the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index, a Niti Ayog
report ranks Kerala top of the heap, along with Sikkim, on gender-equality –
scoring 69 out of 100. Does this mean Kerala can beat Sikkim to second place if
women of all age are allowed into the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple? The answer is
there is no comparison: Sikkim has mountains and snow, but it does not have a
temple such as the Sabarimala Ayyappa to kick up a gender-row.
to worship at any and every shrine is not a SDG nor a requirement for
gender-equality. Also, Malayali women do not consider Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple
entry a factor contributing to gender equality. There is no blanket ban on
women’s entry. There is only an age restriction, which is accepted by women
devotees of Swami Ayyappa.
Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should focus on the SDG goals for women and girls.
The Niti Ayog report ranks states according to action taken on the sustainable
development goals. A score of 100 means the state is an “achiever”. A score of
65-99 is a “frontrunner”; 50-64 is a “performer” and 0-49 an “aspirant”.
Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar and Chandigarh are the only “frontrunners” and
“performers” on gender equality. The other states are “aspirants.” What stands
out is not one state/UT is even a “global” aspirant. The overall average score
of all states and Union Territories is 36 out of 100.
are other indicators of gender-equality. Availability of affordable
clean-cooking fuel is one. Women cook more at home than men. Clean energy to
cook food is a must for gender-inequality. Kerala is not a “performer” on this
other indicators include domestic spousal violence, male-female sex ratio;
participation in workforce and pay-salary parity. Except in sex-ratio, Kerala
is not a “performer” on any of these either. One in three Malayali women
continues to face spousal violence. Kerala women in the workforce earn on an
average 30% less than their male counterparts in the same work.
sex-ratio, Kerala scores 959, second only to Chhattisgarh (963). In terms of
maternity benefits, too, Kerala is not top of the heap. Odisha takes that
honour. There are lots of pregnant Malayali women who need nutrients. It,
however, does well in maternal mortality – 46 maternal mortality against
100,000 live births. The India average is 130.
is Pinarayi Vijayan is expending energy and time, his and that of the people,
on achieving an anti-communist goal: the right to worship. Linking Sabarimala
Ayyappa temple to gender-inequality is the doing of outsiders who do not have a
clue to the Ayyappa cult. These outsiders took the perceived gender-inequality
to court and got a favourable verdict. And because it is a constitutional bench
ruling on a fundamental right, Pinarayi jumped in and politics tightened
matter if it’s against the deeply ingrained faith/sentiments of the majority.
Doesn’t matter if fundamental rights are devoid of faith. Didn’t matter if the
women who took Sabarimala to court are gender-equality warriors, not Ayyappa
devotees. The distinction is crucial: Ayyappa devotees honour the unique status
of Swami Ayyappa. Gender-equality champions see only “conquest”, “victory” and
should focus on improving the state’s SDG scores on the other gender-equality
indicators. Vijayan should get off his high horse and forget the right to
worship of atheist women activists, who aim for the destruction of the
“unique.” They see in the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple the “whole”, not the
are self-proclaimed atheists and activists. Not different from godless heathens
and capital communists, for whom the death penalty is solution to every
departure. Pinarayi’s communism is a religion much like Christianity and Islam,
both of which “make the choice” for adherents. The Hindu Way of Life “leaves
the choice” to the conscience of individuals.
Supreme Court inadvertently set up Kerala for turmoil and the Pinarayi Vijayan
regime took advantage. Since then, it’s government versus people. People were
arrested for chanting prayers and the protests spread beyond the Sabarimala
hills to places across the length and breadth of the state.
state government is bent on transforming the Sabarimala Ayyappa shrine into a
generic temple. By hook or crook, subterfuge and con. January 10, the regime
wrote to the Centre that over 11,000 people have been charged with indulging in
“violence. Those charged were indexed, photographed and barred from Sabarimala
Vijayan calls this ‘Navothana’ or renaissance. But gender equality does not
mean women should do everything men are designed to do. The “match-male” in
every respect is mission impossible. Men and women have different architecture.
The architect has seen to that and He cannot be faulted.
equality doesn’t translate to invading every male space. Leaving women’s space
to women and men’s to men is gender equality. Bulldozing into the other’s
domain dents GE. It is not like Occupy Wall Street or Reclaim the Night. Some
male spaces have to be left alone to men. And vice versa.
‘ready to wait’ exemplify gender-justice. Gender justice, not gender-equality,
should be the goal. Gender justice means giving women equal breaks in jobs and
salaries. Equal status at home. It doesn’t mean bulldozing into the other’s
space. A temple is not a John to squat/sit and be done with it! (IPA Service)