Monday, 8 June 2015

An Interesting World of Contradictions

I read a few days ago about India getting its first transgender principal at a women’s college
in West Bengal - this is definitely a massive leap for us as a society but the bigger achievement lies in the fact that this news comes from a state that is known to many to be mostly conformist and laidback, albeit of course not to forget the land of intellects, writers and poets as well. What makes this even more radical is that this move has the full support of the state government without which even conceiving such an idea would probably not have been possible! 

Interesting to note is that while some in India are taking bold steps towards slow but sure transformation, the military of one of the world’s biggest superpowers defines gender nonconformity as a psychological disorder (!) forcing those serving to do so under constant fear of being revealed! 

We live in an interesting world of contradictions where in many cases social boundaries are defined by the strata of society we live in, or the gender we belong to, or maybe even what we eat and what we don’t – the list is endless. But we have to admit that we are infact a very privileged lot to be part of a generation that is privy to, and in some cases even the driving force behind social change.

Manabi Bandopadhyay’s (the newly appointed transgender principal) victory is only one such instance but it can spark many-a debate that could free many-a communities from the shackles of social stereotypes we could happily do without.

And while the press is playing its own part in mobilising this change, it’s refreshing to see brands too becoming bolder in what they say to their audiences. So is evident from campaigns like Ariel’s share the load, Red Label’s surprise visit, Airtel’s boss wife, Fastrack’s move on and’s ShaadiCares which are attempting to bust traditional norms and offer a leg up to sections of society that have long lived ‘by the rules’. 

Special mention again is most deserved by’s ShaadiCares – not only have they boldly taken up against one of the most prevalent ills in our society but they’ve done so at the risk of antagonising their own client-base. Absolutely commendable and honourable move!

On a more personal note, for those of us who come from traditional families where conformism is highly rewarded, altering the way our lives were planned for us is a matter of great debate and judgement. But it’s refreshing to see more and more families and some sections of society putting their weight behind unconventional choices and bringing change in the most unexpected quarters.

In the midst of all the social turmoil that we read of every day, it’s heartening to hear of students in a neighbouring land protecting those of another religion as they celebrate a festival of another country! At the same time it is heart-rending to see the plight of refugees unwanted despite their worsening agony – it’s a big question mark on ideologies around humanity to say the least!

But contradictions continue and that’s what makes our society the interesting pot-boiler that it is today. And the more we open our minds to change, the more welcoming some of these will be, even for those of us who don’t necessarily subscribe.  

- Naina Shetty


  1. We need the pseudo liberals to deal with their contradictions next to expedite change

  2. agree with you Naina - Manabi's victory is a big step in terms of social change and transformation. And its great to see brands pick the gaunlet. Personally however I'd like to see more acceptance of differently-abled people by mainstream society and institutions. Not sure I see that happening!!