Words are like arrows. Once shot, they cannot be taken back; more so when one faces television cameras. Landing in trouble in recent days are two cricketers – KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya – and Congress party’s very own president Rahul Gandhi. What they said are obviously not in good taste, but it is a debatable point whether so much hullabaloo over such comments is warranted.

The two cricketers are accused of “misogynistic” and other condemnable offences after their appearance in a chat show Koffee With Karan Season 6. Incensed at the flurry of criticism from social media warriors that are  aware of their gender rights and who will not take such flighty comments in their stride – the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of BCCI has issued two show cause notices as to why action should not be taken against them for their “irresponsible” remarks. Notably, Pandya drew more fury as he openly boasted about womanizing. Prima facie, it would look like he was being frank, and hoped to make an impact at the talk show. Viewer ratings are what take a show up or down. But Pandya’s remarks are counter to the new language of discourse following the #MeToo movement. He is accused of insulting womanhood. The BCCI was left with no option but to step in.

Several TV programmes are now known to border on vulgarity with each one trying to beat their next competitor. Most of them follow a familiar pattern, and producers lack the creativity and genius to re-invent the shows. Vulgarity in visuals is scoffed at as families watch TV together. Hence social media users vent their grouse on their respective platforms.  But whether BCCI should have gone this far to fix the two cricketers is the moot point.

In a world where women are increasingly claiming their rights after a long struggle, flighty comments such as those from Pandya and Rahul demean not only womanhood but also the struggle of feminists in this country and the world. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s remark that Prime Minister Modi ran away from a debate on Rafale in parliament and left it to a “woman” to defend him is also in bad taste. After all Nirmala Sitharaman is the defence minister of this country and is well briefed to speak on the contentious Rafale deal. Whether or not she is convincing is a different matter but as a senior politician Sitharaman deserved better reference and respect. In India, the gender discourse and vocabulary is yet to impact the political class and sections of the elite. This is unfortunate.


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