India: The Paradox of Gender Equality

    One thing the South Asian is known for in Britain is male dominance. Thanks to The Daily Mail grasping every and any opportunity to inform the great British public on the barbarity of South Asian culture, we have become associated with phenomena such as honour killing & forced marriage. 

    Whilst I’m not denying that these things exist within our culture and should be addressed, let us not become hopeless in the face of such complex problems, because the solution is as prevalent in our culture as the problem itself. 

    Whilst in Chandigarh with my parents, sister and grandmother I came across a clue to this solution. We had made our way to Sindhi Sweets, a local restaurant in Chandigarh’s buzzing Sector 17. Upon entering the restaurant, we were ushered to the second floor, my family walked up the stairs whilst I was tugged into the lift, unable to escape my Grandmother’s iron grip - an asset earned by most Punjabi women after years and years of beating children and kneading atta (dough). 

    Even though the lift was small, and fully functional, it housed a resident lift attendant who was given the strenuous task of pushing buttons and ferrying the few guests in and out of the chamber. A mother walked in, holding her 3 month old or so baby over her shoulder. The baby blinked a few times and looked up at the attendant. Who like anyone in the face of epic cuteness, felt compelled to coo sweetly to hold the child’s attention. 

    ‘Jai Mata Di’ he cooed. After which the baby’s mother echoed. I had seen the phrase a million times already, plastered over rear view windows and windshields of tuk tuks and lorries alike. Jai Mata Di - Hail the Mother. The sacred, protective and creative force of the feminine has been worshiped in India for thousands of thousands of years. Well before Christ or any of the prophets we’re so familiar with today. There are countless examples in all world religions of women who have been appreciated and given great respect by their male counterparts. 

Having said that - Why treat your women like shit?! 

   Why is it that in a place where the great mother is worshiped in all her glory, by millions of devotees who bow, pray and cry for her assistance and intervention, that women and girls are suffering unimaginably. The same nation devoted to the worship of the Great Mother, is the same nation in which gang rape, violence against women and forced, underage prostitution is rampant. How does this make any sense? 

   I have turned this question over and over again in my mind, unable to reach any conclusion. One thing I do know, for a culture that takes worship and spirituality so seriously, it should not be so difficult to implement change for the better. The solution is to re-associate the sacred Mother to every woman we see - because really, they’re one and the same.

   Let us do our best to look at each and every woman as a mother, sister, or daughter. Let us teach her how to protect herself, support her when she cannot support herself, and provide her with endless love and respect.

Back to the Motherland Intro

   This is somewhat delayed - for which I apologise. That is, assuming you’re actually interested in what I have to share. A few weeks ago, I returned from my first trip to India (When I say India, what I really mean is Punjab & or Delhi).

   I spent a total of 18 days in the Motherland, a few days in Delhi and the rest in and around Chandigarh, with day trips to Ludhiana, and Patiala and an overnight trip to Amritsar.

  I think I can honestly say, I have never been in a place and experience so much juxtaposition. What a confusing, bewildering, enchanting and incredible place. There is indeed no place quite like India, and it’s probably a good thing too. I don’t think the world could handle more than one.

   From  here on, for a few days, I’ll be sharing with you a few thoughts from my trip. I can’t promise they’ll be entertaining or profound, but I hope for a small moment at least they effect some kind of positive change.