The making of a Women’s Wall in Kerala — stretching 620 km from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram — to propagate “renaissance values” on the first day of the new year is an extraordinary event which is worthy of emulation.
The forming of the wall was planned as an half-hour event but its planning suggests a very large section of society was mobilised — both women and men. This speaks of the depth of the historical penetration of social organisms in Kerala espousing causes relating to equality of various kinds — caste, gender and class.
While the main impulse for the event came from chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, it is noteworthy that the CM invited some 175 socio-cultural organisations, besides the Left parties, including avowedly “Hindu” groups, to plan an event to highlight Kerala’s fidelity to core humanist values (these feed into the state’s leftward political orientation).
While the mobilisation of lakhs of people, particularly women, is likely to have an influence on the coming parliamentary elections, it is evident that the immediate background to the Women’s Wall is the violent disregard by Hindutva bodies of the Supreme Court’s Sabarimala ruling permitting women of menstrual age to pray at the famous hilltop shrine.
Not surprisingly, “equality for women” topped the Wall agenda, which included challenging the feudal outlook and promotion of secular values. It is no less than curious that the Congress in Kerala chose to mock the wall to side with conservatives and RSS affiliates, hoping to outflank the BJP in mopping up anti-Left votes. That is a self-defeating tactic....