The poor Indian woman is under stress.
And most of us thought it was the poor American woman who is under stress. The typical woman in USA has to drive 10 miles to drop her children to school and, while driving, has to ensure that she can apply her make-up in the few seconds that the light has turned red. Or in that split millisecond when the lady driver in front of her is holding up traffic because she is still applying her makeup even though the light has turned green.
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But - according to a recent survey by Nielsen Company of 6,500 women in 21 countries - Indian women are the most stressed out in the world. 87% said they were stressed out and 82% said they had no time to relax (CNN July 12, 2011).
the list of 21 countries surveyed in order of most stressed women:
Source: CNN, Nielsen Company
Critics can argue that, since there are probably 3 billion woman in the world and about 550 million women in India, basing a global judgement on a sample size of maybe a few hundred women in India is a bit of a stretch. Yes, the technical sample size may be small but - based on my interactions and understanding of the challenges facing Indian women - I would say the report is accurate. Indian women are stressed to the limit. And here is the proof! J
Sonia ko neend kyon nahi aati.
Take the case of Congress President, Shreematiji Sonia Gandhi.
True, though she represents the typical Indian woman, she may not have been surveyed at all. And, even if she was surveyed, would she be categorised as Indian or Italian? Whoops, I just disclosed her first level of stress. Despite speaking better Hindi than most of us south of Nagpur, some north-of-Nagpur types still doubt her nationality and Indian-ness. Now, that is stress of a major kind. Unless we are all clear on her nationality, how can she have an official, government appointment?
Then, to add to her chinta, she has this Prime Minister who walks with stiff arms as if those arms are controlled by some invisible string. This puppet-walk adds fuel the totally baseless rumours that there are, indeed, invisible strings in existence which are weaved into Soniaji's rather simple but elegant sari.
On top of that, all the Teflon purchased from the US and shipped to coat the Honest Face of the Honest Indian Prime Minister is eroding pretty quickly. With oil at over USD 100 per barrel and the recent investigations into oil and gas field exploration contracts, the Congress cannot afford any more import of Teflon, a petroleum-based product. The Supreme Court is watching. And there could be some chewing gum with wire-taps and recording devices that would seal the evidence. Worse still, some Radia lady may start bragging about how she could fix anything on random phone calls to not-so-random and well-known people.
On top of these chinta-factors for Soniaji is the stubborn ambition of her son to fight an unruly neighbour over her acts of land encroachment. Mayawati is, well, Mayawati. Anything can happen in lawless UP. Most heirs to the Congress throne don't hang around villages ruled by Opposition states for days on end. They fly in and they fly out. But, this boy....he is stubborn.
He does not come home for dinner every day. He does not eat home food every day; he eats out with strangers in strange places. He says the food is free and not to worry!
Soniaji, like any Indian mother, knows this is nonsense. "What not to worry! If he falls sick, then I have to be at home to look after him. Then who will go to work? How will I wear the saris with the invisible strings? What job will I have left, then? I will be laid off. Then, what? Tell me, tell me, no!"
Yes, any loving mother can understand Soniaji's worry over her son. And since India is full of loving mothers, the chinta factor across the nation is pretty high.
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The other chinta-full ladies
Another very tense person is Sonia's other neighbour - but this time also a good friend: Sheilaji. She anyway looks tense and tough. Now she looks more like a cross between an Arundhati Roy shouting at Chidambaram and a Medha Patkar telling Hiranandani how he stole the Powaii land at 40 paise per acre.
Poor Sheila Dixit just does not know what that Kalmadi fellow will say - or do - next. He already managed to get some long tea break in comfortable surroundings with the jail warden. And we all know that a lot can also happen over tea. He keeps on blaming the Delhi Administration for having a larger scandal over the spending of the Common Wealth Games. Does he not understand that it is game over! And he did not get the gold, he got the gaol - the jail cell. The rules used to be that you took the hit. You shut up. And, later, everything was taken care of. This man is a high source of chinta. And every Indian woman knows that helpless feeling. The unnecessary talk and gossip of neighbours is always a jhan-jhat factor in their lives.
Mayawati, referred to earlier as a source of chinta for Soniaji, has her own source of chinta. Not only is it irritating to have your worst enemy as your neighbour, but now her worst enemy's son is being invited into her very own villages to dine with her subjects! She has tried to put an end to it but there are boundaries she cannot cross. And, to top it all, the Supreme Court is telling her how to buy land and how much to pay for it. Who are they to tell her how to - or how not to - loot? If things go on like this much longer, not only will she slap the bureaucrats working around her she may start slapping everyone in her state. Given her strong hands and forcefulness more bodies may start floating around the Ganges.
Kiran Bedi has her own set of problems. She has to make sure that Anna Hazare does not get trampled over by the photo-op group of publicity seekers. Like a good police officer she wants discipline and structure. A good cause should not be hijacked by candle-light marchers and yoga-students. Sure, everyone can show their support in the fight against corruption. And they can roll their stomachs and clap their feet to their ears anytime of the day or night.
But what is the point of being at a candle light march at India Gate after using your car as a weapon to run over innocents by breaking the red light? And then justifying paying a bribe to the traffic policeman by saying that you were late to the candle light march that is being held to fight corruption! Yes, she has major chinta; she knows this is a wonderful India full of less wonderful Indians. As a policeman she knows how undisciplined Indians are. The movement that she is directing can be derailed so easily. Not only because the Congress party is trying to derail it, but also because the BJP may break a few red lights with the rath yatras they want to bring along. Hare Ram, more chinta to her!
Arundhati Roy has one chinta: Chidambaram. Her new novel is rumoured to be titled: "Chintabaram - a journey in worry across the jungles of India that are now being raped not only by the forest officials but also by the large industrial houses like Essar, Sterlite, and Tata and where the enemy is the State and the state of the Enemy is a source of chinta for the future of India".
Medha Patkar has her own chinta: when will people wake up and see the truth of the social disharmony around them? When will those Hiranandani fellows start paying a little more than her alleged 40 paise per acre for land? In the meantime she smiles and goes about her work but worries about her other chinta: when will Sheilaji stop trying to dress like her? Every woman knows that feeling of anger and chinta caused by the copy-cat dresser. Maybe she should go and have tea with that Kalmadi fellow and out an end to this competition for India's most down-to-earth woman. In any case, they say the biscuits he is served are freshly baked every day.
Barkha Dutt has her one chinta: will I ever win back my credibility or will people always remember the Radia tapes? Otherwise she is in a chinta-less world and continues to be one of the most well-dressed and presentable people in India. Oops, may not be, actually. Nita Ambani is vying for that slot and actually got Prannoy Roy - Burkha's boss - to attend the graduation ceremony of the Ambani School. Low, but growing chinta. Maybe "the other woman" syndrome is creeping in.
Nita Ambani, at the top of the world, does not have to worry about the other woman. But she does worry about her IPL team and the elusive championship trophy. When you come from a family where anything can be bought, not having the ability to win is a massive chinta.
Jayanthi Natarajan, recently appointed as the Environment and Forests Minister in place of the promoted Jairam Ramesh, has her new chinta: how closely will people be watching what she does now that all the resources of India are under her control? But, to be fair, the survey was done before she got the new post, so that chinta could not have tilted the "most stressed" crown in India's favour.
Probably at the time of the survey, her biggest chinta was the son-father lawyer duo of Mahesh Jethmalani and Ram Jethmalani and their persistent questions on black money and why the Congress is doing nothing to unearth it. The duo keep on badgering her with the same questions on TV shows anchored by these aggressive TV anchors. This is a double-chinta. One day she will put an end to this by asking the question: if you are so concerned about black money, why don't you help raid your own clients who probably have a lot of it! But, like every Indian woman who is abused by the terrible left-right punches from the mother-in-law and the sister-in-law, she knows you cannot make those honest and bold statements. You cannot ask the allegers to examine their own souls. That is not being Indian. So the chinta builds up inside and one day the explosion will come. Till then, it adds to the ranking of India being country with the most stressed out women.
But chinta is good for stock prices!
In addition to the chinta levels of these few well known women, there is the normal chinta that other women have.
Like, if I was to help my boyfriend chop the body of my lover into many pieces, will I be guilty or innocent?
Or, what am I supposed to do if my children get 94% and cannot get admission into college?
And how much of our savings has my husband just lot on some structured product fool-proof investment? Or has he put 99% of our savings into a basket of small-cap,
real estate, and infrastructure funds? How come I married this fool? My mother had warned me.
And does my husband really believe that I need to cook for him - after I get home from a hard day of work and do homework with the children - while he is watching the cheerleaders on IPL? Thank god they threw that Modi man out. Even if the current emperors of the IPL have no clothes, at least they had those shameless nangi ladies replaced by dancing girls who now wear some clothes.
And now the husband, on top of the cooking demands, says I need to look pretty and stay pretty so that he does not get seduced by some other single, less-chinta woman?
What a jhan-jhat this life in modern India has become!
The saas-bahu chinta was much more predictable and easier to handle!
So, I guess these examples accounts for much of the 87% of the chinta hanging in sadness over the sacred land of India like the big, grey monsoon clouds.
This in a land where we worship the mother. Where the mother can resolve any business dispute. Where the mother can make all our dreams come true. Ah, what a terrible slap on the face for all us macho and metro men who have forgotten to show the basic respect for women.
The good news is that there still are 13% of women in India who don't have any chinta. Well, as yet. Mamata and The Lady just got elected and they are in a chinta-less, honeymoon period. May their happiness continue and may it help improve India's ranking in the next survey of where the most stressed out women live.
But, till the rankings of chinta improve, the men need to watch their wallets.
The women surveyed confessed that they are busy letting out their stress and relaxing by spending more money. By shopping.
And that, my fellow readers, is why I wrote this article.
To connect all the dots. To expect the unexpected.
That is why multi-brand retail wants to enter India - they know the women want to shop. And they want to open many large shops for them.
The good news is that, with all that spending, India's GDP will grow.
And the earnings of Indian companies will be a lot more than people expect.
And that is why the Indian stock market could (assuming strong money flows, euphoria over India, USA does not go bust, India does not become the 55th state of the USA - Iraq is the 53rd and Afghanistan is the 54th, - etc., etc., etc.) hit 29,000 by July 2012.
Oops, I did it again - more chinta to me for predicting the Index and the time period. J
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