Way to go
Sir — I visited my native place recently — a small village called Akrampur in the North 24 Parganas. Returning after a gap of nearly 10 years, I was amazed to see the development that has taken place there, not just in terms of infrastructure but also in the adaptation to modern technology. There has also been a drastic change in the mindset of the GenNext — they are ambitious and more concerned about their career now. I felt inspired on seeing their seriousness in etching out their identities in spite of being miles away from the city.
Anwesha Ambaly, Bhubaneswar
Sir — The comments of Mohanrao Bhagwat and Kailash Vijayvargiya suggest that those who get raped deserve what they get (“Travels in space and time”, Jan 6). Never mind if the victim is just 14, like Hetal Parekh, returning home from school in her uniform, not in some Little Black Dress. Of course, men like Vijayvargiya might say that a girl going to school is itself an act of crossing the Lakshman rekha.
Ravana, being the villain of the Ramayan, behaved in the way he was expected to. But was it heroic, morally acceptable, for a hero like Lakshman to slice off Surpanakha’s nose only because she had proposed to him? Or for Rama to humiliate his wife by asking her to prove her chastity? The story of the Ramayan emphasizes that Ravana did not rape Sita. But what if he had? Her helplessness would in no way make her guiltless.
As for the values of Bharat that Bhagwat speaks of, surely they are enshrined in the Mahabharat? Bharatiya sanskriti obviously allowed a woman to be used as pawn and then stripped in court. Sexual harassment was not to be frowned upon, either. Remember what happened to Draupadi, as Sairandhri, in the kingdom of Virata? The Kichakas of our society do not linger outside Lakshman rekhas but use whatever guile or power they have to trap their prey and realize their fantasies. But leave the bad men and turn your thoughts to the unknown maid who became the mother of Vidur. Being a maid, she did not have the right to refuse to sleep with Vyasa. Or think of Draupadi, obliged to take five husbands. Or even Kunti, virtually raped by the sun god. No doubt when it came to men or gods, women were meant to think of themselves as blessed if they got to conceive their children.
Maybe that is why Phulan Devi’s story started in virtuous rural India where rapes do not take place, according to Bhagwat. Either the Thakurs — considered local gods — have their way with submissive women or low-caste women are deemed fair game for all men and hence not to be considered rape victims.
Rita Datta, Calcutta
Sir — It is customary for hermaphrodites to visit households to bless newborns or newly-wed couples. But their demands have started to resemble extortion. Some hijras came to our house to bless my newborn. Apart from rice, daal and other cereals, they demanded Rs 12,000 in cash. When my mother expressed her inability to meet their demand, they hurled abuses at her and cursed my newborn. My mother settled the ransom at Rs 4,000, which she had to borrow from a neighbour to get rid of the group.
Debdatta Chakraborty, Calcutta