During this period Malala, a young girl, then aged 12, started writing her diary for BBC Urdu, and later a film with her in the center was made by New York Times, ‘A Class Dismissed’. She emerged as the major voice of rebellion against the fundamentalist assertiveness of Taliban, the reason for which she was shot by them due to which she is currently struggling for her life. Taliban like all fundamentalist streams uphold the oppressive patriarchal values, where social space is a strict ‘no no’ for women, who are supposed to take care of Kitchen, Children and their life has to revolve around instructions of Mullahs. In the transition from feudal society to the democratic norms, the major change is that of caste/class and gender transformation. There is no straightforward formula for this. In the countries where the democratic revolutions were complete, the feudal norms of caste-gender hierarchy were overthrown along with the rule of Kings-Feudal elements.
In colonies the introduction of newer set of norms of modern education, industrialization and the consequent changes in the society did bring in social movements, enabling society to come out of the grip of older set of values. The grip of older dominating forces, kings-landlords, was not done away with totally in most post colonial states. The newer classes, the industrialists-workers-educated classes came up side by side with the declining section of society, the feudal elements. The declining sections did not disappear and so they tried to preserve and assert their values and social norms under the garb of religion, politics in the name of religion, what is popularly referred to as communalism. As such it is abuse of religions’ identity to uphold and impose the norms of feudal society in the newer language.
In colonies, particularly talking of Indian sub continent, the subjugated sections of society, the low caste and the women had a marathon struggle on hand to strive for equality and to come to the social space, this struggle is not yet over despite sixty years of Independence in the Indian part of the post partition area, while in Pakistan the process has been slower and has seen a massive reversal after the Zia ul Haq-Maulana Maududi regime. The same got further worsened with the coming up of Mujahideen-Taliban- Al Qaeda, a process supported or rather engineered by United States and Saudi Arabia. The ideological use of Wahhabi version of Islam to train Mujahedeen-Taliban interprets Islam in a backward way to enslave the women and other weaker sections of society.
the trajectory has been parallel to some extent. As fundamentalism, political
assertion in the garb of fundamentals of religion, rose in the West
Asia-Pakistan, in India
we see the rise of communalism in the name of Hindu religion with parallel
agenda, which has pushed back the march of caste and gender towards equality.
During 19th century, Indian women had to face something very close to what
Malala and large section of girls-woman are facing today in Taliban dominated
area. Savitribai Phule, who began the school for girls, had to face the wrath
of the conservative sections of society. As Malala has to hide the books under
her shawl, a woman named Rash Sundari Devi in Bengal
had to hide her longing for reading, as touching a printed paper was regarded
as sin. In her autobiography Aamar Jeevan (My Life) she tells the challenges
she faced as a woman who wanted to learn. She learnt reading by picking up
newspapers when men folk were not at home. Lot
of rumors were spread to stall education of girls. The struggle of Pandita Rama
bai, Anandi Gopal and many of their contemporaries, to get education, was
equally harrowing. Even today girls’ education is lagging behind in its reach
and importance in large parts of the country.
In earlier part of 20th Century in
when the social transformation for caste (class) and gender began, the
conservative Christian groups opposed this social change by bringing out ten
small booklets called Fundamentals, which argued against women and workers
rights in the language of religion. It is from these booklets that
the term Fundamentalism emerged. The fundamentalist tendencies have resurfaced
world over during last three decades or so, and have been promoted by the
Imperialist powers in West Asia in particular.
Similarly when Hitler rampaged the democracy in Germany
in the name of Race, he dictated that the life of women should revolve around and Children. Similar things,
coated with sugary syrup are being beamed through the Television serials in Kitchen Church India, where
the unending Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu thi… serials dominate the television and give
the message of subordination of women. To add to the impact of these serials,
the Godmen, hordes of them who have mushroomed during this period, talk of such
norms in a refined language and they do have higher acceptability and sanctity.
The ‘Malala moment’ is a serious turning point for
way it wants to go, which way it can make space for itself? The past cannot be
changed. Today’s problems created by Taliban and its clones need a serious
engagement, a ‘do or die’ situation for Pakistan’s democracy. The
persistence of Taliban is a malignant disease eating up its vitals. It needs to
be put behind, this ideology and this mindset has to be thrown in the dustbin
of history with total willpower, determination and efforts. Those in the
subcontinent need to hold their hands for democracy and freedom from
imperialist domination. We, in the region, need to strive towards solidarity
for a democratic South Asia to bury the
ideologies operating in the name of religion. We all need to stand with the
cause of Malala!