I stand by what I said Mr Prime Minister: Shruti Seth on #SelfieWithDaughter

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Actor Shruti Seth was trolled by the supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when she questioned the rationale behind #SelfieWithDaughter during his monthly radio speech Mann Ki Baat.

She was applauded for the way she dealt with the social media trolls. Few days later she decided to write an open letter to India. Curiously, she ends her letter with a little note for the PM asking him to condemn the online abuse that take place in his name. Here’s the transcript of her full letter.

“A little note to India,

I write this to an entire nation because no one individual can be held responsible for bringing about change in the mindset of a billion odd people. Change can only happen if there is awareness at an individual level.
On the morning of 28th June, I made the grave mistake of expressing my views on an initiative called #selfiewithdaughter which had been blessed by our PM. Most people found it to be a sweet gesture and a means to create awareness about female infanticide. I, sadly, didn’t find the idea very palatable. Keep in mind that I have an eleven-month daughter of my own. But I expect more from the man who’s supposed to usher in a new era of change, not just tenuous surface-level initiatives.

I then made a graver mistake of posting this opinion on Twitter. So not only did I dare to think, I also dared to place my thoughts in the public domain. And then, at the risk of sounding overly-Shakespearean, the floodgates of hell opened. I was subjected to a tsunami of hate tweets. 48 hours of non stop trolling. The tweets were targeted at me, my family, my ‘Muslim’ husband, my 11-month-old daughter and, of course, my non-existent, dwindling, no-good career as an actor.

I had made an unsavoury comment about our Prime Minister by calling him – *gasp* – #selfieobsessed and asking him to choose reform over gimmickry. Was I wrong? Was I too harsh? Apparently, for those who support him and the ruling government, unquestioningly so. I, as a member of the tax-paying electorate of India, did not have the right to comment on his policy. I had dared to challenge his authority. I had abused the highest office of the country (which is the President, by the way).

And so I deserved to be punished. And punished In a manner commensurate with the vitriol that the anonymity & access of Twitter so easily provides. Men and women alike said the most vile things about me, stripping me of all my dignity as someone’s daughter, wife and mother and most importantly a woman. Men who were busy hash-tagging their selfies with their daughters one minute called me slanderous names the next. Asked me if I knew who my real father was. Questioned if I had been sexually abused as a child and hence was opposed to the idea of a selfie with my father. And these are the relatively polite ones. Well done, gentlemen. Your daughters must be so proud.

Women, who are meant to empower each other, asked me if I was a prostitute and if I was planning on doing the same with my daughter. Whether I was trying to gain some fame and resurrect my failed career by using the prime minister’s name. I shudder to think of the deep respect your sons will have for the opposite sex.
So here’s the thing. What is the point of taking selfies with your girls when you’re also responsible for creating the most toxic environment for them to grow up in? How will taking a photograph nullify the misogyny and patriarchy that is so deeply entrenched in our society? Why bother to increase the number of girls being born when you choose to treat them with such indignity and disrespect?
All those who trolled me incessantly for forty eight hours, did you for once stop and think that I, too, am someone’s daughter? Did you ever ask yourselves how you’d feel if it were your daughter at the receiving end of all that hate? I’m guessing the answer is a big, resounding “No”. Because, you know, you were too busy pouting for the camera & getting ‘likes’ and ‘RT’s to your #selfiewithdaughter.
As for our esteemed PM, I have this to say to him:

Dear Sir,
If you truly wish to empower women I urge you to condemn this kind of hatred being spread in your name.
Regretfully, I deleted my initial tweet because of the backlash. But I stand by what I said and I’ll reiterate it here: “Selfies don’t bring about change, reform does. So please try and be bigger than a photograph. Come on!”
And as for my initial reservation about the initiative being nothing more than eyewash, I am deeply saddened to see that, in the end, I was proved right. “

14 COMMENTS

  1. PLEASE EXCUSE OUR PM, MODI SAHAB MIGHT BE SUFFERING FROM “SELFIE-OBSESSION” :- This is a Chronic, Narcissistic Mental Disorder. People who are diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy……………..

  2. Ask her what is the solution to female infanticide in our country and how she plans or thinks our illiterate population can be educated on it…Is the PM (whoever the PM may be – BJP, Congress, AAP etc) supposed to go and educate every Indian or start by making small initiatives to spread awareness ? It is very easy to sit in an airconditioned room and make statements without being aware of the ground realities just for publicity…If she feels strongly about it, what stops her from ushering in reforms in her own area as she seems to be financially well off albeit in all her designer clothes on page 3 ? It seems she wanted publicity and she seems to have got it and maybe some small part time role in a film or TV…Sadly most of the well off educated Indians are also like Shruti Seth (hypocrites)

    • Why not ? Does not our political leaders do rallies before elcetions ? Is it not their responsibility to see how the Aam Adami is doing after elections ? they give such long speeches (of fake promises) before elections , cant they add 2 lines for health education or importance of sanitation ?

      Just tell me how has clicking a selfie with daughter changed Indian mindset ? You yourself are an example , you just do not have the openen mindedness to respect A WOMAN’S OPINION how will you respect a woman.

    • Rahul she has right to express her opinions , which she did very well. Idiots out there made her famous . People who differed with her would have done it in more civilized way. She is right that those people ha ve proved her point by abusing her. So basically these selfy obsessed people want to have daughters without brains who have no right to express their views and differ with majoritarian idea.

  3. You are the bravest daughter.Continue to tread on the path of truth,beauty and goodness having your self-esteemed head high.Don’t bother about the barking dogs.The barking dogs can’t stop the Caravans which avowed to march for the good of all irrespective of cast,creed,religion,colour,gender,region,race and the country.

  4. Change cannot come in a day but needs a start.let’s appreciate the start. It’s easy to comment an gain fame. Change is about changing the mind set. Opposing a cause dose not make u an intellect. It you are opposing please be ready for the fight and don’t cry.

  5. Carry on with your crusade.Something positive will come out.We are with you.Neglect people like Rahul,they have their own mind set

  6. Well Shruti ur arguments may sound strong.But it seems you have missed out a very important point. This initiative was started by Mr. Sunil Jagan a panchayat head in a small village in Haryana. He has heen working against female foeticide which has led to the askewed female ratio in that region and has taken many constructive steps for the same. The PM has given a wider perspective to this small idea. To call it superficial and worthless is just plain ignorance. To change a mindset of a whole population overnight is not easy. He started with simple things like celebrating the birth of his daughter by distributing sweets to people and even nurses in the hospital and that was considered unusual and surprised people. But such acts set people thinking. Something done differently always catches the eye.A father putting up a picture with his daughter in places like this is unusual because daughters are not wanted in that society. There are two types of people one who really care and hence do whatever little they can for example educating the girls of the maidservant who works in ur house. However small this may sound it can make a strong impact on someone’s life. The other type of people are those who lack faith and are very quick at criticising. The latter is a negative way of thinking.

  7. Everyone has an opinion, at least when you Dont have an approach or solution ,including this author. When some one does good for the country, Idiots like you can’t tolerate the positive approach. You guys deserve MMS, Sonia Gandhi rule.

  8. I do not agree with you, Mam. It clearly shows that you act as if you are following “wiser than thou” policy. We all know what you saying but can you call even a small bit as useless. You are clearly saying that you will not support him unless he did things your way and right now.

    Not good, mam, I did agree.

  9. wow….SHRUTI …..WOW……..
    Fantasatic……..Cocktail of Beauty,,,,,,
    ,Honesty,,,,,,& ,,,,,,,COURAGE….is…..
    Shruti……Heroine of Reel……Life ………
    & …..also …..
    Heroine of Real……Life …….toooo.,
    i salute……you…..Dil…se……
    Rajnish Verma
    M – 9312163330…….
    India is now home to the highest number of hungry people in the world, at 194 million, surpassing China. In our country where 47% of Indian children are underweight, nutritious meals are a privilege that lakhs can not afford.

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