New Upcoming Slang Word: ‘Wokeness’

Turns out, Wokeness was the most popular slang of 2016, in America of course. So by the time, it travels to India, it takes mostly a few months. I am going to have to shut up my auto correct and dictionary before moving forward. Wokeness is actually a word!

Emma Watson (Hollywood Actress) and Justin Trudeau (Canadian PM) meeting was called an International Wokeness Summit

Recently, the word Wokeness was used for writer and activist, Arundhati Roy. Wokeness is still a slang.

As New York poet Raven Cras explains on Bravity: ‘The phenomenon of being woke is a cultural push to challenge problematic norms, systemic injustices and the overall status quo through complete awareness.

However, ‘being woke’ is not just about being aware of societal norms and injustices. It encompasses the need to search for more knowledge, understanding and truth in order to engage and challenge the negative progression or evolution of society.

To be woke is to be more aware of our surroundings, the country and the world. To be woke is to look and speak against injustice happening to your own and other kinds of people.  India for sure needs more wokeness right now. Otherwise, it is going to be very easy to divide us and rule. We need to see if, what seems good for us is good for others too. And if the things being sold for the larger good are true or not. If we can’t speak three points for and against a particular topic, it’s perhaps time to revisit the topic and arouse a sense of wokeness.

Every time I come forward a new term or slang, I go like:

But then finding the meaning becomes much more fun.


A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund

Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations which are broadly defined as:

  • the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or
  • there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

(via Wikipedia)

Recently, the Supreme Court permitted a rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks, which is beyond the permissible 20 weeks limit prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

Abortion is a topic that is not as hot a debate in India, as it has been in the US. The basic difference being that in the US, the fight for abortion rights is at the point of consent of a woman of not having a baby. While in India, the legalities in abortion are focused on severe health risks for the woman or the baby, and that if the woman is a rape survivor where abortion is legally permissible before 15 weeks. There are obvious risks in the process of abortion due to sex-determination. But the point of consent of a woman is always missing.  Continue reading “A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund”

Can I Please Have Your Undivided Attention for Some Time?

It was a morning session, aimed at orienting students to our startup and the methods of career counselling. This was an International school. We got into an intense discussion of how to recognise one’s interests, and how to decide whether to pursue a career on the basis of your interest. Just then there was a phone ringing in the room. It wasn’t mine or my crew’s. And this girl got up almost naturally looking at her ringing phone and politely excused herself. Although it’s just been 8 years since I finished school, this was truly unthinkable for me. I made a mental note:

  • She was 11th grade and she had a phone. (which is nowadays very common)
  • She got the phone in her school and class.
  • Her phone wasn’t on silent mode and when it rang, there was no horror or embarrassment on her face (which generally is the case with decent people). Nor did any of the other children react to it.
  • She decided to pick up the call, did not seek permission but excused herself.

I want to be the super-cool person here and say that I understand this behaviour and every generation has their way of living. But I can’t. Although, it’s not like this is new and only in our generation. This one time I went to a friend’s place after a long time and were talking about things. He asked me if I checked this particular event on Facebook. I said I wasn’t on Facebook anymore. Continue reading “Can I Please Have Your Undivided Attention for Some Time?”

Hostel Curfew Timings: Menaka Gandhi Going Terribly Wrong Again

Hostel Curfew Timings: Menaka Gandhi Going Terribly Wrong Again

Menaka Gandhi, our very own Union cabinet minister for Women & Child development is known to have said a lot of crazy stuff before. She had once justified ‘marital rapes’ saying nothing of that sort exists. If you are married, you can’t be raped by your husband. It is automatic consensual.

Ek Chutki Logic?!

Years later when my kids will google ‘Menaka Gandhi quotes’, this is what they’ll find:

Marital Rape cannot be criminalised in India

In the recent NDTV debate, we see a college student asking Menaka Gandhi a few questions for which she gives baffling answers.

Student: The question is that the well-educated authorities of the university have formulated the rules which are themselves gender-biased for example, ‘Non-veg to be not served in girls hostels and…”

“I’m quite happy with that, actually.” Mrs Gandhi smirks while interrupting the girl. “I am what is called as a proselytising vegetarian.” Continue reading “Hostel Curfew Timings: Menaka Gandhi Going Terribly Wrong Again”

The Other Angle: Amdavadi women and the phenomena of Dupatta replacing Helmets

I visited Jaipur last week and like young kids of our relatives from abroad get excited and surprised looking at monkeys, dogs and cows on our Indian roads; I beamed seeing that everyone wore a helmet: the rider and the pillion too, even females- aunty in a sari, college girl on a bike, even grandmas. In retrospect, I wonder how women in our city pretty much invented the idea of covering their face with a dupatta while traveling, which not only serves as an important safety defense mechanism while on roads but also restricts pollution. But as someone who wears a helmet, I do not understand why so few women (even fewer than men) wear helmets while driving in the city, or do we see our dupatta as a replacement to helmet.


The most interesting things that happen to you is when you go to buy a helmet, especially if you are someone forgetful as me, you’ll have to go there more often; twice have I gone to a helmet place near commerce six roads, I have rifts with the person. He begins with showing be a ‘ladies helmet’, the cap like delicate thing which will be the first thing to break or come off, and it doesn’t cover your face and jaw. The thought process that went into its designing must be “Oh women are so delicate; we need to give them a delicate helmet.” Right. Once I tell the kaka, I don’t want this. He will say, ‘ben, aa enough che. Chokrio ne aatlu chali jashe. Koh toh biju batavu pan heavy lagshe.” (Listen, this is enough for girls. I can show you other ones but you’ll find them heavy.) I would stand there and nod left right, meaning no. Then he would show me a ‘Men’s helmet’. I buy it and leave.

But the most interesting thing is why most traffic cops don’t stop us without a helmet? “Beheno ne chaale, bukhani toh pehri che ne.” (Such helmets should be enough for women, they wear dupatta anyway.)

Perhaps we feel it will spoil our hair or our precious hairstyle, but then think, is your face more important or your brain. Also, it’s normal to feel the helmet to be heavy or uncomfortable, for the first five or six days, but it is a good problem to have. You will get used to it in no time and theirs no choice. It’s pretty much as essential as a bra.

If you are worried about your hairstyle, think, is it more important or your head?

A friend of mine, an American woman from the US who is a stunt woman over there had said in one of her research project trips to Ahmedabad, “I think driving a two wheeler in Ahmedabad is riskier than stunts in my films. I wouldn’t dare drive here!”

Adding to the original quote, ‘Driving liberates a woman’, I would add ‘and helmet saves her’. Also, don’t you think following traffic laws shall be better step towards equality?

(A shorter, crisper and nicely translated Gujarati version of this post was first published in my brand new column ‘Women City’ in City Bhaskar, Ahmedabad. Show me some love or hate, tell me what you think about this- either here in the comments or mail or tweet!)

Repeat After Me: Feminism is not Anti-Man and Men’s Rights Activism need not be Anti-Feminist either

Repeat After Me: Feminism is not Anti-Man and Men’s Rights Activism need not be Anti-Feminist either

“The banquet hall in the three-star hotel on the outskirts of Mumbai was crammed with tables and testosterone.”

begins the BuzzFeed article celebrating four women who are working towards supporting male rights. No problem. Men’s Rights Activist conference. So what could be a possible agenda in there? Hmm? Talking about how there are certain laws where men need help. Right. Talking about how to save genuine men who are falsely trapped into domestic violence and other false charges. Even better.

But no, they went ahead to make boards on display, called “Feminism is Cruelty”, “If Feminism was about equality, there won’t be any Men Rights Activist” and the epic: “Mother-in-law is also a woman”.

The debate isn’t about whether Men’s Rights activists are needed. I am sure there are. But here are my precise questions on articles like these: Continue reading “Repeat After Me: Feminism is not Anti-Man and Men’s Rights Activism need not be Anti-Feminist either”