Thursday, October 14, 2010

India Shining?

My attention swiftly changed last night from the submission which had previously kept me busy, to this piece of news, which now had me thinking. In the feel-happy planet that we know as India, where the most powerful politician is an Italy-born woman - where the newspapers are ecstatic over the appointment of an India-born woman as PepsiCo's CEO - where the whole nation is thrilled when another female born in a small town of Haryana grabs a Gold medal in the CWG - there, last night I came across this piece of news while surfing online that made me so grim and low because it suggests that India is progressing...So one wonders why would that be upsetting?

Well...That's because the news was about this quack, who was formerly serving in the Indian army, and along with his wife, was running an illegal maternity clinic where assisted by a team of nurses, he ‘helped’ expectant parents determine the sex of their fetuses and aborted the female ones if the parents so desired. The fetuses were then secretly thrown in the well. Incidently, this episode of female feticide also took place somewhere in Haryana. Killing female embryos is an unacknowledged practice in the Indian society. Everyone knows it is a crime and perhaps morally wrong too. There are many who do not fall for it, but still it is acceptable. 

Just be quiet about it, please!

Today, science has advanced so far that it is possible to separate male and female sperm cells so as to predetermine the sex of a child. India has started shining. Developments in medical technology are more accessible. But what is all this for? Simply so you can know beforehand if it's a girl and later plan an abortion? Is that how we wish to see India shine?

I started wondering if a child's destiny can be determined by as simple a circumstance as whether his or her father contributed an X or Y chromosome? Pink or blue clothes. Guns or dolls. Female infanticide. The patriarchal system. The premium on virginity. Dashing bachelors and aging spinsters. Glass Ceiling. What are they all about? They all revolve around the issue of gender bias.

The fact is that gender bias is so deeply ingrained in our system that the discrimination begins from the time a couple plans a baby. It is not unusual for one to find a sight where birth of a baby boy warrants a celebration whereas a baby girl may not be extended the same warm welcome. Despite the fact that India has crossed the billion mark in population, there will still be families with five daughters and the mother trying desperately to give birth to a son.

The changing role of women in Indian society is also evident in the many successful women today, yet a certain section still reeks badly of gender bias. I especially hate it, when some elderly female stands up and says something like - “This is a custom and has to be done, for we also did it and so should you.” Worse is, when they say that you must do so because you were born a female. With all due respect, is that really the reason why I should or should not be a part of something?  If yes, well then excuse me! 

But come to think of it, is it not us who are the ones reinforcing gender bias? Just a small example from day to day life would be this- If a boy cries, he is asked if he is a sissy. If a girl plays cricket, she is labeled a tomboy! Or lets say, its about that dress code. Many families in India insist that a Sari be worn by the females, at all special occasions. While I am all for it, I wouldn’t want the compulsion. Many will stand up and question this statement saying, "What if she comes wearing a skirt." Well, I never get to see anyone forcing the males to wear a Dhoti? Do you?

It’s for you to remember that the role of women in Indian society is not solely that with the oil n gas - that which keeps the household machinery running smoothly.  Not to forget that the cooking, cleaning, housekeeping & child rearing is what she would anyways happily and willingly do for her man but that is not all that defines her, for she is capable of achieveing things beyond this threshold, if provided the opportunity. Kiran Bedi, Sania Mirza and ohh, Kalpana Chawla! Sounds familiar?  That’s the reason why you should not keep her behind that fence, imprisoned. Set her free, let her make her choices & she is sure to make you proud!

The problem needs to be nipped in the bud, at the household level, to cure the country of it. My words may sound harsh to some, but the subject deserves it.

The concept of Ardhnareeshwar as that of the Creator (half man, half woman) is supposed to be unique to Indian mythology. Nowhere in the world has so much emphasis been given to the equal partnership of the male and female energies as the real power of the Universe. Yet in no other culture have women occupied such extremely opposing positions in the cultural and social scenario as in India.

In Hindu religion, of the infinite numbers of Gods and Goddesses, the presiding deity of wealth is a woman, the God of power and strength is a woman and the God of Learning is a woman. Every mother, till today, sings the stories and glories of these powers, the Geeta and the tales of valor to her child in the cradle. Then why is it that the lesson that every Indian child learns from his cradle is forgotten by adulthood? I say “His” for a reason – that it is this very child that grows up to unmindfully rape, plunder, kill and exploit the same woman, whether it is his unborn daughter in her mother’s womb, or any other woman on the road. The irony lies in the fact that a culture that sets aside the most important festivals and religious beliefs for worshipping female power, cannot learn to respect its own womenfolk.Why?

The answer to this question has very often been identified by many as foreign invasions – military as well as cultural.  Oh really, you buy that? Was the Hindu philosophy of four thousand years so thin, it came off with a swab doused in colonialism? It cannot be! Why did not the Muslim colonizers, who themselves settled in India for these centuries, learn to educate their women and worship their life, giving abilities like the country they had captured? Why did they not give up their culture and military?

While it is true that the position of women in India has been rising and falling with the ruling power, the common man’s mind cannot be so volatile because modern day India has an entirely different story to tell. The concept of dowry as it exists in India, most probably does not exist in any other culture. The fact that if the dowry of the woman is inadequate in the eyes of her married family, she can be conveniently done to death, certainly doesn’t exist in any other culture! While India is the culture that has the world’s most explicit treatise on sex and sexual mores- The Kamasutra, it is today a society where an educated working woman is not safe in the streets of its metros. It has, after centuries of intellectual awareness, today degenerated into a society that’s morally corrupt and humanely degraded to the lowest levels of base behavior. Progressing, indeed!

India is a great civilization and a confident country that aspires to become one of the leading nations of the world. However, it can never achieve this dream until it learns to appreciate the value of a woman as the same of a man. It is only when girls and women are more socially valued that they will survive in India. But until these measures gather impact, the grim and sobering reality is that millions of daughters continue to be unwanted in our country.

Although the governance has created many organizations to fight these situations, a number of human rights organizations have been set up, a large number of voluntary organizations extend a helping hand to battered wives and half burnt brides but that can happen only when the woman takes the initiative to seek help. Or else, the organization is just another farce, of no valid use.

Who will help restore the dignity of the Indian woman? The government? The judiciary or the police? I think it has to be she herself. The family, the social structure, the upbringing she gives to her son. She alone can teach her child to respect women. She alone can make the Divine powered Godess come to life for her child. She alone can teach him that to respect a woman is to respect the your creator- your Janani or else the mothers of a hundred sons will still be what they unfortunately are in parts of our nation : India’s dying daughters!


  1. :) thoghtprovoking and nice

  2. duuno y????? bt dis iz d frst blog i chosen from ur long list to read, may be the title is quite cming to ur writing its jst awsm indeed!!!!! keep up d good wrk.... :)vry strongly u supported each ur point wid xample on sch a pertinent issue... gr8 :)

  3. Thanks Hemant :)

    Bas yeh T3 aur projects nahi hote toh... :P

  4. hmmm....... waiting 4 more after t3.. :)
    waise abhi , m still left with so many of ur earlier posts 2 finish up first... :)

  5. Yeah, I'll write post exams and you also read the unfinished stuff then, so that I'm not blamed later on;)

    Good luck for T3! :)

  6. Thank u so vry mch nd same 2 u... :)