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A recent BBC article praising BP Dakshayani of the ISRO, (a core member of the Mars Mission) for balancing work and home beautifully, is facing backlash. Here's a closer look.
A recent BBC article praising BP Dakshayani of the ISRO, (a core member of the Mars Mission) for balancing work and home beautifully, is facing backlash. Here’s a closer look.
Recently, many on social media slammed the BBC for its article on BP Dakshayani, ISRO’s former head for space navigation and flight dynamics. The title of the piece read, ‘Rocket woman: How to cook curry and get a spacecraft into Mars orbit.’
It’s the gender stereotyping in the article that has infuriated readers, many of whom have taken to social media platforms to vociferously express their disapproval of the international news broadcaster.
People have issues with the way BP Dakshayani, a prominent space expert and programmer, has been portrayed by lumping her achievements with cooking. Many have even proclaimed it to be BBC’s anti-Indian bias for presenting our women space scientists in such a way.
The heading of the article is definitely very sexist (and possibly racist, with its emphasis on curry). The tone of the article at the beginning appears to be casual, very superficially addressing the major role played by a team of women in successfully sending the Mars Mission into orbit. They just get addressed as ‘women in sarees’ and nothing else.
Stereotyping is indeed evident in the article, be it Dakshayani addressed as the ‘Indian wife’, in her family’s disapproval of further studies, her being compelled to take up household responsibilities after the wedding or her husband not helping her with the same. Yet – a big part of that reflects the gender roles prevalent in most Indian society. What the article has got perfectly right is the juggling, between work and home, that almost every woman in India needs to manage.
Dakshayani belonging to an older generation and coming from a traditional, conservative family had to work very hard to balance between responsibilities of housework and her career in science. “I used to get up around 5 am because I had to cook for seven, eight people and it was not easy. So I would cook for the whole family and then come to office,” said Dakshayani in her interview with the BBC.
What is surprising, rather than Dakshayani’s statement, is that as the years have passed, nothing much seems to have changed in society. I am very sure many women of today, can completely connect and relate to Dakshayani’s story and the struggles she narrates.
It is still considered that women’s first priority has to be husband, children and taking care of the family. However big her dream to achieve something in life is or her other ambitions are, it’s her duty to keep them aside and concentrate on looking after the house.
A few like Dakshayani fight against all odds, toil day and night to get the best of both worlds. Many somehow manage sailing on both the boats, while in some cases, due to excessive pressure from family and the society, women give up on their career goals.
As Dakshayani herself has said, it’s very tough. But with her achievements she has proved to the world that it’s not impossible either. Perhaps what we can take away instead from the whole episode is her never give up attitude and determination to succeed.
Image courtesy the BBC article mentioned in this piece.
Apart from being the Associate Editor at Women's Web, where I get to read, edit and write a lot of interesting articles, my life is simple. It begins at 'M' (Movies) and ends with ' read more...
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
It’s All In Your Head, M famed author Manjiri Indurkar’s debut poetry collection, Origami Aai, is independent and yet an extension of her memoir in which she speaks with utmost grace about all forms of abuses that she has survived. In this book of intriguing and evocative poems, the poet weaves words to form images of the everyday life of her middle-class family, love found and lost, trauma, and healing.
The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
of a chronicler.
– Funereal Stories
Homemakers or as we often call them, 'housewives' are IMO the most underestimated and disrespected of women. Time this changed.
I am so glad to write about this as homemakers were and till are the most undervalued and underestimated.
Having grown up in Indian society, I have witnessed people disrespecting homemakers by delivering various comments like, “saara din ghar par to hoti ho karti kya ho” (being at home what do you do full day), “housewives ke pass to bahut time hota hai” (housewives have a lot of time), “subah kaam hota hai fir to free hi free saara din” (you have work in the morning and then you are free the whole day).
I am a working woman and I confess that I can go to work because earlier my mother and now my mother-in-law share responsibilities with me. People feel the work of a homemaker is easy but honestly, it’s not. I see my mother-in-law waking up at 6 am and working non-stop till night. In fact, I would say the life of some working individuals are much more sorted and simple than that of a homemaker.
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