A year of the #MeToo movement in India
Sir — This October, the MeToo movement in India completes a year. Women from various backgrounds — students, struggling actors, senior journalists — had spoken up against their experiences of sexual harassment in different walks of life. What was most disturbing was the revelation that none of it was a secret. Several people already knew about the harassment, but chose to do nothing about it. Why did they not take a stand until the stories were out in the public domain? Clearly the idea that ‘men will be men’ and that this is a licence to misdemeanour is all pervasive in society, even among the educated.
Sir — The Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission should learn to differentiate between human rights and invasion of privacy. It could also do with a broadening of its horizons. It is shocking that a human rights body — tasked with ensuring the well-being of the downtrodden — should call adult women “concubines” for living life on their own terms. Has the body forgotten that ‘concubines’ are entitled to human rights as well? In fact, women like them who are treated as social outcasts for their line of work are acutely in need of help from human rights bodies.
The attitude of the RSHRC exemplifies the reasons for the failure of most welfare measures in India. Poor knowledge, lack of awareness, superstition and backwardness ensure that those most in need of welfare rarely benefit from the State’s largesse.
Crown of shame
Sir — The president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, was right in suggesting that Narendra Modi is the new “Father of India” (“Trump right. Gandhi can’t be father of ‘this’ nation”, Oct 3). Given that M.K. Gandhi’s ideals and teachings are butchered everyday, it would be wrong to call him the Father of the Nation anymore.
Had Gandhi been alive, he would have renounced the title by now. He dedicated his entire life towards ensuring Hindu-Muslim harmony and ensure the inclusion of the ‘untouchables’ into the mainstream. It is unfortunate that we have miserably failed in carrying forward his legacy.
Sir — The artist, Subodh Kerkar, has rightly pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi cannot be the father of a nation where people are lynched for eating beef. His observation is for those who selectively use Gandhi’s philosophy to legitimize their politics but fail to imbibe his values on communal harmony.
During his visit to India in 2015, the former US president, Barack Obama, had said that religious intolerance in India would have shocked Gandhi. By remaining silent on vigilantism in the name of religion, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has given his tacit consent to various forms of Hindu-fundamentalism. It is also quite shocking that Modi accepted the current US president’s appellation, “Father of India”. This amounts to an insult of the Mahatma’s ideals on harmony and non-violence.
Recycle to reuse
Sir — Most people are aware of the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. Although the usage of plastic cannot be completely stopped, the government can ban further manufacturing of items that contain plastic. The onus of rejecting plastic products always falls on common people. However, such an expectation is flawed; as long as plastic exists, people will use it. Further, most products in the market are packaged in plastic and the consumer can do little about it in the absence of a viable alternative.
There is enough plastic on earth to be recycled for most human needs. Governments across the world should discourage further production of plastic. Since the economy and employment may get affected by this, factories that produce plastic can be revamped to recycle plastic. The government should play an important role in achieving this goal by offering incentives to such factories. But none of this can be achieved if corruption and vested interests are allowed to get in the way of the planet’s well-being.
Sir — Streets in Calcutta get flooded even after short spells of rain. This shows that there are serious issues with the drainage system. This year, the situation is especially bad on the roads under some flyovers. Many had to abandon their cars after being stranded. The authorities concerned should take steps to remedy this problem.