India Today

India Today

 

With a population more than 1.18 billion and growing, India is the fourth biggest corrupt nation in the world. With criminalization of politics and virulent caste discrimination, India’s poor reel under extreme poverty. The whole edifice of the nation of India stands on the rickety pillars of the innumerable poor who carry the burden of the middle classes and the rich. The apparent economic boom is restricted only among the rich & middle classes. This economic boom came about only after 1991 after India signed the GATT agreement during the prime ministership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. During Nehru’s Fabian socialism the poor were no better. The poor of this country will continue in this manner for years to come. The Indian states biggest failure has been  industrial revolution which it badly needed. Immediately after independence Nehru and his planners attempted an industrial revolution under state control. They failed miserably, because of a despotic & inefficient bureaucracy &  pampering of organized labour resulting in low productivity.

In spite of the liberalization of 1991, India’s progress has been slowThe reason for our slow pace is that the reform agenda is constantly being derailed by vested interests. Politicians lack the courage to privatize the huge, lossmaking public sector because they are afraid to lose the vote of organized labor. They resist dismantling subsidies for power, fertilizers, and water because they fear the crucial farm vote. They won’t touch food subsidies because of the massive poor vote. They will not remove thousands of inspectors in the state governments, who continuously harass private business, because they don’t want to alienate government servants’ vote bank. Meanwhile these giveaways play havoc with state finances and add to our disgraceful fiscal deficit. 

 

 Enigmatically,  inspite of corruption, cast discrimination & religious divide India has progressed.  This is mainly due to the boom in information technology(economics). We have wrestled with the abstract concept of Upanishads for 3,000 years. We invented the zero. Just as spiritual space is invisible, so is cyberspace. Hence our core competence is invisible. Being a race of thinkers Indians have excelled in software development, which involves good thinking and logic. The higher castes in India were always averse to physical labour hence all physical labour was delegated to the lower castes. On the contrary the Brahmins & Khastriyas were and still are good philosophers & thinkers, hence the software skills.  Moreover, english language, the legacy of the British Empire has tremendously helped Indians in communicating effectively with the outer world. Leaving China way behind.Yet India will never be a tiger. 6o% of our population depends for their livelihood on a sectoragriculture and allied activities–that accounts for mere 18% of our GDP, a share that has been declining alarmingly  over the past two decades. As we hurtle towards a situation in which the services sector–principally IT and IT related services–which employs less than 1% of our population, accounts for 57% of our national income. Inevitably, 77% of Indians in shining India live under Rs. 20/- a day. Income and wealth inequalities are growing so alarmingly in our society that instead of being obsessed with the wholly misleading impression of progress indicated by statistics of GDP growth we need to recognize that 9 out of 10 pregnant women in our country are anaemic; that in consequence nearly half our children under 5 are estimated to be from moderately to severely malnourished. That we have amongst the highest infant and mortality rates in the world, that every year we add more hungry people to our population than the rest of the world put together, that food grain availability per capita is today, after 20 years of accelerated growth, less than it was 20 years agoIndia is like an elephant. Lumbering its way in its own inimitable slow pace. It will never have speed but will always have stamina.  Being slower, will India be able to preserve its way of life and its civilization of diversity, tolerance and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture?  If it does, then it is perhaps a wise elephant!

 

  

The Other India

 

Child Labour

 

India accounts for the second highest number where child labour in the world is concerned. Africa accounts for the highest number of children employed and exploited. The fact is that across the length and breadth of the nation, children are in a pathetic condition. While experts blame the system, poverty, illiteracy, adult unemployment; yet the fact is that the entire nation is responsible for every crime against a child. Instead of nipping the problem at the bud, child labour in India was allowed to increase with each passing year. And today, young ones below the age of 14 have become an important part of various industries; at the cost of their innocence, childhood, health and for that matter their lives. Bonded Child Labour : This is also known as slave labour and is one of the worst types of labour for children and adults, alike. In fact, in 1976 the Indian Parliament enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act; herein declaring bonded illegal. However, the fact remains is that this system of working still continues. According to certain experts approximately 10 million bonded children labourers are working as domestic servants in India. Beyond this there are almost 55 million bonded child labourers hired across various other industries.  Child Labour in The Agricultural Sector : According to a recent ILO report about 80% child labourers in India are employed in the agriculture sector. The children are generally sold to the rich moneylenders to whom borrowed money cannot be returned.

Children Employed At  Factories:  According to recent estimates almost 60,000 children are employed in the glass and bangle industry and are made to work under extreme conditions of excessive heat.  Of the 2,00,000 labour force in the matchbox industry, experts claim that 35% are children below the age of 14. They are made to work over twelve hours a day, beginning work at around 4 am, everyday. According to a recent report by the ILO almost 4,20,000 children are employed in the carpet industry of India. According to researchers there are about 50,000 children employed in the brass industry of India and around the same amount in the lock industry.

 

Child Marriage

 

Nearly 50% of Indian women get married before turning 18. Child marriage continues to remain a big problem in India, with half the women getting married before attaining the minimum legal marriageable age of 18 years, according to a study released by health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. “Marriage happens very early for most of the women in most states – one fifth were married below the age of 15 years and 49 percent were married before turning 18,” said the study. The study was conducted in six states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra,Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu – between 2006 and 2008, involving over 58,000 youths in the age of group of 15-29 years. Findings show that the situation was worst in Bihar – 77 percent of women were married before the age of 18. The study found that early marriage is followed by early pregnancy and almost 47 percent of young women had their first pregnancy before they turned 18. “Married adolescent girls have unique healthcare needs and many of these become mothers before they are physically and mentally ready for this role. We need to set up exclusive forums for adolescent girls in villages to ensure their multi-dimensional development needs are addressed,” said Azad. One third of the world’s child brides live in India, which also accounts for a large number of unregistered births, according to a UNICEF report. The new report titled ‘Progress for Children: A Report Card on Child Protection’ says that despite rising literacy levels and legal prohibition, tradition and religious practices are keeping child marriage alive in India.

 

Women In India 

  

 

It was the brilliant Vedic era when Indian woman was honoured as goddess Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati and put on the pedestals of glory. And so went the saying Yatra Naryastu Pujyante, Ramante Tatra Devta‘ – where woman are worshiped, God resides. In other words it was the matriarchal society with woman having her own prerogatives or better to say there was hardly a line of demarcation between man and a woman. With the advent of civilisation, rules changed, norms changed, even the dogmas, so did the society with human values taking a strident turn prevalent before. The  woman worshiped as goddess turned out to be a slave in the hands of her male counterparts, faced social taboos and even indignations. Gradually she started losing her liberty, priority and liabilities. In fact she started losing her own identity in the course of time and became mere puppets dancing to the tunes of the patriarchs. The whole permutation and combination of that golden era changed resulting in the outcome of chaotic patriarchal society which blurred the human values to a great extent.The status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. If on one hand she is at the peak of ladder of success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering the violence afflicted on her by her own family members. As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a long way. Their path is full of roadblocks. The women have left the secured domain of their home and are now in the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. They had proven themselves in other parts of the world. But in India they are yet to get their dues. The sex ratio of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against female. There are 933 females per thousand males in India according to the census of 2001, which is much below the world average of 990 females. There are many problems which women in India have to go through daily. These problems have become the part and parcel of life of Indian women and some of them have accepted them as their fate. In India a large percentage of women do not have power. They cannot take decisions independently not even related to their own life. They have to take permission of male members for each and every issue. They don’t have any say in important household matters and not in matter of their own marriage.

In India violence against women is a common evil. Not just in remote parts but in cities also women bear the brunt. They are subjected to physical and mental violence. They are the one who work most but are not given their due. The women is not safe anywhere neither at home nor at workplace. Every hour a woman is raped in India and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death due to dowry problem. There are many laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, to protect women and punishment is severe but the conviction rate of crime against women is very low. According to NCRB ‘Crime in India, 2002’ the following crimes were committed against women in India. Rape: 16,373 women were raped during the year. 45 women were raped every day 1 woman was raped every 32 minutes. An increase of 6.7% in the incidents of rape was seen between 1997-2002 Incest 2.25% of the total rape cases, were cases of incest. Sexual Harassment: 44,098 incidents of sexual harassment were reported. 121 women were sexually harassed every day 1 woman was sexually harassed every 12 minutes. An increase of 20.6% was seen in incidents of sexual harassment between 1997-2002. Importation of girls/Trafficking: 11,332 women and girls were trafficked 31 women and girls were trafficked every day 1 woman or girl was trafficked every 46 minutes. It is common to read news about violation or wrongs committed on women everyday. Our orthodox society is so much prejudiced by age-old habits and customs that a violated woman, whether she is forced or helpless, has no place in the society.

 

Widows

 

 Ostracized by society, thousands of India’s widows flock to the holy city of Vrindavan waiting to die. They are found on side streets, hunched over with walking canes, their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles in their faces.  In Vrindavan, India,  an estimated 15,000 widows live on the streetsThese Hindu widows, the poorest of the poor, are shunned from society when their husbands die, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition — and because they’re seen as a financial drain on their families. They cannot remarry. They must not wear jewelry. They are forced to shave their heads and typically wear white. Even their shadows are considered bad luck. Hindus have long believed that death in Vrindavan will free them from the cycle of life an death. For widows, they hope death will save them from being condemned to such a life again. “Does it feel good?” says 70-year-old Rada Rani Biswas. “Now I have to loiter just for a bite to eat.” Biswas speaks with a strong voice, but her spirit is broken. When her husband of 50 years died, she was instantly ostracized by all those she thought loved her, including her son.”My son tells me: ‘You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away,’ ” she says, her eyes filling with tears. “What do I do? My pain had no limit.” As she speaks, she squats in front of one of Vrindavan’s temples, her life reduced to begging for scraps of food There are an estimated 40 million widows in India, the least fortunate of them shunned and stripped of the life they lived when they were married. It’s believed that 15,000 widows live on the streets of Vrindavan, a city of about 55,000 in northern India. 

 

 

Tribals (Adivasis) of India

 

Little is known about the relationship between the Adivasis and non-Adivasi communities during the Hindu and Muslim rules. There are stray references to wars and alliances between the Rajput kings and tribal chieftains in middle India and in the North-East between the Ahom Kings of Brahmaputra valley and the hill Nagas. They are considered to be ati-sudra meaning lower than the untouchable castes. Even today, the upper caste people refer to these peoples as jangli, a derogatory term meaning “those who are like wild animals” – uncivilised or sub-humans. The subjugated groups became castes forced to perform less desirable menial jobs like sweeping, cleaning of excreta, removal of dead bodies, leather works etc – the untouchables. Some of the earliest small-scale societies dependent on hunting and gathering, and traditional agriculture seem to have remained outside this process of agglomeration. These are the Adivasis of present day. Their autonomous existence outside the mainstream led to the preservation of their socio-religious and cultural practices, most of them retaining also their distinctive languages. Widow burning, enslavement, occupational differentiation, hierarchical social ordering etc are generally not there. Though there were trade between the Adivasis and the mainstream society, any form of social intercourse was discouraged. Caste India did not consciously attempt to draw them into the orbit of caste society. Adivasis at the lowest rung of the ladder. Adivasis are not, as a general rule, regarded as unclean by caste Hindus in the same way as Dalits are. But they continue to face prejudice (as lesser humans), they are socially distanced and often face violence from society. They are at the lowest point in every socioeconomic indicator. Today the majority of the population regards them as primitive and aims at decimating them as peoples or at best integrating them with the mainstream at the lowest rung in the ladder

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