For some reason, at Lalu Prasad Yadav’s 70th birthday celebration yesterday, ex-Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi was asked what kind of bride she would like for their two sons, Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Prasad Yadav. Both Tej and Tejashwi are, of course, both full-grown adults, business owners and high-ranking ministers in the Bihar government.
Strange questions, of course, beget strange answers. Rabri Devi replied that she is looking for a “sanskari” bride for both men, but especially for Tej, who is apparently very religious. Rabri Devi’s definition of sanskari woman is pretty specific: she’s looking for women who “don’t go to shopping malls or cinema theatres”, who run households and respect elders, just like Rabri Devi herself.
I’m not sure if the former Bihar CM has never been to a shopping mall or cinema theatre, but her two sons do own at least one shopping mall in Patna (that incidentally has allegations of corruption floating over it). We also have no way of confirming at the current time if Tej and Tejashwi share this desire for a bride just like their mother.
Anyway, it’s pretty disappointing that a family of high-ranking ministers is making known their demand for a wife who never goes to shopping malls and spends all her time running the household instead, especially when that desire is being articulated through an ex-Chief Minister herself. But is it shocking? Not really. Just late last month, we were talking about the new World Bank study on women and employment in India that revealed that “relative prosperity may be actually responsible for putting a large cohort of women out of work in India”. Another report indicates that “only 20 per cent of urban educated working-age women actually work”.
So clearly we have a long way to go, and we certainly can’t look to the country’s leading politicians for inspiration.