Empowerment of women, Chauhan style
Posted March 20, 2010on:
On International Women’s Day, when the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj was excitedly looking forward to “political empowerment of women”, her party’s chief minister in Madhya Pradesh was doing just the opposite. Shivraj Singh Chauhan was the chief guest at a function organised in Bhopal by Mahila Patrakar Sangh, an obscure organisation of women journalists propped up by Commissioner of Public Relations (CPR) Manoj Shrivastava who has come to be regarded as the chief minister’s chief advisor on all matters, spiritual and temporal; Shrivastava allows no opportunity to slip by without flaunting his erudition of the Ramayana folklore.
At the function a score of persons were honoured for their services in various fields including journalism — but only one of them was a woman. What was more, the function commenced with the chief minister and his CPR offering flowers at the photograph of Lord Hanuman which was something unheard of. Traditionally, such functions start with offering flowers to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. In any case, the choice of Hanuman at a function held to celebrate Women’ Day was pretty odd because Hanuman, an important character in the Ramayana, is depicted as always assiduously keeping away from the presence of women unless it is absolutely essential.
Were the chief minister and his IAS advisor unconsciously betraying their millenniums-old prejudice against women? In the Pauranik (mythological) Ram-Rajya, the society was essentially male-dominated, with women playing no role in public life.