October 3, 2022

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India is embroiled in a debate over how to call a woman president

New Delhi, July 29. Draupadi Murmu, the first tribal representative and second woman in the history of an Asian country, became the President of India, sparking a debate on how to refer to the head of state in the absence of precise authority. Feminine word in Hindi. for payment.

The controversy stems from the use of a masculine name, the Hindi word “Rashtrapati” referring to the President of the nation, and the feminine for the High President could be considered an offence.

“The word for president in Hindi is rashtra-pati. The word is a combination of ‘rashtra’ meaning nation and ‘pati’ meaning husband or owner, so it is a masculine word,” explained Prof. Efe of Indian Languages. Intekhab Alam.

‘Pathi’ has a feminine form of ‘patni’, ‘wife’, and this week Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, one of the opposition leaders of the historic Congress party, referred to Murmu as a “Rashtrapadni”, sparking reactions from the Hindu nationalist BJP, which includes the current president and the government formation, calling it “sexist”. abuse”.

According to Alam, “If you call her a President Rashtrapatni, it’s not good. It’s like saying she’s the woman of the entire nation, so it looks defamatory.”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has urged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apologize as a woman for deliberately trying to offend Murmu.

Sonia Gandhi must appear before the nation and apologise,” she said in Parliament, triggering a wave of reaction.

The National Commission for Women issued a notice to Chaudhary to appear in person at the institution and give a written explanation for her comments.

Chowdhury released a video on Thursday in which he referred to it as “tongue-twisting” while apologizing for the use of the expression, which he believes was a disproportionate reaction.

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For the first time in the country’s history, India had already held a similar debate during the presidency of Pratibha Patil (2007-2012).

At the time, many feminist organizations considered Rashtrapadni to be patriarchal and gender-biased and called for the use of a gender-neutral or appropriate term.

However, legal and constitutional experts do not see major problems in using the term which also serves Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President’s secretary.

Ranjana Kumari, one of India’s most recognized women’s rights activists, told Efe that the use of Rashtrapati was “constitutionally valid and she (Murmu) has the same power as any male president.”

In her attempt to refer to herself as the Rashtrapadni or wife of the nation, Kumari acknowledges that it has patriarchal connotations of subjugation and humility, such as “she is under the control of her husband, and you add to it.” The whole nation is unacceptable,” he explained.

However, he added that the controversy was “a bit silly”.

For researcher Rita Banerjee, founder of the “50 Million Missing” campaign, the debate is “ridiculous” in a country still fighting for basic rights for women, discriminated and marginalized from birth to death.

“It is ironic that they are focusing on this because the various problems affecting women in India, especially the mass femicides that wiped out 20% of women, really need a serious discussion,” he told Efe, a female abortion and researcher. Infanticide in India.

For Parneji, the debate heating up politics in India today is not only sterile but also “attempts to downplay the fact that he is for the first time a representative of India’s tribal community at such a high position”.

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Murmu, the first indigenous person to attain the presidency, has emerged as an inspirational figure for this nation within a week of his inauguration.

“Daughter of Odisha”, as the president is known in reference to the eastern Indian state from which he hails, was born into a family belonging to the Santhal ethnic community, one of the nation’s most discriminated minorities.

Indira Guerrero