Women Power in India
President of India,Speaker Meira,Congress leader Sonia and Delhi chief minister Sheila
India, a land of diversity, a country with a potpourri of religions, languages, beliefs and cultures, has a very unique and significant feature as well - Women power!
Nowhere in the world , all the highest offices in a country's constitutional and political arena are held by women. From The President of India ,Pratibha Patel to the leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, to the Speaker of Parliament, Meira Kumar and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of opposition in Parliament, all are women. Furthermore, Delhi, the capital of India, sports a woman Chief minister, Sheila Dixit, as do three other prominent Indian states which are led by tough women chief ministers - Jayalalitha, Mamtha Banerjee and Mayavathi. The list can go on and on with dominant women in all spheres of Indian life like the corporate sector, medicine,sports, literature, arts and entrainment. With all this women power , one is inclined to think that women are an empowered gender in India enjoying a shackle free life. Not so! Nothing could be further than the truth. There is an irrepressible contrast between the so called powerful woman, the ordinary mass and the poorer class.
Obama welcomed at Delhi
This contrasting conflict is mainly attributed to a patriarchal society where women are less valued than men. Though this is so very slowly changing as more and more women are becoming financially independent,the system is still evident everywhere. The crime rates against women are appalling. The streets are not safe and there are ever so many crimes like rape, eve teasing and even senseless murders, when women resist.
Another extremely horrendous crime is female infanticide, which is rampant in the rural areas of north and particularly south India. (About at least a hundred hamlets around the town I live in practice this shocking felony.)Since sex determination facilities are not accessible in these rural hamlets, the parents wait till the baby is born and if it is a girl, she is killed either by strangling, giving poison, drowning, burying alive, starving, stuffing her mouth with salt or sometimes even dumping her in a garbage bin. Gruesome! Generally it is the mother who is entrusted to kill , as she is the one who gave birth to the unwanted female baby. It is indeed disturbing that female infanticide is not considered a crime by these villagers! Whereas, in urban areas, though the situation is a little different, it is equally atrocious. By prenatal sex-determination techniques, like ultrasound, they find out the sex of the child, and abort only the female fetuses. Although it is illegal to disclose the gender of a fetus, there are many medical practitioners, who disclose the child's sex for an enhanced fee.
Our Chief Minister
The prime reason for this sad state of affairs is:
Daughters are considered economic burdens because of the institution of dowry (a practice in which the family of a prospective bride must pay enormous sums of money to the grooms family) and the high cost of weddings , while sons provide income and are seen as a sort of insurance by their parents. By the way, dowry deaths are not only uncommon among the economically backward classes but also among the financially sound people as well. In dowry deaths, the brides are harassed and killed for not bringing in enough dowry(money and very expensive gifts) from her parents. Shocking indeed!
With so much women power in the country, the parliament is not able to push through the landmark Women's Reservation Bill .By this bill, women will get 33 percent reservations in most walks of life, like in the educational institutions , jobs and even in the parliament. This is very important in a society where patriarchal rule lies at the foundation of the whole social structure. Hence, this bill will create equal opportunity for men and women and especially for the women in the economically backward classes.
The three most powerful women of India
India is a country of strange paradox, caught in a weird social dichotomy.
- Dichotomy between worshiping Goddesses in their many manifestations including the girl child goddess Kanjak and the discrimination of women in society .
- Dichotomy between the ultra rich and the impoverished.
- Dichotomy between eastern and western cultures.
Nevertheless,against all these odds, the modern generation women have started questioning the rules laid down for them by society and breaking barriers, but still the roadblocks leave much to be desired. Okut p’Bitek’s ‘Song of an African Women' is so very apt for the Indian women as they struggle to achieve equal status with men.
'I have only one request.
I do not ask for money
Although I have need of it,
I do not ask for meat . . .
I have only one request,
And all I ask is
That you remove
The road block
From my path.'