Union Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury has never been known to pull her punches on any issue. Apropos of the Mangalore pub and bus incidents, she takes apart the vexed question of ‘Indian culture’ in an interview to Faith Editor Renuka Narayanan.
As former Minister for Tourism and Culture under the UPA government, you’ve been in charge of every dance and dome in the country. What do you see as everyday ‘Indian culture’?
I see this huge melting pot of past, present and future, that we straddle all worlds. We may experiment, morph into various forms for a while because we are fond of new things, but we have a core identity that’s very strong. It’s evolved over 5,000 years. Are we so fragile and unrooted that we have to beat up girls?
Why do you suppose Muthalik is troubling our girls?
(Snorts). By all accounts, Muthalik is not married! What can he possibly understand about give-and-take relationships? We’ll have to speak to his mother, I wonder how she raised him. We’ll have to ask her where he gets this attitude.
What punishment do you see as culturally fit for Muthalik’s crime, apart from the due process of law?
He and his goons should pay for the college fees and the weddings of the girls they molested. So be a custodian of culture by taking full responsibility. Support the lives of India’s girl children. Don’t just attack them in certain areas of their life which is anyway none of your business.
Does that mean fathers can bully their daughters?
No, no. I see men as weaklings who need the shakti of their women to take them through life.
So what, in your view, is the culturally right way to raise children in India?
An open system, where children are encouraged to come and tell the truth, unafraid. I don’t buy this ‘Parents are a child’s best friend’ thing. A child needs best friends from his peer group. A parent helps a child transit life’s preparatory phases. Youth will try to break the rules. Either we opiate them through teenage or we build up their self-esteem enough to be self-regulatory, to find the courage to say ‘No’ or ‘That’s Enough’.
You’re vice-president of the Jat Mahasabha and Dara Singh (former wrestler) is president. What would a Jat do if he saw girls in a pub?
Jats are so confident of their masculinity, they’d be supremely indifferent.
Hmm. What’s your view of ‘Good Girls’ and ‘Bad Girls’?
What’s Indian ‘Bad’?
The distorted vision of a bunch of bigots.