Swatantra Divas Mubarak Ho! 66 years on and our tryst with destiny continues: there are many battles still being waged and many trials still to be won. An Indian Daily asked me what I, as a woman, wanted most this Independence Day. Here's my answer.
The average woman in India steps out of her home and goes into combat mode: fists clenched, back stiff, eyes scouring her surround. We know the reason why. Guwahati, Mangalore, Maddur have hit the headlines recently for brutal sexual assault and yet, countless stories of sexual harassment go unrecounted because they are as common as the act of walking. Grope, catcall, leer are more ubiquitous than stray dogs on our streets.
Gandhi said the greatness of a civilization is evident in the way it treats its animals. Time for an update: ...in the way it treats its women.
Keeping half the populace subjugated isn't going to get us anywhere - it’s simple economics. But then, this isn't about economics, is it? It's about cultural conditioning, stereotypes, Manusmriti and the fact that a woman’s identity is defined through her lifetime by the moving line of patriarchy in her life: father, husband, son.
We proudly proclaim that we are an ancient civilization. True, India and China are the world's oldest continuous civilizations. One visit to China though will show that women truly do hold up half the sky. In India, we are still having this discussion.
This Independence Day I wish for the freedom to walk without having to go into combat readiness. It's time we jettisoned our medieval mindset and reclaimed the civilized half of that claim of 'ancient civilization'.