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Category Archives: Politics

Sorry for the Interruption

“As The Rama annihilled The Ravan; as The Krishna annihilled The Kansa, so we are sure, The Chavan will annihil The Chou.”

– The late owner of one of India’s most famous English dailies (the first one that popped into your head is probably the right one) in 1962, at a banquet honoring YB Chavan, the new Defence Minister.

Suresh Kalmadi isn’t even tops at screwing up his speeches. The only good thing about a massively disappointing week was this little anecdote offered as a piece of dinner conversation. Normal blogging to resume.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Newsmakers, Personal, Politics

 

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No Joke Here, No Sirree!

Opponents of gay marriage in Hawaii celebrate the Governor’s decision to veto a bill legalizing same sex unions by getting on their knees, opening their mouths and emitting a “roar”.

True story.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2010 in News, Politics

 

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Dressing to Please

I guess I should be happy I can wear clothes at all.

Do any of you remember the slew of articles that came out in the wake of 9/11 when people (in the West) suddenly sat up and discovered that there was a significant – significantly Muslim that is – population of women out there who walk around covered from head to toe?

Reporters were dressing up in burkhas to walk the free streets of London to find out first hand what it felt like (Answer: confining, scary, got stared at a lot. Alternative answer: safe, confining, got stared at a lot.); there were roundtable discussions on newschannels about what it meant to be an Arab and a woman and a Muslim and how they could make it all work (Answer: Arabic for “adjust maadi!”); and everybody was very concerned about how this was a violation of human rights.

I thought it would slowly fade away because it’s not like Muslim women just started covering up. I’m pretty sure they were wearing those things even before 9/11 and all they got in return were double takes and stares. But no, they’re still at it.

Meanwhile, lots of Muslim women went, “Thanks but we’ll drop you a note when we need you to talk for us because right now all you’re doing is creeping us out.” Turns out a lot of these women really like wearing the hijab/niqab to various degrees and saw it as their ethnic wear. Then a bunch of other Muslim women spoke up and said, “Hold on! We never signed on to this! Doesn’t our opinion count?”

So then everybody went back to the drawing table and it was finally decided that it was terrible that some countries (*cough*Saudi Arabia*cough*) control what women wear but if the women themselves want to wear it, then that’s because they’re brainwashed victims but hey! at least we told them so now it’s on their own head and let’s get real here for a second, is Saudi Arabia really going to pay attention to what the rest of the world thinks about how they treat their women? Ha! So enjoy snorkeling in a hijab, ladies! We hear the sea around your country is awesome. The Israeli end of it anyway.

***

My last year of high school, right before the Board exams, my friends and I were casually sauntering past the library on our way to catching the mid-morning bus home. Seniors were invited to come in a for a couple of hours each morning and put in some extra practice under the concerned teacher’s supervision if they felt they needed it and a bunch of us thought it was an excellent idea: we’d study in the morning, hitch a ride back to town, get something to eat at our favorite hangout before going home to study some more. Teen life in a small town where everybody knew who you were and what you were supposed to be doing was always a matter of extreme forward planning.

We didn’t have to dress in uniform and could pretty much do whatever we liked in school as long as we didn’t disturb the rest of the students, which was fine by us. It was like having a picnic every day and we thought it was a great way to end our school life.

So on this particular day, we’d just wrapped up and were about to go find the school bus when we heard the librarian screech: “There she is!”

We turned around and there she was, finger pointed dramatically and accusingly at… me. What had I done?

“Look at her clothes!” she screamed as though I was poking holes in her eyes.

I looked down. I was wearing my baggiest jeans, the ones that had never fit me properly but I loved to wear because it was so comfy. You could just see its shapeless legs peeping out from under my tent-like pink t-shirt, the one so large, its shoulder seams hit halfway down to my elbow. Not that this gave me a cleavage of any kind, mind you: like all Indian t-shirts sold within the country, it had a round neck that was so tiny, it would have strangled a person of the right size.

So I stood there in my hobo outfit, wearing flat ballet slippers, and completing the look with greasy hair, thick spectacles and a mouth full of steel and rubber. Damn, I thought. I should have listened to my mom when she told me I looked like a bum.

“What are you wearing, Amrita?” asked Miss X, the teacher we’d come to meet this morning, the one the librarian had apparently been complaining to.

“Uh, jeans and a t-shirt?” I said, hoping for the best.

“Well, such tight clothes are not appropriate for school,” she said with a straight face.

I looked at her. She studied her nails. The librarian looked victorious.

“Ha ha,” I said at last. Sometimes the teachers like to crack jokes. Nobody ever got them because they were incredibly lame, but maybe this was one of them?

Nope. No such luck.

“Why don’t you wear something like your friends?” she asked.

I looked at Pops and Sangs, wearing tight-fitted salwar kameezes and identical WTF expressions. Contacts placed discreetly in their eyes and no braces in sight. Then I looked at myself. If I was so inclined, I knew who I’d find attractive amongst the three of us. (Hint: it’s not me.)

I opened my mouth to argue when one of my friends jabbed me discreetly in the ribs. “Jeans,” she muttered significantly.

Ah.

Denim. Cloth of the Devil. It’s a wonder they let you buy it over the counter considering the accessories that come with it – a libido that won’t quit, teenage pregnancy with mandatory termination, the morals of a sociopath, a junkie-unwashed-hippie boyfriend, and an alarming tendency to take away the free will of all men in sight and turn them into slavering rapists by force! Oh, did I forget the Western Bug? It’s an advanced parasite that hides in your pants leg and drills into your bone, instantly changing your nationality, your morals and your personality.

For fuck’s sake! They’re pants! Durable, comfortable, easy to wear, easier to maintain, pants!

Tell that to the good fathers who ran the Catholic college I attended. In Bangalore. Shortly after I joined, they actually banned jeans on campus. No, I’m not 100 years old. This incident took place at the turn of this century, not the last. The fathers did it with the best of intentions – they were shielding the pristine minds entrusted to their care by anxious parents. I failed to understand then and I still don’t understand how wearing a skirt or salwar kameez to college protected our virtue whereas denims would absolutely destroy us.

What I did understand then, and continue to understand now, is that when you are a woman, the world is entitled to not just have an opinion about the way you dress but enforce it as well. As business school students we were required to dress in formal attire three days a week and were allowed to dress as we pleased the other two days.  The gender ratio in our class was five girls to about twenty boys. We studied together, we hung out together, we got in trouble together, we partied together, we paid the same amount of money to attend the same classes taught by the same teachers about whom we all bitched in the same rooms. For three days of the week, we were all equal. For the remaining two, five of us had an extra rule based on nothing but gender.

The ban didn’t last long, its utter ridiculousness becoming more and more apparent as the college tried to modernize itself into a sleek, Western-friendly environment in a city being touted as India’s Silicon Valley. India’s success brought down a rule based on lingering Indian bigotry. But I’ve never forgotten the sting of that relatively minor injustice.

***

The burkha is not a garment that I would wear. Unless I was hiding from the police or something. I don’t even wear a dupatta every time I put on a salwar because I often feel suffocated by things touching my neck, so the whole hijab-niqab bit is lost on me. I don’t care if it’ll make me feel warm and fuzzy like I’m back in my m0ther’s womb, I don’t want it.

Other women do for various reasons of their own. It’s hard to understand them from where I stand but you know what? They don’t need me to understand. I’ve never in my life put on a set of clothes hoping some random person I don’t know and will never know, somewhere out there in the big wide world, approves and understands my sartorial decisions. Why shouldn’t the woman who wears a niqab have the same right?

That said, Yasmin Alibhai Brown, a journalist I greatly admire even when I find myself disagreeing with her, makes a strong point when she says:

We communicate with each other with our faces. To deny that interaction is to deny our shared humanity. Unreasonable community or nationalistic expectations disconnect essential bonds. Governments should not accommodate such demands. Naturists can’t parade on the streets, go to school or take up jobs unless they cover their nakedness. Why should burqaed women get special consideration?

Why? Because there actually are women living in the West today who cover themselves not out of choice but because that is the requirement for stepping outside the house at all.

Take for instance the woman who was fined for wearing a burkha in Italy. Her husband thinks their only alternative now is for her to just stay where she’s put, where nobody else can look at her. A law meant to “help” her ended with her imprisonment.

Europe’s response to Islamic nations forcing their women to dress a particular way is to tell Muslim women living in their countries how to dress, thus isolating them even further. Well! That’ll certainly show those stupid women in Saudi Arabia and Iran and elsewhere!

Amazing, isn’t it, that the right and the left come at it from two completely different political viewpoints, but they agree on one thing: the best way to help a girl out is to tell her what to wear. Once you’ve taken away her choice in this one thing, she will magically find herself surrounded by a multitude of “correct” choices and the world will be a better place. For her and for you.

India doesn’t have this problem, of course. Shikha Dalmia thinks it’s because India has a secular ideal based in the tolerant strands of Hinduism. Maybe. I think it’s because conservative Hindus up north practice their own version of the burkha. Any Indian politician who runs around saying Muslim women need to set aside the veil runs the risk of running into hordes of pissed off Hindu men vehemently opposed to their women taking the pallu of their sarees off their face.

***

So, basically, I wanted to say: Argh.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Life, News, Newsmakers, Personal, Politics, Video

 

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Meta

If ever a picture was worth a 1000 words… A 1000 Sully words. So awesome on so many levels.

Oh crap, I need to find a new avatar.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2010 in Newsmakers, Personal, Politics

 

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Kirkit Kirkit Kirkit

Kirkit Kirkit Kirkit

What’s up with all this kirkit business? Everyone seems to have lost their mind.

The way everybody and their father’s newspaper is weeping and wailing, you’d think they thought the IPL stood for the Indian Prayer League and it was a charitable institution built to eradicate India’s poverty problem by harnessing the power of cricket. How can you have sat through three years of the cheese-laden spectacle of the IPL and not known there was massive amounts of money at play? And that eventually it was going to go down in flames of Biblical proportions? I have a rule: the moment an entity’s success becomes evident enough for the mainstream media to take note, scandal must be right around the corner. Like night follows day.

And really, what exactly is the scandal here? That a cabinet minister has a social-climbing girlfriend and the new czar of mega-bucks cricket is a crookish brat? Good Golly, Miss Molly, say I, clutching my pearls.

Let’s talk Shashi Tharoor for a second: a man less suited to be a politician in India, especially of the Congress kind, I’ve seldom seen. I’m too young to remember when Amitabh Bachchan flamed out of Parliament, but I suspect even he was a more competent Congressman than Tharoor, who’s apparently never heard the Congress motto – “Lie low and prosper long.”

So you’re smart, funny and like the ladies? Throw discreet little dinner parties and show off in front of your friends. Word will eventually trickle down to the hoi polloi that you’re awesome and they’ll never know it’s because you and your girlfriend do an amazingly caliente mambo when the booze is at full flow. Does that suck? Is it a terrible system designed to hide the real face of our beloved leaders from the public? Not to mention their twinkle toes and mad moves? You betcha. But if you want to be a cabinet minister, then them’s the breaks.

Remember how you and your friends at the UN used to bitch about the member countries being such pains-in-the-ass? Well, guess what? Now you’re part and parcel of the circus that runs the memberiest of those member countries. I bet it sounded like a sweet career move on paper, but you just signed on to a pit of vipers.

And then there’s Lalit Modi. Is he a crook? Probably. I can’t think of even a handful of business people anywhere in the world who got to be successes at Modi’s level without getting their hands dirty at some point. And that saintly handful who float above the rest probably hire people who’ll roll in the dirt on their behalf for the right amount.

The problem with Modi is either hubris or idiocy. Did he really think he wouldn’t get audited at some point? With the kind of cash he was presiding over? Or that he could pick a fight with a cabinet minister and not get raided? If I’d been him, I’d have kept my nose cleaner than surgical tools just in case. My accounts would have been a thing of beauty, worthy of preservation in the Museum of Chartered Accountancy. What’s that you say? There’s no such thing? Well, they’d have built one to house my records once they got a look at them.

[Digression: why is that, do you think, that crooks don't think of a CA as their primary investment? I'm assuming the motive to be a crook would be A) Money, which leads to B) Power, which leads to even more money. The kind of vicious cycle every crookster dreams of. But it's the dough that brings you down, fool. I'd think a fantastic CA is worth even more than an amazing enforcer because you need the former to safeguard the moolah to pay off your gang of bad guys. Sigh. Crime would have totally been my game if only it wasn't such a lot of hard work. I've never understood why they call it Easy Street. As if.]

But apart from possible financial improprieties, the whole notion of which are a joke given nobody really knows what the hell is going on in BCCI proper (let me guess, politicians are keen on cricket because they’re great sportspeople as the stellar state of our national sport, hockey, proves), what exactly is the song and dance about? Some serious looking people say this is all very sad because it brings “the game’s name into disrepute”. If match-fixing and lame-ass cheerleaders shaking their ass to Bollywood numbers didn’t do it, sweetheart, I don’t think you have anything to worry. And yet, everybody from the paati cheering Dhoni to the munna egging on Sachin is having hysterics – but why?

Going by the similar Modi bios in sources as diverse as Outlook and The Mumbai Mirror, which also arrive at pretty much the same conclusion, it appears Modi’s greatest crime is that he’s a rich brat who got even richer and didn’t even have the grace to be humble about it. Well, that’s never happened before. Cry me a river.

Perhaps more than any other country, India is quite well-acquainted with the Girl Scout model of business. You know what I mean: when the scouts have (delicious) cookies to sell, the first stop is always friends and family and then the neighborhood. Obviously, there is a difference between the Girl Scout economy and the IPL one. A vast one. But the point is, in a country where family-owned business are still the norm, where politics is a dynastic exercise, it is beyond hypocritical to act as though Modi invented the whole sell to your family system. The richest .01% of India who own every stone on every pavement from Leh to Kanyakumari are an incredibly incestuous lot.

Read the various Modi bios, and you’d come away thinking he was the only rich brat to enter the hallowed halls of cricket in India. Hooey. Take a look at the BCCI: it’s where industrialists go to practice their power moves. From AC Muthiah (currently suing Modi’s reported bete noir and his own arch rival N. Srinivasan of India Cements for his allegedly unethical ownership of Chennai Super Kings. His cousin and Home Minister P. Chidambaram has reportedly been tasked with untangling the IPL mess) to Jagmohan Dalmiya to Sharad Pawar, each of them is “connected” up the wazoo.

Consider, for instance, Modi’s interim replacement: Chiriyu Amin. From their super-rich industrialist fathers to their privileged upbringing, there’s little to choose between the two. The only son of Ramanbhai Amin of Alembic pharmaceuticals is not exactly an inoffensive wonk who plodded his way up the ladder.

The only real difference between them is that Modi, younger and infinitely more flamboyant, is the perfect product of the brash 80s, combining cocaine, assault, an Ivy League education, and general uselessness with elan and doing it right in the open. Meanwhile Amin is the kid from the 60s who sneaks off to deserted balconies of posh hotels in the middle of parties to discreetly down tumblers of Scotch and mutton kebabs so that his vegetarian teetotaller parents don’t catch him.

This is why Modi is an enfant terrible, while Amin is a gentleman. India might make noises about young blood and change and blah blah, but there is a System and you’d have to pry it out of the cold dead hands of aged uncle-jis before they let you mess with it. And then beware the wrath of their minions, racing to take up where their mentors left off.

The funny thing about this whole brouhaha is that Modi and Tharoor are really two sides of the same coin (here’re their statements after getting kicked in the nuts: Tharoor, Modi. Boil it down and what do you see? They’re just two misunderstood patriots, y’all!). Both of them were brought down by their hubris; their conviction that they were unique enough and valuable enough that they could skate on consequences. That’s the problem with both: the Golden Kid and the Kid with Gold. Neither of them has any real understanding of their place.

The plus factor, of course, is that nothing bad ever happens to them. Tharoor will be back and he’ll have learned enough to mind his girlfriends. Modi will be back too and he’ll have learned enough to mind his tweets.

Meanwhile, there is this whole country full of pressing problems and all sorts of crookery emanating from the highest levels of government and nobody cares because the biggest problem facing India today is apparently Lalit Modi’s outrageous spa habit.

Cricketainment. Needs a fucking rest.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2010 in Entertainment, Life, News, Newsmakers, Politics

 

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A Lit Match

The ever-growing scandal about child abuse in the Catholic Church is gaining momentum. In addition to the United States, which made the headlines again this month about a cover-up at a school for the deaf (fair warning: this will make you want to stab a bitch), Ireland and Germany are struggling with emerging scandals of their own as are other European countries.

So far, the Church’s response has been something less than perfect. The Pope, whom most people are now blaming for much of the cover-up that took place during his time as Cardinal Ratzinger, expressed deep sympathy. It didn’t go over very well.

Andrew Sullivan, gay and Catholic, is especially not having it, following the story with the same zeal he has devoted to topics such as the Health Care Reform and Iran. In one of his many posts, he wrote:

So you objectify sex; and masturbate. You cannot have sexual or even emotional contact with a teenage girl, because it is simply impossible, and you certainly cannot have sex with another teenage boy [...] so you have sex with images in your own head. Your sex life becomes completely solitary. It can be empowered by pornography or simply teenage imagination [...] Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens.

Sullivan is writing about young Western gay men who enter the Catholic priesthood. But doesn’t it sound terribly familiar to conservatively brought up Indian ears?* Heterosexual, non-Catholic, male and female ears.

So how long, I thought, before this story finds resonance in India?

Like many a middle class and upper Indian, I have legions of family members who attended convent school, from my parents and their siblings to my brother and my cousins. Most of my friends have attended a Church-run institution at some point in their lives. It’s an inevitable part of the Indian cultural landscape. I’m one of the few who didn’t and I made up for it by attending a Catholic college.

The worst thing that ever happened to me was that the Vice Principal kicked us off the snacks area because we were too loud. (He came between me and my raspberry icelolly!) The worst thing that happened to my brother (and my cousins) was extreme corporal punishment. He got the shit beaten out of him for years on end, which is probably where he developed his advanced death stare with which he frightens people these days. Boarding school gives you skills. And pretty scary memories.

If it got worse than that for anybody, nobody’s talking. Yet. In a recent edit, the Indian Express raises a flag:

Simon Palathingal, a Catholic priest of the Salesian order, was convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing a boy by a Wisconsin court. The abuse happened in the early 1990s. The same man was vice-principal of a prominent Chennai school in the late Seventies and Eighties. Given its record it is possible that the church knew of his leanings and did nothing.

If paedophile priests got away with their crimes in countries with robust legal systems, think how much easier it would be in India, with its endemic corruption.

Here’s what I was thinking as I read that: God forbid. If the Church thinks it has a problem on its hands in the West with their “robust legal systems”, then it really doesn’t want to get caught up in a similar mess in India with “its endemic corruption” because India has a fatal tendency to set fire first and ask questions later. Just ask Graham Staines‘ widow.

Right wing Hindu organizations have long been targeting the Church about conversion (here’s a flashback from the innocent 90s). You can only imagine what they’d do with pedophilia thrown into the mix. It’s kindling just waiting for a stray spark to come its way.

Religion and sex are an irresistible combination for smut as more than one religion has found to its cost. And with Indian cable news being its current excitable self… If the Church really wants to protect itself, it needs to take responsibility and ownership before other people start casting its role for them. I hope I’m wrong but it is seriously not going to be pretty if this scandal hits India.

Especially for its real victims – the children who will end up becoming tabloid fodder and political pawns in a matter of seconds.

*I really need to do a post on the Indian female equivalent.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Life, News, Politics, Video

 

Lady Politicians Are Just Askin’ For It

Esteemed Indian logician and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is very concerned:

If the women’s reservation bill were to be passed in its existing form, it would result in flooding the parliament and state legislatures with wives of government officials and women connected with big industrial houses, thereby provoking young men to indulge in eve-teasing.

As a member of Parliament, Mr. Yadav must know his colleagues better than the rest of us.  How wonderful it is to know that Indian democracy is so devoted to proper representation, it sees no difference between Parliament and the odd city street corner. It also sheds an interesting light on his family life: daughter in law Dimple is a budding seat warmer. Following his logic, Mr. Yadav is thus in favor of Ms. Dimple, er, coming to harm. Drama!

Meanwhile, his remarks deeply offended his former BFF and India’s supreme crusader for the honor and rights of women, Amar Singh:

“It is a sexist, Talibani and a cheap remark, which hurts womanhood.”…Singh claimed while the SP chief supports quota within quota for Muslim and OBC women, there have been instances when he has openly favoured “rich and good-looking” women within the party over those who came from humble backgrounds, while distributing party posts and tickets.

Constant companion and yesteryear hot babe Jaya Prada chimed in that nobody had ever said anything to her in Parliament. Someone tried it on with Hema Malini  and they were really, really sorry.*

* Only in my imagination.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2010 in Newsmakers, Politics

 

“Rape”. That’s The Word You’re Looking For

The cover story of this week’s Outlook (King Leer) is all kinds of gross. Where do I even begin?

The fact that this kind of rampant exploitation takes place and nobody even thinks it merits a look-see until somebody in the media feels a need to boost their ratings or increase their circulation or whatever?

The fact that it all sounds so sordid and smutty that it reads like a really badly written internet rape fantasy (or maybe the plots of several no-budget porn movies shot in somebody’s garage in Kerala – or wherever the fuck the desi porn industry is situated these days)?

The fact that all the stories are peppered with “expert” testimonies that repeatedly hold to the POV that a woman’s best chance to succeed in India is on her back – to an extent that it begins to take on shades of an universal truism?

The fact that politicians are actually giving each other props on how best they handle being sexual harassing, adultering, raping, pussy-hounds? “OMG, ji! Your skills as a sociopath are amazing!”

Interestingly, most political observers agree—and this includes those from the BJP—that Congressmen tend to conduct such relationships with greater finesse than those from their main rival political party. A civil servant from UP, who worked both with Kalyan Singh and the currently headline-hitting N.D. Tiwari, had this to say: “Congressmen are better at compartmentalising their lives, allotting time for work and play. Kalyan Singh’s biggest mistake was that he allowed his relationship to consume him and his political career. N.D. Tiwari, on the other hand, juggled many female interests and administration deftly.” Of course, Tiwari has finally been outed, but only after living a rather full 86 years, and surviving tales of his successor in UP, Veer Bhadra Singh, washing the Lucknow secretariat with “gangajal” before taking office, to remove the “Tiwari taint”. Indeed, a senior BJP leader speaks almost enviously of two senior, married cabinet ministers in the current UPA government for their deftness in pursuing sexual relationships without attracting the ugly odour of scandal: “What champs they are—X and Y.”

The fact that I’m pretty sure I just solved one of their blind items and it’s freaking me the fuck out to think I might actually know one of these scumbags?

It is to barf.

But even worse is their follow up article that focuses on how sleeping your way into power is an ancient Indian tradition. It reads as an extended profile of some lady from the CPI(M) called Ramnika Gupta, apparently the only one with the balls to give damn-the-consequences no-holds-barred quotes.

I don’t know what the fuck kind of tone the article’s author Sheela Reddy was going for, but I’ve seldom been more disturbed. Ms. Gupta’s relentless efforts to couch her reminisces in Free Love Hippie terms fails rather spectacularly as soon as she starts going into details and within a matter of seconds just turns bone-jarringly creepy. After “cuddling” with the Chief Minister of Bihar to get her job done, apparently

she agreed to visit the state Congress chief, Raju Mishra, in his home to put forward Sahay’s recommendation. This time, she says, she had to pay a higher price. She let him have his way and did not complain. “The only choice for a woman starting in politics is to either quit or accept the fact that she has to sleep with some of them at least,” she says. “You have to compromise until you are in a position to reject them.” What she could do, however, was to try and avoid being anywhere alone with the BPCC chief. For her compliance, he nominated her as Bihar’s representative at the Jaipur AICC meet in 1966.

This pleasant interlude of business-as-usual is followed by another in which she is confronted by a stark naked Neelam Sanjiva Reddy who proceeds to rape her in his hotel room, after which she switches parties to one in which she is still expected to sleep with people if she wants to get results but actually gets to choose the men she must please in the sack.

Of course, this only lasted as long as she didn’t dump one of those men. The resulting nastiness sent her to another Chief Minister whose primary attraction was that he wouldn’t allow anyone to rape her. Please keep in mind that this is a woman who, while all this was going on, could apparently muster up “a hundred truckloads of people for political rallies”.

Which brings me to two things:

One, what the fuck is wrong with these men? If you’re making appointments to meet strange women in your office at 4 a.m. (!!!) for a bit of a cuddle and a kiss… dude, you’ve got problems. And the kind of society that turned you into a furtive 4 a.m. cuddler has even greater problems. The kind that can’t be washed away with any amount of freakin’ gangajal.

What really strikes me about all these men, apart from their rampant rapeyness, is their completely off-the-charts servitude to the power-sex equation. Not only do these men apparently feel sex, consensual or nonconsensual, is one of the perks of the job but their complete and utter ineptitude at it is staggering.

I always thought the movie villains who ask for sex in return for favors given were hilariously cartoonish. Real life villains of that sort must have at least a little bit of polish, yes? The answer is apparently: no. They really are the kind of bozos who take off their clothes and swagger out of their bedroom to pounce on their latest victim.

I have to wonder if these men think this is the only way they’ll ever get women to have sex with them. “Bone me and I’ll give you stuff. All sorts of stuff. Stuff that you haven’t even asked for. Just bone me! Somebody! Anybody! No? Well, then, I order you to!” And it sounds as though everyone’s rationalized it to the point where they don’t even see it as rape.

Q: In what universe is being a midwife – a midwife! WTF?! -  code for “fair game for sexual harrassment”?

A: The universe controlled by our politicians and civil servants.

Two, “rape”. They probably left it out for legal reasons in which case let me just say – when a person is forced to have sex with another person? The technical term for the act is “rape”.

Ramnika Gupta has clearly been through a lot of shitty things in her life and she doesn’t need me to pile on or tell her what’s what at this late date, but sweetheart, it’s pretty damn clear what happened to you and it wasn’t sleeping to the top: it was rape. Yes, you were assaulted and the degree of that assault was rape.

If you’ve actually chosen to achieve success on your back, then that’s one thing. I think it’s a crappy way to do it and it hurts others of your gender along the line but what do I know? I have a non-traditional life and I enjoy vast amounts of privilege. Ignore me. But it seems to me that if achieving success or job security on your back is simply a matter of you working the “system”, then it’s a whole another thing from you making a choice.

It’s this little thing called rape. Use the goddamned word. It’s real, it’s ugly, it’s important.

“Either do it without guilt or don’t,” is apparently Ms. Gupta’s mantra when it comes to trading sex for favors. It seems to me that she has precious little to feel guilty about. And the people who actually did stuff they should have felt guilty about, didn’t feel any.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Life, News, Newsmakers, Politics, Video

 

Turnabout is Fair Play

Suhel Seth was Outlook‘s cat of the week in its “Beta Male” issue – you know, the one they like to let loose among the right wing pigeons who like to roost on their publication? It’s an entertaining tradition of which I heartily approve. And Seth seems to have delivered in spades with his Ten Ladies to Tremble By column that introduces us to the “[p]urveyors of hypocrisy, self-preservation and godawful stupidity—[the] women who set my teeth on edge”.

Said femmes terribles are Sushma Swaraj, Renuka Chowdhary, Meira Kumar, Jayalalitha, Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Mayawati, Rakhee Swant, Ekta Kapoor and Suneeta Narain – a little sugar for everybody. Of course Outlook‘s commentarati took it up a notch shortly thereafter by taking him to task for A) impugning the honor of the flower of Indian womanhood and B) not impugning the honor of the flowers they wanted (Sonia Gandhi x 10. Because the flower of Italian womanhood is always fair game).

[You know, I've thought it over and I've decided my all-time favorite internet complaint is: "But why didn't you write what I wanted you to write? I hate you! Your mother is a leprechaun and your father is a spore!" Or words to that effect.]

Now I’ve just spent a month following different top-rated Hindi soaps for an article (I’ll link when it’s up) so this one about IQ favorite Ekta Mata really leaped off the page:

Ektaa Kapoor: No matter how well she does, I will always detest what she has done to the psyche of the Indian woman and more importantly to Indian family evenings. Each one of her serials is riddled with social taboos but then how would Ektaa ever know? If you are the daughter of India’s legendary white-shoes, grace and style are but an aberration!

Well, that’s his opinion. But can I just say I’d take a month of watching Jeetendra “dancing” on the beach, twinkling his white toesies in the middle of an epileptic fit, over the trash his daughter and her contemporaries put out on television any day? At the most I’d end up mildly annoyed or bored if forced to watch him in Southern remakes for a solid month. After watching multiple Indian soaps for the same period of time, on the other hand, I was violently angry.

Violently!

For example, have you ever worn something sleeve-less? Do you like to put on make-up? Line your eyes, maybe? Wear high heels? Do you wear something other than a saree?

You SLUT!

A proper Indian woman dresses like Pratibha Patil, with her pallu modestly covering not just her head but her entire body like a bed sheet. If she wants to be especially daring or modern, she can keep the pallu off her head, but a saree is the only appropriate dress for an Indian woman. Fine, if she’s a virginal unmarried child, she can wear a salwar kameez.

Even if you’re an evil trollop, you will wear a saree. However, you can signal your trollop-hood by wearing off- the-shoulder blouses, halter necks, backless cholis, etc. This means you have passions. Terrible ones. You probably have – gasp! – sex. With your clothes – shriek! – off.

A good woman on the other hand is one who gets up at four in the morning to shower and dress so she can sing chapters from the Ramayana on an empty stomach to the patriarch of the household before she does pooja and serves breakfast (which she will prepare and maybe serve, not eat. That comes much, much later). This, according to the top-rated show that I was watching, was in the manner of a treat for the new bride who got unjustly yelled at for the god-awful crime of sleeping in on the morning after her wedding. An event that went on for a solid month, with many a twist in the tale, from what I gather.

All the top rated shows, in fact, seem to be ones in which nothing happens. Or maybe one thing happens in a month and then we discover that there are five hundred rituals associated with it that require the entire cast to get together and sing, dance, and pray. Every. Single. Time. To the same bloody songs, with the same bloody expressions and you simply can’t understand why they go to all the bother because it always ends badly. Haven’t they ever seen a soap on Indian TV?

Even worse are the ones in which something does happen. There is the historical Jhansi ki Rani, for example. Its production values make Ekta Mata’s Mahabharat look good in comparison. After a great many questionable Robin Hood-like adventures, its child protagonist is currently getting married to the much older Raja of Jhansi – presented as an arrogant womanizer with a taste for alcohol, dancing girls and satin capes. I kid you not. He also walks around with a giant cardboard plaque sheathed in red plastic around his neck. I didn’t even know there were levels of set design where it was futile to ask “what the fuck” because your mind has already been blown to smithereens and can no longer process thought.

But that’s not even the scummy part of it. The truly creepy part of it is that the little kid is now being counseled on the virtues of a good bride, which apparently involves her not being a child and losing that independence that first got her noticed.

Who is the audience for this show? From what I first saw of it, I presumed it was a children’s show because it was about this little kid giving it back to the (most hilariously bad) British by dressing up as a revolutionary leader and talking back to those who seek to put her down. And then all of a sudden, towards the end of the month, the focus shifted to how best a tweener could partner a man in his thirties (or twenties, my tummy was too queasy to let me find out).

Yes, the real Rani of Jhansi was a child bride. She married her husband at the age of 14. It was definitely the norm back then. But for a country where child marriage is still a serious problem, what is the message being sent out when a primetime show on a major Indian network is asking its family audience to not just witness but celebrate the upcoming nuptials of a child and a grown man as not just a political event of the distant past but a possible love story?

And even if you do want to show it as a love story (and the uncomfortable truth about child marriages is that at some point the children do consummate the marriage), must you really paint it with the same mix of hocus-pocus and intrigue that color all the other dramas on TV?

Anyway, I just wanted to let all you ladies know that if you’re reading this blog instead of cooking yummy, traditional food for the five hundred people in your joint family or praying and fasting for the well-being of those same people, then you’re a whore. A strapless-bra-wearing immoral make-up assassin. And if you’re reading this blog at work or after coming home from work (argh! “work”! quick! gargle and spit!), then there aren’t words enough to describe you. Just tell me one thing: why do you want to destroy your family? WHY?!

 
29 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2009 in Celebrity, Life, Newsmakers, Politics

 

She Like a Song Played Again

Did Gursharan Kaur wear the same saree to her two State Dinners at the White House? And is it wrong that this makes me love her a tiny bit? :mrgreen:

I can’t see the pallu properly so I can’t make a definitive call but it looks amazingly alike.

The more I look at them, the more hilarious I find it. There you have Michelle Obama, towering over the two of them like a goddess, in a Naeem Khan hand-made (in India! the exoticism comes gratis!) original that’d probably retail anywhere between $5000 and $15,000 and there you have the adorable Ms. Kaur in her basic black Kancheepuram saree that I’d be shocked to purchase for more than two thousand rupees. Fine, I might pay an extra thousand if it’s an especially tony shop and yell “Thief!” while I’m at it, but don’t tell me it sells for more than that.

Yin and yang at the White House.

But for reals, Dr. S – buy your wife a nice saree or two. Ladies like that sort of thing. You’re the Prime Minister, I’m sure someone in your office can figure out where to get ‘em.

Source: The fabulous Mrs. O

 
20 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2009 in Celebrity, News, Newsmakers, Politics

 
 
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