Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Choice Before India: Grow Up, or Stay Stuck

So India, another honor killing? Well done. In the heart of your capital city, that too. Shabash!

Your Prime Minister is busy crowing about the existence, or invention, of artificial insemination and plastic surgery in ancient India; his mentor Dinanath Batra is dictating school curriculum in Gujarat, for now; the RSS - yes, the same communal organization responsible for killing Gandhi - has been allowed its first national broadcast over DD, but then Gandhi’s usefulness is limited to evocation for swachhata drives; fraudulent Babas and Sants are waging pitched battles with police and accumulating followers by the millions - why pay hospitals when Ramdev can cure cancer? But with its women, it's the same ole same ole.

Since becoming the prime minister, Mr Modi is keenly traveling the world, motivating the diaspora and firangis to invest in India, but he needs to take a good hard look at his own backyard in Des. Khap panchayats, gang-rapes, honor killings, prescribed dress codes for half its population - is this the way to take India forward in the manner of the western nations our PM so admires? The westward direction only leads to Afghanistan. Or are we, in the tradition of recollecting out glorious ancient culture, just arcing back to that great Manu, the progenitor whose laws dictate women’s conduct in India? 

And before the fanboyz start pointing out that the PM is one person and surely this is our collective responsibility as a nation, consider this: Leaders set direction, from which follow policy and laws. In 2011, India's Supreme Court said that those involved in honour killings should face the death penalty. How about the 'new' government enforcing that for a start?

Among the many prescribed tenets of Manusmriti are developing the routine of wife-beating, ensuring a woman always eats after her husband, allowing her no independence, etc. One particular gem: Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation. ‘Mere paas Ma hai.’ - What the heck did Shashi Kapoor, rather Salim-Javed, mean by this popular dialogue that has become so beloved of entire India? Freud will have a field day analyzing this in context of Manu’s commandments.

Apologists rationalize Manu’s prejudice and hatred of women by dating it to the time he lived in, two millennia back. So my question to you, India, is: do you aim to grow up?, or will it be back to the ‘golden age’ of our PM’s calling, where, in the matter of your women, you are forever stuck?

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