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Priorities that matter most

Turner's "sex icon" image has enraged people, but violence against women has elicited no response.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2004 20:44 IST

This week I was rather saddened, foremost as an Indian, that each year 15,000 women are victims of dowry deaths in India. Just days before the International Women's Day, The Amnesty International report came as a heartwrencher. It makes me proud that India is predicted to be an economic power within the next decade, but what does this advancement mean if such social atrocities continue?

Even Pakistan seems to be better off, where, according to Amnesty figures, 1000 women die every year in honour killings. Comparison is not the issue. Even a single such brutal killing is a death. Yet, instead of raising a voice or making public statements against such serious crimes we have certain Indians in the UK protesting against singer Tina Turner playing the role of Shakti in an Ismail Merchant film.

Tina Turner, the rock star, has enraged Hindus in Britain by agreeing to play an Indian goddess in a new British film production. When I reported the news of Turner's role some weeks ago I was half expecting such furore, and that is exactly what is happening.

The What's-Love-Got-To-Do-With-It singer, who has already toured India for the film, The Goddess, by Merchant and James Ivory, had a peaceful visit there, but in Britain Hindu organisations are threatening to picket cinema halls that screen the film. Their complaint is that Turner's sexually charged stage image makes her unfit for the role. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK and Britain-based Hindu Human Rights are determined to protest against casting Turner.

"What bothers me is that Tina Turner's 'sex icon' image... has touched a raw nerve in some people, but women being brutalised, has not".

I am a democratic minded person and have no objections to people having their opinions and likes and dislikes. Like me, I think many would be heartened if such groups raised their voices against serious issues like dowry deaths and such social evils. What bothers me is that Tina Turner's 'sex icon' image, although she has been a practicing Buddhist for several years, has touched a raw nerve in some people, but women being brutalised, has not.



In Hinduism, Shakti is a female power of divinity, strength and energy and she is worshipped by millions and a 'misappropriate' screen portrayal of her cannot be tolerated by some of her worshippers. May be they should try to please Durga, Parvati, Kali or Lakshmi by beginning a concerted effort to campaign against dreadful social injustices that Indian women are still suffering.

Also without sounding sexist, I must add here that the Amnesty report praises the effort of Indian women working to mediate and prevent such crimes. Where are the men? How often does one hear of men forming organisations to fight such atrocities against women? A penny for your thoughts!

Indian to rev up Asian Babes
On a much lighter note though, an Indian has bought into the UK media. No, it is not the Hinduja brothers supposedly bidding for the Express or now The Daily Telegraph. It is Aroon Maharajh, of Remnant Media with his business partner Simon Robinson, who has bought a group of "fantasy magazines" including Asian Babes, for an estimated £20 million.

What, for most of us, would be soft-porn magazines, has been sold by the owner of Express Newspapers, Richard Desmond. So, is Desmond now looking towards The Daily Telegraph? Time will tell. In the meantime, let me inform you Asian Babes is not about British Indian or Pakistani girls, it is more about Thai girls from massage parlours. Maharajh, however, has a Hindu Brahmin father and an Austrian mother, so let's wait and watch what he plans to introduce in the magazine.

Fly Home

"The new flight to Ahmedabad is one of a series of new routes which A-I plans to cover with the expansion of its fleet".

The British Gujarati community here is nevertheless a pleased bunch. Air India has gifted them with a direct flight to Ahmedabad. The inaugural flight, which will take off on March 28, will fly to Ahmedabad and then to Mumbai. The airline's Regional Director in London, Capt AK Sharma has worked hard to make this possible. He expects these flights will surpass expectations.



Various Gujarati organisations had launched a signature campaign last year and petitions signed by nearly 100,000 people were sent to the Civil Aviation Ministry and LK Advani. We have been told that the new flight to Ahmedabad is one of a series of new routes which Air-India plans to cover with the expansion of its fleet. So, get ready for some comfortable flights to your basera!

First Published: Mar 10, 2004 21:07 IST