India takes pride in being courteous, respectful and hospitable. At the same time, we have the head of judiciary asking the rape accused to marry the victim, senior politicians passing lewd comments at women politicians and now a TV personality, while campaigning has body-shamed women and called them barrels. Anchor Dindigul I Leoni was campaigning for DMK candidate Karthikeya Sivasenapathy in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore. He said, “Women’s hips are like a ‘barrel’ since they are drinking milk from foreign cows.” Dindigul Leoni’s “women’s hips like barrels” comment was called sexist and severely criticised.
But why did he suddenly have to talk about foreign cows? Well, because Sivasenapathy is the Managing Trustee of an NGO working to help conserve native cattle breeds. How he arrived from cows to women is anyone’s guess. “There are several types of cows and the milkman will get milk from the foreign cow using machines. The women and children have become ‘bloated’ after drinking that milk. Once women’s hips were in the shape of ‘eight’ and they were able to carry their children on the hip,” he is heard saying in a clip that has received criticism from netizens.
— Vishwatma 🇮🇳 (@HLKodo) March 24, 2021
Insensitive comments by politicians
But Leoni is not the only one saying something derogatory. West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghosh recently asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to wear a Bermuda and show her legs. “The plaster has been removed. A crepe bandage has replaced it. And she is showing off her leg to everyone. She is wearing a sari, one leg is covered, the other is uncovered. Have never seen anyone wearing a sari in such fashion. She should wear the Bermudas instead of a sari if she wants to expose her leg. Then (the leg) can be seen clearly,” Dilip Ghosh said at an election rally in West Bengal.
“What a shame! What milk does he drink? Does he know what happens to women’s body post-pregnancy or during hormonal change? Kanimozhi DMK, what do you like to say to this kind of male chauvinist? Is this the respect your party people have for women?” Gayathri Raguram, president of the BJP’s Art and Culture Wing took no time to tweet it out.
“Kanimozhi kindly restrain speakers like Dindigul Leoni from speaking in the manner they are. His comments about the hips of women and how they have ballooned are degrading. You must have seen the video,” tweeted Sumanth Raman, a political analyst.
Dilip Ghosh’s remarks made headlines and were criticised as well. “BJP’s State President asks in the public meeting why Mamatadi is wearing a saree, she should be wearing “Bermuda” shorts to display her leg better. And these perverted depraved monkeys think they are going to win Bengal?” asked TMC leader Mohua Moitra.
@BJP WB Pres asks in public meeting why Mamatadi is wearing a saree, she should be wearing “Bermuda” shorts to display her leg better
And these perverted depraved monkeys think they are going to win Bengal?
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) March 24, 2021
“It now appears that the role of BJP’s State President has been merely reduced to that of venom-spitting. From scathing attacks towards the CM of Bengal to violence towards TMC workers — he has conveniently crossed all limits. Shocking words, once again!” tweeted TMC MLA Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.
Is Indian politics becoming insensitive?
The political scenario in India has changed a lot since its independence in 1947. While the initial set of politicians spoke to the citizens of the country from a podium, the newer generation connects to the aam aadmi better. But in that transition, the leaders lost etiquette or manners. it is not necessary to be an aristocrat to be a politician but when did it become okay to degrade women in public? Nothing is out of bounds and there is no line you could mistakenly cross.
BJP leader Tirath Singh Rawat has sworn in as the Uttarakhand CM only a few weeks ago and the next week he made it to national headlines. No not for some achievement, Rawat said today’s young women have a very strange fashion sense. But he did not stop there. He went on to say that it shocked him he saw a mother of two children who also runs an NGO wear ripped jeans and boots while she was on board a flight with her children. But Tirath Singh Rawat did not stop there either, he said, “If such women go out in the society to meet people and solve their problems, what kind of message are we giving out to society, to our kids? It all starts at home. What we do, our kids follow. A child who is taught the right culture at home, no matter how modern he becomes, will never fail in life.”
Rawat’s wife, Rashmi, then came out in her husband’s defence and said that he was just asking women to preserve India’s culture and traditions. She also said that the remark has been misinterpreted even though there is video footage of the speech which proves otherwise. “He said that women’s participation is unprecedented in building society and the country. It is the responsibility of the women of our country to save our cultural heritage, save our identity, save our costumes,” Rashmi, who has been Miss Meerut, clarified.
While netizens called him out and politicians shamed him, did it change the reality that it has become okay to shout out blatant lies at election rallies or abuse, pass lewd comments or body shame, someone? There is no oration anymore. Speeches that once had the power to talk about freedom and powerful dreams that made history has just been reduced to mere name-calling. But according to analysts, India has a more educated and informed voter base now and that they have started voting intelligently.