Women of the Year: Many were XXed out, but some still gave cause for applause
This story first appeared in Times of India Blog
March 8 is round the corner. But a Women’s Day is only as good as our fortunes in the past year. Take the Dickensian paradox. ‘It was the best of times’ for XX chromosomies? You’re joking, no? ‘It was the worst of times’? Yes, seriously. Political lords now drive patriarchy’s juggernaut, reducing rebellion to naught. The good news was that feasting recklessly on power could end in falling flatulent on your face. Akbar got his just desserts, but he is not the only emperor nakedly strutting about.
Topping the list of victims turned victors was Priya Ramani – helped by lawyer Rebecca John, and her doughty sisterhood of the similarly humiliated. Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey served notice to every testosterandy predator who believed his influence condommed him against any fall-out. While granting bail to Disha Ravi, ASJ Dharmender Rana’s terse remark – ‘Sedition cannot be invoked to minister to wounded vanity’ – struck another blow for women deemed easy targets by an authority ‘red in tooth and claw’. While on toolkits, break into a bhangra for the armoured kaurs of the farmers’ protest, and a jig for Rihanna and Greta who turned it into a global hashtag.
A ‘Boo!’ to Kangana Ranaut who has made herself the obiter dicta-tor of Twitter. Which brings me to her earlier target and 101% political pawn: Rhea Chakraborty, torn apart by the government’s kennel of vicious hounds. Uncaged by contrast were Pinjra Tod’s Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, et al, who remained bloodied but unbowed by the draconian UAPA in the northeast Delhi riots case. In the same context, sat the dadis of Shaheen Bagh, led by Bilkis Bano, the grandmother of them all.
In a hoarier rollcall of brutality lies the Hathras teen, the four-year old raped there soon after. and the 17-year-old found similarly savaged days ago. All on the watch of a ‘Yogi’, darling of the regime which coined ‘Beti bachao…’
In an increasingly asphyxiated media, please add the case against Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim and obscene rape threats to Ahmedabad’s Deepal Trevedie – both for ‘fake news’, more correctly known as calling truth to power. Allow me to include senior journalist Nidhi Razdan so shockingly phishing-ed, and her former NDTV colleague Barkha Dutt frivolously FIRed.
Mercifully it wasn’t all Dickensian Bleak House. Draped in a power sari, Nirmala Sitharaman presented a no-nonsense Budget to pull up a Covid-ravaged economy. We were spellbound as young Mahua Moitra delivered her riposte with an oratory so missing in today’s puerile parliamentary debate. Her boss, La Belle Dame Sans Mamata, still held her public in thrall. Kerala health minister KK Shailaja commanded the state’s first, UN-commended attack against Covid-19, and we basked in the reflected glory of WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. As we did more whoopingly in the election of Kamala Harris.
Last week, Vinesh Phogat grabbed gold at Kiev. The openly Gay Arjuna Award winner Dutee Chand continued her advocacy of the rights of female athletes over their bodies and sexuality. In the corporate world, absurd controversy forced Myntra to change its allegedly sexist logo and Tanishq to withdraw its beautiful interfaith ad. More commendably, those for fairness creams were also axed. Kiran Shaw Mazumdar continued to burnish her entirely self-made reputation while a trove of other head henchos was recognised in such industry ovations as the ET awards.
Who says women are from Venus? Just look at Dr Swati Mohan, the bindi-ed babe who headed to Mars with Perseverance.
Alec Smart said: “Wah! Jumbo vax centres get a trumpeting response.”