Table Of Contents

Table Of Contents


Illustration By: Delhi University street art initiative
Oh, Mummy and Daddy, don't do this to yourselves. Stop crying, both of you. I'll be fine. Look, look at me. I see you, can't you see that? Come on squeeze my hand. I know I can squeeze it back. Please take my hand. Just pick up my left hand...
Look, I know not all police are indifferent and I'm sure there are some seriously stellar officers out there. In fact, I know someone who runs her own business - with no male involvement at the top whatsoever - and when she went to the police when a male employee she had fired began to harass her, the police handled her case with care and responsibility, phoning the guy and scaring him off with a tough talk. But there are other times too when the police just don't seem bothered. And it's not your fault. It's no one's fault except those animals. And it's not what you think. That boy was a creep and the police did nothing - maybe they thought I was a prostitute even then, maybe they thought I deserved it being a woman working on my own? - but lucky for me he left for Hyderabad to harass his ex-girlfriend instead of me.

This is conversation I've had a dozen times:
"You run your own business, you say?"
"Yes, that's right."
"You and your husband run the business?"
"No, I am not married."
"Oh, you run it with your father then?"
"No, he's in education."
"I see. But you have a backer, though? A businessman who supports the venture?"
"Nope. Just me, myself and I. See, I was working for Pepsico for four years in development when I realized there were no vending machines catering to the hundreds of office workers out there starving at 4 in the afternoon when you need a sugar and salt rush, right? So I saved my income and started this on my own."
"Oh, very good. And your brother, he's joined you too?"
"Nope. Just me, myself and I."
An interesting point, but is there really an increase in violence against women or is there just - finally - an increase in women reporting it? Perhaps this is, however, the reason for the increasingly brutish and sinister violence against women? But maybe it is my fault. Maybe they're all right. Maybe I shouldn't have been a woman doing business on my own in India. Maybe it's too soon. Maybe this country isn't ready to treat women equally in the workplace? How can it be? Women are deemed inferior to men.

And yet we as a nation want to be a world super power?

Emerging India.

Some days I'm full of pride at how much we've achieved - it's amazing such an overly populated and deeply diverse "country" functions half as well as it does. Other days I'm deeply disappointed by the opportunity that seems to be passing us by.

I heard a lecture once that suggested emerging India lagged behind China not because of China's railroading, authoritarian rule versus our immature, noisy democracy, but because we don't look after our number one natural resource: our population. We aren't educated properly or kept healthy and on top of that: more than half of our human resources aren't even used in the workforce: women are meant to stay at home. Even some of our most successful, business-friendly politicians echo this.

Anil. You are a good brother. You are. And you are a kind man, you are. But even you are part of the problem. You had no issue at all convincing Mom and Dad that I should study in Singapore instead of following you to an American university, because Singapore was nearer, cheaper and safer, and you wanted to stay on in America to get your Masters and there was only so much money to go around. You needed a Masters in politics, you said, or it would be harder for you to secure a good job and a good wife.

Even you questioned how wise it was to be approaching businesses on my own and practically barged your way into my company when you saw it was taking off.

But maybe I should have listened to you? Maybe your presence would have protected me from the men who resented my success? Such a simple idea and some girl was making money from it! They smiled to my face, but grumbled to my back; they took my business card and then told their friends I was coming on to them.

Not everyone. There are many good, honourable Indian men out there. But there are enough of the other kind to make me walk with a slouch, put on weight, wear the bare-minimum of make-up, and smile sparingly.



Some of India's less progressive minds tackle
the problem of rape

"It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong." -
Babulal Gaur, Home Minister Madhya Pradesh
"Boys will be boys, they make mistakes... Will you hang them for rape?" -
Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief
"Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark." -
Botsa Satyanarayan, INC legislature from state assembly of Andhra Pradesh
"Rapes take place also because of a woman's clothes, her behavior and her presence at inappropriate places." -
Asha Mirje, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and a member of the Maharashtra Women's Commission
"I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady." -
Manohar Lal Sharma, defense lawyer in Delhi Dec 16, 2012 gang rape case

For more read:

Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India's women get raped - Reuters

Political potshots: Why me, asks modern woman - Times of India

Shut up, please! -

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