Wednesday, August 15, 2007

60th year of Independence in a land of more than 1000 female foeticides a day.

We are of course in a self congratulatory mood on the the 60th year of Independence of India.

Yes India the land which has revealed to the world most fundamental principles of nature like Bose statistics of integral spin particles and black holes. Yes India where more than 1300 female foetuses are killed a day. A land where 6000 women are killed each year over dowry issue. A land where 5000-7000 girls in the age group of 10-40 are subjected into the world of prostitution.

10 million female foetues being killed in India over the last 2 decades far exceeds the total number of people killed in both the world wars. A figure which has far surpassed the estimates of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen about the "missing women" of India.

Foetuses being dumped in polythene bags in the vats or new Born girl babies being wrapped in wet cloth so that they catch pneumonia and then after a lot of hue and cry they can be declared dead by causing a delay. Girl newborns being killed by selective ultrasonography.Or simply the poorest of the poor sections of the society starving the new born girl bay to death.

Many times the hand that kills the baby is the mother's.But as an expert in this field had commented "The hand is hers and not the will"

This is India which revels in its achievements of having a half daughter of hers to be selected to be sent to the space on a foreign vehicle. Of course we have enough achievements to be proud of but then everything is perhaps too ephemeral to cause a difference at the grass roots and the deep seated ideas of sexual discrimination. Our most realistic achievements have been in the process of increasing the efficiency and number of wealth generating machines also known as industrialization.But all this has perhaps resulted in greater disproportion in wealth concentration. One can always say that the the bottom of the economic scale has shifted up by quite a lot compared to where we were 60 years ago but then unfortunately this scale has an amazing elasticity constant. The upper ends have moved up by exponential amounts than what the lower ends have moved up.

But then a little bit of thought perhaps shows that India is not suffering from any large scale economic crisis and it perhaps never will. The issue that confronts India is the issue of discrimination. Discrimination on all sorts of grounds starting from race , caste , creed , religion etc. But most importantly on the basis of sex.

A good question to ask on this 60th year of independence is "What is the fraction of people of India who are contributing to the nation's progress?"

I had earlier written a few articles on the issue of the plight of typical housewives. In the same strain let me ask the following question "Is the housewife's ability to contribute to the nation's progress being fully used by letting her do the household chores?"

A nation progresses can be effected only when everyone's potential is utilized maximally. By subjugating a huge section of the society to an almost non-contributing state , a nation is bound to doom. If a huge section of the population is to believe that its only the men who are capable of being the earning member of the family then one must ask a simple question "Why did nature choose to create the two sexes and not just one?"

I am sure that the reason goes just beyond the need to procreate for the continuation of the species other than the fact that nature chooses to shift from asexual to sexual reproduction as the species becomes more complex and developed. The reasons for this must lie somewhere deep down.

But one thing is surely convincing , that nature did not create the opposite sex just as tools of procreation! Even after 59 celebration of Independence a huge section of the Indian population doesn't realize that both the sexes have equal and complementary roles to play in the progress.

Now we must also realize the other end of the problem. How deep and complex is the trouble into which the parents of a girl child are dumped into if the family happens to be down the socio-economic scale ? Hasn't the problem got recursive ? We need a huge work force of women to stand up hands in hands with their male counterparts and the large sections of them who are born down the economic scale must die because they are a burden to their families ?

What is the way out of this vicious circle ?

Can the persons who will save the nation out of this vicious circle be those rare and appreciable cases of women in the upper strata that we see to be walking into the professional as well as the fundamental science departments of the best institutes in India ? Or are those rare ladies from the so called "backward classes" of the society the light of hope out of this trouble ?

Or does it need a tremendous coordination of efforts from both ends of the social spectrum ?

The situations is really terrifying as to what lies in the future of a father of a girl child is born in a family lower down the economic scale. If we start assuming that he has no chauvinistic views even then he wont have the nerve to break across the social customs and rules and his so called "obligations". He wont be able to resist the society around him which will convince him that the girl child is a sinking stone around the neck of the family and that she is nothing but a financial burden. He wont be able to resist the social pressure which will convince him that the girl will never be able to be a self-earning person and he will be forced to believe that the girl needs to be married off so as to "unload" himself of this economic burden.

All the above things are sure to sound mundane to anyone who has done even the slightest reading in this issue or has cared to make first-hand observations about such families. Its true that the nation is tired of listening to these problems and finds such things as soporific as the issue of public-private partnership issues in entrepreneurship.

But then one cant ignore that even after 60 years of independence our problems haven't changed! It has either changed forms or has just been uniformly scaled up. Most of our developments have perhaps resulted in the concentration of wealth to get more disproportionate or has lead to administration and effective powers to be getting more and more shifted to the already affluent class of the society.

But then the question that I find most fearsome is that in pre-independence era we could have slighted off all such issues by saying that its the British's fault or that the person at the receiving end is afraid of the oppressive foreign power , but then now whom are we to blame ?

In today's scenario one must ask as to "Who" form that section of the society of whom that poor parents of a girl child are afraid of , that he cant give voice to their innermost wishes to see their daughter prosper as a progressive individual ? Who form the section of the society of whom the parents are afraid ? What are the factors that the parents choose to give more importance than the most natural instincts of a parent to see their child prosper ?

Are they afraid of that section of the society which still blindly believes scriptures written by Manu which supposedly contain statements like 'Let a girl-child be born somewhere else and let a boy be born here"

Are they the section of the society who have risen to become local creators of destiny by virtue of their birth in a "higher class" ? Is it the fear to be ostracized by the society and to be secluded and to lose their means of income due to isolation what forces the family to not let their natural wishes bloom ?

What prevents the parents of the girl-child from standing up and revolting against the forces that pressurize them to do away with the child and to assert their rights ? What prevents them from turning around and slapping the person and killing him/her who ill advises them about the girl child?

If we as a nation are to resolve to provide financial support to each such family then will the possibility of economic rehabilitation instill the basic minimum courage in such families to rise against the social forces that press them towards doing injustice towards their girl child ?

The other more subtle factor is that of education. The government officials and the policies seem to have been believing that education will eradicate all social troubles. I really find it tough to accept this logic. Its the finest of educated minds that have created the most sophisticated of techniques to do the evilest of medical crimes. I have seen a relative of mine , who was a teacher to have been crying incessantly when her son's wife gave birth to a girl child. I am not at all convinced that education will make a difference.

I believe the problem shows up in different colours at the two ends of the economic spectrum. At the lower end the issue is economic and at the upper end it is stinking chauvinism. We still seem to carry somewhere deep within our subconscious the millennium old idea of society and of what it must be. Its time we searched within ourselves and cleared the last vestiges of such ideas that may be lurking within.

But within our peer group I think we again need a different perspective. When are we going to stop thinking like in typical romantic literature where the guy feels elated being defeated by her in a duel !!? Its time we looked upon them not as "needy" sections of the society but as a section of the society who if given the right platform to duel will perform to their best and a section of the society who have been given unnecessary amounts of concessions.

I think its more of an insult rather than a help when a person's motives are facilitated by lowering the bar for them. Train them to jump higher rather than pushing the bar selectively lower.

Its time we made attempts to understand the meaning of love and marriage to see the real meaning of such interactions. Aren't these emotions , that nature has gifted us with to feel the need to coordinate between the sexes to recognize the mutual complementarity of abilities. Isn't the essential purpose to enhance the feeling of comradeship between the two sexes ?

We need to look at such interactions as means of rejuvenating the society through the feeling of camaraderie instead of a way of one supporting the other. Perhaps nothing surges a nation forward at a faster speed than the intricate healthy bonds between the 2 sexes starting from a the simplest of emotions of passionate love between couples. Nothing pushes a nation backward at a faster rate than its society getting preferential between the sexes.

Let us dedicate this 60th year of independence to the cause of stopping the silent mass holocaust of girl child in India and to ensure that the future Independence Day's are celebrated by an India where the women and men from every section of the society ,stand hand in hand for the national cause.


A reference for the people who arent convinced of the facts ::



Though many of the figures I have quoted refer to the data of year 2000. 2007 report ofcourse shows some positive trends in certain areas but all that is too insignificant when we have 1300 female foeticides a day.

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