So Pratibha Patil is President. Yoo hoo for womenkind and all that. Or not? Considering that the role of the President in India is largely ceremonial, I don’t per se have an issue with making it a token of some kind. So we had a Dalit president, we had a Muslim president, and now, a Woman president. Fair enough – its a token to show that we take equality issues seriously. Though most of the time, it remains just that. A token. Now even if we need a token, I would prefer something that represented Indian women at their best, not an average, middling sort of specimen.
I wish we had chosen someone more well known for her own achievements. That would truly mean something, if we had someone like Sheila Dikshit, for example, though its very likely that her strong stances on many issues mean someone like her will never be chosen. Yes, Pratibha Patil has been in politics long enough, but she just doesn’t seem to have done anything significant in her time. Plus ofcourse all the attendant controversies thats probably a first in a Indian presidential race. (So yes, she has done something significant now!). On the whole, it looks like she was mainly rewarded for her loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family, and yes, when it comes to devotion to them, you can never have too much, can you.
I particularly like Amrita’s piece on the whole drama, written a few weeks ago, (before the scandals broke), where she says, “This isn’t a blow for women’s rights, it’s an act of condescension. It’s the political equivalent of getting a pat on the head, a couple of sweeties to eat and then being told to run along and be good.”