Women and Indian Politics

I read with interest an article in the New York Times by Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj titled “In India’s Elections, Female Candidates Still Need Men’s Blessings.”

Women and Indian Politics
Photo : Indira Gandhi

I read with interest an article in the New York Times by Mujib Mashal and Suhasini Raj titled “In India’s Elections, Female Candidates Still Need Men’s Blessings.”

The journalists wrote: For most of the few hundred women running for Parliament-results are due on May 23-the campaign is a repeated exercise in playing up the protection of male politicians of and shouting their names in stop after stop.”

Indian culture places much emphasis on respect for the head of organizations-mothers, fathers, elders and leaders. Such gesture only reinforces the virtues of dharma. It is not necessarily the males that dominate society but the laws of dharma that reign supreme.

If the New York Times is truly concerned about empowering women then it should reflect that in the politics of the US by nominating Tulsi Gabbard as a presidential candidate. She is not only a woman but a Hindu woman. It is an opportunity for the US to demonstrate to the world it is an open and tolerant society and not one with Bible-toting bigots.

But the USA appears to have a cultural dislike for women as leaders. Where is the female president in American politics? Why was Hilary Clinton defeated? It was a clear message-the US electorate prefer a renegade to a woman. The election of President Trump, the 45th President, was an insult to women. The Americans have underlined that they would not have a woman as President.

If America truly wants to question India’s low representation of women in the politics then it must answer the question: Why are Jesus’s disciples all males? Was Mary Magdalene not a disciple of Jesus? And if so, why is the Church actively suppressing this truth? I would like to hear what Mashal and Raj have to say on this theological issue and more so, given the invasion of India by US-backed Christian missionaries. But this is the success of India’s western educated elite-to disparage everything indigenous and look up to the West in awe!

Mashal and Raj wrote: “Even then, female representation in Parliament, at just over 11% now, is unlikely to increase much this election, if at all. (India’s poorer neighbours fare better: Nepal’s Parliament is 33 percent female. Pakistan’s is 21 percent and Afghanistan’s is 28 percent.”

Photo : Hema Malini

Despite the low presence of females in parliament, the South Asian countries have trusted women as their leaders: Indira Gandhi of India, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh who have been in power since 2009. Sirimaro Bandaranaike was a Prime Minister of Sri Lanka that served three terms-1960-65, 1970 -77 and 1994-2000. One can add to this list Aung San Suu Kyi who is currently serving as President of Myanmar.  Despite this, the New York Times has the audacity to question the percentage of women in Indian politics and with no reference to those women who have served and are serving.

The authors went on to write: “The country has women in some of the most prominent role. Women are key drivers of social movements, thrive in local village governance and expected to vote in record numbers this year.”

One such woman who stands out is Vandana Shiva who is fighting for the preservation of indigenous plant species. She is a warrior and is not afraid to expose the injustices of the West and more so its TMCs like Bayer and Monsanto which are putting on the market weedicides and other chemicals that are carcinogenic. Mashal and Raj should feature in their column the noble work people like Vandana Shiva and others are doing to preserve the food security of South Asia.

And the West has produced outstanding women who have served India well such as Soniaji whose academic credentials remain suspect and, more so, is before the courts to answer charges of impropriety along with her son Rahul. Interestingly, she is the matriarch of the Indian National Congress and her son, Rahul, is Political Leader while his sister Priyanka is General Secretary.

And off course, Mother Teresa, the Saint of Calcutta. Her heart is so big that her Mission of Charity did not only engage in questionable activities but also wrote favorably to the courts to have criminals pardoned for crimes of embezzlement. She also appealed to the victims of the Bhopal explosion that killed and maimed hundreds to forgive the wrong doers.

Mashal and Raj wrote: “If it were not for women from political dynasties, local or nation, the number of women in India’s Parliament would be even worse. Nearly half the women contesting seats in the current election are dynastic candidates, according to initial data from the Trivedi center.”

I am happy that the writers of the article recognized the dynamism of dynasties. And the Number One dynasty in India is headed by an Italian, Sonia Gandhi. Sonia is not only the mother of Rahul and Priyanka, Political Leader and Secretary General of the Indian National Congress respectively but also served as President of the Indian National Congress. In a country with a population of 1.3 billion and an electorate of 970 million, the longest serving political party has to be run by a family!

But the West love dynasties! Were the Kennedys not a dynasty? And the Soong Dynasty of China? Was the Soong dynasty not supported by the West? Chiang Kai-Shek was married into the Soong Dynasty and was supported by the West to defeat the upcoming communists but failed and had to flee to Taiwan.

Modi is back! He has defied the machinations of media house of the West.