She’ll Be Wearing Pink Chaddis When She Comes

On February 9th 2009, Martin Luther King Jr’s son arrived to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his father’s visit to India. In 1959, King Jr. returned to the US infused with the Gandhian mantra of non-violence to resist the segregation of his people.

On the same day that King Jr III commenced his India visit, this writer’s mailbox was enthusiastically inundated by the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign, sponsored by the Consortium of Pub-Going Loose and Forward Women, resolutely resisting the segregation of their ilk by Pramod Muthalik and his saffron hued cultural crusaders – the Shree Ram Sena.

King had acknowledged his intellectual debt to Gandhi saying “Since being in India I am more convinced than ever before that the method of non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity”.

Fifty years later a gentleman from Chandigarh aptly christening himself ‘Ignoramus’ felt it necessary to recognise the Mahatma’s contribution to the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign with a blog comment saying “I would equate it to the Ahimsa movement by Gandhiji. The best revolution and inline with Baapuji’s call for Ahimsa. Gandhigiri at its best” .

While the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign has captured the imagination of 14,800 members on Facebook, securing the attention of the international press including the BBC, its myopic objective is restricted to elbowing Muthalik off the column centimetres with apparent and immediate success.

In a modus operandi of intolerance akin to their bête noire, the blog has been sanitized of critical comments, including those of this writer. Given, the association of the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign with champions of free expression – such as Tehelka in New Delhi and the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore – expunging comments that sit uncomfortably with the cause is certainly not cricket.

The ‘pink chaddi’ concept deserves acknowledgement but unfortunately the combative nature of the campaign is antithetical to the Gandhian spirit of non-violence. While the Consortium certainly comprises numerous accomplished women, their political immaturity is evidently reflected in mirroring Muthalik’s language of confrontation, through which they have opted to demean themselves. Perhaps, faculties diminished by ‘pub-going’ encouraged the adoption of such a sensationalist but challenged strategy?

Apart from their captivating media attention over the subsequent days let us forecast the balance sheet of this campaign’s accomplishments. Rather than being humiliated, Pramod Muthalik will probably discount pink knickers for an inaccurate saffron hue and distribute this as largesse to his constituency comprising female supporters of every endowment.

Otherwise, the Shree Ram Sena lumpen will make substantial amounts of money selling softer pink grease rags across Karnataka to fund further dastardly acts of hooliganism. In all probability, some of his sympathisers are already laughing their way to the bank selling thousands of pink knickers during a recession. Not least, the postman will receive a bonus delivering this dubious bounty!

The consortium has not considered the fact that the Shree Ram Sena has a substantial constituency amongst women who are equally disapproving of “pub culture”.

Furthermore, the women of an entire minority community – otherwise in solidarity by virtue of gender – would distance themselves from spiritual pursuits in the pub not prescribed in their religious doctrines.

Finally, while this consortium enjoyed the opportunity of providing leadership to women across India at the receiving end of relentless male chauvinism, it is disappointing that they opted to segregate themselves from such responsibility to assert the blinkered purpose of their looseness, forwardness and ‘pub bharo’ rights instead.

Segregated from ‘pub bharo’, the ‘pink chaddi’ is a singular idea but the combination has left its slip showing. Dispatching pink knickers in bulk to Muthalik would reinforce the resolve of his cadres to retaliate manifold and win him sympathy from fence sitters.

Adopting the Gandhian way would have transformed the campaign from the sensational to the substantial. Exploiting the colour pink that symbolised the segregation and systematic elimination of an entire race would have captivated world imagination and given this campaign stature.

Sending the ‘chaddis’ to Muthalik is a protest of convenience conducted in anonymity not commensurate with the courage shown by women of the Chipko Movement.

To achieve that transformation, it would have required the ‘pink chaddi’ to signify more than a ‘bubble gum and Barbie doll’ Valentine Day protest. The courage of wearing the ‘chaddi’ as an over-garment – symbolising the segregation of progressive women by a horde of saffron hued neo-fascists – would have earned “world sympathy, in the battle of right against might” to quote the Mahatma.
Posted By Ranjan Kamath to C+ive _ Civic Society On The Web


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