Friday, October 10, 2008

The Sampoorna Woman: WTF

The PANIIT 2008 Global Conference's program designed "Especially for Spouses" highlights the height of obnoxiously obsolete thoughts in the midst of technological progress. In a world that's taking huge strides forward in terms of making the workplace a bit less cold for women, the so-called highly educated minds, who choose to inspire, innovate and transform, have actually chosen to transform back over a century in time.

There are tons of things I can point out that are wrong with this program. I'll write about a few over here:

1) The program starts by saying it is designed "especially for spouses". You think- whew, at least they said spouses, not wives. Wait, you thought too soon. The very next sentence is:
The theme for the spouses' track in this year's PANIIT is "Sampoorna" - programs meant for the complete woman, who is able to perfectly balance her personal, professional and public personality.

What about the female IIT alumni? Are their husbands supposed to be encouraged to be a "complete woman" as well? Hmm, maybe! Or maybe these people are finally accepting homosexuality with open arms!

2) The "Sampoorna" woman is such an archaic thought that I need to first sit down and think what it can possibly mean. Well, by the PANIIT definition, the "sampoorna" or "complete" woman should be able to perfectly balance her personal, professional and public personality. Huh? What's wrong with these "stalwarts of technological advancement"?

If a woman has an excellent professional and public personality, there's bound to be a compromise on the personal life. Does such a compromise make her an "incomplete woman"? And of course, a man in the same situation is always a "complete man". What the hell!

3) The program includes activities like visits to dakshin chitra, cholamandal artists' village, kalakshetra (all famous for their arts, crafts, music, dance), as well as some shopping for jewellery, silk and handicrafts. There are also some workshops for mehendi, cooking, dandia etc.

Really! Is that all they think a "sampoorna woman" should be exposed to? Well, how about a tour of the campus facilities- the library, the labs, the departments, the sports facilities, the swimming pool? How about a tour of leading research institutes in Chennai, like the IMSC, Cancer Institute etc. How about a few demos that were recently showcased at Shaastra 2008 in IIT-M, like the NUS robotics show, the defence tanks, the vertical take off and landing? What about talks by Nobel laureates? What about talks by leading industrialists and researchers and academics? Oh wait, I forgot. Maybe these are reserved only for the "complete man"???

4) The eminent women invited as chief guests for the program are- hold your breath- Hema Malini and Shilpa Shetty. They will speak on how to be a "complete woman". What! Are these the only leading women that they can think of? How about inviting leading women researchers, scientists, doctors, businesswomen? Oh no, I forgot. They are not "complete women" anyway!

5) The program included a "Mystic Trail" track, which has since been taken off from the website. The cached page on Google describes this track as:
In the afternoon our Mystic Trail will take you through some of India's most well known practices such as Astrology, Palmistry, Gemology, Nadi and Kili Josiyam. The entire trail will be set in the IIT Campus, giving the participants an opportunity to get a first hand experience of some of India's most occult practices and beliefs.
I just cannot absorb the fact that the alumni of IIT, which supposedly gets the "cream layer" of the country's brightest minds, actually believe in and encourage these "occult practices and beliefs". And on the very premises of one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the country! Seriously- Astrology! Palmistry! On campus? WTF!

Wake up, people! The world has moved far ahead of you. It will take eons for you to catch up. Please make some use of your "bright brains" and of the education that has been imparted on you. Please think!

- Written by a Proud-to-be-Non-Sampoorna-Woman (who managed to complete the blogpost without dying of cerebral aneurysm)


Blogger Shweta said...

Hard to believe that such a "sampoorna program" was linked to IITs :( ( the premier institute of our country) which should be encouraging woman to go for higher studies, research etc, as you pointed out!.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sachin Shenoy said...

Great blog! I just can't believe in this so called "modern" day we get to see this... now no one can crib about things that happened 30 years back - what the heck nothing has changed. Abolish women from working after 9:00pm, blame them if they venture out in night, and tell them "its your own fault", "why did you have to go there" or "why did you have to wear that, that is inviting trouble".

Sunday, October 12, 2008 3:13:00 PM  
Anonymous vidya said...

I don't think it's worth commenting (I mean the event) WTF glad I learnt to go beyond these "ideologies"

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Praj said...

Great blog Pradnya! The definition of 'complete' for an Indian woman needs to change.. I think this definition is just a style statement, used by all the Miss India's participating in Miss Universe, Galaxy and what not.. It makes no sense otherwise in today's world.
It's a shame such a thing was showcased in IIT though :(

Monday, October 13, 2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Vrishali said...

Glad you pointed out the fallacy

Here is a video clip from someone who has no delusion of "balance" & very clear about compromises.

Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Payal said...

WTF- absolute non-sense, hema malini and shilpa shetty!!!!!!!. Stereotyping never seems to stop and celebrating individual sexuality appears to be a far fetched thought.

btw- did you learn mehendi. dandia...?? :|

Saturday, October 18, 2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Anna Berenberg said...

Pradnya, I am so proud of you!
It is great that you exposed an archaic attitude toward women. What do you think of organizing something like Anita Borg Institute in India?

Sunday, October 19, 2008 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

Awesome post pradnya. I can't believe PAN-IIT has such an ass-backward thinking people organizing such ridiculous programs in today's world.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 4:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent one! Although I support you on some of the points, especially the "complete man" one, I would disagree with you on some of your comments.

1. Did you ever ask "why" gravity works? No. It works and it has a formula. That's all you know. Initially, you approximate it to an inverse square law and then you refine it to higher order equations. Then why deny astrology. Instead of judging it due to lack of logical reasoning, why not just study it more carefully and then conclude something.

A) If some idiot says that the value of g is not 2.6, do you say that gravitation is false?

B) Did gravitation start working "after" Newton discovered it? It was always there. Similarly, astrology could be a science that the modern school of science was not able to follow yet.

2. You deny it. You agree it. But, kids need more attention from mother than father. Rather, mothers "can" take care of kids better than fathers. Simply because, kids come out of mothers and not fathers :) I know about a million people would come to kill me for saying this. So, the responsibility of kids in childhood lies more with mother than father.

Friday, November 28, 2008 3:27:00 AM  
Blogger Niket said...

Anon: "1. Did you ever ask "why" gravity works? No."
Sorry, we did ask and we have a good idea how it works. This Wikipedia entry gives a fairly good overview of gravity and the history of our understanding.

A probable reason you compared astrology with gravitation is the incorrect belief, which is summarized here succinctly:

"Most [astrologers] claim it is gravity, based on the old analogy of the Moon causing the tides: If the Moon can cause the waters on Earth to move, then why not the water in our bodies?"

Scientifically, astrology has been debunked many times. The predictions of astrologers have turned out to be no more right than what chance might predict. For example, an astrologer predicted my cousin's first born will be a girl; there was a 50% chance of that prediction coming true.

"So, the responsibility of kids in childhood lies more with mother than father."
(i) The responsibility lies with both parents equally.
(ii) Its surprising that kids with divorced parents (with one parent not being involved with bringing up the kid) do worse than kids of widowed parents. Social reasons.
(iii) Kids of divorced parents in western countries do not seem to do as bad as 20 years back. Social reasons.

Inherently, there is nothing about a mother that makes her a better parent than the father. A lot of it is our upbringing. A single dad is more likely to spend larger amount of time at work than a single mom.

Both arguments could go on and on... I'll just stop here. We can carry this discussion elsewhere, if interested.

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