The Amartya Sen debate-Why am I enraged as a woman?

I have been watching the election circus which will soon be telecast live in our drawing rooms, with as much interest as any other ordinary Indian of my age. To put the record straight, I have a habit of reading up stuff. I read up the newspapers and I am in the loop. But I am simply disinterested! Why? because it is all the same. The mumbo jumbo that goes on every 5 years. Every time there is this towering figure who is the centre of attraction. Our politicians prefer talking about the person more rather than concentrating on issues. Issue based politics and policy decisions are not part of our Parliamentary system and it is high time we accept that.

A few years back the entire Indian polity was utterly confused about what to do with Sonia Gandhi and her origins. The ‘bahu’ brigade justified her lineage with our age old ‘culture’ and what not and the people who proclaim themselves to be the true upholders of ancient Indian culture detested her. This time it is none other than the charismatic Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi who is in the limelight. I have heard from my peers that Mr. Modi is an excellent administrator and after hearing a few speeches on youtube about his vision of Bharat and her development, I am a tad convinced. May be because it will be  a decision between who is the lesser evil(?)- the kid who refuses to grow up, who does not show up to take any responsibility anywhere, anytime, whose party has been responsible for some of the biggest scams in the recent times and someone whose credibility for some (high funda?) inclusive growth is under scanner, always.

Yes, we all like development. Economic ones per se. I come from a state which is a living example of how economic decay has led to the complete destruction of the moral fibre of the society. I am from West Bengal, I am from Calcutta and I proudly say so. But the incidents and the facts and figures that I encounter everyday makes it a very difficult decision for me to stay back in the city I love. I had given up a well cushioned job in another city to be here. I took a pay cut. But I was happy. Not that everyone will be. I am talking about the very little opportunities that the place offers nowadays. It’s a hard truth that I have no option other than accepting.

But this post is not about that. I see a point in Modinomics because my state is an example about how your basics in economic growth needs to be in place for you to survive. A world renowned Economist, a Nobel Laureate does not agree with me. Fair enough, Amartya Babu, you are entitled to have your opinion. And so are you Chandan Babu. Everyone can have their opinion. The fundamentals of our Constitutional practice, which is so eloquently depicted in one of the brilliantly written documents of recent history, records and recognises that. A little knowledge of our ancient Indian culture and scriptures will reveal that it has always been that way. ‘Sahanshilata’ is a part of our Indian way of life.

But what enrages me and engulfs with utter disgust is the way how the debate about whether Mr. Modi is an ideal Prime Ministerial Candidate or not is progressing. I for one will choose him over the ‘other’. But the campaign on various social networking sites which personally attacks Mr. Sen by circulating morphed pictures of her daughter, actor Nandana DevSen, is malicious, hurtful and tragic to say the least. The pictures question the right of Mr. Sen about expressing his opinion on the grounds that he failed to impart moral lessons to her daughter.

My question is even if Nandana DevSen participated in those nude photoshoots, how is that even related to the debate? She is an actor. I do not find her to be a good one, but it is her chosen profession. Ms. DevSen is a well read lady and she is capable of making her decisions on her own. It is her right over her own body and how she prefers to use it (photographed or not!) is completely her domain of choice. Her father has no business being ashamed of it. The point about imparting moral lessons to the daughter about how she can pose and act in such films or for such photographs is a disgracefully patriarchal one. And that makes me even more concerned when we are going through the times when women in our country are raped over their choice of clothes, not on the heinous mental indifference of the man. This very attack again brings to fore that even after those promises of changing mentality, nothing actually has changed.

And I am surprised that nobody is questioning that. Reminds of Charles Dickens all over again 🙂

P.S. I am equally enraged about 65 elected representatives seeking a third party referral from a foreign government about grant of visa to one man. Obsession has new limits.

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