Showing posts from March, 2019

Men must recognise their privilege not just their vulnerability

Recently, I attended two international conferences on gender and the issue of getting men and boys involved in gender equality was central to both. I have been engaged in advocating that men become more involved as equal stakeholders in promoting gender justice for the last two decades. I have also been working on getting this idea accepted among feminists in India so I should have been elated. Surprisingly I was not; instead I am a little worried. Even though profeminist men long have been involved in gender equality efforts, there is a concern among some women’s rights activists that “working with men and boys” has emerged as the “flavor of the month” and may draw both attention—and resources—away from the important task of advancing women’s empowerment. I understand their concern. When it comes to gender justice we should never suggest working with men and boys should be an alternative to working with women and girls. My concern is with an emerging narrative focusing on what s

Being Political 201.1: It is not about ‘who will screw us more’.

I was recently forwarded Rahul Ram’s song on the upcoming elections on a number of WA groups and then saw it shared on the Facebook by many friends. The audience at the  Aisi taisi Democracy  show where he sings this song is in splits at the song’s refrain ‘ fir  aaya  hai  time to choose, who will screw us more.’   I don’t know Rahul Ram personally but I know some people who claim he is their friend. I don’t know Rahul Ram’s politics but the song "Chunav ka Mahina" I think is very naïve, to say the least. The crowd that claps and laps up this song in the oft forwarded video seems to agree with Rahul Ram’s basic contention that this election is a choice between two sets of scamsters and a horde of pretenders who want to be Prime Minister. I don’t think it is so simple, at least this time. It is not a choice between the lesser of the two evils – a preening breast beating Chowkidar or an assertive Pappu who is being supported by a sister who people believe is a throwback

Becoming Political 101.1 : Let’s get ready to vote.

The election schedule has been announced. There will now be intense jostling among prospective candidates for being nominated. Shrill canvassing will begin at the grassroots. What will we, the voter do differently? Politics they say is the last resort of the scoundrel, and you and I are no scoundrels so may justifiably feel that we have little to do in the cesspool of politics. Many think NOTA is probably the best option in a field where none of the candidates or parties seem to have any redeeming feature. I too thought the same, but now I do not. Especially not this time. The least we can do is vote, but that too requires some effort and preparation as I have realised. I had an EPIC (voter) card made in 2014 and safely assumed my name would be on the electoral list. Imagine my surprise when my name did not return any data on the Goverify website! I was in a for a double whammy when I realised that my daughter’s name existed even though she was away from home for six years and ha

Gully Boy: Celebrating Subaltern Masculinities

The story of the underdog making good is a reasonably familiar trope for Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan had made the genre his own when he ruled as the ‘angry young man.’ Usually such stories also include an element of moral redemption and exploit the familiar theme of cops and robbers all the way from the sibling rivalry where Sashi Kapoor famously says ‘mere pass Ma hain’ to the more contemporary saga of the ‘Sacred Games’. The story of Gully Boy while including many elements of the familiar also provides an alternative exploration of subaltern masculinities. Dharavi provides a very realistic and human backdrop but unlike in Slumdog Millionaire it reverberates with a joie de vivre . Instead of evoking the pathos of the well-heeled viewer it indicts the wide-eyed incredulous ‘gaze’ of poverty tourism when the grandmother makes a quick 500 rupees by letting the guide bring in the white camera toting foreign tourists into her home. Guiltily I recalled my own experience entering