In the backdrop of a Twitter spat with Bihar minister Ashok Choudhary and other controversies, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has slammed her critics and asserted she is not a person who subscribes to the conventional wisdom of not responding to humiliations or provocations.
In a Facebook post, which she signed off as "Aunty National" - an apparent reference to a newspaper's headline about her, Irani talked about her career and challenges, stressed on the need to speak out one's mind and hit out at "intellectuals" who called her "illiterate".
The minister talked about how in daily life a woman is taught not to question anyone or respond to a challenge.
"Growing up in a middle class environment (Lutyen's zone excluded), many girls, who would walk to school/college and back home every day, go to the bazaar to get groceries and adequate sabzi in a given budget, would often be told if accosted by a boy or a bunch of them, don't look up and keep walking straight.
"But there would be those rebellious kinds (yours truly included) who would question why? Why not respond? Why zip it? The standard answer such a question begets is that it is not worth it. Nuksaan tumhara hoga, ladke ka kuch nahi bigadega (loss will be yours, nothing will happen to the boy)," she said, adding it was the advice she received not just when she was growing up as a middle class girl, but also in politics.
The HRD Minister, who rose to fame through her TV performances, said those struggling to make a mark are advised that if you go to parties and mingle enough, you shall get work.
"You stoutly refuse as you believe that your talent and hard work are the only precursors to success, how full your social calender is should not matter. You are scoffed at and brushed off as naive. But lo and behold, you do succeed," she said.
Irani said politics happened (to her) not when she was a "fading star" or "unemployed" but when she was at the "peak of success".
"You are given the hard battles to fight, you accept (Chandini Chowk and Amethi were no cakewalk my friends).
You work from the grassroots up. Yet some intellectual says anpad (illiterate) the minute you are given the opportunity to serve as the HRD Minister," Irani said.
She said the common line of advice was that "ignore the trolls no matter how high they serve in their political systems. Ignore public attempts to humiliate you through sexual innuendos - kyunki nuksaan tumhara hoga unka kuch nahi bigadega".
"Ask any working woman, about what they do when your colleagues do not finish their assignment on time brushing off attempts at ensuring accountability and if push comes to shove is cocky enough to gang up with other boys in the club to paint you as either too wound up, too dumb or not competent enough. The successful women always tell you that they continue to crack the whip. For there will come a time when the colleague says - Fine! I'll get the work done.
"So while many working women battle this challenge in confined working spaces, I spat it out on twitter for my office travels with me," she said.
Referring to her twitter fight with Chaudhary over the latter addressing her as "dear", she said, "As the politician mumbled apologies and explained his position regarding the twitter spat to my state leader on the mobile while our contingent drove back from Bhagalpur last night, I watched his supporters trend a hashtag in my name, irrespective of their neta's public apology."
"As those who scream murder and whip themselves up into a feminist frenzy at the drop of a hat tried to endear themselves to me on Twitter, I reflected on the near 'Jerry Maguire'-like moment that was upon me," she said.
In the post, Irani also listed the initiatives her ministry has undertaken since her taking over as the HRD Minister.
As the politician mumbled apologies and explained his â€śpositionâ€ť regarding the twitter spat to my state leader on the...Posted by Smriti Zubin Irani on Wednesday, June 15, 2016