Still under the imperial spell
Sir — According to media reports, a poor descendant of the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, has been offered a job by the public sector undertaking, Coal India Limited, on the grounds of her poverty and lineage. This is unfair. There are many poor people in India. Why can the CIL not employ them too? Is it because they are not lucky enough to have the Mughals as their ancestors? Even in modern India, a person with royal lineage is given more importance than her fellow citizens. Should we call ourselves a democracy, then?
Abhijit Guha, Toronto, Canada
Sir — I am appalled by the crassness, offensiveness and stupidity of the digitally modified image so prominently displayed on the front page (“Do it to don’t do it”, July 18). While there is a pretence of apologizing to women for draping male administrators in “the elegant sari”, even the apology betrays ignorance and insensitivity. The image suggests that to show a man dressed as a woman is an insult because women are the weaker and more cowardly sex. You are presumably trying to ‘shame’ our administrators by calling them women.
As a woman, I am deeply insulted by the explicit gender stereotyping of the image and its ‘apologetic’ subscript. Over the years, The Telegraph has carried many articles which criticize the forms of gender bias that persist in our society. You have just provided a damning instance of such bias within your own paper.
Supriya Chaudhuri, Calcutta
Sir — It is outrageous that The Telegraph should, in the 21st century, decide to equate inaction with femininity and women. By depicting the chief minister of West Bengal and his leading administrators, all men, in saris, The Telegraph has betrayed its deeply entrenched patriarchal prejudices about women. Clearly the paper thinks that it is an insult to men to equate them with women.
Like many of us in West Bengal, The Telegraph too seems to be dismayed by administrative apathy and inaction. But reinforcing archaic gender stereotypes in an attempt to discharge the watchdog duties of the press cannot be called responsible journalism.
To add insult to injury, the newspaper has appended an apology to women who might feel that the elegance of the sari is wasted on these administrators. To reduce the question of women’s courage and efficiency to a question of feminine elegance further betrays the newspaper’s retrograde gender politics. We are also deeply puzzled by the wilful offence it offers to half the reading, buying and working public.
We take strong objection to this demeaning representation of women, and demand a front page apology from The Telegraph.
Amiya Dev, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Samik Bandyopadhyay, Sajni K. Mukherji, Sukanta Chaudhuri, Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Sushil Khanna, Anjum Katyal, Amlan Dasgupta, Samita Sen, Madhuchhanda Karlekar, Joyanti Sen, Sarmistha Dutta Gupta, Abhijit Gupta, Rosina Ahmed, Anuradha Kapur, Paromita Chakravarti, Anchita Ghatak, Kavita Panjabi and 72 others
Sir — The picture on the front page is a shocking example of how blatantly sexist the paper’s standpoint is: make certain men wear saris because they are useless.That is, women are useless. Administration is identified with men, and is ‘condemned’ to wear saris when it fails. You are apologetic to the “elegant sari”, but not to women for the insult to them. There should be an immediate apology for this masculinist portrayal of politics and the implied claim that women are useless.
Soma Marik, Calcutta