Of Sania Mirza And Telangana: What Does A Pakistan Daughter-In-Law Mean Anyway?

Posted on July 27, 2014 in Society

By Rahul Maganti:

An absolutely unwanted controversy about Sania Mirza spiralled off this week when a legislator of the BJP, K Lakshman, ridiculed the decision of the Telangana Government to appoint Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador of the newly formed Telangana state. He hasn’t stopped at criticizing the decision. Furthermore, he stooped to personal attacks, calling her a ‘Pakistan daughter-in-law’.

Sania Mirza

I closely tried to understand the meaning of this phrase- ‘Pakistan daughter-in-law’ and could derive two meanings: one from the word ‘Pakistan’ and the other from the word ‘daughter-in-law’. Pakistan is synonymous with Muslims for a majority of our saffron party leaders. And here, it is used in the context that since Sania Mirza is a Muslim, and that she married another Pakistani Muslim, she lost her Indian-ness. This means that we just elected someone who perceives people on the basis of their religion, country, race, creed and caste. Could there be anything sadder than this? Why are Indian Muslims always asked to prove their Indian-ness? The deplorable condition in our country now is that minorities need a certificate of the Hindutva conglomeration to prove their Indian-ness and their patriotism. India’s sons and daughters have to assert their Indian-ness based on how they pray or who they marry. Well done, India, well done!

The word ‘daughter-in-law’ used to describe her is asserting the domination of a male in the institution of marriage. Isn’t she a ‘daughter’ before she is somebody’s ‘daughter-in-law’? Did anyone ever tell Shoiab Malik that he is a ‘son-in-law’ of India? He will be referred to as Shoiab Malik but not as Sania Mirza’s husband. The problem here is with the male chauvinistic society which upholds patriarchal values. When we try to define a woman not with her own identity, but with that of her husband’s, brother’s or someone else’s, we disregard her. We implicitly refer to her as someone’s wife or sister, but not as a woman. We forget that before she is anything else, she is a woman. By issuing the statement, the legislator clearly indicated a sense of male entitlement over a female. He might not have thought about the implications that his statement would generate, but being insensitive and using religion and gender to make partisan statements about a sportsperson who has represented India at various international levels and still continues to do so, is utterly disappointing.

Sania Mirza belongs to two of the most disadvantaged communities, both in terms of gender and religion. Being born as a Muslim woman is the only thing she has done wrong. She would have been saved of this ordeal if she was born a Hindu male. If she was also a Brahmin, she would have earned praises from the saffron leaders and would have been made the ‘brand ambassador’ for India, or at least Indian tennis.

The hullabaloo surrounding Sania Mirza’s appointment reveals a deeply disturbing facet of current political scenario in our country. A Muslim with considerable economic and social capital in India is a part of a miniscule minority, and the painful vulnerability that even this section is subjected to, makes one shudder. It makes us think about the strengthened oppressions that the majority of Muslims who are denied a voice in the country’s political and social discourse, are experiencing and enduring every single day now; aided by the apathy and silence of this nation. With this very idea, this attack should not be looked at with complacence on Sania Mirza, a tennis player, but as an attack on Sania Mirza, an Indian Muslim female. How many such incidents are happening across the country? How many of them are being reported by the media? How many people are crying secretly behind their veil unlike Sania who had an opportunity to defend herself on a national television?