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By- Tarun Pratap

Smriti Irani drew a sharp reaction from the audience when she, in an interview with a US journalist Tina Brown, said that Indian women were not dictated by anyone regarding what to wear and how to live their life in general.


Later, she remarked that she was not dictated growing up and does not come from a celebrated family. Irani, replying to a Catch News tweet that she was booed on stage, tweeted, “that awkward moment when those who claim free speech not possible openly boo n get a calm response (sic).”

While, the credit has to be given that her response was calm and people booing a minister is a good sign for the democracy, but it can’t be ignored that Irani’s comment proves that either she is glorifying the condition of women in India or she is just not aware of it.

Irani’s comment is not the reflection of the society. She might have been fortunate that her parents provided her freedom to live her life in her own ways but in a country like India women, usually, do not get to enjoy this. This is not just about rural India but even in the urban or the most developed part of the region, women are still seen only as the second foil.

A country where women and young girls get raped and half of the political leaders blame it on their clothes or mobile phone and what not, it is an absurd comment from the minister that women in India do not get dictated.

We haven’t been able to solve the female foeticide (and infanticide) problem completely. When a girl is not even safe in her mother’s womb in many parts of India, how can it be said that women are not dictated and that they are free to live their life in their own ways?

Even in the most developed nations, women are fighting for freedom and equality. In their comparison, the feminist moment in our country is still a nascent idea.

There are nations where women are treated as second-class citizens. They are fighting a long battle for equal rights, not only on paper but in practice. In India, as Ram Manohar Lohia’s intersection method proves that caste, religions etc have multiple impacts on the same person. It means, a woman in our society is repressed, but a woman from Dalit section will be repressed even more.

With so many issues concerning the nation, women are still waiting for their chance to be heard. India hasn’t been able to give equality to all of its men, and women definitely come second in the policymakers’ thoughts, no matter how big their claims are.

Maybe, Smriti Irani needs a reality check that saying ‘oh, you were told? My apologies, ladies’, won’t help women. She doesn’t have to go far to know about the women’s condition. She can just look at the concentration of women in parliament or ministries, and she will realise that women are merely a fraction.

Comments like this, and then going hard at your critics, is what brings so much of flak to Smriti Irani. Nobody is questioning that if she deserves being a minister or not, but people do not deserve to hear such comments, even at a UN forum, which clearly are not the reflection of the society.

Maybe, Smriti Irani gave this comment because she was trying to create a good image of India in front of Tina Brown, but then she should know that a rape case takes down every claim, right or wrong, made by the government and the people.

It would be rather a better idea to work for women and make their lives easier than to just talk about it. There should not even be scope for such articles in media. Our HRD Minister hopefully will try to provide the same life for women that she had. The life of equality, of freedom, to be whoever you want to be.

Excerpts from her speech:

(Image credit: http://media.npr.org/)


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