Friday, May 16, 2008

Mothers

According to the State of the World's Mothers report, brought out by an American humanitarian organisation Save the Children, India is ranked a dismal 66th among 71 less developed countries.
What should we do for mothers?

Celebrate Mother’s Day?
Which is yet another addition (like the World’s Mothers Report??) to the long list of marketing gimmicks brought out by the West to rape Indian culture of its origins and emotional sincerity.

The way Mother’s day has added one more to-do item in lists which we never bother to follow or fulfill; this report does it in a subtler way. India has traditionally been a land where mothers are second only to God. (Think Mother India, and think of your dad's answer the last time your mom tried to crib about her mom-in-law).

Probably the Italians give Indian men a fair competition, when it comes to being mama’s-boys, but Indian mothers have been right up there (or at least used to be) commanding a position of love and respect, and all surveys be damned.

I don’t think anybody in Rural India knows or cares about Mother’s day, but yes they do know and care about their mothers, thank you very much. So do the millions of middle-class and lower middle class families that dwell in our cities and metros, till now.

They are yet to join the rat-race, of city-dwelling, west-aping, wannabe yuppies and will soon take to purging their guilty consciences by the once-a-year ritual of a fancy restaurant (whose cutlery confuses mom) or maybe a movie in a multiplex (whose escalators probably make her nervous as hell) and consider their duties as adoring children done.

So instead of American Humanitarian Organizations telling us we rank dismally I think it is we who should look within us and wonder why. And this is exactly why. Don’t do anything for mothers, children, do something for yourselves. If you can.

1 comment:

Bullzye said...

The State of the World's Mothers report is there on the net. Have you read it? Perhaps not. I haven’t either. But I do know certain things.
While it is acknowledged that the (hated) Americans do have extraordinary talent to commercialise and commodify anything under the sun, we also need to acknowledge the horrendous hypocrisy that thrives in the name of `Indian culture.’ To give a simple example, it is quite common in India to blame the influence of `western materialistic culture’ for female foeticide and dowry deaths. Edward Luce in his highly acclaimed book `In Spite of the Gods’ points out with brutal clarity that neither problem exists in the west.
We all know that in India mothers of boys are treated differently from mothers of girls. Does that happen in the west?
A `culture’ that discriminates against the female of the species right from the time she is physically conceived, and continues with the injustice throughout her life: can it be logically expected to suddenly wake up one day and give to a mother due respect? No, we can only expect loud and shrill glorification of motherhood that is designed specifically to camouflage the inglorious truth.
Renowned journalist and author from Bangalore Amu Joseph in a scathing and well researched article in October 2005 highlighted the miserable plight of senior citizens in India, where the shrill hype about `respect for elders’ is unparalleled anywhere in the world. This article too is accessible on the net.
There have been plenty of news reports in the Marathi press about how people take their aged parents on a pilgrimage and abandon them there in the crowd. Old age homes are thriving in such pilgrimage centres, and a large majority of the residents do not wish to go back to their children.
Narayana Murthy of Infosys spoke some time back on `What Indians must learn from the west’. It is a sizzling eye-opener on how easily we turn a blind eye on our own shortcomings. The speech is available here: http://www.indiainfoline.com/view/041002.html
Nobody denies that celebrating a Mother’s Day is nothing more than tokenism, sometimes grotesque. But if we wish to fight this trend, the least we can do is to take our blinkers off. It will be a good beginning.