More than Lokpal, does Anna need a speech writer?

December 28, 2011

By Diksha Madhok

The self-styled crusader against corruption, the “modern Gandhi”  — Anna Hazare — has managed to pick on one of the most marginalized sections of Indian society. While pitching for a strong Lokpal Bill on Tuesday, Hazare resorted to an unfortunate idiom about childless women, when he said, “Banjh kya jaane prasuti vedana (what would an infertile woman know about labour pain)?”

However the word in Hindi, “banjh”, does not have the same clean and scientific connotation as “infertile” or “sterile”. It means “barren” and is used as a derogatory term for women who fail to bear children. A woman who does not produce a child loses her social status inside and outside the house. While the ostracism in urban India may not be as obvious, contempt for childless women is reinforced through colloquialism and Bollywood.

Popular culture still depicts women who don’t reproduce, even if it is out of choice, as incomplete and good-for-nothing. It is not uncommon for infertile women to be barred from baby shower or child-naming ceremonies as they are considered the harbingers of ill-omen. Even if the husband is infertile, the wife ends up shouldering the blame for a childless marriage and is often subjected to treatments ranging from exorcism to numerology. Subordination, violence and estrangement are all likely consequences of infertility for a woman.

74-year-old Anna Hazare, who has spent most of his life in rural India, would certainly be aware of the stigma a “banjh” carries. And, while he promises to push India towards a glorious, evil-free future, how can he sustain a campaign on the back of older-India’s prejudices?

Neither has this been Hazare’s only controversial statement. Lately, he has come up with remarks that should alarm any self-respecting non-violent activist — advocating flogging for alcoholics and death penalty for the corrupt.

Maybe it is time that the “Gandhian” in Hazare actually took a leaf out of Mahatma Gandhi’s book who worked towards both political and social emancipation. Or maybe, he just needs a new speech-writer.

 

5 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Although Gandhi was a failed lawyer, he was a highly educated Indian. After his stint in South Africa, Gandhi traveled the length and breadth of the country during the first world war. At the end of the day, Hazare is a 7th standard, semi educated, village simpleton. To expect sophisticated aristocratic idioms from his mouth is tomfoolery.

The whole Lokpal protest was not supposed to go that longer. No one can deny the machinations of the government in delaying the Lokpal bill, one will be ill at ease to call Hazare and his team’s intransigence in pressuring government to bring an ombudsman of their own choice. Some one still remembers the old Shambhu Dutta.
For more : http://thepoliticalopportunist.blogspot. com

Posted by stabhishek | Report as abusive

Political Correctness has become a real pain in the a** (and this is intentional).
In the movie Gandhi, when Gandhi is depicted to take support of his nieces to walk him out and he pleasantly slaps one’s head, I don’t think Gandhi was a hypocrite or a violent man.
Honestly, relax, just like how Frankie said it!

Posted by bhandarisaab | Report as abusive

you should cut him some slack.
humans do mistakes and he’s not a machine. :)
infact you should contribute to the movement by writing an article on how govt is doing all in its power to deny us, the citizens , a clean governance.

Posted by kapilkaushik | Report as abusive

Among all the work he is doing for the country, writer ended up with a word ‘Banjh’.. I pity the writer..
and if you are offended by a idiom used by Anna..how do you actually walk on Indian roads..
He is a simple man.. grew up in a village.. he doesn’t talk like a politician, choosing words to please people.. Poor, Naive Anna doesn’t know that how people wants to blemish his image..

Posted by Vabhishek | Report as abusive

This write up seems to have been written just to criticize the great crusader … ! Otherwise the use of the world “Banjh” by Anna is befitting the context and so are his remarks; “advocating flogging for alcoholics and death penalty for the corrupt.”

Posted by Zirakpuria | Report as abusive