SONGSOPTOK: What is your earliest memory about being a boy?

SUDIP NATH: I remember my parents bought a tri-cycle for me. I was trying to ride and my both elder sisters were helping me.

SONGSOPTOK:  Where did you go to school? Was it a boys’ school? If yes, then why do you think your parents send you to a school for boys? If not, why?

SUDIP NATH: I went to a co-ed elementary school. My sisters went to the same school earlier. My parents did not care about boys’ school.

SONGSOPTOK:  A lot of studies indicate that the gender segregation starts in school. What is your experience?

SUDIP NATH: It is right to some extent. Teachers always expected the boys to know the answers and had less expectation from the outnumbered girls.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you remember any incident(s) from your childhood where you witnessed gender discrimination? What are your thoughts about that?

SUDIP NATH: I was youngest of three children in our family. Some elderly relatives evidently loved me most because I was the only boy. They sometimes ignored my immediate elder sister for her being the second daughter of my parents. This might have had effect on my sister. My parents loved us equally.

SONGSOPTOK:  Now going on to college / university – what according to you were the advantages / disadvantages of being a man? Were there any disadvantages at all? Do you think that women were treated fairly by the educational institutions?

SUDIP NATH: I went to a co-ed school for higher secondary. There was absolutely no gender bias there whatsoever. It is by far the best school I have studied in.

SONGSOPTOK:  A lot has been written about the unsafe environment in India for women, especially on public transports. What is your personal experience? Has the situation deteriorated over time? Are the streets of your city less safe today than let us say a decade back? If so, what is you analysis of the situation?

SUDIP NATH: I completely agree with it. I have commuted from suburb to the city (Kolkata) for several years in train, bus, auto-rickshaw and taxi. Most males have a tendency stand or sit close to women and look for opportunities to touch them. In a few situations they go even farther. If protested against the middle-aged ones used to retreat but the young rogues would create a fuss and deny the charges. I have protested and engaged myself in verbal fights. However, most women are too shy to even be part of the protest. Things must have changed now.

SONGSOPTOK:  According to you, to what extent is the patriarchal society in India responsible for the status of women? Do you see any reflection of the patriarchal control in your own/extended family?

SUDIP NATH: Absolutely, it is very much there in most families especially within poor and rich conservative families. In my family, my mom and dad got over it protesting against the older generation’s view as much as possible.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that social status (caste, class, affluence) plays a significant role in how women are treated in India? How? Are there significant differences in the status of women in urban & rural India?

SUDIP NATH: I have noticed that in several being disturbed by inter-caste marriages.

SONGSOPTOK:  Would you say that there is equal treatment of women in the workplace? Are women given the same opportunities as men? Has the situation evolved compared to the earlier generation?

SUDIP NATH: Yes. In US I never felt any gender bias in workplace.

SONGSOPTOK:  Has the position and status of women evolved at home compared to your mother’s generation? Do women today have more decision-making power within the family structure? Can you explain your answer?

SUDIP NATH: My mother was part of decision making process at home.

SONGSOPTOK: If you’re the parent of a girl child, how are your concerns different from your mother’s generation? If you’re the parent of a boy child, do you take initiative to discuss matters of gender equality with him?

SUDIP NATH: I would not be concerned about her marriage until she chooses and decides to marry someone.

SONGSOPTOK:  According to you, what needs to be done to improve the situation of women not only in India but all over the world? How can women contribute – at home, at work, at social & political levels?

SUDIP NATH: Women should not be given any special status or privilege. They should also think they are equal to men in all respects. Easier said than done but women need to stop relying on men for security.

SONGSOPTOK:  Violence against women is a global problem today that manifests itself in different forms in different societies. And the problem seems to be growing every day in spite of preventive measures. What, in your opinion, should be the priority in India? How do you see the role of the civil society in this context?

SUDIP NATH: I think women should never be scared of men. If required they should arm themselves to eliminate any psychological advantage men may have in attacking women taking advantage of their weakness. Women need to talk to men freely irrespective caste or status. Friendliness reduces crime. Finally, government has to provide vigilance and extra security until society matures

SONGSOPTOK:   What are views on women’s empowerment? What should be the priorities here (economic / social / cultural/ educational…)

SUDIP NATH:  Education, effective communication, knowledge of laws and rules, physical training and bearing of arms.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think the situation of women in India can evolve in the years to come? What is your vision for the future?

SUDIP NATH: We cannot expect changes in rural India until political scenario changes. We need a new generation of politicians who would approach this issue holistically instead of making some quick changes before elections to collect votes. They need to study various societies think about ways to eliminate caste and communal issues. Religion is playing huge role here. Most religions do not give much importance to women although people worship their idols. Religion has to a take back seat and scientific education should be driver for modern society. Battle of logic vs. religion needs to be supported by statesmen. Some fundamental changes need to be made with long term vision irrespective of immediate political setback. All religion based education system, old marriage rituals, early marriages, local judgment system etc, need to be abolished.


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