Skip to main content

One has to be either a fool or a liar to try to project that saree is the only dress for women

Well-known fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who has sold designer merchandise using the label Sabyasachi, and is an associate designer member of Fashion Design Council of India and board member of the National Museum of Indian Cinema, was recently engulfed in controversy following his remark before Indian students at the Harvard India Conference that if women do not know how to wear a saree, they should be ashamed. Mukherjee has designed costumes for Bollywood films such as Guzaarish, Baabul, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Raavan, and English Vinglish. Reacting to his remark, Rajni Basumatary, a Bodo woman has written an open letter. Text of the letter:
Let me begin by reminding you, saree is not a national garment for women in India neither it is any divinely ordained garment and those of us not proficient in wearing it are not ‘ashamed’ of it.
Speaking at the Harvard India Conference, you came out with an outrageous comment, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a saree, I would say shame on you. It’s a part of your culture, you need to buck up and stand up for it.”
This of course has kicked up strong reactions across the country. But most felt offended because your comment was highly chauvinistic and judgmental.
However, the bigger truth that has escaped people’s notice is your distortion of facts about India to the world. It is ironical that a reputed dress designer like you be so ignorant about the layers of Indian culture. One has to be either a fool or a liar to try to project that the saree is the only dress for women in India. Both are unforgivable especially if the bearer of these traits is a popular figure commanding people’s attention.
The fact that no one in the conference objected to your not only chauvinistic view on women but also your distortion of fact distresses me. You, Mr Mukherjee and the people at Harvard who gave your ‘thunderous applause’ for you remarks require some reeducating about the diversity in India. We have no Indian language, we have Indian languages. We have no culture in India; because we have cultures.
Likewise, we have no single Indian dress; we have hundreds of other beautiful and dignified dresses which we Indians wear, depending on which community one belongs to. It is true that for whatever reason, the saree has become more popular and visible than other dresses. Good for it! And good for people like you who make the living out of this garment. However, the popularity and beauty of saree doesn’t give you license to call half of the female population in the country shameful for not knowing how to tie a saree.
come from the Boro community. Just so I don’t run a risk of facing another ignorant question of yours, ‘Boro who?’, ours is just one of the many communities in India. My mother lived for 86 years and died never touching a saree. I have five sisters and three sister-in-laws and dozens of cousins – none of them are particularly adept at wearing a saree.
We have 29 states in India and women of nearly half of these states don’t wear saree traditionally and therefore are not proficient in wearing the garment. We have in my state Assam itself over a dozen communities who have their own distinct cultural identities and saree comes in the bottom when it comes to choosing an attire to wear. So should all these millions of women in this country be ashamed of not knowing how to wear a saree?
The true shame is on you Mr Sabyasachi Mukherjee for being such an ignoramus, grievously compounding it with your unabashedly chauvinistic and judgmental remarks. Shame indeed!

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.