Lives of Indian Women : Bristling With Paradoxes

Lives  of  Indian Women : Bristling With Paradoxes

International Women’s Day 2024 is  already becoming part of history.But the hype and fervor- call it what you wish- will last a couple of more days… BUT  let’s admit nothing will change for our sisters and comrades at the grassroots level, in small towns, cities, and  rural areas of our vast sprawling countryside.

Day in and day out  Paramjeet a 12th   pass homemaker from Ludhiana  will run from the kitchen to the dining room to serve perfectly round,  piping hot chapatis to the menfolk of the family. If not tender or fluffy  enough these will land on the floor. Plonk! The mom- in- law will utter obscenities against her maaika  / father’s home for teaching her nothing…

Champa  a tea plucker in one of Darjeeling’s tea estates, rises early each morning, finishes her house hold chores and then heads to the garden for day-long tedious duty. Meticulously she picks the two leaves and a bud,,tossing them into the conical basket on her back . For a basketful of tea leaves she gets a paltry amount that can hardly assure her minimal luxuries. Elsewhere, in Lucknow, Kranti is a safai karmchari in a  prominent media house. For cleaning all the toilets and disposing garbage she earns around ten quid.. After the dreary job she .winds her way home in a slum cluster where she resides with her paralysed husband  and three children.

Such momentous occasions come and go…but nothing reallychanges. These are just a few instances from the present; there are several other  aspects of our social life  where deprivations and  denials continue unabated.

An  oft-quoted  Sanskrit  shloka says  yatra pujyate  naari  ramante   tatra devata (lit: where  women are venerated, the deities are pleased). Logical. But   how  does one justify the  high incidence  of PNDT (pre natal  sex determination test) and  female foeticide? It won’t be tough  to spot  a d veteran surgeons (Brahmin born )  officiating  as  a priest during community worship  of  Durga/Kali  (mother deity/ shakti/ creative  energy) with utmost  devotion and fervour. On another occasion the same individual   may be wielding a scalpel  to unscrupulously snuff out a  tiny life  in the womb,.

There  are  instances galore. The  union as  well  federal governments  offer  mid- day meals in government run   schools   in a bid  to lure more pupils. Believe it or  not more often   boys outnumber  the females. In a  more  gender specific context, parents  of  adolescent girls discourage their wards from using sanitary napkins and iron capsules provided  gratis  by schools in collaboration  with Ministry of health. Lest some harm befall them.

 

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A few decades earlier The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right. Interestingly a survey conducted  three  year ago  reveals only  20 percent of girls aged  15 to  19 in India completed at least 12 years of schooling. On the other hand, approximately four percent of girls in this category did not attend school. The major factors being  poverty, distance  from school, teenage  marriage  followed  by pregnancy.

Any  mention of  Indian  women’s education down the centuries  invariably tosses  up names like Gargi Maitreyi Lilavati Lopamudra, Apala, Urvasi, , Saswati, and Kshana pertaining to the ancient Vedic  age. I am tempted to ask:what about the teeming millions? Why were they  not encouraged to garner knowledge? The periods  that  followed witnessed a series of political turmoil  and upheavals. Logical . However In the  post-1947 years  till date educational and welfare schemes have been implemented. Then why is female illiteracy still  rampant in the country? The  “fault is not  in our stars”  The rot is  in  the minds  of people  who still  latch onto the  archaic  notion  that for a “Woman”  marriage-home-family is topmost priority. Education is a second. Time  to usher in change…Is anybody listening??

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About the Author

RUCHIRA GHOSH

Am a trained and experienced features writer with 30 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...

97 Posts | 346,535 Views

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