There is no getting away from the scriptures in Indian politics. For every occasion, there is an allusion from our ancient texts to explain the situation. Just when we thought that the Women’s Reservation Bill was debated bitterly on political lines, comes a new explanation from Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily. It wasn’t politics but Sita’s ordeal by fire that firmed up the government’s resolve to push the controversial Bill, he said recently.
Now we have the highest respect for our scriptures. But surely Sita who was made to go through the test of fire to prove her innocence after having been subjected to the harrowing ordeal of being kidnapped by Ravana is not exactly the epitome of women’s empowerment. Yes, she came out of it unscathed but clearly could not bear the humiliation of this disempowerment and asked the earth to open up and take her away. So has the erudite Mr Moily dialled the wrong number here?
While paying lip service to stree shakti, it’s quite routine for women to be walloped around, often fatally. Perhaps our society has a novel way of showing respect for women. While in other civilised societies, women’s empowerment amounts to equal opportunities, here this amounts to equal opportunities discrimination. We have seen how deferentially lewd remarks are passed in public places where women are present. Not to mention the graceful manner in which women are molested in public places. The empowerment bit is when women take this in the stride, much like Sita, and soldier on. If only Mr Moily had thought of Kali who’d send shiver down the spines of men, we could have taken him a bit more seriously. But then with the Bill running into rough weather, the allusion to Sita is more appropriate.