Weeks gone by..

Last few weeks have been a new high of national stupidity in the name of nationalism. The anger it generated in me is that typical brand of futile rage that consumes me and then leaves an empty feeling in its wake along with added cynicism. All it did was leading to a lot of angry debates with friends and as usual a realisation that a person is actually quite lonely when some beliefs are at stake. Husband and I agreed not to engage in these discussions with certain people- but always lost out to temptation when utterly stupid statements were made with perfect arrogance and ignorance. Anyway. Since my anger or my beliefs are wishy washy to begin with, there is no real reason for complaint as such. My university JNU thankfully has more committed and strong people who keep on fighting without any of this self-cynical-pity that I have. And I am sure it will come out flying high in the face of these dumbfucks.

I spent a week in London. It was cold, miserable. It is a testament of how much like dog I have become – happy in my territory – that I didn’t stay for a single additional evening than my official itinerary there. I like my colleagues and I like English beer! However, must say that my favourite time in the great metropolis was the one evening I had free- spent in hotel room, blissfully eating take-away, sipping Guinness and reading Harry Potter. And wishing all the evenings were like that! Add boring to anti-social. That is me now. A dear friend had this quote framed on her work-table ‘ World Is like a Book and if you haven’t travelled- you have read only one page’. I am content to have read only one word in that case. I am so over travel and new experiences- that very soon I am going to turn into a German Shepherd. Except the physical beauty and strength.

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Supreme Court asks why are mothers ignored?

Thank you Supreme Court!! And thank you Madhav Kant Mishra for stating the obvious:

Mothers hardly match the authority a father commands in official documents necessary to prove a person’s identity. While the father’s name prominently figures in government documents, the mother is usually given the go-by.

And you know what? This bias ties back to my favourite rant. Why do kids, even in today’s day and age always take their father’s last name? Especially, when their mother hasn’t taken her husband’s last name after marriage? 99.99% cases of women I know who haven’t changed their last names after marriage, have given their husband’s last name to kids. Why? why? why? They are usually the ones who take most of the burden of childcare, their lives- physical as well as social- change more dramatically than those of their husbands.

Then why do husbands get to be umbrella identity markers? And please don’t tell me about exceptional cases like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, we are talking of the norm here. Also none of the ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter because last names are just formality/ relics of bygone era’. When majority of children carry their father’s name and not mother’s – it is clearly institutionalised sexism.

Motherhood is all about sacrifice a la Gajar ka halwa!! However, when it comes to real power- mothers can go take a hike. Because from religious rituals to government documents to last names for kids to Bollywood movies to corporate policies, it is the fathers who rule the roost. After all, the word Patriarchy is derived from the all mighty ‘father’.

The petition, filed by journalist Madhav Kant Mishra from Allahabad, says ignoring the parenthood of the mother in government documents is in gross violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. It sought an ordinance making the mother’s name compulsory in documents.

Why are we asked to name FATHER OR HUSBAND in every frikkin document: from passport to nursery leaving certificates to bank accounts to medical tests to pan card to voter’s card?

Because father ( or husband) is used as a marker of identity.

‘ Whose daughter/ son? ‘
‘This man’s.’

Sort of like when in ancient times a person would be first a part of the community/ caste/ village/ family and then an individual.

It would have seemed quaint has it not been 21st century. And had mother was also used as a marker of a person’s identity.

But it is done rarely. It is not ironical but outright fucked up that while a woman’s femininity is validated the most when she is a mother, her identity as a mother is not good enough to be acknowledged as a marker for her own kid.

She is not good enough to preside over any traditional ceremony, the kids almost always take father’s last name, and she isn’t considered parent enough to be mentioned in any official document concerning her child.

So hope that social, legal, official and cultural norms change to acknowledge mothers’ rights in meaningful manner rather than melodramatic lip service.

Politician performs the last rites of her late Union Minister father

Pankaja Munde performed her father’s last rites yesterday.

I am no fan of the party or the Munde family’s political career. But I applaud Pankaja for presiding over her father’s last rites in a highly publicised funeral. It is a welcome sign that a woman, who is a MLA herself, departed from the tradition of only male heirs putting their family members to rest. The funeral was not just a family affair. Munde was a Union Minister, the Ruling central party’s most important figure from Maharashtra and a massively popular mass leader. Whether you follow the man or his party or not, you need to acknowledge that his death, funeral and political legacy are highly public and politically charged issues.

In a relatively backward area like Beed, the political stronghold of the Munde family, this is a bold gesture. I am not saying that it indicates profound challenge to the patriarchal system, but it is a indication of our society accepting the woman as someone in charge even in most traditional rituals – rituals that are highly respected and sensitive to majority of our people.

No matter how much of relics of bygone past many rituals feel to some of us, the symbolism of the rites indicates power structure in our society. A woman can not be formally in charge of majority of Hindu rituals. Women are often either in supportive roles or subjects of the said rituals. If women loose their husbands, often they are totally excluded from these rituals- be it weddings or funerals or births in the family. This is obviously because a woman is deemed secondary to her male relatives and doesn’t have the right to preside over ceremonies. So much so that if you are survived by only a female child, in traditional society, you would be laid to rest by even a remote male family member but not your daughter.

Like everything else, even these rituals have been going through a massive reform for more than a century now. Pankaja’s move is a welcome change.

Death Penalty for the 3 guilty Shakti Mills rape perpetrators

The three perpetrators found guilty in Shakti Mills Rape case were sentenced to death yesterday, April 4th 2014.

Opinions are divided on the verdict, the Facebook pundits growling in joy while most of the feminist organisations are opposing the death penalty.

Flavia Agnes’s excellent article on the regressiveness of the penalty here.

We had this discussion last April in context of Nirbhaya rape and murder case. Even if you don’t read the post do read Kavita Krishnan’s comments. They succinctly summarise why death penalty doesn’t achieve any concrete results in reducing sexual crimes.

And here on the Nirbhaya case verdict which also sentenced perpetrators to death.

Why I am voting for AAP

First and foremost, Medha Patkar who is the candidate from my constituency.

All my life, I have believed that personal is political and vice versa. And my personal beliefs echo with Medha Patkar ( because the local candidate is as important as the party she represents) and her party.

And let us say, for the sake of argument, that had my personal beliefs not echoed with her, even then, isn’t it a democratic citizen’s dream come true that a woman who has sacrificed her entire life for a cause of the downtrodden, would be your candidate and you can contribute to put her in mainstream power?

I am thankful for this opportunity. All my life I have cribbed about and waxed cynical on how I don’t really see any valid difference between several candidates and party politics. How morality and democratic values have flown out of window. How politics has been divorced from any ideology. How educated and professionally accomplished Indians are missing from mainstream politics.

Haven’t we all been saying this, shaking our heads in disgust and putting impassioned FB posts?

Now I see a party who is gutsy enough to put moral beliefs in front of political compromise. Who is anarchist enough to shake up the system. Who fields CEOs of banks and RTI activists and social change-makers as candidates. Who is ready to appear foolish rather than strike suave deals.

Most important- people will make mistakes. Because hey, unless you make mistakes you can not bring forth any valid change whatsoever.

Yes, what we require is a bunch of ‘yeda’ log. Foolish, eccentric, headstrong people who are not afraid to screw up. Who will shake up the complacency. Who will challenge the status quo. Who will bring in professional experts to fix basic fundamentals of economy. Whose beliefs do not alienate any community. Who do not work for a bunch of wealthy businessmen. Who do not beat their 56 inch chests in macho aggression as they make ridiculous claims of growth and take hyped credit for development, meanwhile killing a few thousand minority citizens for recreation.

This is not a rant against the exasperating tendency of people to be uninformed, cynical, insensitive and to get swayed by hype of highly questionable media sources.

What I want to say here is that we have a positive opportunity. No incumbency, no personality cult, no business-as-usual. But to vote for candidates we all have been wishing for. Clean, professional, committed.

It is not that I am voting for them because everyone else is corrupt/ criminal/ crony of businessmen/ mass murderer/no-performer. But I am voting for them because for I am putting my trust in people who have the credentials and moral strength to lead me.

I am willing to accept that they are not perfect. That they might disappoint me. I know that healthy democracy and dynamic economy involves all this and lot more.

After spending my entire voting life looking for such people, I feel exhilarated to be able to finally vote for someone I admire, love and respect.

Wow, and I never thought I would say this with so much of heart!

Holy cow…

When in Dubai, do as Dubaikars do… shop and breastfeed.

Because it is a child’s right that his mother’s breastfeed him. Har Har.. this new clause in the Child Rights Law.

Are the pro-lifers taking their notes? Because once you have stomped on the abortion rights, this looks like a great cause to legislate: breastfeeding is mandatory. So is wearing soft cotton gown. And 24 hour serene smile. And regulated diet. And no songs allowed for new mothers that are not lullaby. Mothers will only watch Disney channel, the preschool variety.

Because it is the infant’s right you see. And as we know, the infant always trumps the adult woman. Always.

What about the mother’s right to not to be considered as a state’s cow?

I think they should just collectively go.. Mooo…