India’s obsession with purity

I have been coming across arguments again and again about how Mr Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate from the opposition party BJP fills the void of charisma and orator-ship that India greatly lacks. I find in this sentiment a form of nostalgia, where some even go to the length of saying that India would have made better strides in economy and development if it had stayed under the power of the British Raj.

Today, amidst the news of the acknowledgement of his marital status that Mr Modi had kept under strict silence to a sense of denial of one, I am amazed to find why no one is talking about what would happen to women’s rights if this man who considers marriage as mundane and acknowledging the presence of his wife as destroying his political image came to power. And the chances that he does, I am sad to say, are big. It brings me back to the question I have ask myself many times: Why is India so obsessed with “purity”? The image that Mr Modi presents as a political candidate is one that is orange clad, that speaks either Gujarati or Hindi, and is a self-proclaimed “virgin”: a saintly man who has renounced the world to be away from mundane things like having a family (or even just a wife) and who happily declares that he has no incentive to be corrupt and accept bribes for he has no lineage. How very saintly! And he is contesting from Varanasi, a city known amongst the Hindus as holy through which the sacred (and polluted) Ganga flows. Again, how very saintly!

I don’t think that I need (or desire) to speak about Mr. Modi here even further. But I would like to take this moment to think about the kind of society we are, of our norms that made this man popular for this form of “saintly” image, portraying this patriarchal image as being patriotic to the degree that we are confused and are left wondering if we indeed need to be patriarchal to be patriotic and vice versa. Why is it that today, while we are letting Walmart do business in India and screaming with joy about that and calling it our achievement that we still look up to this virgin purity of a man that through the denial of his wife in his public image has so openly shown how much he values either a woman or a family. And now, we want him to happily take power of our country?


About Shreya Parikh

I am Shreya. Project Rethought is my attempt to rethink my own observations as a brown woman of Indian origin. I currently live in Paris where I teach at Sciences Po Paris and Parsons Paris-The New School.
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One Response to India’s obsession with purity

  1. Pingback: Morality as a Battleground between Women and their Right to Will | Project Rethought ll مشروع الإستفهام

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