Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sania Mirza is a individual first then a daughter or daughter in law....

Recent obnoxious statements by some BJP and Congress MLAs in Telengana about questioning Indianness of a very successful and celebrated tennis player Sania Mirza created lot of uproar in media and social circles. This totally unnecessary controversy started when newly appointed government of newly formed state of Telengana appointed her brand ambassador of their state. May be some politicians were not happy with her appointment or many be they were not happy that she is being paid money to do this job. They have full right to raise their concerns or objections but there is a civilized way to raise objections to these type of issues without making any personal obnoxious remarks about the concerned person. BJP leader K. Laxman called her "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan and questioned her credentials for this particular honor. Calling her daughter-in law on Pakistan was really not required to question her appointment for this job. These law makers are looked as role models by their supporters, if they use this type of language then it really sends a wrong message to their supporters. But it was good to see so much support for Sania and condemnation of this statement from many people. These type of statements project two fold problem present in Indian society, first is their attitude towards women, where many people fail to look at them as an individual, women are always looked as someone's daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law or mother, etc. Why can't they consider a woman as a independent person with no labels of any relations attached to her? Second problem is totally unjustified bias against certain communities to  doubt their patriotism (particularly Muslims or in some cases Christians). Both these problems are a result of ignorance of people and stereotyping of particular gender or community.

I still remember the way they used to teach us why to respect women (or girls), we were taught to respect them because they are also someone's sister, mother or daughter; the point they wanted to make was respect other women as you respect these women with whom you are related. So it was always because she is someone's sister, mother, daughter or wife not because she is a woman or an individual. Why can't we respect every one just as an individual, just for what they are rather than bothering about who they are? How long we want to continue with this patriarchal mindset? This mindset always reflects in such comments where many men as well as women fail to look at women as an individual with no tags of relationship or social status attached to them. Another disturbing trend which is going on for decades in Indian politics and which doesn't show any sign of going away is that whenever any such statement is made political parties either try to justify it or just distance themselves without condemning it or taking any action against the individual in question. I am supporter of absolute freedom of speech so according to me these individuals have full right to say whatever they want to say, I have no objection on their right to say these things. If their parties believe in this philosophy of absolute freedom of speech (which they clearly don't) then I welcome their stand of not taking any action against that person for making such statement (to support his/her right to express their thought) but I wonder what is stopping them for condemning any such statement. Aren't they indirectly supporting these statements by not condemning it? Do they believe in bystander's approach? where you just distance yourself and watch wrong things happening right in front of your eyes and feel relived that at lest you didn't do it so it was not your fault? Do they think that if they keep on ignoring, these type of statements will stop coming or incidents like this (like force feeding someone) will stop? If not, then why don't they take some action?

Sania is very well accomplished sports person in her own field, she has won many competitions for her country and also has been decorated with many awards and honors. If anyone have any problems about her suitability for the job of brand ambassador which she was offered then they should have raised their objections by asking relevant questions, not by questioning her patriotism or personal life or relationships. Anyone's religion, marriage or any other relationship are very personal things no one has right to comment about these things. If anyone is facing any abuse in their relationship or some injustice is being done with anyone in any relationship then it makes sense to question that and try to offer them needed help, then it can be considered as social problem or domestic injustice but in absence of all this there is no reason to discuss these things. Just because Sania is married to Pakistani national she doesn't become a Pakistani citizen, it doesn't give anyone a license to question her honesty and integrity towards her own country. She still holds her Indian citizenship and no one has right to question her integrity. She is an individual first and then she is someone's daughter or wife or daughter-in-law. If someone can not respect her as an individual or independent women then he or she may not respect her no matter she is who's who. I don't have any hope from these traditional political parties who cite hundreds of political compulsions for supporting (or not criticizing) such statements, they keep on pointing figures at each other as if pointing out others mistakes legitimize their own mistakes. But I expect all rational Indians and people all over the world to criticize and object to such statements. This patriarchal mindset needs to be challenged, this strong bias against any religion or community needs to be challenged. No one needs to prove their sincerity or honesty towards their country (or anything) just because of their gender or religion, this is wrong and should not be encouraged at any level.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]



  1. I didnt read all of your blog on this but I got the jist of the story and it seems to be a politacal issue and nothign to do with her being a woman etc etc.
    It seeems you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
    She married a Pakistani and naturally people are not going to be happy that she is made ambassdor of somethign or another.
    Off course there are decent ways of saying such thigns --thats the only bit i agree with you on.

    1. That's the mistake many people do, try to judge the book by its cover. Please read the post and then comment about relevant points mentioned in the post. Someone's marriage is totally personal issue and it doesn't take away anything from their professional life, I hope people are mature enough to understand this.