feminist theory and ivory tower

Jaded's picture

The Disease Of Being Universal

This week, as India deals with the after-effects of Obama’s visit,  where we dissect every word he said, try to re-read into the words he didn’t say, search for any snippets of news that would piece the puzzle to just what did the President really want to convey, we somehow conspicuously forget to think about the organised deaths in the Kashmir Valley. This is an old strategy employed by Indian politicians and policy-makers, to completely dodge the issue and hope the problem — this can mean anything: the poor, the huge population, silly Ladies asking for rights, take your pick according to your mood! — will just dissolve away as we busy ourselves with four more years of systematic oligarchy. Every single newspaper since the past three weeks have been talking about the President’s impending visit to India, covered every second of his visit and now are doing soul-deep articles on the clothes the First Couple wore and other extremely relevant topics while the account of four Dalit women who were raped yesterday just outside of Mumbai for pressing charges against army officials for previous episodes of unwarranted assault and violence are somehow unwritten about.

This morning as I seethed in fury at the sheer injustice of it all, another post about the Obama visit shines at me from its spot on the newspaper. I can re-hear the words, “I am so happy, that India has now left behind the rank of being a Third World Country” that had almost become the national rhetoric last week; only this time the question “At whose cost?” is glowing just beneath it and refuses to go away unanswered. Many history lessons from my school days come to mind where I’d read India’s name in the list of ‘backward’ nations and shuffle around it, swirling the words in my mouth, imagining what ‘forward’ must look like then. And today, it seems that ‘forward’ is here; I’d always thought this day would somehow magically manifest itself over the calendar, be celebrated and leave a mark. Little did I know, this very mark will never come off of my skin, no matter how hard I try to scrape it off. I can’t seem to understand our dedication to the words “global village” or “solidarity” especially since they’ve started to look more dangerous than ever to me, considering our fetish with borders and chalk lines; between nations and states, added to our affinity with using the many perks of ‘democracy’ — military authoritarianism of course! — or any other ‘freedoms’ can afford us. In some part of my LadyBrain I can for a few moments understand why would being ‘Universal’ appeal to us, for who wouldn’t want to UnWrite the narrative of the Empire, People Of The Olde Interwebes? I won’t lie, being the Inscriber has held its charm for me; I have dreamt many times how would possessing and prodding spaces feel like, instead of just ‘occupying them’. But when reality sinks in, too many discrepancies between the dream and the lived reality become painfully visible.

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