminent, unbiased jury after careful scrutiny. This is clearly not one hundred per cent true. And it has become increasingly obvious of late that the Padmas are doled out for a whole variety of reasons, most of which have little or nothing to do with merit. Cynics insist the entire process is a bit too shadowy for comfort, and based on blatant lobbying. Arrey Baba… so what? Amazingly enough, husbands lobby for their wives, wives for their husbands, fathers for children… and mind you, some of the names indulging in this very subtle practice belong to eminent citizens who represent India’s top intellectual traditions.  How do I know? Ask for the list of recommendation letters – check for yourself.
 Lobbying for Padmas used to be an open secret in Delhi… . till Saina Nehwal hit that shuttlecock across the net and it landed where it hurts the most. Initially, I was a bit disappointed that a sportswoman of her standing would be brazen enough to demand a Padma Bhushan for herself and question authorities about the omission. Later, when I thought about  it some more, I realised  she had indeed taken a big, bad , bold step… but in the bargain, she’d also raised a lot of relevant questions. Had she sulked and kept quiet like a good, little girl, she  might have ‘preserved’ her dignity… but lost the battle. I  guess, in the agonizing toss up between choosing dignity over the Padma – the award won! This girl’s no quitter. She has worked hard to get where she has. As a global sportswoman, she has delivered big time on the international circuit… with very little support from government agencies, at that. Saina is young and ambitious. Impatient and forthright. Competitive and combative. Why sulk in silence? Why pick martyrdom over a major national recognition? This is today’s India. Saina is today’s girl. She wants to get what she considers her due – and boy!  she will go flat out get it at any cost! Anything wrong with that?
 Gone are the days when being patient and modest were regarded as virtues. Saina is as aggressive and upfront as the next champion. Let’s call her the female Virat Kohli. These are sportspeople who don’t hold back, don’t mince words, don’t believe in shrinking into the shadows. They are out there… hungry  for fame and glory . Just like volatile Virat can never be a reticent Rahul Dravid, Saina Nehwal probably won’t want to switch places with Diana Eduljee ( who had to wait chup chaap se  for her turn, after being initially bypassed for the Padma ) . Different strokes for different folks.
 Today’s Padmas are bargaining chips, not awards. A lot of time and energy are invested in procuring them for the chosen few. Lobbying is a polite word for what happens behind-the scenes. Apart from recommendation letters written by eminent backers, there is an entire mini-industry back there, hard at work to push the names of  favoured candidates. Of course, the Padmas are heavily politicized! That’s a given! That’s how it has always been. Except, in earlier times, the politics behind the Padmas , were better concealed by smooth operators working seamlessly behind the scenes for  nominees/ clients.
Tell me, honestly… do you remember even a single name from last year’s list of  awardees? I bet there is one in recent memory nobody is ever likely to forget – Sachin Tendulkar’s  . Errrr… and that Padma  was not politically inspired? Tell me another!
You know what… I am going to demand a Padma, too!  Why not ? Problem is, nobody in their right minds would recommend my name. But here it is… anyway…I have my Tangail saree ready for the ceremony… Rashtrapati Bhavan, here I come. Who says I can’t lobby for myself if nobody else is willing?
Hello Blogdosts. I hope the new year is treating you well....it certainly hasn't started on a positive note for some parts of the world...one can only pray that peace and good sense replace violence and hatred in 2015.