Spice Girl

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Treat her right
Sita and Rama

In 1991, an actress named Deepika Chikhalia won a parliamentary seat, five years after winning fame for her portrayal of the goddess Sita, India's most revered symbol of womanhood, in a wildly popular television serial based on the Hindu epic the Ramayana. Hoping to copy her success, other political parties soon put up their own TV-serial candidates. Sita exerts tremendous power over Indian popular culture: she is the bane of feminists, the impossible ideal held up by disapproving in-laws and yet, for many women, an object of devotion. What political party wouldn't like some of that heady aura in...

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