Guest Appearance: Fearless and free

Updated: Mar 05, 2020, 09:47 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

Kavita Krishnan, writer, author, political leader, and secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association

Kyani & Co
Kyani & Co

You'll be discussing your book Fearless Freedom this weekend. Tell us about it.
I've tried to point out how restrictions on women's autonomy as a solution to sexual violence is in itself the kind of violence women face in India. I've highlighted the attacks on women's autonomy, not only culturally, but also as part of modern politics, economics and policies. For instance, various international agencies state that it's better to give women loans as part of micro-finance schemes as they are less prone to defaulting because they lack mobility and are more susceptible to shame. I've also tried to look at the history of women in India, their responses to these attacks and what the society can do.

While Mumbai is considered one of India's safest cities, it's also where the #Why Loiter movement took off to reclaim public spaces. Having lived here as a collegian, what is your take on this?
As the first city I stayed in away from home, I was initially afraid of Mumbai, but felt at home within a month. Here, I think, because a large number of working class women claimed the city decades ago and made sure public transport was available to them, it made a difference to their access to public spaces. It's common to see women use the local train at late hours. It is a big deal that Mumbai has that. But I understand how #Why Loiter challenges the whole notion that you have to be out there for a reason. Staying in Mumbai shaped a lot of my politics.

Pic/Sanjay Rawat
Pic/Sanjay Rawat

What are your plans when in the city this time?
I like to visit my old haunts, including St Xavier's College, and meet friends in Girgaum. This time I might not be able to do so, but I'll be visiting the anti-CAA protest sites in Nagpada and Mira Road. I always try to eat a vada pao too.

What are some of your favourite haunts in Mumbai?
Mumbai is where I had my first drink and felt like an adult. I love Leopold Café and Kyani & Co, where we spent a lot of time during college. Earlier, I used to like visiting the now-shut Rhythm House and Cafe Samovar at Jehangir Art Gallery. I like to take a nostalgia tour of all the places we hung around at during college. But next time, I would like to try out new places too.

As told to Sukanya Datta

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