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She had the English scurrying for cover in the First War of Indian Independence. She was the extraordinarily fearless Rani of Jhansi.
Born Manikarnika (alias Manu), Lakshmibai had a very different childhood. When girls her age reveled in dolls and dreams, Manu sported with horses and swords, stuff that a boy’s world was made of.
She married the ruler of Jhansi and bore him a royal heir too. Even as Jhansi rejoiced, Lakshmibai’s world came crashing with the death of her son, barely 4 months old and soon, the brokenhearted king.
A widowed Rani and a princely state with only an adopted incumbent to the throne! The English seized the opportunity to annexe Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse. But Rani Lakshmibai would not part with what was rightfully hers.
The English laid siege to Jhansi. Rising to the occasion, Lakshmibai mobilized volunteers, even women to put up a stiff resistance. Her prowess astounded the English, who acknowledged her as the most dangerous combatant in the 1857 rebellion. Lakshmibai finally died of her wounds in Gwalior, a martyr at the age of twenty-three.
Rani Lakshmibai stands out as the epitome of heroic valour, immortalized by the Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s ballad – ‘Khoob Ladi Mardani Woh To Jhansi Wali Rani Thi’
Why we find her inspiring?
– Because she was a gutsy and confident woman
– Because notwithstanding her tender age, she took on a mighty enemy by herself
– Because she exhibited exemplary courage and determination in the face of personal grief
– Because she galvanized an entire nation by her heroic example
Rani of Jhansi
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
As long as teachers are competent in their job, and adhere to the workplace code of conduct, how does it matter what they do in their personal lives?
A 30 year old Associate Professor at a well-known University, according to an FIR filed by her, was forced to resign because the father of one of her students complained that he found his son looking at photographs of her, which according to him were “objectionable” and “bordering on nudity”.
There are two aspects to this case, which are equally disturbing, and which together make me question where we are heading as a society.
When the father of an 18 year old finds his son looking at photographs of a lady in a swimsuit, he can do many things. What this parent allegedly did was to dash off a letter to the University which states: