It was only a few weeks ago that I received the formal invitation to go to the People’s Republic of China to participate in the BRICS literature Forum 2017, alongside Sukrita Paul Kumar, the famous poet, translator and critic and Mridula Garg, the author.
I did not know what to expect from a country so near yet so far to ours. Bluntly put, Indians have a confused relationship with China. We don’t quite know whether we are expected to love them or be wary of our not-so-friendly neighbouring country. Politics has always been a see-saw and we have found our thoughts dangling between friendship and animosity. Plus, the lovers of freedom of speech and expression in India find it strange that there are restrictions on access to websites like Facebook and WhatsApp in China. But the Chinese restriction is of the boring kind, the uniform kind. It does not differentiate between men and women, rich and poor, caste and community.
It’s worth mentioning that lovers of freedom in India are on the verge of extinction. If all goes according to the plan, by 2019, we will become a country of the right-wing yes-men. Oh, the joy of a society which has been refused the right to dissent! The very thought causes goosebumps.
Then, there are the western biases against “Made in China” products. The same West which outsourced production to China, is now unhappy because it has made the country something of an economic superpower. This anti-‘Made in China’ capitalist ‘racism’ has percolated into a certain class of Indians too. It is inconsequential that the same people want those manufacturing units to be established in India and “make in India” the very same products.
And whoever cares for the environment would soon be made extinct just like the godless lovers of freedom, the newly baptised ‘anti-nationals.’
I, naturally, did not know what was in store for me in Zhuhai, the lovely city in the South of China. Although, here, I won’t write about the city or the BRICS Literature Forum. There are enough articles about those things.
Having visited the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus many a time and having seen the girl’s hostel there, I was inclined to visit the girls hostel in Beijing Normal University Zhu Hai (BNUZ) campus. So here, much of what I write, is about the girls and their audacity to ask for freedom, in communist environs and in the democratic ones!
While the girls in BHU are restricted to unreal time tables in their hostels, the BNUZ dormitories have same curfew for both male and female students – 11.30PM.
In the five girls’ hostels in BHU, the curfew is at 8 PM. The boys, as true epitomes of ideal behaviour, can stay out till 10 PM and the hostel does not impose the curfew too strictly on them. In fact, the curfew is so binding for the girls that even when they are going to their hometowns, they are required to book seats only on those trains which depart well within the curfew times. The university authorities want to make sure that the girls’ presence on the campus does not cause any sort of ‘unrest’ among the well-behaved boys.
The lights and Wi-Fi in China’s BNUZ hostels is switched off at midnight to be switched on only at 6 AM. Alcohol is prohibited in both, male and female, dormitories and smoking is limited.
The Banaras girls are not given any LAN connection, as opposed to the boys who do enjoy internet connectivity. This solves the big issue of girls getting corrupted by the monster called the internet. In the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, the girls are reminded of their inferior status by being treated differently even for the meager food they get.
And can you blame them for restricting the girls to a vegetarian diet? How can girls even dream of having same food as the boys? At least the boys, the more promising of the species, are given some good protein in the form of non-vegetarian food. BHU professors, at the time of girl students’ protests against the inequality of treatment, confirmed that the girls were immature and needed to be protected.
They did not say anything about the boys’ level of maturity so we are forced to believe that it’s astronomically higher than the girls. Further, to conserve the sanity of all boys whose eyes might wander to the girls’ uncovered legs and may potentially cause them discomfort, the university administration has imposed another rule: no short clothes on the campus for the girls! This, of course, is done in the name of decency in the Holy City.
Our girls in Banaras are battling to get some equality with their male counterparts. They are, clearly unreasonably, expecting to have the same dignity as boys who are, obviously, better at handling freedom. It’s not like the males have ever, in the pursuit of their freedom, caused havoc on the basic safety and security of other people! Males, especially the human ones, are the most docile and well-behaved beings when exposed to freedom (of speech, thought and action).
Females, and university students at that, are clearly the violent, uncouth kind. Given the slightest of freedom, they go around raping and destroying people and property with extreme cruelty! Isn’t it? Or is it?
One thing is for sure, China imposes equal restrictions on its citizens and this is grossly unacceptable to most Indians. India, on the other hand, in today’s times favours only Hindu upper caste males (It doesn’t hurt if they are also from rich families!). It is this bias against women, non-Hindus, non-upper caste, non-rich, which is slowly paving the way to the ever-elusive ‘vikas’! Bharat Mata ki…!
(Post Script- Any satire found in the above article is due to the reader’s ability to think rationally. It is, otherwise, unintentional and in national interest.)