In my country, the victory of good over evil is a big deal. It is celebrated with increasing bone-rattling noise and furore around this time every year. Giant effigies of a mythical ten-headed Dravidian king Ravana is burnt, and people come in droves to view plaster-of-paris scenes of a white/fair goddess slaying yet another ancient dark-skinned pagan lord called Mahishasura, who has been designated evil.
As strange and counter-intuitive as it may sound, nothing can warp civil society and whittle away the rights of women like an extended family unit. Witness India. Here, big families rule. The most famous companies, and even Bollywood, are family-run enterprises. Civil society requires citizens to reserve some of their focus for the world outside, but this challenges the internal-focus instilled in a big family unit. Within families, we learn the value of being good little insiders. Institutions like caste, religion, race and even the state have co-opted the extended family paradigm to harness this loyalty to institution that comes with individuals, who, almost drone like, have their gaze turned inwards.
Continue reading Family versus civil society