India is one country where there are plenty of ladies who are revered as divine figures such as Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati and Kali. The list is endless. However, the paradox lies in the fact that it is also one of the few countries with a rather awful ratio of girls to boys. It is one country which sees a lot of criminal acts being perpetrated against women and girls such as rape, molestation, dowry crimes to name a few. The rate of female infanticide in India is pretty high as well, especially in the rural areas. The common reasons cited in this case are lack of proper education and awareness as well as the wish to have a male child who will continue the family line and also earn well.
The reality behind
However, as is the problem with any generalization, in this case too important points like social and economic pressures of bringing up a girl child are ignored. For most families that are not doing well economically it is hard to educate a girl child so that they can get a good job later on and then there is also the pressure of marrying them off at an early age in order to avoid social hassles. One risks being a social outcast if diktats of local strongmen are not adhered to and that in certain states can mean death for the whole family in question. So more often than not, the birth of a girl child in a village is met with derision by the parents and they have to resort to drastic measures such as killing the baby or giving her up for adoption at best. This is where perhaps the state and central governments can play more constructive roles.
Perhaps considering the fact that more often than not the problem is economic it is important that proper measures are taken to incentivize people who have daughters. For example, they can be given more priority while determining work opportunities as part of various rural employment schemes. Families that have daughters can have joint accounts opened in the name of the parents at nearby government banks and the central or state governments or both can be asked to contribute definite amounts at fixed intervals so that the basic needs of these families are taken care of. This way, at least the parents will not be forced to kill their girls due to lack of money or marry her off to anyone – they can afford to plan a better future for her.
The Indian government has already ensured that it provides basic primary education for all till the age of 14. However, I feel that this is not sufficient. The government needs to make sure that girls get to study more or as far as they wish to. For this, their education till the graduation level should be provided for free especially in the backward areas and this can be done only in the publicly held educational entities. In order to make sure that the private entities are encouraged to take such steps, they can be provided financial benefits like tax breaks or any other preferred and sustainable form of assistance that gets them interested to invest in this domain.
Women are already supposed to be provided a specific number of seats in local administrative bodies like panchayats and gram sabhas but it may not have been implemented everywhere. The governments need to look in and make sure that such situations are properly corrected because women can be better administrators owing to their superior cerebral qualities compared to men.
Besides, more and more women from the local region should be employed in the various educational and health related workplaces that are nowadays opening in villages. This will ensure that the local skilled workers are assimilated properly and they are able to give back positively to the community and institutions that took care of them from their infancy.
It is heard that in many communities in India female infanticide is a widely practiced ritual as the girl child is considered to be a sign of bad omen. There are two ways to deal with this. The very first way is to find the ones in question and then give them such an exemplary punishment that others are deterred from even thinking about it. However, one feels that it is a short-term measure that will not solve the problem from the core and things will be worse once there is any administrative relaxation on this front.
It is better to go and explain to them the nature of their crimes and show them instances of successful ladies of the country like Sarojini Naidu, Lata Mangeshkar and PT Usha. May be, it will take a lot more time but perhaps only when the attitude towards girls change will these atrocities stop. Otherwise the administration will only wipe out criminals but the thought will be there. The thought, and not the individuals, need to be wiped out. Girls are the strength of a country just as boys and all the developed countries in the world like US, UK are blessed in this regard. India, too, needs to follow in their footsteps if it wants to carve a niche for itself in the world as it should do.
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