Dec 162016
 

All of you who love to drop ‘not anymore’s on discussions about sexism in India, here’s something especially for you. Sona Mohapatra just wrote an open letter addressed to IIT Bombay and the reason, like you may (should) have guessed already is, SEXISM.

Sona Mohapatra’s Open Letter To IIT Bombay© BCCL

Here goes the story. Sona Mohapatra was invited to perform at Mood Indigo, a fest by IIT Bombay. Only, there was condition. A ‘non-negotiable condition’. She had to have a male artist by her side if she were to perform. Even though they didn’t say it, it was obvious how the only women who had ever performed at their fests were either accompanied by a man or were signed up for unpaid gigs. One of the most talented female musicians in the country today was told she needed a man to perform. Think she didn’t need to be tell the world about it? Well, she did. She really did. Because it was much deeper rooted in the system than it seems. Gender inequality needs to be spoken about at each and every instance, no matter how small it may be.

Sona Mohapatra’s Open Letter To IIT Bombay© Facebook

Give this letter a read because its an important perspective on sexism that’s still very much prevalent in our country, especially in one of the most esteemed and beloved institutions!

Dear Mood Indigo,

IIT Bombay,

You claim that you are Asia’s ‘biggest’ cultural fiesta & take pride in being a premier institute of highest learning in the world too. I LAUGH at that claim & call you out straight up on this date for actually being a cess-pool of mediocrity instead.

All the mathematical equations in the world will not be able to teach you the equation of fairness. All the ‘balancing’ of equations count for nothing if you do not seek a balanced world. All the formulae in the world will not teach you the idea of making a true difference in the world & all the sponsorship, hype, marketing & branding of the world will not cover up the fact that you are a training ground for the worst kind of ‘boys clubs’ that create an imbalance in the world!!

What cultural festival has for decades showcased only men headliners on their stage, be it music, literature, politics, comedy or ANY other domain????? Yours, Mood I.

‘Most’ college campuses in India, esp the premiere institutes of course, follow suit & ‘copy-paste’ this disgusting blueprint of yours. Don’t believe me? Please do check out the archives of the line ups you have showcased year after year & start by scrolling down your own current FB festival page today.

You have good company in festivals like NH7 & other big music festivals in such discriminatory practices, so take heart (one Anoushka Grammy Shankar doesn’t change the obvious, yo boys!)

Sona Mohapatra’s Open Letter To IIT Bombay© Facebook

So yes, your ‘boys clubs’ are quite a ‘brother-hood’ outside of the campuses too! Everyone passing out into the real world has been taught these lessons well in their colleges apparently.

The only few human’s of my gender who have landed up ‘performing’ in this ‘cultural’ festival are either ‘not paid’ or could, only under the umbrella of another man or in a ‘troupe’ of some kind.

That you don’t even see the blatant sexism that your institute & festival is propagating is sickening.

For three years in a row I’ve been getting calls from your Mood-I committee members for a concert in your festival but the invite always comes with a caveat. A BIG caveat. A non negotiable caveat.

A ‘MAN’ needs to be clubbed in on the marquee to validate my stage, a paid stage in particular. A SOLO FEMALE headliner? Want to be paid a price? Just not possible. The ‘men’ have homes to support, we women just ‘work’ for ‘fun’!

Don’t believe me? Go through your festival line-ups year after year, decade after decade & you will see this clear as day. You are people with a scientific temper who understand statistics & the like? You’ll see the SAD truth slap you on the face. It’s boys, boys & only more boys. The payment part is not so obvious & for now you will all just have to take my word for it. ????????

Does it effect me personally? Am I shedding tears of sadness about missing this great opportunity to entertain & blow your minds with my act? NO, not really. I’ve carved out my career path successfully despite the odds & am playing a lot of solo headlining gigs with my band SonaLive, 11 concerts in the last fortnight alone. No colleges except the ‘ladies only campuses’, as usual.

Why even write this letter then? Well, it is gut wrenching & it takes effort & all the love in my heart for my country to do so. That the premiere educational institutes of the country are blindly propagating such values while the government is putting a spotlight on the plight of the ‘Beti’s’ in the country in their public campaigns in 2016 is ironical. You ought to be leading the way in my not so humble opinion not just counting on the government for everything. You have no business being in the business of education using this country’s tax-payers money when you do not pursue its constitutional ideals. That your students are supposedly the top ‘intellect’ of our country & are being groomed to be in the top echelons of our country’s future scares me.

Sona Mohapatra’s Open Letter To IIT Bombay© AurobindoSengupta

They will go into the real world with this deep conditioning & this cycle of shit will continue till it gags our society & mankind!

I was advised by my well wishers to refrain from posting this letter. ‘Why come across as a trouble maker when things are going so well for you’, they said. Will only bring on negativity & harm your current touring & work. Truth is, very few people have the stomach to digest ugly truths, let alone tell them. Life here is tough as it is?

I am proud of the fact that I do not add ‘glamour’ in other music directors ‘troupes’, get any work from them whatsoever & have yet lasted out & am playing 2-3 hour uncompromising concert sets in the biggest stages of the country. I am the most proud of the fact that my audience & fans love me for my own music & for being myself. My work with Ram Sampath is basis an equal work partnership where both of us contribute to a project, 50/50. Nothing more, nothing less. No favours given or taken. Only mutual respect. I have a young band of amazing musicians, all men at this point & all of whom have no issues backing a female solo artiste. In fact, they are unaware of my gender I believe. They tell me when I’m great on stage & are equally okay telling me if I’ve had an off day. I have a life partner who shares the same value & belief system & is unstintingly committed to the cause of equality of all kinds in society.

These are MEN amongst MEN.

So all in all, life’s great but I do dream & work for a future where we are ALL conscious about fighting for the right thing. Whenever anyone makes me feel like a second-class citizen in my own country, I will call you out. I urge you all to do the same. Everytime you forget that I am indeed equal, I will call you out. I urge the rest of you to do the same. I am asking for all my opportunities basis hard work, merit & talent. I am no privileged Birla daughter cutting the line & lip-syncing a ‘plus one’ song on a global festival stage. My journey has been long, hard, tough but satisfying & rewarding. A big part of the reward is that I have an audience that listens to me even when I am not singing. They hear me, understand me & give me the strength to stand up & speak my mind everyday.

Sona Mohapatra’s Open Letter To IIT Bombay© BCCL

I thank them every moment.

All of you attending Mood i, I do hope that you enjoy yourselves thoroughly. Do take a minute to think about what I said though. With an open, unbiased, clear mind. If this letter even changes 5% of the gender mix on stage in the coming days, I’ll consider my time well spent, although my gender actually constitutes close to 50% of the population. If it doesn’t, I’ll keep working towards doing so in ANY case.

Cheers.

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year.

Big love,

Sona Mohapatra

The letter was originally posted here.

Never lose your voice, Sona Mohapatra. Always be the badass that you are.

Click for detailed story

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

*

Follow me

Featuring YD Feedwordpress Content Filter Plugin