“My name is Smriti Zubin Irani. I challenge you to ask me my caste”
I have seen her way back on the television. I was then doing my graduation in commerce. This was the time when Indian telly was slowly evolving with strong women centric content. At first, this content was really worth watching. She played the main protagonist, ‘Kavita’ in one of the serials with the same name. Smriti Irani, the 21 something young actress cum model who was performing exceptionally well in her character as a modest hostess in a five star restaurant with a family of old parents in one room to take care of. The content was inspiring. Smriti was striking.
This was the seeding time for the woman in a wrong industry, I had thought. Smriti went to on play yet another history making role with the reputed Balaji production house in the iconic Hindi TV series, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. A powerful artiste had arrived, creating a strong impact in the real Indian households with her vivid portrayal as both daughter and mother in law. Still, she was not there.
Fast forwarding her entry into Indian politics and the long ordeal to reach the prime post in the ruling governance. She is now Smriti Zubin Irani, raring to go with her job as the Union HRD Minister. Irani was targeted like any other minister. She was mocked aggressively in the world of social media for her once ignorant act on a forgettable Shekhar Suman show, her questionable educational qualifications and that frivolous and vulnerable modelling background. Still, there was no strong retaliation from the lady who believed in going to work every day and doing her thing. Ms Irani went on about her job, despite the howling opposition and the non-condescending bimbos in the field of journalism who continued to poke her with tweets. The media had been heavy on the lady, as if she was the only main agenda to dissect.
After two months of nation wide aggression going on with respect to the late Rohith Vemula suicide and the loud cacophony called the JNU movement, Smriti decided to speak up. This was no provocation. This is a well informed and a well directed reply. With a certain authority and audacity that was teamed with a great preparation to take on the opposition. Irani roared like a tigress, going after each of the opposition members who had dared to question her positioning with the ongoing issues. The Lok Sabha resonated with her commanding voice, asking all the right questions to those who dug mountains out of mole hills. India watched in awe and inspiration as the HRD Minister spoke in the best of calibrated manner, listing out the issues, accusations and throwing a quiver of arrows on those who instigated caste based altercations between the students.
Some of the questions raised by the HRD minister were hair raising and hope enabling.
She spoke straight out of heart in the matter of late Rohith Vemula, referring to him as a ‘child’. She blatantly pointed out to the opposition that this child was used as a political tool and that his death is a death of a child and not of a Dalit. She went on to open some real facts, one after the other, listing the incidents that happened on the fateful day. She called out to those who had frequently visited the Hyderabad over his death, but did not bother to travel when 600 students actually died in the Telangana incident few years ago. Smriti made it clear that she will not apologise for doing her duty. The opposition tried to look for corners to hide. They left, eventually, while the others did not answer their phones.
A new leap of faith in the prevailing Indian politics. In the ongoing chaos called governance, Smriti looked like a ray of hope, exhibiting sheer woman power. We need more of her clones in the days to come. These are the kind of accountable leaders that the growing India wants at this hour. You go on, Bahu.
Please take a bow. Please speak more.