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!