27 September, 2005
Revere Bharat Mata and not her betis?
By Tarun Vijay
It makes me feel a bit outdated when my little daughter, class six champion, sets the profile of my cellular phone and finds a website that’s more important to my work in a manner my teachers in Gandhi School used to tell something new about weather conditions. I get educated and enriched with the experiences and inquisitive dynamics of Shambhavi, that little whiz kid whom I introduce to the world with a pride — oh, yeah, that's my daughter.I am growing up with her scholarship. The only one who can chide me, use a loud voice to stop me doing something she dislikes. She belongs to the brave new world order that sets our time. Nothing is happier than to realise and live with it. So, when a government tries to correct something that was essentially a wrong, we must smile.The world will be a darker, unliveable place without daughters and hence we must say thank you to Dr Manmohan Singh for a Bill that makes them feel better and counted. Since we are living in a society where criticism is considered more important than a positive appraisal, let’s make an exception and clap a little for Manmohan Singh’s small but sweet gesture to help daughters of Mother India. That the Central government shall bear the educational expenses of single daughters in a family is more significant in its message than the real programme.In a nation where every acquirable attribute is sought from a female deity — money and material comforts from Lakshmi, academic virtues from Saraswati and annihilation of foes from Kali — we are inconceivably rogue to kill female foetuses symbolising the same worshipped deities. One has to see the greatest marvels of world like Ajanta and Ellora to understand the high place a daughter or a woman had in our society just a couple of centuries ago.Shiva couldn't find solace without Uma and when Sita rebelled against the wrongs of a dogmatic social order, Rama could never find peace till final refuge in the waters of Saryu. Draupadi was the originator of the Mahabharata, the epic war and she is adored in the scriptures as an embodiment of Dharma.Adi Sankara had to learn a few lessons from a lady scholar and Gargi and Maitreyi defeated the great male scholars of their times and were revered higher than any other rishi.The mother of Nachiketa had the courage to tell Yama she couldn’t remember who had fathered her son. No one burnt her declaring her a bad character or a witch like we had seen in Arab societies and more notoriously in early Christendom where millions of women lost their lives having been declared witches or creatures without a soul. And then came the loot, plunder and rapes with the foreign invaders to our land coming with jihadi flags and missionary evangelism. Woman was as low and dispensable in their eyes as was in vogue in their original lands — a commodity to be used and thrown away or at best to be "tilled" to get a "harvest".That affected the mindset of a subjugated, colonised people and woman acquired a different connotation in our eyes. They had to burn themselves alive to save their honour, and a ritualistic Brahmanical rude order set in where wearing burqa was a better choice, forced Sati became a worshipable ritual, widows for the slow death in Vrindavan and to have a girl became a curse. This was the time when Brahmin priests were blessing the flag of the East India Company in the Kali temple to be victorious and Indian soldiers found it a matter of pride to serve in an army of white men and kill their own countrymen at their orders in the name of military discipline. Yes, we became a degenerate society, hating daughters, burning them for not bringing the "cost" of their nalayak (unworthy) son, and using them virtually as dustbins.The states, where the brunt of Semitic brutalities was more visible, became shell shocked and daughters were killed or shamed into a hiding mode. That’s what we see in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Bihar. It’s quite possible that the civil servants who saw the Doctor’s Bill to help daughters passed had taken a really very fat amount in dowry to "oblige" a girl into marrying a high ranking officer. Things have come to such a sorry pass that to imagine an IAS or a IPS officer in the northern belt getting married without a "price tag" is difficult. Manmohan Singh might have passed the Bill to help daughters get educated, but can he ensure that scholarships are given without greasing the palms of babus and his officers are those who have a commitment not to take dowry or to harass the fathers of the daughters? Imrana could not fight back. Neither could other women who faced the same injustice at the hands of some caste panchayat or a personal law board.Political women leaders too make use of such victims for furthering their "pro-woman" image and nothing really helpful comes out.So, in fact, despite several Anu Aghas and Mehboobas, daughters, at the societal level remain unwanted. Those who invite blindness to facts to attack the RSS do not want to recognise that the largest number of dowryless marriages takes place in Hindutva families and Hedgewar, founder of the movement, had the courage to inspire and encourage a women’s reformist organisation at a time when things were far worse than they are today. It’s no use worshipping the motherhood of a woman or performing disorderly aartis of Bharata Mata if her daughters are not equally respected and listed on par with sons.