War of the Sexes… Still continues.

The train was packed with people, but the first compartment was strangely empty. No points for guessing, but we all ran towards it and got on. We hadn’t finished feeling victorious when a few cop-like men got on and started asking the men in that compartment to leave. A man in retort said, and rightly so – ” The rest of the train is jam-packed. If you could please ask the women in those compartments to leave and come to this one, we’ll go back there.”

My fear only got real. The hot-pink floor signs with pretty white flowers are NOT reserving a compartment for women. They are only hiding an invisible sign that reads “Men Only” pointing exactly in the other direction, towards the remaining 3 of the 4 compartments. This is not affirmative action, rather reverse discrimination, for both the sexes, which in my mind is not fair to either. Women do not have a contagious disease that they need to be kept away, and neither do men. We are born to live congenially, and we must learn to do so, sooner and not later.

Today they have reserved 1 out of 4. Tomorrow the women would demand 2 out of 6, and so on. And this has no end, as we have all experienced from the other reservation policies our beloved government supports and feeds. And similar to those policies, we have no follow-up on whether they actually bring the wanted results or make it much worse for some people. Rather than pragmatism, populism, ideology and vested interests drive policy. What guarantees that women would be ‘safer’ in a separate compartment, anyway? For how long? And from whom?

There were times when a woman wearing a jeans was stared at, but with time men learned to live with such women, and smarter still, without turning their heads and breaking their jaws. Ratio of women to men in the working population has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. This may sound archaic but there is no field in which women are behind men. None. They have learnt to stand for themselves. Then why do they need these signs to protect them? For how long are we going to hide behind covers and purdahs. If there’s anytime to face the world, ladies… It is NOW.

In some defense of the men, I must say they have surprised me in the last few days with their civility. Maybe it is the nature of such highly public spaces that stops them from doing anything irrational, but I’d still like to give them the credit as I think it is due. Women need to start trusting men and stop being so self-conscious. And trust men to show results. I do. It may be difficult while we are all under training, but I sincerely believe this is the most sustainable long-term measure that we all must stand for and act for… NOW!

While I’m at it. Imagine a Delhi Train where every sitting man offers his seat to a standing woman, despite the fact that he is not sitting on a seat set aside for women. I truly feel that having the reserved two seats in the corner actually gives men a reason to not offer the ‘non-reserved’ seats to women.

And so… I Stand Against Reservation… of all forms… for the ultimate equality – OF All, FOR All and BY All! And I call all the women to Say No To Separate Compartments and To Reserved seats in the train. For whoever needs the most shall prevail. Amen!


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