When the Haryana Sarpanch started #SelfieWithDaughter, it was a cute idea to raise awareness. People liked it. The PM liked it, and he gave his weight behind it. It quickly became popular on Twitter, with thousands of pictures appearing soon.
To be clear, PM Modi never said it was his idea. He stated clearly where it came from. And the Haryana Sarpanch got his accolades as well.
There was, naturally, a very small backlash, from a few entrenched minds that apparently cannot see above their own ideology. And interestingly these folks did not wear saffron or green. No, these are the people who love to proclaim themselves as liberals.
Now, it is fine to point out that this is not exactly the most relevant way to fix India's gender ratio. It isn't. Selfies aren't going to solve anything. But the criticism seems to lack sense.
Take this one for example -
This is just an example, but there were many like this - basically making the point that people with access to smartphones are not the right target for female equality.
Alright, fine. Poor and rural Indians do not have access to Twitter. But is it true that if you have access to a smartphone and Twitter, you automatically become liberal and loving to your girl child? Hardly.
The sex ratio maybe better in urban areas, but city clinics across the country are forced to put up boards saying 'Sex determination will not be conducted here'. And there will be some of them who do it anyway, and tens of thousands of well-educated, Twitter using, smartphone owning families have killed their girl child. It is natural to feel slightly superior to the village rubes, but let's not get delusional here.
The idea that everyone in a city with a smartphone loves their daughter, or does not look down on females is precisely the 'herd-mentality' that allows female genocide to continue so rampantly in India.
It is not going to lower anyone's dignity to stop and admit that the rich city folks are also guilty. They are certainly not equally guilty, but to claim that those with smartphones and money are already treating females with equal perfection borders on mental insanity.
Not every poor person hates their daughter. Not every rich person treats females equally. This is not a deep philosophy, but common sense.
Also, by this logic how do slutwalks, so wholeheartedly promoted by liberals, help rural girls? Surely there are no villages where slutwalks happen. But the logic, which they understand there - it's not about who is directly affected, it's about bringing the topic into mainstream discussion - apparently fails them here.
And aren't these the same people who keep posting those endless online petitions and keep going on candlelight marches? So entering your e-mail on 'Change.Org' or strolling down a street while trying not to burn your fingers is going to stop rape and corruption everywhere in India. But the issue of 'loving your daughter' needs to be offline or it won't work?
Here are some other examples -
If you take selfies, why does that mean you are stopping all reform? Or if you do something light-hearted for a change, why does this mean that suddenly all seriousness has gone forever? Doing one thing does not automatically mean EVERYTHING else has been forgotten and shall NEVER be considered again. People are capable of multi-tasking.
Why can't this country loosen up a little? Have a laugh once in a while. Why must everything be both ultra-serious and fit to have a riot over, or totally worthless? Is there no middle ground?
Take this one -
Why doesn't the PM promote a No Dowry pledge among men rather than this token selfie business?— Sruthijith (@sruthijith) June 28, 2015
Apparently a picture of your actual daughter on Twitter is 'no real commitment' but a mumbled pledge to the PM, a man you have never met, is iron-tight and binding for seven lifetimes? The irony of this next tweet is enough to attract magnets -
The trouble with movements like a selfie contest is it creates a mirage of buy-in without requiring any real commitment or inspiring change.— Sruthijith (@sruthijith) June 28, 2015
Yes...the trouble with this movement is so clear now...and yes, the solution is another movement...text-based instead of pictorial...yes...truly...that was the flaw in the plan, we get it now. Thank you for your input.
At the end of the day, the reality is that this sort of campaign does not change the situation on the ground. Real reform is needed. And so far PM Modi has not done enough in that front.
However, it is a Twitter campaign - how serious is it supposed to get? How bitter do you have to be to be unable to see that this is just a little fun some people are having, while promoting a decent message underneath? This is hardly the ONLY thing happening over this issue.
If nothing else, for once, it was nice to see the real faces behind so many Twitter handles. A little positivity in an otherwise extremely cynical platform.