Mango Maketh Man
What does Sambhaji Bhide, head of the Hindutva outfit Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan and one of the accused in January’s Bhima-Koregaon violence, recommend if you want to be blessed with many strong sons? Severe austerities? Nope. “Mangoes are powerful and nutritious. Some women who ate mangoes from my garden have given birth to sons,” he reportedly said while speaking in Nashik recently. A statistically meaningless claim, to be sure, but some have taken umbrage. NCP MP Supriya Sule was quoted as saying, “For any woman, attaining motherhood ...is a matter of pride. It’s unfortunate that a shallow debate is taking place on such a matter,” while the anti-superstition organisation Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti has called for a case against Bhide under the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act.
Please specify your profession when you register with the Punjab police’s online tenant verification system—are you a professional killer, a practitioner of the world’s oldest profession or merely a gardner (sic)? A goof-up on www.policesanjh.in has resulted in such lofty vocations as ‘pimp’ ‘hired killer’, ‘bootlegger’, ‘smuggler’ and ‘gambler’ being available alongside more mundane professions in a dropdown list. Landlords in the state are legally required to get their tenants registered with the police, and this form includes a separate column to disclose any criminal record—but there has been some cross-pollination. A police officer was quoted as saying that if anyone applies under one of these categories, “The police will not only reject the tenant verification application, but may also summon them for questioning.”
Thanks, But No Tanks
If you happen to see a lost-looking irrigation tank by the wayside, do hand it over to the district collector. Some 200 posters offering a reward of Rs 1 lakh for whoever finds two ‘missing’ tanks have been put up all over Madurai by S. Sankarpandi, a member of the Tamil Nadu BJP state executive who is in charge of the Madurai zone’s youth wing. The move is intended to draw attention to the real fate of the tanks. In the case of one, according to Sankarpandi, “A squatter has filled up the tank with sand and marked a boundary using boulders,” while the other “has been converted into a farm by another squatter.” With several acres of land being dependent on the two now out-of-commission tanks, Sankarpandi approached the collector, and now an official inquiry has reportedly been launched.
Trolls Guard The Crossing
An army of trolls has been marshalled against Shahrukh Khan, whose clan now also boasts a budding politico across the border. Shahrukh’s paternal cousin Noor Jehan is running as an independent candidate for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly seat in Peshawar in the elections to be held in Pakistan on July 25. According to reports, Noor Jehan, who has visited her cousin twice and maintains close contact with the Indian side of the family, says she wants to work for women’s empowerment. Praiseworthy if followed through, perhaps—but a shade of Indian twitter that couldn’t care less chose rather to troll the Bollywood star, with many accusing him of “loving Pakistan”.
A private car collides with a taxi in Mumbai. A mob gathers and passes a judgment—the taxi driver is found guilty and soundly thrashed. He’s later unable to convince the cops that the it wasn’t his fault. What can you do? Maybe more than you think. Such an incident three years ago prompted Jaydeep Ojha and Prashant Dubey to start Swayam Seva Sanstha, an NGO that helps cabbies. Aside from legal aid, it also provides financial support for sick drivers and blankets for the homeless—and holds regular ‘satsangs’ where cabbies can exhibit their musical talents through bhajan singing.
The Human Show
Being dragooned into serving as a human shield by the army last year during elections in Kashmir has been a route to unwelcome celebrity for Farooq Ahmad Dar. He’s been fighting for damages since then, but seems like he was offered quite a different form of ‘compensation’ by private TV channel Colors’ reality show Bigg Boss. They offered him Rs 50 lakh to participate last July, he claims. He adds that he declined, but the channel has called his claim ‘speculation’ while refusing to confirm or deny whether they had made the offer.
This Troublesome Monk
Sri Lanka has no court of consistory for Galagodaatte Gnanasara to appeal to; the controversial Buddhist monk has been sentenced to six months in prison for his actions two years ago when he stormed into a courtroom and intimidated activist Sandya Eknaligoda. The latter was in court for the case of her husband, journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who has been missing for eight years, with the armed forces alleged to have had a role in his disappearance. Gnanasara, leader of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena, threatened Eknaligoda and called her husband an “LTTE spy”. He has been fined a small amount and ordered to pay Eknaligoda LKR 50,000 (about Rs 21,200) as compensation.
Jump the Mother Gun
The role a mother ought to play in her child’s life is a debatable thing. Many mothers the world over have been burdened with the exclusive responsibility of child rearing. But decades of the feminist movement have made the debate go through a sea change.
Imran Khan, it seems, gives a damn for this change. “A mother has the biggest influence on children...I disagree with this western concept, this feminist movement; it has degraded the role of a mother. My mother had the greatest impact on my life,” blurted Imran in a recent TV interview.
Predictably, the comment went viral in social media and came under heavy criticism, especially by women.
Sample a tweet: “Feminism has never looked down on motherhood. Feminists have worked in every country to create paid leave and laws to protect mothers and safety nets so that mothers don’t leave work to care for kids. Educate yourself.”
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, whose party is one of the main contenders in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the country, has been at the centre of a series of controversies over the past few months. (Have a look at last week’s Postcard for another episode).
The PTI chairman’s remarks on motherhood also came up for criticism in Pakistan’s mainstream dailies. Most came out with commentaries giving Imran a lesson on both motherhood and feminism.
Mina Malik-Hussain wrote in her column in The Nation, “It seems only men are deciding who wins this special medal while at the same time conveniently absolving them selves of all paternal culpability.”
Giving a concise lesson in feminism basics to Imran, she added that the rhetoric of mothers as the ultimate grand influencers of all humanity who should be revered and idolised is “annoying, exhausting, sentimental, limiting and patently, completely and entirely untrue.”
Obviously, mothers have played a central role in their children’s lives, because willy-nilly they are the only parental figure present to provide care, wrote Malik-Hussain.
“And what gives the Great Leader (Imran) any authority to make judgments on the virtues of motherhood, particularly in the context of feminism? Is he a mother or is he a feminist?” she also said.
You don’t need experts to deduce that if Imran continues to hit his own wicket at such regular intervals, he may be retired hurt by the time of the coming parliamentary polls.
Illustrations by Sajith Kumar