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The Neo Mayos sniffing around Indian gutters

The Neo Mayos sniffing around Indian gutters

S. Gurumurthy
The Indian Express
February 7, 2000
Title: The Neo Mayos sniffing around Indian gutters
Author: S. Gurumurthy
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date: February 7, 2000

Before Independence two persons wrote on the title "Mother India". One was Maharishi Aurobindo, who saw Mother India as Divine Mother. The other was Catherine Mayo, who saw the same mother as filth.

Mayo wrote her book sometime in 1927. Though she had addressed the book to India, she published it in the west; "for the Englishmen and Americans", as Gandhiji said. She condemned India, as Gandhiji had noted, "for their sanitation, morals, religion".  She also described India as a "world menace" , the Hindus "as unresisting", "insanitary", "superstitious", and note, even "sex-ridden".

Responding to Mayo Gandhiji had said in Young India (15.9.1927) 'it is the report of a drain inspector sent out with the purpose of opening and examining the drains of the Country to be reported upon, or to give a graphic description of the stench exuded by opening the drains. If Miss. Mayo had confessed that she had gone to India merely to open out and examine the drains of India, there would perhaps be little to complain about her compilation. But she says in effect with a certain amount of triumph "The drains are India" '.

This happened over 70 years back. But the gutter inspecting culture has not stopped. If anything it has become more respectable, and has acquired greater legitimacy. But after Independence, the Indian sons and daughters of Macaulay who devised the English education plan for the intellectual subordination of India, have ensured the continuity of Katherine Mayo's work.

And now, Deepa Mehtas, Shabana Azmis and other daughters and sons of Macaulay seem to continue this Mayo tradition.

The latest themes of the neo Mayos are indeed exciting, why even sexiting. How the Indian husbands sexually starve their wives, forcing them to turn lesbians. This was the theme of the film 'Fire'. And now, the next film 'Water'. Here, the theme depicts how the widows of Varanasi and Mathura are condemned to prostitution.

Inevitably, the husbands who do injustice to their wives are Hindus; and the wives turning lesbians are again Radhas and Sitas. Of course, the widows of Varanasi and Mathuras cannot be Muslims or Christians. The message is subtle, yet the targets of attack and hurt are obviously selective.

This is Mayo in continuity. Otherwise, why talk about lesbianism among wives and prostitution among widows when there are million good things about Indian women and Indian widows.

It is the Indian family, woven around essentially women, which discharges the greatest burden that the governments in the West are reeling under. And that is the care of the elders at home, widowed and unemployed sisters, and brothers, the ill and the infirm.

The bill for the care of such people is met by the state in the west, and this accounts for more than half of the public expenditure in many of these countries. They are struggling to bear this bill. Here in India, millions of sisters and brothers take care of their dependents. It is the Indian women who keep this dharmic tradition of family as the delivery mechanism of social security.

Millions of widows sustain their families through work ranging from cooking to papad-making. Ask Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjad Papad. They will give you true-life stories, which will shame the gutter-inspecting Mayos, the original and the neo.

Likewise there are thousands of good things about Varanasi too - it signifies the greatest unity of India, it is a centre of learning, it is a production centre of 80% of the small fans produced in India and so on.

But obviously these neo Mayos do not have an eye for anything good about India. They seem to look only for gutter and stench in India. Compared to the millions of widows who bring up their families by honest work, how many are prostitutes? And compared to the crores of Indian wives who enjoy the conjugal bliss how many seek relief in lesbianism?

Those like the neo Mayos who inspect the gutters are bound to smell stench. Otherwise why would they be disinclined to see the million great things for which our women and widow are demonstrable examples, and project them as lesbians and widow prostitutes.

For them it does not matter that it hurts. That it hurts the millions of widows who do great work for their families. That it presents even the contented women of India, as sex-starved and as lesbians, or millions of widows as prostitutes. That it presents miniscule exceptions as the universal Indian rule. That it erodes the national confidence.

The tragedy is that the work of Mayos and her neos does create an indelible impression about the entire nation, even as one Morarji Desai advocating urine-therapy had made the west think that all Indians do secretly what Morarji was saying openly.

But one cannot even dissent against these neo Mayos without getting abused and labelled. It is anti-secular to oppose them; it is communal if one agitates; dissenting against them is fascism. Contrast the Mahatma with the present day leaders. They are with those who hurt; not just that, they are against those who are hurt. Terrorised by the abusive might of the secularists, the BJP government has cleared the script of 'Water'. But the government must know that the stench of Fire and Water cannot be sanitised. Because, the idea that Fire and Water represent is gutter, stench. It cannot be sanitised, merely by re-scripting it.

Will it not amount to gutter inspection, as Gandhiji had said, to script the plight of the HIV-infected the catholic priests of America among whom the HIV incidence is four times the US national average; will that not pervert the personality of the thousands of other priests who maintain strict catholic discipline? Will that not over-shadow the service, which they are rendering to the needy?  Fortunately the secularists will ensure that such a thing will not happen in India, against non-Hindus.

But what about the Hindus? To day there is no Mahatma Gandhi to expose the Mayos and her neos. The Hindu society must pray for one like him who can successfully dare the children of Macaulay, and the secularists.

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