Kirron Kher — our favourite dramatic maa — turns 61 today. She was at her fiercest and meekest best in Devdas, Om Shanti Om, Dostana, Rang De Basanti and Khoobsurat. She is also a noted theatre personality and has won several film awards. More recently, she has graced our screens as a reality show judge with a keen eye for talent and a way with words.
While Kher’s filmography has definitely made her a household name and a respected celebrity, she’s just as competent in her real-life role as a member of the Lok Sabha, representing the constituency of Chandigarh. Kher has made an impact on the House on numerous occasions with her speeches delivered with conviction and a firm hold on statistics.
Here are six speeches by the parliamentarian that you should definitely hear.
In her first speech in the Lok Sabha, Kher eloquently spoke about the plight of women in the country: “We are in a country where women need the permission of the society to be born.” She asked the opposition to recall all the atrocities meted to women in during their tenure and added, “I, of course, don’t hold you personally responsible for that. Interruptions and disruptions are common in the Lok Sabha debates, but Kher – giving her maiden speech – dealt with the interruptions firmly, demanding her right to speak without interruption. “Kindly let me finish, please have the courtesy,” she appealed.
Kher spoke passionately on the issue of One Rank One Pension. “As a daughter of an Army officer and a granddaughter of an Army officer, today it hurts me deeply to see that ex-servicemen are on the streets to protest for what is their due.” She then read out calculations and statistics to support her speech which further served to highlight the state of retired military personnel. “We have a very disciplined army sir, a VERY disciplined army, unlike our neighbours who have armies which take over the country.”
Kher addressed the documentary India’s Daughter — based on the Nirbhaya gangrape case — and the controversy in its wake. She said whether the documentary should/shouldn’t be banned in the age of social media is irrelevant and what we need to concentrate on are the unapologetic statements of the accused. She condemned the blame-the-victim mindset and said, “We have to tackle the problem right from the grassroots where the mindset becomes such that you insult the women, you do not understand that they give consent — the right to give their bodies.” “Do women in burqas, saris or ghunghat don’t get raped? Only women in jeans get raped?” she said, speaking of the restrictions placed on girls right from a young age.
Kher is an artiste herself and, hence, she appealed to preserve India’s arts and crafts on the behalf of all kinds of artistes. “Everyone knows how Ustad Bismillah Khan — after receiving the highest award — died in abject penury. I think we must do something to make their lives a little easier and better,” she said. She spoke of the dying handlooms and handicraft industries of India and how they make the culture richer, “We need to keep these arts alive. Akbar had nine gems in his court, likewise India has its gems.”
“Increasingly we hear about abuse in our own families, our communities, our friend circles. While senior citizens today have a higher life expectancy than ever before, the quality of life of many of them is not what they dreamt of,” Kher said, urging the government to set up a toll free helpline for senior citizens who wish to report abuse.
“Intolerance is rising, they say, in comparison to what and when?” is how Kher started her speech on a controversial note. “When were we more tolerant than we are now?” Kher went on to cite examples of atrocities committed against minorities and questioned why the intellectuals didn’t speak up then. She called out on vote bank politics frequently in her speech. “Baith ja, baith ja. Bolne de!” she said to hecklers in the House. Kher gracefully carried on, with the Speaker on her side. “Salim sahab…kindly, thodi shanti se, thodi sehensheelta se, thodi tolerance se hamari baat suniye,” she appealed for no interruptions at one point to great applause.