Links: Madhu Kishwar, Mary Kom and more

Don’t go by her Twitter feed alone. Madhu Kishwar can make excellent, sensible arguments.  Her critique of the existing Women’s Reservation Bill is bang on target.

In stark contrast to some of the opinions Kishwar puts forward on Twitter, these are all well thought-out and sensible ideas that respond much more sensitively to the lopsided gender balance in Indian politics than the existing bill. The alternative bill is discussed in greater detail here.

As the document observes, “the participation of women in [Indian] politics has actually declined since the days of freedom movement.” It’s a statistical fact that tends to go unnoticed because there are a number of prominent Indian women politicians in play. However, this doesn’t mean that Indian women are adequately represented. India ranks 105th in the world when it comes to women’s participation in politics. That’s 53 places behind Pakistan, in case you were wondering.

However, while a bill to encourage more women candidates would be welcome, it’s worth keeping in mind that regulations are not enough to ensure the gender imbalance is fixed in actuality. According to the constitution of the Indian National Congress, 33% of seats in different committees as well as 33% of the seats for the AICC are reserved for women. In reality, only five of the 42 in the CWC are women and six of the 57 members of the AICC are women candidates. Thirty of the 35 state screening committees for elections don’t have a single women in them. The CPI(M) that has been so vocal about criticizing past governments for not pushing the women’s reservation bill has an abysmal record of its own: only one of the 12 members in its politbureau is a woman. …

In her article, Kishwar writes, “whatever the form and shape of the women’s reservation law, we cannot overlook the tragedy inherent in the fact that 67 years after Independence, women need to seek the quota route to entry in politics. This acquires more poignancy because, when the Constitution was coming into force, most prominent women leaders refused to accept the principle of reservation as a route to political power. They did so in the belief that as in the Mahatma Gandhi-led freedom movement, they would be able to carve out a respectable space for themselves without being offered crutches.”

Two quick pieces on the upcoming film biopic on Indian boxer Mary Kom’s life. Kom is being played by Priyanka Chopra, which should be a baffling choice but tragically, in India, it isn’t.

Mary_Kom_New_Poster_Priyanka_Chopra_with_her_twin_babies

In this one, I’ve tried to explain why Chopra isn’t a good choice to play Kom. This was written right after the film’s poster was unveiled. A few days later, the trailer came out, which was when I wrote this.

At one point in the trailer, Mary throws a chair at a podium and, with tears in her eyes, yells, “I am an Indian! India mera dil mein hai!” (India is in my heart.) You may wonder why she’s saying this because being Indian is not just in her heart but also quite obviously on her face too; and in her Hindi accent. Kom’s Manipuri identity was something that proved to be an obstacle for her on occasion, and given how she’s widely celebrated now as a national hero, she clearly overcame that hurdle in style. That’s a story that we won’t be hearing in Kumar’s Mary Kom.

The piece on why choosing a North Indian to play someone from the North East of India is offensive is here. The critique of the trailer is here.

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