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Virat holding his spouse’s hand while she gives birth (or just being around her) is more important for the Indian youth to see and model, than learning to be men who excel in playgrounds.
Virat Kohli, it seems, has managed to cause unrest, despite the US election, Arnab’s bail, the pandemic, and Diwali. Although common sense might speculate that for such a thing to happen with all that’s going on, a spectacular action is needed – all Virat had to do to mesmerize and then instigate us was to share his decision of joining his wife Anushka for the birth of their first child.
When I first read this, or rather, first read that this has somehow caused some serious perturbations, I was struck by this thought – surely, there couldn’t be a concern if a would-be father chooses to join his wife for childbirth? Most wives would consider serious consequences for their husbands if they chose otherwise. Government workplaces support this with paternity leaves and policies, and even armed forces and active-duty personnel are allowed this excuse for a leave.
So even with India’s known misogyny that has come up again and again against Virat and Anushka – from blaming the later for career slumps in the cricketer’s career, sneering at Virat’s show of love and support for his wife’s career, and lashing out at Anuskha for producing shows which if anything, are relevant and needed – it seemed a bit far fetched that there would a reason to be petulant because of this. What could be the concern, if any?
Well, seems like there are big ones.
“If Dhoni chose ‘national duty’ over selfish (read family) needs, why shouldn’t Virat? The real strength of men comes from sacrifices in times of test – literally in this case, full pun intended. What big deal is childbirth anyway? It’s shameful to sell out one’s nation for a woman. From nationalism to national duty, to a man’s character – so much is hanging on a balance here. Bhagat Singh left his wife to go fight for independence, after all.” End of sarcasm.
Honestly, enough has been written about ‘the Virat-Anushka’ factor, so I won’t spend too many words here on the same.
Indeed, a lot of the angst against this particular man supporting this particular woman comes from India’s issues with accepting a woman who has a career in entertainment and is fiercely independent (that too with opinions on social matters) as an appropriate companion to a male role-model.
Yes, India loves to label men as joru ka ghulam at the slightest show of support. But the Virat Anuskha narrative is more than that, and that has been talked about. If Virat had been married to a stay at home wife or a physician – things would have looked a bit different, and we know that. So I will just leave that at that and move on to a bigger matter here – the matter of choice.
I mean no disrespect to those who choose to make tremendous sacrifices, and there are many. Please note that all of them are not fighting at the borders. I know of CESC electricians who miss festivals after festivals, essential workers to work desolately, emergency personnel who miss milestones and those who weren’t around when a loved one passed. And of course, armed forces make tremendous sacrifices when it comes to family and life’s moments.
But the question is, is sacrifice a duty? If forced, does renouncement remain meaningful? No. We have forgotten this as a society.
And although it might seem virtuous and mighty to decide moral duties – like playing for the national team instead of being there to support a spouse during childbirth – it is supremely wrong. Firstly, it’s not moral. Secondly, it’s not meaningful, and lastly but most importantly, it doesn’t help with forming a just society because it takes away choice. Sometimes under societal pressure. Sometimes through years of conditioning.
Use of morality as a concept (which is more often done under the guise of culture) against individual freedom to choose between the right, and the wrong thing, to do is dangerous.
Because morality, as assigned here, is dubious. For example, a population that truly believes that winning or losing a cricket series is pivotal for a nation’s destiny and therefore, supreme national duty – so much so that it is more important than gender role-modeling for a nation where gender inequality should be foremost in discussion – is ignorant and illusioned.
Now, there will always be some arguments that digress the point completely and are placed just for the sake of an argument. For example, should everything be a choice? Murder should be a choice then too…kind of arguments. Well, because of my high regard for the readers here, I refrain from explaining that I am talking of legal, rational choices – fully comprehending not just the letter and but also the spirit of laws that exist in the land.
India has chosen the ‘moral’ path forever and it will take up pages to deliberate why then, we still lag in several social justice metrics. So it is important for India to embrace a certain amount of individual freedom now.
Virat is not choosing to do anything illegal, and his work is allowing him to do what he wants to. If his not playing would have been deemed a catastrophe to the Indian team’s performance, or there were legal provisions preventing what he is asking for, he would not be able to do what he is planning. That is not the case. So let’s forget the should’s as we believe them to be.
Virat holding his spouse’s hand while she gives birth (or just being around her) is more important for the Indian youth to see and model than learning to be men who excel in playgrounds. Therefore, it’s a moral choice. It’s the right choice. And it’s a legal choice. Let’s just accept that it is a personal choice and the nation doesn’t get a say. Maybe, with one choice accepted at a time, as a nation, we will not have to force morality and will see good choices made instead – voluntarily.
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Manages supply chain teams in Intel Corp. Blogger, writer and poet. Founder and Director Her
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