By Justice Markandey Katju
I had decided not to write articles any more for quite some time because having write too many already, I do not want to be accused of seeking cheap publicity.
But the 30th April issue of the ‘India Today’ has changed my mind. The cover of this issue shows the cleavage of a female breast, and the words mentioned there are ‘The Booby Trap – Women want them perfect. Men want less flab. Breast surgery is the new rage’. Inside the issue is an article which begins ‘Woo hoo! Its Happy Cleavage Day. How should I celebrate?’ Then follow all the details about breast surgery to increase the female breasts to make them more attractive for men. This is said to have become a rage in India. The editorial mentions the cost – Rs. 1.5 to 2.5 lacs, and says it is not longer unaffordable.
My reaction to all this is -- what has most of the media become? Have you lost all sense of shame? In a poor country like India where most women are bravely feeding and supporting their families on the pittance which their husbands, or they themselves, earn, is it not a gross insult to them to talk of breast enlargement by surgery?
It is estimated that 47% of Indian children are malnourished. The Prime Minister himself admitted the figure to be 42%, and said it is a matter of great shame. This means that about half our children do not get enough to eat. And since most mothers would rather remain hungry than see their children hungry, this means maybe 75% of our women are malnourished. Do our Indian women not deserve sheer admiration for their selfless sacrifice and bravery in supporting their families? And is it not sheer vulgarity and a disgrace to highlight breast enlargement, as if that is a great issue in India today?
The editorial of the issue says that Rs. 1.5 to 2.5 lacs is an affordable cost. Has the writer any idea of the skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, medicines, etc? Would a woman devote her budget to supplying food etc to her children, or for breast enlargement? Most women in India are today eking out a hand to mouth existence. To talk of breast enlargement by surgery is like Marie Antoinette saying that if the people do not have bread, let them eat cake.
The lives of most women in India are full of continual, unending labour, a kind of labour that bears the imprint of bondage. They have to do cooking, washing clothes, cleaning the home and other household chores, apart from bearing and rearing children. Petty household work crushes, strangles, stultifies and degrades them, and they often waste their labour on unproductive, petty, nerve racking and stultifying work of crushing drudgery.
I.Q tests in modern psychology have shown that the I.Q of an average woman is the same as that of an average man. Our Constitution provides for equality between men and women, vide Article 15. But the fact is that the old backward mentality of looking down on women and treating them as objects of mens’ lust persists. And it is this backward mentality which, no doubt only by insinuation, the issue referred to perpetuates and furthers.
What truly great sacrifices most Indian women are making (and by the way they are too poor to have breast enlargement surgery)! What self effacing heroism! They do not demand to be known, they remain anonymous. In these terrible days where 80% of our 120 crore people are poor, when prices are skyrocketing, when unemployment has assumed massive proportions, when health care has become too costly for the masses – in these desperate circumstances our brave women are uncomplainingly toiling from day to night to support their families.
Instead of highlighting frivolous issues like breast enlargement our media should help our people in their struggle for a better life. But, as I have been repeatedly emphasizing, a large section of our media deliberately diverts attention of the people from the real issues facing the Indian masses which are socio-economic to non-issues like lives of filmstars, cricket, astrology - and now, breast enlargement.
I am sorry to say that a large section of our media has totally lost its priorities and sense of proportion.