JUST heard that Mary Quant, the British designer who revolutionized fashion with her mini-skirt, is dead. Rest in peace Mary, because it’s not about what you did in uncovering those feminine legs I’m going to write about, but why you did it.
Quant brought in her concept of the mini-skirt when women in England were feeling suffocated, dressed in the corseted clothes of their mothers, with their nipped waists, and ship-prow chests, corsets, bonnets, top hats, bustles and petticoats. And with women corseted, bonneted, and top-hatted, nobody ever really knew what the actual woman was inside. Then came Mary Quant, who turned the world of women upside down by literally saying, “Reveal your true self, don’t hide behind all that pompousness!”
A few years earlier, a man from India, which then included Pakistan, had more or less done the same when he got off the ship at London, representing the freedom struggle, dressed in just a piece of khadi! To the fashionably dressed, jacketed, leather booted, stylishly wigged Englishman, it must have come as a royal shock to see this, as Winston Churchill himself said, “a half-naked fakir!”
But just as Mary Quant released women of her generation from the shackles of unwanted lingerie, Gandhiji went much farther as he released a subjugated nation from the iron fetters of colonialism into a freedom that the one point three billion people today believe is their birthright.
And so it is! Unfortunately, just as English women centuries ago found themselves getting wrapped up in finery, our one point three billion are being wrapped up in lies, empty promises, rhetoric’s of hate, usage of government agencies against those elected, using money power as enticement and slowly that very freedom we won, is being covered by tight corsets, hoop skirts, bustles, ruffles, and lace!
There’s pageantry in showing the starving poor and illiterate that we are a super economy, although their empty stomachs growl in hunger. There’s a flashiness of hugging dictators and despots although such rulers are a threat to our belief in ‘people rule’ or democracy! Do we need a Mary Quant? No, not a fashion designer to showcase once hidden legs, but yes indeed a Gandhi, to show the people of India, that the one thing that is being cleverly hidden and that needs to be shown off, and guarded with our lives is the very essence of our country; The Constitution!
That even as those heavy loops and corsets made an old lady out of a young British one with the weight of her paraphernalia, so also this unnecessary, pomp and pageantry about one religion dominating another and about ancient greatness, be gently kept aside and instead, the rights of every countryman, enshrined so intricately by Dr Ambedkar, who I remember today as I write this piece on his birthday, be what we reveal; our freedoms; the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear..!
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