Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has certainly put his foot in his mouth over the weekend. Modi’s latest remark about Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political achievements has attracted criticism over social media.
“I am happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister, despite being a woman, has declared zero tolerance for terrorism,” the Prime Minister said in his hour-long speech on Sunday at Dhaka University.
#DespiteBeingAWoman has been trending on Twitter since Monday. Many users have been using humor and sarcasm highlighting their achievements #despitebeingawomen, others have expressed their anger and frustration over the recent comments and current political situation.
Indian National Congress (INC) spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: “At core, RSS / BJP are misogynistic, bigoted, chauvinistic and sexist. Narendra Modi is just another manifestation of it.
#DespiteBeingAWoman PM's statement reflects a mindset that is parochial, condescending
towards women with typical gender stereotypes.
— Sharmistha Mukherjee (@Sharmistha_GK) June 8, 2015
— indianhistorypics (@IndiaHistorypic) June 8, 2015
— Kumari Ratna (@imratna_) June 8, 2015
— Nigel Britto (@NigelBritto) June 8, 2015
ok. off to work. after cooking sending kid to school to write big story and run errands. like every other woman i know #despitebeingawoman
— Gayatri Jayaraman (@Gayatri__J) June 8, 2015
— Mihir Sharma (@mihirssharma) June 8, 2015
Today I had a full & productive day at work, #DespiteBeingAWoman
— sarah margon (@sarahmargon) June 8, 2015
Going to work today where I use the skills I gained during my education at the university. #DespiteBeingAWoman
— Abigail D. Pratt (@SMC_PRO) June 9, 2015
Although, no surprises there. Modi was just taking forward the indoctrinated patriarchy. #DespiteBeingAWoman
— Neha Agarwal Gupta (@nehahaz) June 9, 2015
Managed to earn two post graduate degrees, raise two kids, and support them for over 16 years #DespiteBeingAWoman
— Deborah Harden (@justavixen) June 9, 2015
There you go…I ask again- why is the country so high on the Modi Wave? How is the country SO blind? #DespiteBeingAWoman
— Chitrangi Kakoti (@chitrangik) June 9, 2015
When the prime minister of one of the most populated country in this century says #DespiteBeingAWoman there's something very wrong in world
— meena gabeena (@gabeeno) June 9, 2015
— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) June 8, 2015
Other hashtags that have been trending are #ModiInsultsIndia. However, soon after, supporters of Indian Prime Minister started defending him with #ModiIndiasPride and #ModiEmpowersIndia.
Modi’s comment highlights wider problems of gender stereotypes within Indian society. With the social media uproar one can only hope that such dissent can go further into changing the status quo, and the perception of women in Indian society.
In addition, India also faces many other problems under the Government of Prime Minister Modi. For example, the Government have blocked the bank accounts of approximately 8,975 non-governmental organizations.
Greenpeace India in particular has faced intimidation and harassment from the Government. Modi will also be one of the first Indian Prime Ministers to visit Israel later this year, tightening his support with the apartheid state. Relations between India and Pakistan still remain as tense as ever, as Modi’s speech at Dhaka University bluntly accused Pakistan of ‘constantly’ creating ‘nuisance’ and promoting terror.
His supporters may see him as India’s political savior, but his opponents fear his sexist, political intimidation against NGOs and beyond rabid nationalistic views, and rightfully so; this is becoming a nightmare for India.