It's a (wo)man's world

Vaishali Dinakaran  /
29 Oct 2018 15:44:31 IST

On September 30, 2018, Ana Carrasco won the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship title. She took home the championship by one single point, after finishing thirteenth in the final race of the season. In doing so, she became the first woman to win a major motorcycle racing series, which in itself makes her a pretty accomplished individual. But if that's not enough, Carrasco also studies law at the Universidad Catlica San Antonio de Murcia in Spain. Which means that at the tender age of 21, she's already utilising more of her brain and brawn than most of us ever will over the course of our entire lives. Ana Carrasco is a very impressive person indeed.

The first female rider to win a solo motorcycle world championship title - Ana Carrasco

If you look at Carrasco's tweets over the course of the Magny-Cours season finale, you'll see a most remarkable sequence emerge. On September 29, having qualified no higher than 25th for the final race of the season, is a tweet that reads Working very hard to find a solution! We never give up, we will fight until the end! #pinkwarrior". A day later, she posts her next tweet that simply reads, WORLD CHAMPION SSP300". There are plenty of images after that of not just Carrasco, but of her entire DS Junior racing team wearing t-shirts that say Ride like a girl". And why not!

Her accomplishment in winning the Supersport 300 title comes after years of hard work, and years of firsts" for a female rider. But in winning the title, Carrasco has done something that many youngsters, both boys and girls, around the world dream of. She's held fast to her hopes and ambitions, she's set about accomplishing her goals on her own terms, and she's played by the rules and beaten everyone else on the grid. All she's asked for is a fair shot at doing what she always knew she could do. A chance to demonstrate to the world what she was capable of.

And asking for a fair shot at one's dreams really is all that most people want. It's the common factor that binds almost all of us - men and women from all sections of society, from all generations, of all sizes and shapes and colours. When it comes right down to it, most human beings just want to be allowed to do what it is that we want to do. We all just want to be allowed to live our lives. And, so long as we aren't harming anyone else in the process, this is an extremely fair ask.

Back in the 1980s, when Navaz Bhathena would go rallying, she exhibited more prowess behind the wheel of a Gypsy than most, and she was generally acknowledged to be a terrific rally driver and racer, without the word woman" being tacked on as an epithet. More recently, just over the course of the last seven years, we've seen young Mira Erda go from being a young 'un in the micromax category of the national karting championship, to becoming part of the grid of drivers racing the Euro JK single-seaters. We've seen Aishwarya Pissay being inducted into the TVS Racing squad that was sent to the Baja Aragon. And we've seen Anam Hashim, despite several cases of road rash get back on her motorcycle and carry right on stunting. Just a few examples of Indian women who very rightly subscribe to the belief that once the balaclava, helmet, and gloves come on, gender goes right out the window.

And even though there aren't as many women in Indian motorsport as we'd like to see, I still hold onto the hope that things will change. That with each season of various national championships, more and more young women will want to get behind the wheel or the 'bars, and they'll carry on moving from strength to strength, getting by on merit and merit alone.

In fact, a part of me also wishes that the status that women in Indian motorsport enjoy, was also representative of the status that women enjoy in Indian society in general. Unfortunately, it isn't. As is in evidence from the very pertinent conversation that has begun in the country right now, with horror stories emerging on a regular basis, that illustrate just how deep-rooted misogyny and gender bias is in the Indian context. Not to mention the fact that violence against women is something that happens on a day-to-day basis. I'm willing to bet that every single one of you reading this column, knows of some act of violence perpetrated against a human being, most likely a woman, whom you've met at least once in real life.

You might ask why I'm choosing to talk about gender politics, and violence against women, in a motorsport column. The answer is because ignoring reality isn't going to change it. Problems can't be magicked away. And the only way to make sure that change is brought about, is from having a conversation. And before that, from being willing to acknowledge that change is required in our country. Because it's not enough to be good people ourselves, to know that we've done nothing wrong, and to pretend that nothing bad happens in the circles that we move in. After all, how can we expect to produce great women in motorsport, who will go on to win very many races and championships, when we can't ensure their safety in getting to a racetrack in the first place?

  • Aug 09, 08:29 PM (IST)

    That's a wrap on the high-stakes Rajya Sabha elections. Thanks for staying tuned. Follow for news, views and updates.


    * Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win the election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:30 PM (IST)

    In all, 11 Rajya Sabha members — one from Goa, one from Madhya Pradesh, six from West Bengal and three from Gujarat — were elected.

    FULL REPORT | Rajya Sabha elections: Here who's got elected and re-elected

  • Aug 09, 07:09 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 04:35 PM (IST)

    Why Patel's win matters: A defeat could have meant more trouble for the Congress.

  • Aug 09, 03:56 PM (IST)

    West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also congratulated Ahmed Patel on his victory.

  • Aug 09, 03:01 PM (IST)

    "How much more evidence do we require to understand that we opposition parties are up against a ruthless, finely tuned BJP political machine," Abdullah said.

  • Aug 09, 02:22 PM (IST)

    Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has said that Congress leader Ahmed Patel's win in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls "should have never been this difficult" and the opposition needs to introspect and shift strategy to counter the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

  • Aug 09, 02:10 PM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 01:33 PM (IST)

    Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath says the party has always fought back.

  • Aug 09, 01:08 PM (IST)

    Amit Shah is choosing to focus on the third anniversary of his tenure as BJP President, thanking his followers his Twitter for their wishes. He has not yet commented on his Rajya Sabha victory or the BJP candidate's defeat to Ahmed Patel.

  • Aug 09, 12:15 PM (IST)

    There is no confirmation from the BJP yet over whether they will approach the courts over the EC's decision to disallow two votes.

  • Aug 09, 11:43 AM (IST)

    Congress President Sonia Gandhi says she is very happy with Ahmed Patel's victory. "Thank god for the Election Commission," she says.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)

    Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad says the defeat is a lesson for the BJP and they are free to approach any court.

  • Aug 09, 11:42 AM (IST)

    Kailash Vijayvargiya puts things in perspective. "We have won two seats and Congress only one [in Gujarat], no question of disappointment," the BJP leader tells News18.

  • Aug 09, 10:35 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 10:32 AM (IST)

    JD(U) legislator Chhotubhai Vasava is also believed to have voted for Ahmed Patel, defying the party whip.

  • Aug 09, 10:22 AM (IST)

    JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has congratulated Ahmed Patel on his Rajya Sabha victory. The JD(U) is now part of the NDA, but Yadav has been against the idea.

  • Aug 09, 09:58 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, six leaders were elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal on Wednesday. Five of them were from the Trinamool Congress -Derek O'Brien, Dola Sen, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Manas Bhunia, Shanta Chhetri. Pradip Bhattachya of the Congress was also elected to the Upper House. 

  • Aug 09, 09:19 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:17 AM (IST)

    Meanwhile, there's been no official reaction from Amit Shah on either his victory or BJP's defeat to Ahmed Patel. He completes three years as BJP President today.

  • Aug 09, 09:14 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 08:31 AM (IST)

    There is speculation that the BJP may approach the courts regarding the Election Commission's decision to disqualify the two votes. We should get some clairty as the day progresses.

  • Aug 09, 08:12 AM (IST)

    In the end, it was two disqualified votes that helped take Ahmed Patel over the line. Here's a recap.

  • Aug 09, 07:55 AM (IST)


    *Congress' Ahmed Patel wins Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat
    * Patel received 44 votes, the exact number needed to win election
    * In late-night drama, Election Commission disqualified votes of two Congress rebels
    * Amit Shah and Smriti Irani also elected to Rajya Sabha

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Ahmed Patel has gone from a low-profile politician to the centre of attention in the past month. Here's a short history of Patel's career.

  • Aug 09, 07:51 AM (IST)

    Why does Patel's win matter so much? Read our report.

  • Aug 09, 07:50 AM (IST)

    After late-night drama that saw Ahmed Patel retain his seat, we can expect to see reactions pour in through the day.

  • Aug 09, 02:25 AM (IST)

    That's all from the Rajya Sabha election for now. Log on to www. for coverage of the Rajya Sabha elections during the day. Thanks for staying tuned.

  • Aug 09, 02:17 AM (IST)
  • Aug 09, 02:14 AM (IST)

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