India of today is relentlessly aspiring to make a solidified place for itself in world politics, economy, defense, science and space. On one hand, more than two decades of liberalization and globalization has redefined the concept of capital economy around the world at large and particularly in India; whereas, UN General Assembly still in 2015 lists ending poverty and hunger as their primary Sustainable Development Goals.
The paradox is nowhere more evident in its entirety than in India. Despite the grave income inequality, so much so, that one is forced to vividly notice the existence of two juxtaposed national entities surviving within the geographical boundaries of one India; there is something that unifies these contrasting national identities and it is not Hindutva! Whether one is rich or a pauper, educated or uneducated, urban or a rural resident, we are all bitten by the bug of a cultural male bias! It would be easier to shrug one’s shoulder on yet another feminist sermon. But, the declining Child Sex Ratio ever since the recorded data on population has been maintained is a horrifying and disturbing indicator for the country. Modernity, education and growth were supposed to end gender inequality but what we are witnessing is starkly opposite!
Society is the reflection of material development. The nation which is obsessed with consumerism, translating it as growth needs introspection on this disheartening trend that encompasses religious, ethnic, educational, economic, caste-based and geographical diversity. A society in which a woman is discriminated against from her mother’s womb and her modesty outraged either physically or psychologically has no right to call itself civilized or developed.
I had a long held prejudice against marriage in its arranged, moral, societal and family oriented format as the root cause for all social woes. It will be a different debate altogether and inconsequential too as anyway in our time while we walk the earth, there seems no plausible hope of this rouged institution of marriage waning. Weddings will continue to be negotiated between families and women will continue to be treated as objects in this widely accepted, sacred and lawful trade.
However, there is something which all of us can do to curb the persistent adverse sex ratio without much rigor at individual levels. It is by fighting against the menace of dowry and understanding its detrimental backlash on the country. We can play a crucial part towards a gender equitable world. Dowry is often downplayed but is one of the most vital empirical reasons for the tendency of not wanting a girl child. The practice of dowry continues unabated and in the present epoch of commercialization has become uglier than ever. Ironically, we have made women their own foes in this vicious arrangement of family affairs! Every one of us is a culprit in this abhorrent crime against women as either a directly involved party or a witness who preferred shutting their eyes, mouth and ears like Gandhi’s pseudo mystic apes!
I am aware of some obnoxious arguments in favour of dowry too. I suppose anybody who respects individuality, believes in liberty and values the dignity of human life could only laugh at such sugar-coated pretexts being offered, as I did! To rise against dowry will be our first formidable step towards empowering women and moving forward into a desired land where people irrespective of any biases and prejudice have freedom of choices and outcomes!