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Do ladies dressed in ripped jeans rip apart eternal ‘Bhartiya’ culture?

By Shamsul Islam* 

Tirath Singh Rawat who took over as chief minister of Uttarakhand on March 10, 2021 is a senior cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He started RSS career by becoming the organizational secretary of the Uttarakhand unit of Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP: the student appendage of the RSS), later promoted as its national secretary.
He has been a whole-timer (pracharak) of the RSS since 1983. He is currently hogging national and international attention for his comments on a young lady who happened to wear a pair of ripped jeans while sitting next to him with her two kids during an air journey.
Surprisingly, he shared the anecdote (date, details of air carrier not mentioned; those familiar with the conduct of the RSS cadres can vouch that this story could be a sheer fabrication in order to ‘expose’ the ‘degeneration’ of self-relying independent women and Jawaharlal University [JNU] which have been the favourite punching bags of the RSS) while addressing a workshop organized by the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Dehradun on March 17, 2021.
Tirath Singh Rawat’s sermon delivered in Hindi on ‘Bhartiya’ culture which according to RSS is Hindu culture is reproduced verbatim with English translation in the following:
“Jab unki taraf dekha to neeche gumboot they, jab aur upar dekha to ghutne fatey they, haath dekhe to kai kade they…Bachhey do saath me unke they. Maine kaha behan ji kahan jana hai…Delhi jana hai, husband kahan hai…JNU me professor hain, tum kya karti ho…main ek NGO chalati hun. NGO chalati hain, ghutne fatey dikhte hain, samaj ke beech me jaati ho, bachhey saath me hain, kya sanskar dogi?"
(When looked at her, at the bottom she was wearing gum boots when further saw above, jeans ripped on the knees, and when saw hands [there were] several bracelets. I asked where are you going sister? I am going to Delhi. Where is husband? He is professor at JNU. What do you do? I run an NGO. She had two children travelling with her. Her husband is a professor in JNU. You run an NGO, tattered knees can be seen [wear jeans ripped at the knees], move about in society, children are with you, what culture you will teach?)

While calling the ripped jeans as “kainchi wala sanskar” (scissor culture), Rawat sermon went on to declare: “Main kahan le ja raha hun apne bachhey ko fati jeans pehna karke. Bade baap ka beta hun. Bade baap…betiyan bhi peeche nahi hai. Who bhi ghutne dikha rahi hain. Yeh achha hai kya?" (Where I am taking my children in tattered jeans… even girls are no less, showing their knees. Is this good?)
Rawat was also in news for equating PM Narendra Modi with Lord Ram and Lord Krishna for former’s work for society.

Unconcerned about plight of children

It was shocking that CM of Uttarakhand was denigrating a lady in absentia in a programme to discuss the rights of the children in the State. He was expected to address the issues concerning the plight of children in his State which were well documented. According to the government data released in 2019, 26.6% children were found underweight and 33.5% were stunted in Uttarakhand. Thus out of 36 Indian States and Union Territories Uttarakhand ranked number 10.
Moreover, as per a survey conducted by the Integrated Child Development Services of Uttarakhand (ICDS), a government agency, in 2018 thousands of children were malnourished in the State. The number of missing children in the State was on the rise which could be due to the human trafficking also. According to the National Crime Record Bureau of the Indian home ministry 435, 607 and 633 children went missing in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
No data on the missing children is available after 2018 onward. Rawat should have shared the plan of rehabilitating the women and children of those workers who perished in an unprecedented avalanche due to the breaking-off a glacier in Joshimath in Chamoli district on February 7, 2021. In this avalanche more than 250 people died with two big dams under construction were washed off.

Touting RSS take on women

Since the CM had nothing to offer to the children of Uttarakhand, he resorted to a diversionary tactic, a practice gone viral among the RSS-BJP rulers. It is to be noted that the degenerated and reprehensive narrative of the CM was not surprising. It was no aberration. He was simply parroting the RSS take on women and ‘Bhartiya’ culture. In this respect following facts need to be taken into account.
The Constituent Assembly of India passed the constitution on November 26, 1949 which guaranteed gender, political, social and economic equality. The RSS was furious. Its English organ in an editorial on November 30, 1949, stated that in the constitution:
“There is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.”
Laws of Manu are very clear about women. It decreed in chapter IX:
  1. Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control. (IX/2)
  2. Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence. (IX/3)
  3. Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear); for, if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow on two families. (IX/5)
  4. Considering that the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands (must) strive to guard their wives. (IX/6)
  5. No man can completely guard women by force; but they can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
  6. Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything) clean, in (the fulfilment of) religious duties, in the preparation of his food, and in looking after the household utensils.
  7. Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), ‘(It is enough that) he is a man,’ they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. (IX/14)
Thus according to RSS women can only be subservient to males and have no independent existence. It is shamelessly reflected in the organizational set-up of its organization. When RSS was founded in 1925, it was to be an exclusive male organization (and continues to be) where cadres were to be known as swayamsevaks or volunteers.
The way Rawat described the lady in Dehradun amounted to indulging in sexually coloured remarks under the garb of the ‘Bhartiya’ culture
The RSS top brass made its intentions clear of treating women as of lower status than males when it decided to start its women wing; Rashtr Sevika Samiti in 1936. Its nomenclature made it clear that women members were not called as swayamsevak or volunteers but Rashtr Sevika; maid/female servant of the nation which was a Hindu nation.


Rawat liable to be persecuted

Indian Supreme Court defining the sexual harassment in the landmark case of Vishaka and others versus State of Rajasthan (AIR 1997 Supreme Court 3011) declared ‘Sexually colored remarks’ and ‘and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature’ punishable. 
It is true that judgment covered the work-places but the scope could cover the air journey which Rawat took with the lady in ripped jeans. It is clear from the narrative that the way Rawat described the lady in Dehradun meeting amounted to indulging in sexually coloured remarks and verbal comments of sexual nature under the garb of the ‘Bhartiya’ culture.
Moreover, the section 354C of the Indian Penal Code specifically reads that “Any man who watches or captures or makes public an image of a woman engaged in a private act can be imprisoned for his first offence for a minimum one year which may extend to three, and also be liable to fine.”
In fact, according to a senior police officer, Kerala Excise Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh, “A case can be filed against men who 'annoyingly' stare at women for more than 14 seconds…The stare need not really linger for a full 14 seconds to make it an offence. It is an offence if it makes a woman uncomfortable even for a few seconds. Womenfolk should come forward to register complaints against such offenders”. The police must find out the lady to know her version.
Rawat has also violated the historic judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on the issue of individual’s privacy. The bench, headed by the chief justice JS Khehar, comprises justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde, RK Agrawal, RF Nariman, AM Sapre, DY Chandrachud, SK Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer in a unanimous judgment in 2017 decreed that:
  1. Life and personal liberty are inalienable rights. These are rights which are inseparable from a dignified human existence. The dignity of the individual, equality between human beings and the quest for liberty are the foundational pillars of the Indian Constitution.
  2. Privacy includes at its core the preservation of personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home and sexual orientation. Privacy also connotes a right to be left alone.
  3. Personal choices governing a way of life are intrinsic to privacy.
Rawat as CM of Uttarakhand openly violated the above judgment and needs to be booked for its violation too.

Such person will go to Dark Hell: Vivekananda

There is every likelihood that with the total hegemony of the RSS-BJP rulers over administration, police and judiciary the Uttarakhand CM would not be booked despite brazen violation of laws and Supreme Court judgments on sexual harassment. However, as part of the top brass of the RSS he must be familiar of the writings of Swami Vivekananda (regarded as saint of the Hindutva). 
He must take note of what he wrote about a Hindu who even thinks of a woman other than his wife. According to Swami, “He who thinks of another woman besides his wife, if he touches her even with his mind-that man goes to dark hell”. (Vivekananda, Swami, “The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”, vol. i, p. 43.Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 21st reprint 1995.)
Rawat trained in RSS boudhik shivirs (intellectual training camps) like any other RSS cadre keeps on boasting that Indian youth is falling prey to the degenerated foreign material cultural ethos. For him it is Hindutva culture amplified by works like Manusmriti) which is divinely ordained. In this respect it would be pertinent to tell semi-literate (a status worse than being illiterate) RSS cadres what Swami wrote about the denigration of the material civilization:
“We talk foolishly against material civilisation. The grapes are sour…How was it possible for the Hindus to have been conquered by the Mohammedans? It was due to the Hindus' ignorance of material civilization. Even the Mohammedans taught them to wear tailor-made clothes.” (Vivekananda, Swami, “The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”, vol. iv, p. 368. Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 13th reprint 1995.)
It means that saree and dhoti touted as true ‘Bhartiya’ attires only reflected the times when we did not know stitching of the clothes. The time is not far-off when Tirath Singh Rawat and RSS would declare Swami Vivekananda as anti-Hindu!
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*Formerly with Delhi University, click here for Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates. Facebook: https://facebook.com/shamsul.islam.332, Twitter: @shamsforjustice, blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/

Comments

Does-not-matter said…
He already apologized for his remark. But what about Burqa? Is it regressive or not?
Anonymous said…
What about widespread prevalence of purdah system among Hindus? Part of our great culture to hide women's face? And contrast this with Khajuraho's openly sexual statues.
Does-not-matter said…
Purdah system is declining and almost extinct in urban areas. While Burqa is growing. Kerala, TN, Karnataka - almost no parda system but burqa has grown exponentially.

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