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A Reflection on the Indian Society - Padmavati Controversy

November 25, 2017
12 months

Click here know more on the controversy.

What is the issue?

A social understanding of the whole uproar over a movie, Padmavati, raises some crucial questions on some perceptions in society and the status of women in India.

"All disputes about history and myth are indeed the reflection of concerns at present"

What social perceptions does the controversy reflect?

  • Sacrifice - Celebrating the myth of a woman who embraced death to protect medieval honour is nothing but embracing the idea of Sati which was abolished as a practice nearly two centuries ago.
  • Evidently, some upper-caste establishments and political leaders have hailed Padmavati as “rashtramata Padmavati”, the mother of the nation.
  • Community - The controversy highlights the reality that the clan and the community are increasingly becoming more powerful than the individual.
  • The marital and sexual choices of an individual are largely being controlled and conditioned by the caste and communal identities.
  • E.g. there is a rising trend of discouraging all inter-faith love relationships as “love jihad”.
  • The marriage of a 25-year-old Hindu girl, Akhila (now Hadiya) who chose to marry a Muslim was annulled by the court.
  • In Kerala, there are “reconversion centre” that coerces Hindu women who have relationships with men of other religions to “return” to the fold.
  • Evidently, in many of these cases, it is usually the woman who faces the double burden of caste and gender identities.
  • Masculinity - The Kshatriyas are offended because the film Padmavati has allegedly shown Khilji, a Muslim ruler fantasising about Padmavati.
  • More than the concern for a woman, this is more a violent reaction for the challenge posed for Hindu masculinity.
  • Patriarchy - The agenda of ardent proponents of patriarchy has often been to control and subjugate woman in her individual choices.
  • But the very nature of patriarchal deception is that it does it with the tag of 'protecting women'.
  • Media - Indian cinema, especially Bollywood, has for long been a playground of desire, especially for men.
  • It has shown blindness to the culture of stalking being a social evil and has often only romanticised it.
  • But when it is portrayed to be done by someone with a well known caste or religious identity and tag, it is opposed with all fervour.

What do the real Padmavatis need?

  • In a country with a shocking record on gender equity, the women do not want the Kshatriyas to protect them.
  • They need the right to health, equality and justice to protect themselves, which a feudal order has always denied them.
  • But the democratically-elected governments have the responsibility to ensure these basic rights to women, for them to have a dignified life in a gender equal society.


Source: The Indian Express

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