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Wed Jan 16, 2013, 06:10 AM

The Bible according to Bhagwat

By Badri Raina

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

So, for starters, you might ask the question: do the thousands of dalit women, agricultural workers, adivasi women out to gather firewood or water, women out on the call of nature in the open, women who dare to defy custom in the hinterlands, girls who dare go to village schools trudging menacing distances, women who inhabit slums outside city limits who are regularly subjected to rape live in India or in Bharat? And all without any of the redress that may occasionally be available to women who are raped in “India,” since in “Bharat” there is hardly ever a police thana to go to, or a social organization to seek shelter with, or a hospital or health worker who might record and report those rapes. And of course no “western” influence there. Only expanding “development” full of predatory robber barons patronized by chief executives replete with good Bharatiya values.

Then there is the claim that women have traditionally been so honoured and safe in Bharat. Consider how Shrupnakha in the Ramayana was honoured by having her nose cut off for expressing an amorous preference; how Dhrupadi in the Mahabharata was likewise honoured by first being staked in gambling by an adarsh husband, and then gleefully disrobed by the male cabal, all friendly family men, to whom she was lost in dice; or how women in a predominant “Bharat” then were honoured by being required to climb the dead husband’s pyre upon his death; or how they were made safe by being routinely married off as less than nubile children; or being propitiated as “grah lakhshmis” who nonetheless had the privilege of eating last and eating little; or by being burnt off should her dowery be pitiful; or, more recently, by being killed off in the womb to be utterly and ab initio safe from the outside world. And, altogether, by being held to the so ennobling laws of Manu. All during times when one never as much heard of the “western” world, which, one must note, was pretty much as enlightened with respect to women as the Bharat barely sketched above.

Now this wretched “western” world: how the sanaatan Bharatiya rightwing adores its goods and services, its technologies, its finances, its industry, its impulse to dominance,its macho militarism, its market economies and all the chicaneries and corruptions that go with it, but how it abhors its concomitant histories of democracy, freedom, equality. Ergo, as the Hindu rightwing Bible would have it, give us your capitalism, give us the smart phones, give us the unconscionably unethical advertising industry, but leave us our Bharatiya culture at the centre of which is the shackled nari captive to a plethora of lakhshman rekhas. Let her continue to be the bulwark of family and patriarchy, while Bharatiya men go out to conquer the world.

Gloriously, however, there is a new turbulence underway in post-independence India, where what remnants of Bharat there remain—and these are still countless—are sought to be everyday uplifted to a future of reason, dignity, equality; a turbulence which most hearteningly is now being owned and endorsed by a new generation of young males who have seen through the untenable and oppressive formulations of old. Gloriously also, some women who have been objects of gang rapes are today boldly and openly articulate on some media channels, speaking of their ordeals in their own voices, and, most significantly, refusing to project themselves merely as victims overburdened by the sort of shame and opprobrium that patriarchs would like them to feel. This truly betokens a new episteme in India’s social and gender history, one that seems here to stay. All that in the teeth of rightwing back-to-the-wall resistance from both major communities (notice that Abu Azmi of the Samajwadi Party has said that he finds nothing wrong in what Bhagwat ji has said; how those seeming opposites are often at bottom one and the same; no wonder that “honour” killings straddle both communities with equal conviction in misogyny and patriarchy) in India who stand more and more exposed as each day passes.

Full Article - http://www.zcommunications.org/the-bible-according-to-bhagwat-by-badri-raina

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