This post is about the talk show that I saw on NDTV hosted by Ms. Barkha Dutt. I have seen just a few of her shows, but I have started to become like a fan of hers. She can really do a show well, especially the way she sees humour in any situation (kinda like my characteristic, eh?)
Well, this episode was related to the imbalance of gender in India in all spheres of life, even at home (Is that possible? Well, it most certainly is!). The imbalance funda, as they say, is that women represent 50% of the population and hence they must be present in that ratio in all walks of life. Is there a flaw in this logic? Is it possible for women to “intrude” into all walks of life without neglecting what has been their prime “duty” for centuries –that of being a home-maker?
Well, the show had many prominent personalities, but the one I recognize the most was Renuka Chowdary. She stood out among the plethora of personalities and made her point pretty well too. She was strong and was more serious than the rest of the people there. She made form pretty strong points about discrimination, especially the ones that she personally faces in her party. There were a few women too who made their choices and were happy about what they chose. One of them was critical of the fact that women receive a lot of leverage in the office. She said her office girls sometimes used to plead innocence even though she knew they were wrong. She felt that they sometimes misused their position of being a woman. One of them tried the usual CAT funda saying “What about the “rural” women?”, a point to which Renuka caught on well and made sure that even the rural women were in the spotlight now. But Ms. Barkha clearly reminded them that they were talking about the working women, so the 33% discussion had to be shelved for the time-being. And so on went the discussion. I couldn’t see the ending as the flight landed, but I was pretty sure I saw enough.
I thought I must express what I had to say about this really sensitive issue. In this post I will deal with the urban-working woman and in the next one I will deal with the rural woman (hopefully).
My mom herself worked for 18 years in a bank, at a time when working-women were not as common as they now. I have seen her complete all the chores at home and rush to the bank and then rush back in time for “Ruthuragalu”, a TV show that aired at 4 pm on DD-8. If she was late, it was my duty to tape it for her. She then got me to sit for my studies and then cooked dinner. Family prayers and sleep followed afterwards.
She even had to take care of my grandmother and my great-grandmother (whose antics were really really great!). Our family has a dark secret (recently unearthed after long periods of observation by me) – the women tend to become kinda “hatela” after they cross a certain age and then the next generation “bahu” would have a hard time managing her. I made sure my G-Grandma was ok. I miss her through, but that’s another story. The point is – she was a supermom and in this era of nuclear families, it becomes all the tougher. How is that? Well, in joint families, all the brothers take care of the parents, but in nuclear families, one of them usually does the job and that fellas’ wife usually freaks out at this good-nature of her husband. If she is working, then I am pretty sure she would suffer a nervous breakdown sooner or later. The point I want to convey is – They are super-humans and it would be tough for any man to do what they can do so darn well.
Now enter the male species – He has a lot of stuff to do to (Yeah he does!). Women probably don’t realize this, but men are also as “tortured” mentally as their woman-counterparts. Hey hey, I know the girls must be screaming now – “You are a freak dude, that’s not true.” Well, I tell you it is true and can prove it also. Consider this: what is the one thing that many women do when in a bad / sad situation? Ans: They cry 90% of the times. I am not against crying at all as it is a natural phenomenon, but over the ages, it has been ingrained into men that crying is the work of a woman and that men need to be strong. This meant that men hid their emotions inside and this led to increase in their tensions and anxieties. No wonder the life-expectancy of men is less as compared to that of a woman!
What I wanted to tell is women and men are made for different purposes. Their physiological characteristics are now made suitable for the roles they have donned over the ages – Men go to work and Women take care of the households. I know many women put “careers” as one of their top priorities, but the “family” must be the No.1 priority as that’s something one cannot leave in the hands of a man. Imagine a world where the woman tells her husband “Ok then, I am off to work. Take care of the baby.” This would devastate the entire sociological structure! We need women to devote more time to raising children if our human race needs to evolve well. When children are neglected, they will certainly not grow to be as good citizens as children who are well taken-care of.
Does that mean women are forbidden from work at all? Nope, not at all. In the early stages of their careers, women must make a choice – a choice that no one can force them to make. If they can balance career and family well, no one can stop them from working. But the family cannot and should not suffer because of that decision. I can consider the example of 2 married students here in IIM-L itself. Both of them are married. One of them has a working wide, who works from my college itself – through the internet. The other is a housewife so-to-say. Now both of them made their choices and both made the right choice as to what they feel is the best in the interests of their families.
My mom was able to manage it both but dad saw the stress she was taking. When I was in 10th grade, he told her that she could take the VRS if she wanted to. He was earning enough for a family of four at that point and said now she could make sure I study well and not waver from my path of education. She agreed and now many of her colleagues are still jealous of her decision. She is happy with what she chose.
Another example is a classic one – it’s that of my aunt in the US. My uncle earns close to $200, 000 per annum (an approximation). They have 2 lovely kids. I really don’t feel there is a need for my aunt to work, right? But she is working – she is a doctor in the hospital. She works 4 days a week. She does so because she does not want to remain out-of-touch with her profession and studies. Most importantly, she is able to manage her home and work really well.
The point I want to advocate is that ultimately, the family comes first. Women can raise children far better than men can. They are equals in any other form of work (barring athletics, which is a point of debate yet) but they are way ahead of men in raising children. That’s something they can do and I hope they continue to do.
Any brickbats, please do leave them in the comments section. Anonymous comments also welcome.