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Woman, Know How To Run A Kitchen?

Posted: October 30, 2012

Do any of you remember that ‘modern girl’ in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, whose one major crime (besides wearing Western clothes) is that she cannot cook to save her life and hence falls far short of being the Adarsh Bharatiya Naari?

Well, I haven’t seen that movie for some 20 years, so I could be getting it all wrong, but I seemed to remember that as her besetting sin. Can’t cook? No Salman Khan for you!

woman in the kitchenTurns out that 20 years now, a woman’s place is still in the kitchen, and anyone woman who cannot cook, is surely lacking in some way, never mind if she is the President of a major political party.

Why exactly did Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi single out Congress President Sonia Gandhi, saying that “She does not know how to run a kitchen. If she knew, she would not have allowed capping of LPG cylinders. Indian women, who run kitchens, are suffering.” Why not point out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not know to run a kitchen? Or that (then) Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy does not know to run a kitchen?

It is possible that his logic is that Sonia Gandhi is responsible for every government decision (and yes, policies do flow from the Party to the Government), but who else detects a strong whiff of misogyny here? Would he have made this remark if the President of the Congress was not a woman? There is nothing wrong in pointing out the errors in the Congress’ actions, but the basis for them is not that Sonia Gandhi cannot run a kitchen (and surely, Modi does not run his kitchen himself, but still manages to understand housewives’ suffering? Oh I forgot, he happens to be a man!)

No doubt Modi thought he was being very clever, but Mr. Modi, a woman needs to be a cook only if she plans to be a chef. Otherwise, she can pretty much be anything she wants to be, and no, understanding petroleum product pricing is not contingent on one’s kitchen running abilities. Perhaps its time for Sonia Gandhi to do a Julia Gillard, not that any politician in this country would have that kind of courage.

Pic credit: Mike Willis (Used under a Creative Commons license)

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