Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gender Divide In India

Female foeticide and infanticide is in alarming proportions and the recent one is in this week where more than twenty five dead female fetuses were found in a garbage in Orissa.It is a big blot on humanity unbecoming of any cultured and civilised society.This tragedy on the female is in addition to female child sexual abuse,rape and molestation,inhuman sexual exploitation,victimisation,dowry menace, bride burning, wife beating and harassment at home, few of them reported, even fewer of them booked and convicted but vast majority of them will not come to the public notice at all.Of course all of them are crime under Law including sex determination in the early pregnancy.

On the flip side India has a history of great female adoration too.In the recent past,Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister,right now the President of India is a woman in Mrs.Pratibha Patil and the President of the majority partner of a ruling coalition government is a powerful woman, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.Mrs. Kiran Majumdar of Biocon, a biotechnology giant, and Ms. Kiran Bedi in Police are very big and well known names.Ms. Medha Padkar is a most revered social activist. Sarojini Naidu was a freedom fighter along with Mahatma Gandhi.These are the few of the many great names of pre and post Independent India.

In the ancient past we have even greater picture of woman being held in high esteem.In the Rigveda there are more than thirty 'rishike' (female sages) to whom several mantras were revealed.Further, vedic statements like'Imam mantram patni pateth''let the wife recite this holy hymns' shows that women partook in sacred rites.'Brahmacaryena kanya yuvanam vindate patim', 'bride goes in search of young groom after her studies' shows the freedom of choice accorded to women.The dialogue among Gargi, Maitreyi and the sage Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad bears ample testimony for the honor and equality with which women were held in those days.
Furthermore, as the lore has it, the primordial force in creation is a female energy, 'adishakti' and to demolish the worst devil it is always a female Diety,'mahakali'whom the gods request or create from the multiple energies of different gods as female person only!

I am often struck with image of ardanareeswara,a Indian Deity with half male and half female body, often portrayed very vividly in many pictures of it.Curiously, the left half of the body is female and the right half of the body is male.We know now, thanks to the neurosurgical works of Roger Sperry onwards that there is hemispheric specialisation in brain functions and the left hemisphere which controls the right side of the body specialises in linear,logical,rational, verbal thinking such as science and mathematics which are generally considered as masculine characters and the right hemisphere controlling left side of the body specialises in nonverbal,non rational,intuitive functions such as arts, dance and music that are feminine characters. Female left half of the body controlled by the right brain is feminine and the right half of the body linked to left side is a masculine character in the idol ardhanareeswara!God is an ideal being and hence the ideal is to integrate both masculinity and femininity within oneself.Modern science also supports the view that we are all androgynous, both masculine and feminine parts.It stands to reason as well. There is hardly any activity that does not include both masculine and feminine skills, be it scientific activity,business,public speaking or cutting vegetables all include logical and creative/artistic/ intuitive abilities to be really successful!Both masculinity and femininity need to be developed in equal proportion in all of us irrespective of gender. Equating female with femininity and male with masculinity is the worst myth perpetuated by society and in a male dominated society for its own vested interest.The ills of gender discrimination crept into Indian history during middle ages where India was ruled by alien rulers for nearly thousand years.

It is time that we wake up to reality, bridge this gender gap and stem the rot that has set in in the interest of our health,growth,peace,prosperity and success of self,society and our nation.Awareness through education,encouraging nondiscrimination by social engineering and stringent implementation of laws against gender discrimination are the urgent necessities of the day to be worthy of ourselves as a civilised citizen and to be considered for the grace of the Almighty!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Great Bharat, Miserable India!

India, not long ago,about a thousand years ago,was a world leader not just in the art and science of living-Philosophy(vedas including upanishads)-but also in science and technology,medicine and agriculture,trade and commerce,art and literature and, education and rural development as well.Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya, Varahamira are the big names of those period, known to the world, in physical sciences and mathematics.Even today, counting exist in Greek only up to 106, in the West it is 10 to the power of 12 and in India we have up to 10 to the power of 53! Nalanda and Takshashila were the great universities which attracted students from all over the world.Alberuni from Iran came to study sanskrit,science and technology, astronomy and mathematics.Yi Ching from China came to study rural health scheme and ayurveda.We were world trade leader not only in spices but on various other goods as well. A popular joke at that time was "if you buy from Jew to sell it to Scott and still make ten percent profit he must be an Indian"! We were hugely tolerant and encouraged divergence with all respect.Panini a great grammarian and scholar in sanskrit was from Afganistan.Gandhari, wife of king Dritarashtra of Mahabharata was from Khandahar.

Yet, the last thousand years or so has been a dismal show for India which is often attributed to foreign rulers, first by Mughals and later by British,ruling India resulting in loss of initiative and creativity among the ruled.The independent India since 1947 did see rapid strides taken towards developing India.Industrialisation,green revolution(Punjab),white revolution(Gujarat), space technology was indeed firmly rooted in the soil and reaping good dividends.Globalisation,Liberation and Privatisation Policy of the early nineties ushered in a huge thrust to our quest towards modernisation and growth.License Raj was relaxed and the deregulation has brought goods to the market cutting down the ques and scarcity, promoting productivity and competition, all contributing to the growth rate of up to 9%.We are a power to reckon with in the global scenario.We have some of the best educational institutions such as Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Technologies, Indian Institute of Managements.We are now one of the world leaders in Information Technology and moving towards e-governance.Our Forex is rising.Yet there is a terrible darker side too.

On a global comparison India fairs very poorly even after 60 years of Independence. On Human Development Index,India occupies one of the lowest rank, 127th among 177 countries studied.On Corruption Perception Index India is ranked down to 71st out of 102 countries(Transparency International Survey).The World Economic Survey ranked India 45th among 49 countries on honesty of its officials.Global Competitiveness Report puts India in the 45th rank, out of 53 countries; USA tops in competitive spirit, Taiwan 3rd,Singapore 4th and even China is 33rd,much better than India.On the use of Professional Managers in Administration India is down again with 50th rank among 53 countries studied.

Transparency International also reports that India is one of the most corrupt country.An estimated sum of 26,768 crores of rupees is extracted by officials at various levels from citizens in the sectors of education, health,power,telephones,railways,land and building administration, judiciary and the public distribution system.

In India today 28% of people go to bed each day hungry,52% living on less than Rs.45 a day.Job growth in the organised sector fell from 0.11% to minus figure now.Unemployment increased from 8.87% to 9.11%.Increase in food production is offset by increase in population by 1/2%over the former. The software exports is less than 2% of the global market; IT sector as a whole(including hardware)represent less than 3% of the GDP.Trade deficit is widening:exports being 314.05 billion,imports being 471.56 billion,there is a deficit of 157.51 billion rupees.Even Forex reserve of 140+ billion dollars is worrisome as it is mostly "hot money"(portfolio investments and NRI deposits)and is a volatile situation, a slightest disturbance/uncertainty,it would be withdrawn.

In the educational field only 10% 0f the school finisher will go to higher education and only 10% of those 10% get into professional courses.There are too few universities and most of the colleges under it suffer from poor infrastructure and quality of education

The bane of development is the glaring inequality and imbalance; the best and the rich coexist with huge majority of worse and the poor.There is a neglect of education,health and social sectors and generally planning has failed to recognise that every activity has its human and social face also.The growth model need to be more inclusive of all section of divergent people that is India.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Suicide among youths. Fulfillment is in living not in dying

Several cases of suicide by youths is reported recently in the State of Karnataka as well as in India as a whole.Failure in Examinations, not getting the Courses chosen, failure in love 'affairs' and in some cases, poverty coming in the way of one's advancement are some of the major reasons cited for the tragedy.

Every suicide is a reflection of one's concern for the quality of life, nothing less would suffice, said Albert Camus. Psychologist would say that immediate reactions to frustration are 'fight' or 'flight' and fight turned inside on oneself or running away from it all(flight) may sometimes end up in suicide. Excessive reliance only one or only a few, such as say a mother or a job or any one choice alone, excluding all other possibility may result especially when there occurs a loss-actual or imaginary- of those relied upon as then there would be nothing else to fall back on would trigger a suicidal thoughts or actions. A clinical condition, Depression, characterised by feelings of hopelessness,helplessness, inadequacy and inferiority which might underlie the above reason of over dependency is often the cause for several 'attempted' or committed suicides.

Building up of a self confidence that one is endowed with all that is necessary in the services of self and the world by Nature to lead a happy and prosperous life and one has to find and grow with it must be inculcated at the very early age by parents, teachers and others in society as it is based on 'scientific' truth. Encouraging the child to engage actively in all those activities available around-studies, art, culture, music, dance, play, sports, adventure and what have you!-just to experience yourself in the world without restricting oneself, at least in the early stages,with any particular 'choice' or even without attempting oneself to define oneself for an identity is yet another inoculation to prevent depression and suicide. Child must first get the experience of all that one can in the world around and based on those self derived data one should make choices by himself on himself alone and certainly not by here say or imagined things or books or people however valuable, great or dear one they are!

Fulfilment is in living not in dying