1989-90 Satellite television had still not invaded our drawing rooms. Back then the idiot box was not that idiotic and it brought the family together rather than divide it. I still vividly remember the kaleidoscope of images flashing on the television screen - Romanian dictator Ceaușescu being bundled into a vehicle and later sentenced to death by his own people, the Berlin wall coming down amidst jubilant cheers, pro-democracy students being slaughtered by their own government at Tiananmen Square, the mighty USSR crumbling into small countries. It’s a period no one will forget in a hurry.
2010 – 11 It seems as if someone has pressed the rewind button. This time it is the Arab world shaking off decades of cowed passivity under dictatorships. India readily succumbed to the heady fragrance of Jasmine and its simmering discontent found a vent in the proposed Jan LokPal Bill. It was an uprising that took the elected by surprise.
The world is in a period of transition again - a difficult time marked by impatience and disappointment of the people in rebellion.
If you have been following these upheavals closely, you will observe the pivotal role the youth has played in these movements. In Egypt, it was not the traditional opposition groups, but tens of thousands of the youth who braved tear gas, rubber bullets. They gathered support through social media and mobilized public opinion. For a change the young were ready to take the reins of change they had been dreaming of.
It is another matter that the Arab Spring has now turned to Arab hell, as dictators like Assad and Gaddafi strive to curb rebellion ruthlessly.
The young and the restless can be a volatile mix and leaders have discovered it at their own peril.
There have been countless debates on what could have possibly triggered these revolts. Dissatisfaction with the elected, rising expectations, impatience for progress...But what you probably did not know is that the skewed sex ratio is also touted as one of the factors behind growing social unrest. Asian countries with severely skewed sex ratio have given rise to a generation of boys with pent up testosterone and nowhere to go. Imagine a pack of strappy boys having to vie for the attention of 3 remaining girls in the village and one of them prefers spending her time wrestling in her Dad’s akhadaa. In this battle for the few remaining women, it is money that wins, leaving the poorest unhappily unmarried. Now couple it with unemployment and you have a platoon of angry young men ready to spit fire at the slightest provocation.
Nevertheless, it is this sex ratio imbalance that makes a woman feel so special. She has hordes of men tailing her wherever she goes, who will never shy of expressing their appreciation in a primal language of wolf whistles and cat calls. The sight of a female form makes their vehicles defy speed and logic and their enthusiastic gestures of yearning are enough to give a good soccer like practise to our frail hearts. A woman is an easy target. If she rejects your advances, you can throw acid on her face. If there’s too much salt in the curry you can smash the plate on her face. Want to teach her a lesson - just strip her off her clothes.
And to top it all we have a breed of parents who don’t think twice before denying their girl child her life – the sacred giver of life. The one who could have been your first teacher, your first love, the reason for your passion....
But despite an acute shortage of women in our country – it’s them who run the show. Amma, Didi, Madam, Shelia Chachi and Behenjee make grownup men wish they had their diapers on. Look what happened, when the Queen who runs the show from the backseat, took her ailing self to Obama’s bankrupt country. Her knights are behaving like a pack of bumbling fools, creating a black-hole of controversies.
Ironically these powerful women in politics have not leveraged their position to do anything substantial for other women. Our voices, our expectations, our anxieties are of no consequence to them. Is it because women are too passive for our own good? Do we let off our mantris a bit too easily?
Since August is perfect for Kranti – I think it’s time we all said buss bahut ho gaya. It’s time we found a voice and reject discrimination, violence, subjugation, indifference..... If you choose to ignore us yet again, it will be at your own peril. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And once a woman flares up it’s not easy to calm her down – like the mighty Brahmaputra she can wreak havoc...like Durga she can descended to vanquish the evil demon, Mahishasura.