Friday, August 8, 2014

Women's Clothing and Killing the Right to Education

There is always such a furore about what women wear, and what women want. It looks like dress codes are going to be slapped on us forthwith if the right wing masculinist mafia from all over the country take a position on how women can avoid rape if they dress in a dignified way. What seems really reprehensible is that the length of leg Maharashtrian women show, or the length of waist that Malayali women show while wearing sarees is all going to be under review. It's a hot country.  Not wearing a dhupatta is just an option that women sometimes exercise, not anticipating violence from men, for doing a common sensical thing.  Men could just be trained not to stare at women's body parts lewdly while on their way to work or coming home.
If they can be trained  so easily to kill humans, which routinely happens in all parts of India, as part of some militant ideology, the lust of men to devour women is further fuelled.  So women must stay home, and men must go to war to kill all those who don't behave in the way that these self appointed warriors want,  seems to be the new plank on which the fuelling of sentiments is headed. 
Even in the case of the recent violent animosity between Dalits and Muslims  in what were BSP dominated areas, it is communicated by journalists that this is indeed a new development, as the two communities lived amicably previously sharing dietary habits, such as the eating of beef without totemic views on the sacredness of the cow which the twice born have.
The RSS has made substantial inroads into working class communities as has been proved by their presence in mazdoor sanghatans. Indoctrination is essentially the drawing into Sanskritic patterns of behaviour with a promise to provide dividends such as acceptability, conformity, festival and feasting, wish fulfilment, and sacrifice. This is quite different from the idea of human rights as a modern device by which people may ask for Food, Shelter, Medical Rights, Education, and the right to be heard in a democratic framework of equality. Since the indoctrination of Tribals happened in the same way, during the Gujarat riots, a new cadre of workers who could be commanded to kill, became visible. Ofcourse, this is substantially different from using lumpen proletariat to  participate in riots, as we saw in the case of the 1984 riots. There, the Congress was able to use certain key leaders to propel vast ghettoised slum dwellers to follow the leader into the enclaves or neighbourhoods where Sikhs were known to dwell, and burn them in some “Ram and Ravana” metaphorical moment of victorious warfare. Needless to say, the courts still pursue the cases from that time, to promote the idea that one day, those tragic families, many of whom lost all their men in one fell swoop, will have justice.
Rather than spending on education, the RSS propelled Modi Government is set on providing an impetus to traditional hierarchies, which allow Kshatriya and Brahman domination, as an ideological platform, for legitimating their world view. The cosmic world of diversity is lost. The case of the choice of Army Chief Dalbir Singh, which set up such tremors because of his known violent handling of North East contexts of turbulence, the sacking of Kamla Beniwal, at 87 years, with no explanation, from her post as Governor of Mizoram, because of her frank opinion of Modi’s way of handling things in Gujarat, are two cases in point. Domination and persuasive forms of cultural conversion are very much in the matrix of the BJP- RSS rhetoric. Not to take the people’s opinion into account however, is a grave mistake. Modi has been quiet on many things, which frankly is a relief. Having got forty percent of the people to vote for him, he is grateful and generally stays out of public view except as a state functionary. His  financial policies however, remain open to analyses, since his delegates are outrightly anti poor, while using the poor as  fodder for work of development.
Take the cut in education. It’s the most shocking aspect of how little virtue there is in the new government, for it takes away the right to mobility and leaves the poor to be caught in a status quo trap, where they can only be landless labour, or manual workers. That is their fate. Atleast, the Congress government gave them the trickle illusion, that with Right to Education, they would have the possibility of choosing their occupations over two or three generations. Even if hundred years was offered as an optimum time span for social mobility, we must understand that it meant a lot to poor people.
The new government is least bothered. Give the poor their jagrans, and a couple of free puris and bowls of sacred halwa, and the poor will then begin to work for low wages and accept their suffering as a test of their faith. Send them on orchestrated pilgrimages and let them recover the  wisdom of living in continual crises as the god given way.
Faith is a personal index of received beliefs. So if people have not been persuaded by the faith of the masters, then it is time to understand, that in constitutional terms, these people too, are worthy of legitimate attention, with regard to jobs and educational opportunities. Those children crossing a river, by holding onto a brass pot to get to school was one of the most dramatic news items that Delhi-ites got to read about. They forded the river, for half an hour, to get to the opposite side, and then walked a couple of miles to school, helped by their parents. They got totally wet. Then with soaked clothes, which never dried in monsoon and winter, they sat in class, reading their books. And yes, they believed in Education.