The culture we are proud of

Indian culture is great, no doubts about that.

We, the nation of 1.25 billion (and counting), are a proud nation. We love bragging about our ancient Culture – the science of Yoga and Ayurveda, the Zero we invented, our literature, the diversity of languages, respecting elders, abusing and harassing women…wait what? Am I insane? What am I talking about? How dare I question our great Indian culture, that worships Durga but kills a girl child? See, I am doing it again. Wow, I must be a Feminazi.

If you want to know about the great Indian Culture, ask that girl who takes the bus everyday, and stands in the corner with her bag covering her chest and hands at the back, hoping this would be enough deterrent for a potential molester. If you want to know about the great Indian culture, ask that girl who takes an auto/cab everyday, praying that the driver is a decent guy so that she doesn’t have to spend the entire ride under his lusty eyes gazing at her from the rear-view mirror. If you want to know about the great Indian culture, ask that woman who drives to work everyday after dropping her kids to school/day care, and is honked at incessantly even though she overtook the driver from right, because she is “a lady driver”.

If you want to know about the great Indian culture, ask that girl who is made to parade in front of a new family everyday, because she is of “marriageable age and dark skinned”. If you want to know about the great Indian culture, ask that girl who was called “a b*tch with an attitude” by a random stranger at the pub she refused to dance with. If you want to know about the great Indian culture, ask that girl who is flooded by hate messages in her inbox, because she chose to comment on a sexist answer at Quora. Or how about you ask that woman who is branded “sexually frustrated” because she spends long hours at work and pushes her team of men to do better on the sales pitch, while rocking that red lipstick and high heels?

Or, maybe you should ask that woman who can’t enter the Puja room during her periods about how great the Indian culture is. Or the woman who is told by her aunt when she is eating her favorite blueberry muffin “How will you find a nice boy if you keep stuffing yourself? Why don’t you eat a salad for a change?” Or maybe the woman who was broken up with because she was more  qualified and earned more than her insecure boyfriend.

The Indian culture will still remain great, because some of you will continue to bother the girls who didn’t say a clear NO to your advances, despite dropping hundreds of hints. The Indian culture will still remain great because I didn’t laugh on that horribly sexist joke you sent me over Whatsapp. And of course, the Indian culture will remain unlike any because a Hindu IAS topper chose to marry a Muslim IAS topper, and it was very obviously Love Jihad.

Do I need to specify that all this is “pungent sarcasm”? I guess I do, I don’t have the patience to explain it later to the protectors of “Bharat ki Sanskriti”.

Featured Image : Digital Artists Daily


It is a MAN’s world

Hello there, and we meet again! Life has been quite busy and too many things have happened since my last “real” post. But I think the time has come for yet another “heartfelt” post, and at the risk of sounding a “FEMINAZI” (Man, I love that word, so much power it has :P), I have decided to write about how it is “A MAN’S WORLD”.

Whatever stone you have been under, you couldn’t have possibly missed the amazing webisodes from Yash Raj Films, starring really talented actors and actresses, that is creating waves all over the social media. And if you haven’t had access to Facebook or Youtube for some reason (like you have indeed been living under a rock 😛 ), you can catch them below:

If you are reading this in a hurry, I will (try) to make a quick summary. A young man feels women have it all and therefore wishes hard to swap places with women. And as luck would have it, his wish gets granted. Yes you read it right, this series is about a world where women rule the world, and men deal with issues of eve teasing, workplace discrimination, period pains, and of course making babies. Please watch it, you absolutely gotta love it!!!

If you are a “FEMINAZI” (again, the word!!! *Drools*), just like me, you will love the series, laugh out loud, and yet think wishfully if there was indeed a world like what they show in the web-series. What I took away from the series was not the usual “jazz” (pun intended) about how unsafe women are on roads or public transport, but about how much women are discriminated against in their workplaces.

The reason I talk about this today because this is the most global issue of all. Women might be relatively safer in certain parts of the world, but workplace discrimination is something that is a real part of every ambitious female’s struggle. When Indira Nooyi, CEO PepsiCO, got up and said “Hey, women can’t have it all!”, there was a huge uproar. Here was a women, who has clearly broken every glass ceiling that ever existed, and yet she said that she felt guilty when she couldn’t give her family enough time. Does this mean men don’t feel guilty about that? I would like to say No, but unfortunately it is so much more acceptable for a woman to leave her job and sit at home to “take care of kids”, and be a “housewife”, than for a man to be a “stay-at-home” husband. And if he does dare to do so, he will be ridiculed and taunted by family, relatives, friends and whomever that comprises of those “chaar log”, till he is forced to reconsider.

Again, all of this happens to a woman post marriage, and there are many people who will argue that things change for men too, and I agree with them. But what about the time when a young unmarried woman tries to make foray into a workplace dominated by men???

I am an engineer, and I worked in semiconductor industry for 2.5 years, a field that it is not really rumored to be “women-friendly”, partly because it requires specific skills, that not many women have the resources to acquire. Add to that a large percentage of girls who are married off forcefully or otherwise even before completing their engineering, and you are left with a handful of women, maybe 2 for a team of 20, or none at all. The ratio is dismally low, and it goes even lower post marriage and kids. Luckily, many companies have been working in the direction of retaining talented workforce by giving them the flexibility of work-hours and such, but the point remains that how many times, a woman is really looked beyond her looks and given due credit for her abilities???

It is just so easy to dismiss a girl trying to make her mark, denying her an opportunity that she truly deserves, simply because “she is going to get married anyway and not really serious about being a long-term employee”. It is also very easy to call a well-groomed woman “pretty” or “hot”, and basically objectifying her in a very basic way, taking attention away from the real reason as to why she is here, with better qualifications or greater experience, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the same guy who called her a “hot chick”. And god forbid if she reveals that she enjoys an occasional meal out or a glass of champagne, because then she is here only for the “fun” of being in this industry, never mind that she works her ass off on all the crazy deadlines that are put up to her.

Of course this post will have dissent. It will ruffle feathers of the “chauvinists”, the ones who forward poor jokes about wives and women in general on WhatsApp, the ones who feel staring a girl till she feels uncomfortable is correct, because she is asking for it by travelling alone or wearing a dress, who think that women come to office only to hunt for a potential groom or to “pass time” till she is married off to a rich NRI in USA or Canada. Sorry, but no sorry. This is an unapologetic piece that calls a spade a spade, and I strongly feel that someone’s gender should play absolutely no role in determining their working capability, or the lack of it.

Women are venturing out of the confines of their homes. They are slowly starting to be everywhere, and though we still have a long way to go, at least in this country, rest be assured that none of my community shall stop till we break all those glass ceilings and prove our mettle. We are here to stay.

A cheers to a man’s world, for it shall soon be a woman’s world! B-)

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Image source :  Google

The sham and the shame

The sham of Women’s Day and the shame of being “India’s daughter”.

Even if you are not a very active user of any social media,  you must have seen, read and/or forwarded messages containing text like “Celebrating Womanhood..Happy Women’s Day 2015” or something else on the similar lines. Chances are that your office might have been planned a small celebration for “thanking women for their contribution to [insert name here]’s success”.  If you are an Indian woman, you must have politely smiled, replied with the dutiful “Thank You”s and gone ahead with your day, because you know in your heart, that celebrating Women’s Day in India, is the biggest sham of all.

Couple of days back, many of us came across snippets of the interview one of the co-accused of the Nirbhaya case, Mukesh Singh, gave to BBC for their documentary titled “India’s Daughter”. For those who might have forgotten, on December 16th 2012, a young 23-year old girl was brutally raped, horribly assaulted and thrown out of a moving bus by a group of 6 men to die in New Delhi late in the evening, along with a male friend. The story would have faded into oblivion, but for the fact that the girl survived, to recount the horror she went through. The news spread like wildfire and the entire country was shocked at the brutality of her assault. Protests took place all over the country, and people prayed in every corner hoping for the girl to survive. So much was the impact of the case, that Indian government had to fly her to Singapore, on the pretext of better care, when the doctors already knew that she wouldn’t survive.

The girl died on 29th December 2012. She was a bright student, from an under-privileged background, determined to do well. If she were alive, she would have been as old as me.

The BBC documentary was banned dutifully by our esteemed government, but BBC went ahead with the broadcast on 4th March 2015. I caught it here. Tears rolled from my eyes as I watched it, and it shuddered me to no end to imagine the pain and suffering the victim went through.

News channels and papers are full of debates about the statements given by the accused, the defense lawyers and the families of the accused. People are outraged at the audacity with which the defense lawyers defend the killers, but sadly, that doesn’t surprise me. What they said is probably the mindset of many Indian men, irrespective of their education. Because sensible thinking doesn’t depend on hordes of qualifications, but on sensible upbringing.

The rapists come from a delinquent background, and it was only a matter of time that they committed such a heinous crime. Poverty knows no morals, and such people are just dormant monsters, waiting to strike some innocent victim with the vindictiveness of their frustration and misplaced belief systems.

But poverty is not the only reason for such crimes. Any crime against a woman stems from the basic prejudiced thought – that a woman needs to be “shown her place”, each time she “crosses a boundary” like watching a movie post 6 pm, wearing jeans, possessing a mobile phone, using public transport to commute, hanging out with non-familial men, or daring to go anywhere alone without company.  It doesn’t help that our law-makers too are owners of such thought process, and it is obvious that it will happen, because we choose our leaders among our own kind.

A lot can be and has been said about crimes against women. The documentary contains statements from many distinguished people, who have given very plausible solutions to contain these crimes. I won’t talk about this. But I will just like to point out, the shame I feel for my countrymen, each time I hear of yet another rape, assault, domestic violence, or eve-teasing incident. Maybe things are changing, but the change is too slow for my liking. How long will it take for my shame to percolate through the deepest strata of the society, I don’t know. But I certainly hope that the flame lit by the victim, very aptly named as Jyoti by her parents, won’t die down without concrete consequences.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have something to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.