Is Just ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ Enough? Let Us Be Free To Dream And Make It Reality!

There is so much noise about the ‘Beti Bachao…’ campaign. But in reality, what are we doing to make the lives of Indian women better? Let us be free!

What Beti Bachao? Our birth itself is considered unlucky; we are called “paraya dhan” from the moment we are born (that is, if we are born).

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao….Kya sirf itna hee kafi hai? (Saving girl child and allowing her to study, is that sufficient?) Shouldn’t we give her the freedom to dream, and let her live the life she dreams of?

I cannot even imagine the lives of rural Indian women – even we women who are supposed to be living in urban India, have our everyday lives governed by archaic rules we are supposed to be abide by, in this 21st century.

  1. We mustn’t roam around late in the night, we must reach home in time.
  2. We must be careful of what we wear.
  3. We must dressed in salwar kameez in front of our older relatives (the infrequency of their visits to our home is an irrelevant argument in this case).
  4. We mustn’t roam around with boys.
  5. Having a boyfriend is looked down upon.
  6. Being in a live-in relationship is serious taboo.

If we do any of the above, our character is questioned repeatedly (rather endlessly); these questions are also asked to your family, and we are said to have set a bad example for our younger siblings.

We must get married. The earlier the better; as the chance of finding a good match is directly proportional to our age. The older we get, the further our ‘chances’ diminish. We are expected to ‘talk’ to a guy over lunch or dinner, and then it is expected that we share a bed, wardrobe, washroom with a complete stranger! Infact, if we rebel/resist against this ‘arranged’ marriage, we are being childish and foolish. And we are tagged as someone who is asking for special treatment for no apparent reason. Yes, exactly, not wanting to get married is not considered a good enough reason, and neither is the desire to concentrate on your career.

We must have kids. A woman’s body is meant to bear pain. If we don’t have kids, we are going to regret this forever and our heart will ache and long for kids.

We must take care of our home, our husband and our kids. The house is our responsibility. The well-being of the husband and kids is our responsibility. And there are no two ways about it. Their health is our responsibility. Period. If the husband contributes to household chores, then we should consider ourselves blessed.

We must know how to cook. A woman is incomplete if she can’t cook for her husband and her kids.

If anyone questions the kid’s behaviour, it’s sole responsibility lies on our heads. Kyunki, uski maa ne toh ussey yahi sikhaya na. Baap ne nahi, maa ne. (Yeah because that’s what your mom has taught you isn’ t it?)

By default, we don’t have a share in our parents’ property. Our brothers do. In fact, our first cousins and their kids have prima facie right to our parents’ property if we do not have a brother. We do not even have a share in our father-in-laws’ property. (I always thought Kerala was a matriarchal society, but I was wrong! It’s matrilineal, and as patriarchal as the rest of the India is! Shocking!)

We can work, but we must choose a comfortable job like that of a teacher or a banker. As our primary responsibility is that of a homemaker, and that should always be considered as a priority.

Such are the rules of the society that we live in.

Disagree with me, and feel that it doesn’t happen in your home? I strongly suggest that you talk with your mom, sister, sister-in-law, wife or daughter about it. Ask them whether they feel free in their own home, school, college and office. Ask them who is given more importance – they or the male members.

Take the case of Indra K Nooyi, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue. She very candidly narrates what happened when she broke the news to her mom about bagging the position of the President of the company.

Ironically, she has been consistently ranked amongst the World’s 100 most powerful woman. In 2014, she was ranked at #13 on the list of Forbes World’s 100 most powerful women, and was ranked the 2nd most powerful woman on the Fortune list in 2015.

So, you can very well imagine that if this is the plight of one of the most powerful women who is living and working in the United States of America, how would the rest of us be faring?

She struggled all her life to achieve such heights, and she must have been just dying to get back to her home and share her happiness with her family. I wonder whether her husband and her kids celebrated her success or were they also as dismissive of her achievements as her own mother was? She must have felt so angry, knowing that had her husband become the Chairperson, his success would have been acknowledged and celebrated. And he wouldn’t have been asked to get the milk.

I live in Delhi, and over the last few years, I have come across quite a few instances wherein the husband has beaten up his wife. The husband strongly condemned his wife for sharing her earnings with her maternal family. The girl was married away right after her college even though she strongly opposed it. A woman was thrown out of her husband’s home as she couldn’t conceive. A woman divorcee is considered of loose character but the divorced guy is not.

Why does our society have different set of rules for men and woman? Why do woman have to struggle and fight harder than their male counterparts for everything? Be it only to voice their opinion at home and at office? Why can’t we be taken seriously at our own home and our own office? Working women, as it is, feel very guilty about not spending sufficient time with our kids and at our home, why make it even harder for us? Unfortunately, even women don’t support each other, like you saw in Indra Nooyi’s case above.

I would like to openly ask, if we are only meant to take care of our husbands, fathers, and our kids, why are we made to study? That too so hard? First, you ignite the fire of wanting to do well in our lives. But when we reach our age to bear the fruits of our toils, you clip our wings, and bid us goodbye and marry us off.

Why make it so hard? Then, don’t educate us. Don’t tell us about Jhansi ki Rani, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Indira Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Mother Teresa, Lata Mangeshkar, Kiran Bedi, Irom Sharmila, Indra Nooyi. Don’t make us dream. Let us not be free. Let us just be born, be treated like objects who beautify your home, your life. We will give you kids. And that’s about it.

India, if you want a better tomorrow, you need to change. NOW. Stop, molesting, raping women, treating them like disposable objects. Respect us. Educate us. Let us work. Treat us as your equals. Let us dream.

Let us be free.

Image source: shutterstock

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