Friday, 22 September 2017

Women in urban India - a perspective

Taking up from where I left - let me today focus on the perils of being a woman in urban India. Women today have come a long way since Independence. They are represented in almost every sphere of life and get an opportunity to rub shoulders with their men counterpart yet there's a nagging doubt which prevails in India when it comes to women.

Everybody wants to cash in on this feeling that they(the men) have done or did something for the women. Take the much hyped instance of a lady becoming Defence Minister - it was actually touted as 'an event' - unlike when a lady became External Affairs Minister. Not to say it's not a great achievement - it surely is - but shouldn't it come naturally as a person being selected for hard work and integrity hence finding place in the Council of ministers as a consequence - that's it - why should we 'segregate' it into something else - a battle of sexes.

Similarly take the Reservation issue - what was stopping political parties across the spectrum from giving tickets to 33% of their women candidates - in election after election only a minuscule percentage of women were given tickets by all parties - but no, first it has to be 'categorized' as something being 'reserved' or kept aside for women - I agree if it's 'reserved' it will become mandatory for all parties to field that many women candidates - but the same result could have been achieved by progressive thinking within political parties that women form the backbone of half the population of this Country and therefore need to be given a voice in the political sphere and decision making of India.

Unfortunately that's the way things move in India. For every move made there are 'manipulative' people 'behind' the 'gratitude' as if crumbs are being doled out. Coming back to the topic at hand women in urban India are still in the 'fledgeling' stage - for every little inch of victory they are made to fight - be it the issue of  Triple Talaq or women being inducted as future fighter Air Force pilots, or being given a stellar role in the armed forces.

Sexist remarks at work or while going to work are common without realizing that it's a criminal offence cognizable by law. So the thinking of our glorious males needs to change. Women cannot be made the butt of sexist objects - they have to be respected for their individuality and what they decide for themselves. What they wear eat or drink should be their own decisions. The males in whatever role they maybe - fathers, husbands, or friends need to understand and appreciate this position of women.

If women have to claim their rightful place in society they have to come forward and demonstrate their skills and capabilities to handle problems independently irrespective of male gaze, domination or interference. Women have to stand against discrimination at work places, at home, and in various spheres of life where they have reached through dint of hard labour and on their own.

India is a Nation where Goddess Durga is worshipped and women have been placed on a high pedestal both in our religious scriptures as well as both culturally and socially. So are we evolving as a progressive society or being regressive so far as women are concerned. A small incident of an inter caste marriage evokes a monstrous response. A harmless advertisement giving indication towards 'safe sex' draws ire from various quarters.

We started out by giving tremendous respect to women but as our society progressed we can't get regressive towards women - rather it should be the other way around - there should be equal opportunity for women in all spheres of life and a sense of involvement in taking independent decisions.

The principal Opposition party in India has been led by an able woman who was also at the helm of affairs for the period of 10 years when the same party was in power and the Country progressed at a decent pace. Even today there are several women leaders in the present Cabinet of ministers who are doing very good work quietly and efficiently. Several women are running successful businesses and are heading bureaucracy. India has its fair share of sports personalities in girls and women who have done the Country proud. India has had its share of great women leaders like Indira Gandhi who took the Country forward so there's no reason to feel dejected.

Let's hope India will show the way in treating women as equal partners in its development - Cheers to that sentiment.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

What ails the Indian woman - rural India

Women the world over have been exploited and India is no exception - except the women in India have to grapple with multiple problems - facing sexist comments, lewd remarks and gazes, discriminated at work, marginalized at home, and many other manifold problems.
Women in rural India lack basic human rights, they are grappling with the problem of clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, proper hygiene and denial to basic education facilities. Girls even in urban cities have to occasionally sit on dharna( a sit in protest ) to demand that their school be converted to a senior secondary from secondary - having college facilities - the teaching staff in rural areas leaves much to be desired. The other day I was watching the only teacher in a school was caught on camera dead drunk and the classes had to be called off. Mostly girls have no educational choices to make in rural India - they have to either take it or leave it - the available courses are dismal - so dreams of becoming doctors or engineers or joining the administrative services remain dreams unless the student changes residence and moves to the city. The same goes for male students in rural India.
Finding jobs in rural India is like looking for a needle in a haystack - and to top it all the problem of lack of savings is compounding the problem. Is anybody looking into this problem? Nothing is visible on ground - even if voluntary agencies come forward to establish schools or conduct classes for the girl students it could make a huge difference to their lives - if the Government comes forward it will be even better - of course all these projects have to be handled sans red tape and with a sense of commitment and well being for the community.
Similarly women and their children in the rural areas have to face total lack of medical facilities- the health clinics which refuse to run, the doctors who are just not interested in work, for any major illnesses the women folk have to run to cities which in turn have more problems than solutions to offer. The recent deaths due to lack of oxygen and deadly killer diseases is a point in example. Then what is the way out? Will these manifold problems just be discussed for a few days only to be brushed aside under the carpet because it doesn't suit individuals. That would be ignoring and compounding the problem. The solution lies in not running away from the problem but facing it village by village city by city and it takes dedicated workers and agencies to address the problems - slowly but surely.
The problems facing the women in rural India is in itself a paradox - the problems of urban women can be dealt with in another post another day - however the moot problem has to be sorted out by a mix and match of both private individuals, voluntary agencies and of course the Government of the day - till then all media can do is highlight because media can't solve it can only show - Cheers till then  

An anecdote - IKEA employee takes me for a ride

After a short gap I sit down to pen down a few lines to my blog. I start this with an anecdote which took place with me today.
One of my extremely popular posts 'Empowerment of women in India' posted in 2013 received a comment from one Trishna (pseudonym) - it said I appreciate your post and can you reveal contact details - I have a project in mind for you concerning women empowerment and a trip involved with it - As a matter of good gesture I replied on the mail giving my mail address -
Immediately I got a reply that this lady in question was from Ikea India. They were conducting a guided tour for a media team to study the life story of women workers of a factory outlet in Mirzapur working for IKEA and would I be interested to accompany them - Obviously since this was a topic after my heart I said yes - I would be more than happy to go there - thereafter she enquired which city I was based in and on my telling her that it was Delhi NCR she said okay we will connect in the morning.
Next morning, that is today, I get a mail from her that could you please forward a recent post from my blog  - obviously I thought she was referring to my post on 'women's empowerment' so I forwarded that - Pat came the reply that this was a post from 2013 and could I send a recent one- Now I don't know what this was all leading up to - A lady from IKEA reads my post on 'women empowerment' - appreciates it and invites me for an all expenses paid trip to Mirzapur to study the life stories of women working in the factory outlet there.
Suddenly for no rhyme or reason she does a volte face and starts demanding recent blog posts from me. I call her up to convince her that this was a topic after my heart and obviously after my interaction with these women my post would be straight from the heart and would definitely highlight the conditions through which these women had gone through. The lady now tries to convince me that unless I send a recent post to her there's no way she can take me for this trip - I send her some more links but deep down, what a disappointment this whole incident has been - if this lady was only enamored by my post on 'women empowerment' what was the occasion to keep insisting for a newer post -
Thanks to all of you my blog has a page view of 1,17,183 and my live feed will confirm this.
Anyway I am posting this in great detail so that people in similar positions may be wary of such attempts - praise and dump in one go.
It did one good thing though - It prompted me to immediately post this for you - I'm not bitter - it's just that trust is so very important - and once dented it leaves behind its scars
Good luck to this trip which commences on 25th September and ends the next day - only one regret - a good opportunity missed to interact with rural women who work for IKEA - thanks to ingenuity of one of its staff in Delhi - Gurgaon - but as they say - Cheers! Move on life