‘Freedom of choice’ will be a good gift for sisters celebrating Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan

  • The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had proclaimed that a country is truly free when a woman will be able to safely walk the streets at midnight.
  • The ‘protectors’ of women in India come in many forms -- the anti-Romeo squad, the agitators against ‘Love Jihad’, those who slap women on Valentine’s Day, and many more.
  • India’s 73rd Independence Day may be a momentous occasion for the women of the country to claim their freedom from bias, misogyny, and the image of being the weaker sex.


This year, India will be celebrating Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi along with Independence Day- in a rare yet ironic coincidence. The festival of Rakhi is intended to celebrate the bond between siblings and in practice, it’s the day when the brother renews his vow to ‘protect’ the sister and showers her with gifts.

The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had proclaimed that a country is truly free when a woman will be able to safely walk the streets at midnight.

By the Mahatma’s standard, India is not yet independent as crime against women is on the rise, men still make way more money for the same job, and the freedom of choice is still a luxury that only a few women in the country enjoy.

While it is imperative for India to renew its promise of ‘raksha’ or safety for all its women, India’s 73rd Independence Day may be a momentous occasion for the women of the country to claim their freedom from bias, misogyny, and the image of being the weaker sex.

And all eyes will be on the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a statement on the safety and empowerment of women at his Red Fort speech tomorrow as the festival of rakhi coincides with the celebration of freedom.

The first step could be an acknowledgement of the problem by releasing a country-wide data on crime against women-- something that has been awaited.

Freedom of choice
Many of the hurdles in the path of women in India are the same as they are elsewhere. The #MeToo movement erupted around the same time in India as it did in Hollywood-- and it was just as widespread and the system was just as rotten.

But as in any other case, India has its own quirks. The ‘protectors’ of women in India come in many forms -- the anti-Romeo squad, the agitators against ‘Love Jihad’, those who slap women on Valentine’s Day, and brothers/fathers who would rather see the girl dead than be married to someone outside the caste or religion.

The anti-Romeo squads and the agitators against ‘Love Jihad’, in their own construct, try to protect women from ‘predators’-- mostly men from another religion-- luring them with ‘love’.

While thrashing the couple or forcing them out of their embrace, no one asks the woman if she is in the relationship by her own will. The attackers have state support, sometimes overt and tacit at other times.

Love in the times of nationalism

‘Love’ in India can be overwhelming in its own way. Mothers feed you more than you need, fathers guide you more than you can take, and often, brothers stalk you more than other boys-- all with the best intent. They feel obliged to have a hawk eye on the girl of the family because the world out there can be brutal.

Therefore, the family, with the best interest of the girl in mind, decides what she should eat, wear, study, feel and where she should work, irrespective of her own desires and aspirations.

While the brother is obsessed with caring for the sister, a stolen video clip of an unsuspecting girl, naked in the shower, will land on WhatsApp and that will be duly forwarded to other groups for a good laugh.


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