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Shri Mohan Bhagwat ji’s statement on women has its worth

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G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
 

Nowadays, whatever the RSS chief Shri Mohan Bhagwat ji says, is shredded into pieces by the media. His statement (as cited in the print media): ‘that it is education and affluence that drive families (read women) to divorce because they purportedly lead to arrogance in them’ has some merit in it, though outwardly such a statement seems obtrusive and politically incorrect. There’s a wide acceptance to the statement among the middle class of India. In a country, which is socially multi-layered, the application of a single statement wouldn’t address the entire gamut.

At each level— women in the Indian society:

Earlier, in the middle classes, it was the man who earned money for the family and the woman used to cook and look after the family. Mostly the management of the family and care of the family was under her control. It was that kind of arrangement that went on for years harmoniously. In those days, women were not economically independent unlike today. However, men with sensibility, never degraded women, gave them their due respect for running family (from within the boundary). They were eulogised for their tolerance and accommodating nature. The women then, boldly faced the travails i.e with regard to family’s health and economy.

At basement level (of hierarchy), that is, among the poor, there was contentment. The coolies of both sexes: wife and husband returning home after nightfall, though working from sunrise to sunset, used to forget their fatigue and sing light heartedly songs, look animated conversing with each other in their most humble thatched hut. That domestic felicity they used to enjoy. Even now, they’re the same (of course, with some material uplift with the changed time). Wives of small peasants even today assist their husbands in their work. Petty tradesmen are assisted by their wives in their shops by maintaining excellent order and commercial dealings. So, the culture and tradition have not changed much in them.

In the good old days, many westerners used to wonder how Indian households stood, as examples of the married-status to their highest degree. This is all because of our Shastras that ordained a marital Dharma. The westerners extolled our joint-family system wherein the mother/mother-in-law preserved the good order among the family members. This kind of system has scarcely a parallel in Europe, they felt. If that strong system has been eroding, it is but natural for Shri Bhagwat to bemoan as the Head of the RSS, the organisation that stands to protect the Indian culture.

Slowly and steadily, women started to work in middle classes, contributing money to the family kitty to supplement the engine of economy (at their home-front). Of course, this was done,for some time, by very few women, out of ‘dire need’. Of late, it’s not the need that drivers every girl/woman to work. Even coming from an affluent background, girls are working. It has become a fad. Rather than ” necessity”, it’s increasingly becoming a “nice- to- have-a- job” kind of attitude. The girls/ women are very keen on showing off their potential to the world. This is in no way wrong. For, women in their earlier avatar, when they were relegated to the kitchen, men (some of them) used to ridicule them as if they were good for nothing outside their cosy confines. Hence, the present assertiveness of women is a backlash of their earlier humiliation.

 

For a decade or two, the culture from across the skies through satellite television and the present English medium education system have changed the mind-set of girls to a certain degree. Instead of viewing their role holistically in the family system, they are increasingly becoming individualistic. Now, there’s a near total westernisation in the middle classes. There are pros and cons to this transformation.

On the pros side, the women by participating in the workforce, have been supplementing their family and also to the nation in economic terms of affluence. By their exposure to the outside world, they are bringing home a different perspective/worldview. Economic independence gave them an equal footing on par with men in all fronts. So, their way of thinking/behaviour has changed according to the present situation. Men still remained where they were in our social hierarchy, calling shots. Hence, the change has to come in men.

Somehow, women being less dependent economically on men now, started asserting themselves. For them, their educational uplift and economic prosperity added strength to defy the system when in crisis. They started questioning the structure. In some women, their material affluence is making them egoistic and uncompromising. That is, usually, not expected of women. Their inflated ego/pride would not allow them for an understanding in their married life leading to break-ups. Here, what Shri Bhagwat ji said appears true.

 

Since family-system being the backbone of Indian culture, it became pertinent for Shri Bhagwat ji to highlight the problem. Isolating one sentence from a larger context and extrapolating meaning to suit their whim, is no good for journalists. Shri Bhagwat ji being a bachelor- how could he be an authority (as written in some newspaper items) -is somewhat an affront on his persona. Men or women of a certain age, married or unmarried, carry certain wisdom. It comes out of the experience of seeing the world. Isn’t Shri Rahul Gandhi, being a bachelor, not speaking on women’s issues? Any qualms to ask him how he knows them all?

The effort Shri Bhagwat ji made is only to protect Dharma (that is duty/responsibility of each person in the family/society). By ridiculing his corrective measures, the media is doing more harm than good.

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G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

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