Harish Jharia

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02 June 2012

How Indian Women Look at other Indian Women: Calling a girl Sexy Is Fine..! Drop your Palloo and Get a Contract Signed..!

        An Air India woman crew

© Harish Jharia 

We Indians have very complex nature that stands-out from people of any other country in the world. I would discuss one of such qualities ‘laughing at ourselves’ by us Indians. Yes, I am discussing about our highly liberal way of making fun of ourselves. 

I noticed a funny and irresponsible article In the Times of India on 2 June 2012 titled as “Wardrobe malfunctions at the workplace”, written by an IIM graduate and ex management professional woman author. The most disgusting remark on Indian woman professionals published in this article is as follows:

I quote…
“I recall a colourful lady colleague who, at the end of a meeting, would often gently let her 'pallu' slide to provide a subtle glimpse of her cleavage, so delicately and naturally that it would make hearts wane just for a moment—all, of course, in the best interest of winning more business for the firm”

I would also like to mention a statement of the Chairperson of Women’s Commission of India and former Rajasthan Mahila Congress chief, Mamta Sharma wherein she stated… 

I quote...
“…Calling girls and women ‘sexy’ means ‘beautiful and charming’ so it should not be taken in a negative sense…”

In the TOI article “Wardrobe malfunctions at the workplace” the author has given one justification after the other to condemn the common Indian woman professionals who dress up in Indian attire. She has gone to the extent to prove that the Indian ethnic dresses like salwar-suit and saree are more revealing as compared to the western outfits like pairs of shirt-trousers and tops-skirts. She has described in length the way how women professionals dressed in Indian attire take advantage in their day-today business by exposing their feminine parts of their bodies. 

The author has overexpressed herself by using the most sensitive word ‘cleavage’ the dictionary meaning of which is “the hollow visible between a woman's breasts / स्तनों के बीच का भाग”, rather than using a decent word out of her endless vocabulary.  It is not only the article; the illustration with this article on the print edition is yet more derogatory for traditional Indian women dressed-up in ethnic wear. 

A cartoon has been published depicting a saree-clad woman executive exposing various curves of her body, in a ‘follow me’ attitude with her male counterparts dragging behind. An additional woman character sporting western outfits has been shown a loser with her rejected projects and presentations. 


On reading the article I could not understand the theme and purpose of the same. I could not establish whether the author is appreciating the character and ethnic outfits of Indian professionals or else she is making fun of them.  I felt as if the contents of this article are sort of discriminatory comments against the Indian women who like to follow Indian way of life. I correlated these with the common comment ‘behan ji’ made by Page-3 type of people for the Indian women and girls who like to dress-up themselves in ethnic outfit. 

During my trips to US, I found some of the fashionable Indian Americans tagging their traditional counterparts as ‘desi’.  ‘Desi’ (देसी) is a word used in a northern Indian village dialect and is not recognized correct in regular Hindi language. The real Hindi equivalent of ‘desi’ is ‘deshi’ (देशी), ‘swadeshi’ (स्वदेशी) that are spoken with pride rather than for hurling derogatory remarks and is considered a slang in civic interaction. 

Moreover, Indian Americans have used ‘desi’ so very extensively that it has been recognized by the American English dictionary. The meaning of ‘desi’ has been given as= 'Rustic (गंवार), South Asia characteristic of rural areas, especially those considered to be unsophisticated. This is what we Indians do with our own reputation'. There are many other slang that are used by American Indians against other Indians living in the USA and I would avoid discussing those in this article. 

We Indians should remember that whatever we speak or write in the media is going to spread across the world within seconds via internet. We should also remember that the citizens of other countries of the world are highly sensitive about patriotism for their countries and loyalty toward their fellow citizens. 

You will not find any Pakistani or Middle East citizen making negative comments against their own country, religion, civilization and people. Citizens of the USA, UK, European countries, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, China and Fareast countries etc never make any compromise against the prestige of their country, people and culture. Whereas, we Indians have the rare distinction of being so liberal while criticizing our fellow citizens, culture, and religion and making fun of ourselves.


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