New Delhi: In another open challenge to the Left-liberal influence in the public discourse, the Indian Right is coming up with its own version of All India Democratic Women’s Association or AIDWA. And have its own battery of women activists to take on Brinda Karat and Subhashini Ali.
Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) is a women’s organization which believes in imbibing the essentials of Hinduism and culture for the unity of India. Over the last two years it has been quietly preparing itself for the “nationalist cause” in what is being seen as a part of concerted effort by the Right in its ongoing battle for the mind space.
“Congress and left dominated the narrative in India since Independence. On one hand, Congress occupied the political space and, on the other, the Left occupied the mind space, this nexus has been prevalent for past 70 years,” said Monika Arora, Supreme Court advocate and convener of GIA.
GIA members are working professionals who do not believe in “male-female; Dalit-Brahmin, Hindu-Muslim” dichotomy. These identities divide the nation, they says.
“Modi se pehle there was no space for alternative narrative,” Arora claims. Now she and her fellow GIA members are working towards scripting one.
The genesis and the new generation of women voice
There are certain events and catalysts which led to the sudden growth of GIA in the last two years.
Its genesis perhaps lies in the sequence of events since BJP’s ascension to power in 2014. After the first year in office, which passed off quite smoothly, RSS and its affiliates found themselves miserably under prepared to take on the Liberal-Left on many occasions — from Rohith Vemula episode to Award Wapsi to JNU student protest.
The changes are intrinsically tied to politics of our time — as they were in their time, rued Sushma Yadav, one of the 300 members of GIA, who is also an academic. “There was an education minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet named Sayid Nurul Hasan. It was during his tenure as education minister that plenty of Left leaning people were moved into important positions in that ministry and in its affiliated institutions,” she said.
Similarly, other aspects were also Left dominated — “Breaking the hegemony of organizations like AIDWA and AIWC, we have come out with our narrative, which is nationalistic and presents the balanced view,” Yadav said.
It is not surprising that many members of GIA are also associated with Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women’s wing of the RSS. The inaugural edition of their first publication — a magazine — had a foreword penned by the BJP leader and National Commission for Women Chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam.
Family, a unit, a nation
Some members of the GIA are quite wary of certain legislations that they feel “divide the family.” For instance, they are a bit evasive in discussing issues like marital rape or even the juxtaposition of the two words quite paradoxical.
Lalita Nijhawan, the co-convener of the group and an entrepreneur, in her blogs states some statues like the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act (2005) are biased against men. She believes offenders can be tackled through counseling, therapy and other psychological means.
For the members, “the first attempt should be to salvage the marriage, as separation is not always the right step or solution.”
‘Facts are sacrosanct for us’
GIA, like AIDWA, sends its fact finding teams and report on areas of unrest.
Monica Arora believes the recent violence at a gated colony in Noida was presented as the story of haves vs have nots.
“But there is enough evidence to see what went wrong and the employers were not maid beaters,” said the convener. GIA members have been to Sukma in Chattisgarh after the attack on CRPF men. They have also prepared a report on Jisha murder and rape case in Kerala and held seminars on Triple Talaq to raise awareness.
“We will be fighting on the streets — like AIDWA and AICW — and create a narrative for women with balanced minds through GIA,” said Yadav.
Perhaps a nationalistic model of women empowerment?