Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lets Glorify Housewives!

For a change, feminists and modernists need to realise that the role of housewife is bigger in a family, as compared to earning money.

In the same breath, let us understand that the money earner is not the provider of the family. The housewife provides for the family as well. She provides for the smooth running of the house. She provides time to the kids, teaching them values, mother tongue, familiarity to ethnic and cultural roots, festivals and many such soft education.

In the guise of independence and equal rights for the woman folk, there is an increasing propaganda against being a housewife, and instead in being financially independent. There are visible widespread efforts to demean the aspiration to become a good housewife.

Even a lot of mothers, under the influence of television serials, women magazines, that glorify & glamourise working women,  indoctrinate their girlchild with ideas of becoming financially independent. The child is not given a choice by explaining both the sides. She grows up shying away from being a housewife.

I dare say that you guys are completely mis-directed, misled and therefore taking the wrong approach to the right objective. You will end up missing your objective by miles in the long run.

We need equal rights for women. Attrocities against women need to be abolished. Dowry should be insulting to the male ego. There are many other woman issues that need redressals.

All of the above can be fought without de-selling the concept of housewife. It cannot come at the cost of our families, which provide upbringing to the future generations.

Arguments like joint ownership of property, dividing the monthly net income on the salary date, education and awareness of the role of housewife among male kids as well as men should be taken forward.

In Assam, it is insulting to even think of dowry. The bride has to wear everything given by the Groom's family on the day of the marriage. Men only marry when they have the guts to take care of the housewife. Similarly, bloggers and media should stress on this fact, and make it shameful for men to demand dowry.

The moot point is that the glory of being a good housewife should not be sacrificed in the guise of women independence, safety and well-being.

Girls and boys, from an young age, should be taught about their roles as husband and wife. Boys need to appreciate the critical role that girls play and vice versa. At the same time, parents need to be told about their role of being a facilitator, giving the kids all options to choose from. They should glorify the role of housewife, husband and the institution of marriage.

Marriage is another system, which is in urgent need of councel, education and parental advice. Whatever I learnt about marriage was from peers, observation and my basic instinct. Quite obviously, I turned a rebel, not having any belief in the age-old institution, ultimately making a few grave life changing mistakes.

There are many educated women going through a chaotic phase, having not married beyond the age of 27/28 years, or divorced in their early years of marriages. The chaos is primarily due to the lack of clarity of purpose, focus and priority about their role after marriage. The chaos is also because of the dis-integration of joint families into nuclear feather-less, support-less families. Partly this is due to uneven economic development concentrated around the metros/cities, and partly because of the previously mentioned lack of clarity.

I am very clear that a good housewife makes a home out of a house, a family out of cousins, a community with a distinct socio-cultural-ethnic identity, with great civic values, with pride of their mother tongue, their state and their country.

Let us glorify the role of a housewife. She is the mother nature. She gives life and a meaning to it. Let men just earn some money and pay the electricity, gas and insurance bills.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are we better Indian Citizens after Marriage?

Its about two very young foreign tourists whom I saw cycling through the busy streets of Andheri, Mumbai; and one answer to a question that I had asked one of my married friends, who is also a father.

These two random incidences gave me a flash, explaining one of the factors why things happen the way they happen, in India. It gave me some answers to my curiosity about our over-arching corruption debate, the in-decisions in public life, the in-numerous pending court cases, the infinite delays in various infrastructure projects etc.

My married friend, who is a father of a very beautiful 4 years old daughter had said, "I want my daughter settled happily with a good husband" to my question, "what is your sole personal ambition?" My first reaction was, "That is really sweet, but what is your aim either for yourself or for the society at large?" That left him thinking... Then I realised that this is not a singular emotion.

This is the generic emotion of an Indian father (and mother). Indian parents feel responsible to provide for their children for their lifetime. Even though, the responsibility decreases after their children marry, yet it might be a tad too late in the day.

Lets compare this emotion to a father's agony and embarrassment in the United States of America, when his children are staying with him even after they have turned 18.  Children are supposed to fend for themselves by the time they are 18. Parents don't feel the blame, if their children are taking loans or doing a menial job for their further studies. Parents don't feel the blame if they are not settled and married to a respectable family. 

This is a paradigm difference in the way Americans (most of the west) therefore perceive responsibility after they marry and have children.

Those tourist kids cycling through Mumbai or that British girl (I once met in Diu) travelling India for the past 11 months are the bi-product of that culture. It breeds an independent attitude and an ability to take risk even among children, unlike India where both parents and children are dependent on each other.

Parents' life revolve around trying to provide the best education (donations and dowry included) and children's life revolve around seeking permission and grants from their parents. It is their birthright to be dependent on their parents in India.

If we juxtapose this argument to the fact that married men and women manage India, its infrastructure, its corruption, and all the related decisions, we would be able to visualize why we are so lenient in our public lives. All decisions that affect public life are politically sensitive, involve larger than life egos and have multiple and dangerous impacts. They require one to be brave and take risks. Our culture and family responsibilities restrict us to take these risks.

Adding to that is the scientific fact, as mentioned in one of the most intelligent book that I have come across - Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, that both risk detection and risk avoidance are not mediated in the thinking part of the brain, but largely in the emotional one. The consequences are therefore serious. It means that rational thinking has very little to do with risk avoidance.

Which doctor would setup his practice in a village when he knows that he may have to pay huge donations for his son's MBBS? Which bureaucrat would risk his responsibility towards his family by going against a corrupt politician? It may even be true vice versa. Who would act as a witness to a crime? How can one let go of huge sums of money when a higher price can fetch a better husband for his daughter?

Even the corporate world faces the symptoms of this lack of risk appetite. Who would want to lose a promotion by disclosing the truth, or by accepting one's mistake, or by taking responsibility.

We have anomalies to this fact such as Mr. Narendra Modi and Ms. Mayawati, that further proves my analysis right. They are individuals and therefore have greater appetite for risks in their own rights.

If we look at the effective and popular social activists, we would see the same argument taking shape. Medha Patkar is divorced. Anna Hazare never married. I don't think Vinoba Bhave was married.

Baba Amte was married, but his wife Sadhana Amte actively participated in her husband's social work with equal dedication. Importantly, he belonged to a very wealthy family with different and evolved values system as compared to that of the masses.

My POV is that the ability to take risks severely decreases with marriage and children. Marriage and children make us selfish to our family, thereby detaching us from the responsibilities as Indian citizens.  It is ingrained in our culture in the way we perceive responsibilities, risks and therefore take decisions in life.

Government policies, judiciary and other administrative functions should take note of this understanding and accordingly write policies, make regulations and enact laws.

Large scale corruption, fear of tough decisions etc can only be managed with this POV in perspective.

Friday, February 03, 2012

We Parents!

We are at a annual day function itching to take pictures of the beautiful performances. But quite a lot of parents are clicking pictures left, right, centre, top and bottom.

What would they say when their kids would find out that they took photographs?

Yesterday, Ruhi was very specific reading the circular given to her by her school. Dont click photographs, she said. She knows me to be the passionate photographer and her mom to be trigger happy on her iphone. So she was more particular with her instructions.

I am sure every kid knows that photography and videography are not allowed in this annual day function.

But we parents rarely are examples to our kids. Who cares?