Chandra Ranganathan of the Economic Times is the first MSM reporter off the block in covering the PanIIT-2008's spouses program that many have found offensive to women. Her report [
no link, yet. I couldn't find it online e-paper version] covers expressions of disgust and disapproval from at least three people (including Prof. Priti Shankar, whose letter appeared here). More importantly for this post, she also has the first official reactions from Mr. B. Santhanam, Chair, PanIIT-2008:
... [Mr. Santhanam] pointed out that there were 30 tracks and it was not fair to just pick one.
"There will be 3000 IIT alumni and 300-5000 spouses who would attend. And 95 % of the spouses are women. Our spouses programme committee comprises women including a COO, entrepreneur and a homemaker," he said.
Coming from someone who works in private industry, this is really weird. Let's say your company releases an ad that comes under fire for its insensitivity to women. You wouldn't insist on running that ad, would you? You wouldn't be sitting around giving interviews about how that ad is just one of 30 others for that product, and about how a team that created it had three women. And, oh, about how some of your best friends are women.
There's this mundane possibility that B. Santhanam thinks it's okay to ignore protests from IIT-alumnae -- including the first woman EE graduate from IIT and the keynote speaker in the PanIIT-2008 session devoted to "attracting women faculty and girl students to technical education." [No, I'm not kidding, about the second one. Check it out for yourself.]
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe B. Santhanam and PanIIT folks -- all those wonderful inspirers, innovators, transformers, integrators, differentiators -- have some genuine reasons for not wanting to change the 'Spouses Program'. Here are some possibilities:
Changing the website is too technical. Joomla can be sooo hard.
'Nadi' and 'Kili' astrologers will get angry, and put a curse on IITs' brand equity.
All those metrosexual spouses of women IIT graduates need to get a life! What the hell are they doing here, anyway?
Won't we end up offending IIT-M's resident practitioners of gemology and palmistry? There are so many of them on campus than women IIT graduates! What if they start a counter-protest?
Ohmigosh, we have ordered so much mehendi! It'll all go waste!
Shilpa Shetty is so much more gorgeous than Amartya Sen. And her yoga postures are better than his.
Who does this Ludwig dude think he is -- a PanIIT astrologer?
Spouses of IITians need Hemamalini's lecture-demo on what makes a complete woman.