Skirting the real issue
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma’s prescription to foreign women tourists “to avoid short skirts” to ensure safety is misplaced and misogynistic, to put it mildly. The remark is typical of the widely prevalent regressive male attitudes to women, but absolutely doesn’t befit a culture and tourism minister. The minister has made a grave error in almost bracketing wearing skirt with lascivious conduct. It is scandalous that he has, albeit indirectly, attributed sexual crimes against women to the attire they wear. Unwittingly, he has reduced women to objects of desire. The implication in his tourist advisory is that women must know better than to “invite sexual attention” by wearing skirts. Women from the West, whether at home or on tour overseas, are so used to the skirt that they are not conscious that they ‘reveal a portion of their thighs above the knees and arouse Indian males’. By no means is the skirt a provocative dress for them. A sick mind alone can see the skirt as an indication of its wearer’s loose morals. Titillating Indians with their skirt is the last thing on their minds. Sometimes foreign tourists are seen sunning on sun-baked tourist destinations in clothing common sighted in Western beaches. To put restrictions on what they wear is to make them feel that have to be someone else while they are here. What a woman wears cannot be adduced as a factor to explain sex crimes against the fairer sex. A woman’s right to dignity is not conditional. Asking foreign women tourists not to wear short skirts is not the best way to tame sexual predators on the prowl and prevent them from pouncing on their potential victims. Mahesh Sharma would do well to devote his time and energy to conscientising his male compatriots about the need to respect women, irrespective of the lifestyle they follow and the dress they wear, and display “culture” in their behaviour if he is earnest about promoting culture and tourism.
G David Milton, Maruthancode (TN)
Kudos to Isro
This refers to the editorial “ISRO high” (FE, August 30). The successful testing of the Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ) engine, the technology designed to deliver supersonic and hypersonic speeds, is yet another feather in the cap of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Unlike the expensive, expendable platforms like the PSLV, the scramjet engine, premised on the idea of ‘air breathing’ to lessen the amount of oxidiser to be carried with the fuel, will strengthen ISRO’s idea of developing a reusable concept vehicle launch platform—the Avatar. The Indian scientists must be lauded for their tireless efforts in catapulting the country to the league of US, Japan, Russia, China and Europe. For every rupee spent, ISRO has given more than two in return and made India a serious contender in the quest for the ‘great beyond’. It is time politicians opposed to the government’s investment in space and intercontinental transportation stopped juxtaposing such high-returns yielding research projects with issues like poverty and hunger. The Avatar programme, if executed successfully, will be a great encouragement for the emerging generations of scholars and scientists to undertake research and development at indigenous levels.