I come from a normal, middle class family. My father was a CA and my mother is a Sanskrit professor. No one has anything to do with politics, except the occasional newspaper/dinner table discussion. Plus my parents believed that ‘ache ghar ke bache’ should never be in politics, which was supposedly full of corrupt and bad people. So when I stumbled into politics, everyone was mortified.
Frankly, I simply couldn’t imagine myself doing what my classmates in college wanted to do. Everyone wanted to pursue the golden dream- do a MBA, get a well paying job and maybe settle down abroad. It just seemed…so mechanical. I wanted more! I wasn’t sure what; but I didn’t want to just tick off some random mental boxes. I wanted to do something purposeful.
I came into politics with zero expectations. Even so, it hasn’t been easy. The deck is stacked against you if you’re young and a woman at that.
For some weird reason, ambition in the youth is frowned upon. We’re all put through the grind for a really long time, without clarity on how we’ll progress. Yes, this process trains us. But it’s so antithetical to how a young person thinks. What’s the point of stifling our impatience and hunger to do more? What’s the point of telling us that ‘abhi to aap jawan ho; you have time on your hands’? I feel that politics should create more platforms to channelise our energies constructively.
I also feel that women are treated differently, both online and offline. People viciously attack me for having any opinion on social media, but go easy if a similar opinion is professed by men. For example, when I take a stand, I’m sometimes asked how much I’ve sold myself for. The question is not innocent. Something very lewd and sexist is being suggested in that. People can do so with impunity because the culture of caricaturing and vilifying women has been normalised. Even complaining to the authorities doesn’t help, as they are equally complicit in fostering this regressive culture. Honestly, some people have a problem with the fact that a woman can have an opinion. Why should anyone ever be okay with this? Why should being a woman invite a certain kind of behaviour?
This can change only if each one of us makes a sustained effort to change the status quo. Change comes when we treat each other as equals; when we genuinely try to empower each other. When each one of us becomes the change we need. Thankfully, I’m lucky to have a peer group who thinks just like me. I feel that having such an enabling support system is crucial; it gives one the courage to do anything.
Sure, I didn’t plan to be here. And yes, there are dogmas and obstacles. But do I want to leave? Absolutely not! Everyday is an adventure. I am constantly being forced to reinvent myself- to become the best I can be. And even though I have tried other things, this is the only space where I can make a tangible impact.