Sunday, May 8, 2016

Before and after a rape
Malini Nair of the Times Group, in an Op-ed article, Story Behind the Rape in ToI on 6th May, 2016 contends that the traditional “adakkavum othukkavum” (which she conveniently, “loosely” translates as control and docility ) introduced to the girlhood by the family patriarchs in Kerala society as acceptable behavior pattern for women, is responsible for Kerala women’s basic tendency to acquiesce, accept and not to rebel or question.

The ridiculous part of the argument is that she cites her discovery as the reason for the innumerable cases of rapes, assaults against the women, sexual harassment, and cruelty by husbands that she quotes from the NCRB statistics of the past one decade! I have lived a major part of my life in Kerala and raised a daughter there; so have my brothers and sisters. “Adakkavum othukkavum” in the familial parlance was never what Malini Nair understands.  I am sure, she knows what it is, but fakes the understanding to get a point of view validated: that patriarchal families forced girl children to imbibe certain traditional values she opposes for whatever reasons, and alleges that those values wanted a “polite society” she finds hateful, being an argumentative and spirited woman herself or is the category she represents.)  

“Adakkavum othukkavum’ is a phrase meaning modesty, forebearance, self-control, humility, fortitude and stoicism” in a society that protected women “like the eyeball”. If one goes by Ms.Nair’s contention, the girls belonging to the new generation of “spirited” women, in the State considered also"gender empowered"(that is equal to men in areas of  political participation and decision making, economic participation and decision making, and power over economic resources) would not have suffered the fate enumerated by her! Jisha was an MA, and was doing her LLB. The only problem was that her family had no money, and no male members to keep a watch over her to see that no harm comes. Poor women have always been targeted, unless they had some other power to compensate for the lack of money: family, associations, employment, or direct political backing.  

A decade ago I had written a long blog (‘Sex and Keralites’) about the unacceptable sexual behavior of the Malayalee males. I had written in there that “Kerala’s major contribution in social life seems to be in giving the go to the element of consent and dragging innocent girls and women in vulnerable plights into the sordid world of sexual exploitation.” And also “People seem to flaunt their affection for not only the other sex, but for one’s own these days”....“Now incest is not the rarest phenomenon it was in Kerala. In fact no relationship seems to have any sanctity. Boys openly crack sexual jokes about their teachers’ wives. Sisters-in-law who used to be equivalent to mothers in olden times have also become desirable sexual objects these days. Friends’ mothers are no different.”

Ms.Nair is silent about what make boys and men behave as they do, and concentrates on why the women have to undergo the horrible experience all their lives. Why is it that any female between the age of six and sixty is unsafe on Kerala’s thoroughfares even in broad daylight, as late M.P.Narayana Pillai bemoaned? I believe, it is not because of the “adakkavum othukkavum” instilled in the girls from childhood, but on account of the breakdown of traditional mores, values, also of the fundamental moral views which were replaced by a modern one: “men and women are like he-goats and she goats; every normally constituted man wants to pop into bed with every normally constituted woman; and vice versa!”I am quoting from memory a character with a nickname ‘Subanovsky’ in a K A Abbas novel. Those who conducted ‘Chumban Samaram”(‘Kiss of Love’) were drawing other people’s sisters to join them in a fake protest, as an initiation process into a form of physical relationship starting from lips! And it was proven so, with some kingpin later being found to operate an online sex racket! The disgusting saga doesn’t end there...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The USCIRF and its (Hindu)India-bashing
Tomorrow, May 2nd 2016, the U S Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is scheduled to release its annual report. In the context of the ‘Hindu Nationalist Government’ of India denying visa to USCIRF recently, and the IB stating that USCIRF reports were based on “half-truths, hearsay and standalone cases,” I have a premonition regarding what is coming!

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had in the past unleashed a torrent of invective directed at India, which in its strange wisdom, considers to be a country intolerant of religious minorities! The 2015 USCIRF Report was suffused with hypocrisy and double standards that the SundayGuardian editorially mocked it that were authors of it to ever get tasked to write a history of the subcontinent, they would affirm that it is not Pakistan but India where the share of minorities in the total population has fallen precipitously since 1947!

How do we counter portrayal of our country as a den of fanatics, with the ulterior motive of providing an excuse for the US administration to threaten sanctions and other punitive measures against India? The saddest part of it that the most active “informers” supplying the material against India are the evangelist Christian groups, particularly the CBCI! People who preach religious tolerance to India must ask themselves, does “respectful coexistence of diversity” mean that every Indian has to be a Christian to be SAVED and reach heaven or paradise or has to be either killed or converted to Islam, the one and only true faith?

Hindu Dharma, unlike Christianity and Islam doesn’t divide humanity into those chosen by God and those eternally damned. It requires regarding all as brothers and sisters! Not even the lunatic fringe among the Hindus, do not consider that India’s Constitutional promise of secularism, liberty, equality, and democracy to minorities was inappropriate, with the country’s huge diversity: half-a-dozen major religions, 14 official languages and hundreds of dialects, many scripts and literature. There is only an assertion about a common culture. Does that hurt the USCIRF to know that an 80+percent majority in India embrace the rest as brothers and sisters under an overlapping cultural umbrella; that the mother society feels for the children who have taken up different faiths for whatever reasons? Why is the USCIRF so mystifyingly blind as not to see that  the 3% Christians and the 14% or so Muslims in India, live as full citizens in political, social, cultural and the religious life of India, and  enjoy greater rights and freedoms in than any similar minorities in any other country including the United States?

But of course, the USCIRF cannot keep ordering India for a grovelling “outreach” to extremist Muslims and Christians! Hindus have been happy to live their lives without bothering about Faiths of others. Why are Christians, Muslims (and atheists too) waging war on beliefs that mean nothing to them Well, if it comes to a confrontation that USCIRF is attempting, why can’t we Hindus insist and maintain that we reject all religions that do not agree with Indian thought and values? Muslims attempt to wall off outside influences, permitting only an Islamic education for their children and disengaging from the wider non-Muslim community everywhere. Christians believe that Jesus said “"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” and "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me..."If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Isn’t that denying those who do not become Christians access to God?

And what do the HINDUS believe: They hold on to the Upanishadic philosophy "Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti" —"that which exists is One (God): sages call it by various names! Is there a more inclusive philosophy? The moderation of the majority, has ensured the safety of the minority, and those who ignore this fact are diverting attention from countries where religious persecution is the norm!

Other than the USCIR, the U.S. State Department too has its annual International Religious Freedom report, a country-by-country catalogue of the treatment of religious groups around the globe! It is actually international policing! How many of us remember enormous kleptocracy named the UPA, remote-controlled by an Italian Catholic lady, had made the unprecedented step of inviting UNCIRF to visit Gujarat and Orissa to study Muslim/Christian persecution by the respective State Governments run by BJP and ally to play politics unmindful of the reputation of the country? Has the US Congress been informed that when in the so called Christian countries churches are closing down in India churches are annually increasing in number?

Noted anthropologist France Boss has held that “if we wish to take over the direction of a society we must either guide it from within its cultural framework or else eradicate its culture and impose a new culture.” What the BJP is trying to do is to ‘guide India from within its cultural frame work’? America doesn’t have much of a culture, being in fact a “refugee settlement” of sorts! They maynot understand this! But if religious freedom is truly the “civilizing discourse of our time” India will participate in it holding its head high and proclaiming that, WE ARE PROUD OF OUR RECORD!