A Note on ‘Nari Shakti’


File Photo: Kolkata

Everyone would agree that under Narendra Modi regime, epithets such as ‘Nari Shakti’ (women’s empowerment), and ‘‘Beti padhao, Beti bachao,’’ (save and educate the girls) have become cliche. But our everyday experience shows the reality to be just the reverse and grim. Facts and figures indicate in no uncertain a term that gender discrimination and disparity are, instead of being abated, are rising with the passage of time. On the one hand, the ruling party leaders and their lackeys are pretending to be so sincere in implementing the slogan while on the other hand, as protagonists of the arch communal, bigoted and misogynic Hindutva doctrine, they are engaged in lowering the social status of women and strengthen patriarchal domination.
As revealed in the International Conference held on Women’s Day last year, gender equality in the true sense of the term is not to be achieved in any country of the world within next fifty years. Earlier, as per World Economic Association’s annual report, while in the Western world including North America, Europe and Latin America, gender equality might be established within 60-65 years, in sub-Sahara Africa it might take 107 years, 150 and 170 years in middle and eastern Asian countries respectively. The same report shows that it would take not less than 200 years in countries of South Asia, including India.
Woe is likely to overcome us when we discover that by surveys conducted on women’s health worldwide in 2022, India stands 146th out of 146 countries! If we consider the four accepted pillars of progress promoting gender parity, viz health, education, participation as work-force and in politics, the fact stares us in the face that besides being the worst achiever for women’s health, in respect of education and women as work-force too, India fares hardly any better.
Education among women in India, is, to say the least, deplorable-with a rank of 107th in the world. Both in the rate of literacy (121st) and primary education, India lags behind most other countries. Relating to women’s participation as work-force India ranks 143rd out of the 146th, leaving behind only Iran, Pakistan and Taliban-occupied Afghanistan.
Our experience also corroborates that and acts as a conscientious pointer to the plight of women. Rampant female foeticide and infanticide leading to a natural dip in the man-woman ratio is a problem perpetuating through decades here. Still there is no sign of any change for the better. Trafficking of women of all ages too is equally a matter of grave concern. According to National Family Health survey, in the last 19 years as many as a 90,000 girls have gone missing in this country. It has to be noted that while the arch Hindu communal RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar are always ready to cast aspersion on the religious minorities for all kinds of evils and aberrations, missing Hindu girls far outnumber those from the minority communities. Marriage of minor girls particularly in rural areas stands among other things as a viable deterrent to improvement in women’s condition. Being forced to bear children at an early age, these girls become physically sick, suffer from malnutrition and often die at an early age. Number of married girls deserted by their husbands and compelled to rear their children as single mothers is also shooting up. Unequal or low payment for same jobs, lack of professional trainings and of late, sexual harassment in workplaces happen to be a few of the reasons of assault on women. A thought is inculcated in the minds of the poor women particularly the rural poor that they are born to obey traditional values, accept tortures and ill-treatments as fait accompli and dare not raise voice against the menfolk.
Over and above, growing atrocities and crime on women continue to threaten their life and dignity. Women are abused, raped, assaulted and in extreme cases murdered at home, on streets, at workplaces or even in the sports arena. Women are presumed to be a commodity of consumption. Even when tortured or raped or gang-raped women go to the police to lodge complaints, they often face sexual assault by the custodians of law and order. Sexual favours are solicited in the offices also in exchange for promotion or retention in the job. So called religious gurus are often accused of molesting girls in their ashrams. This is the kind of depravity the society has plunged in to make women empowerment a mockery par excellence!
But is it ordained by god or man-made? Anyone intending to find the truth has to base himself or herself on a scientific method of analysis of social development and phenomena would seek the answer in objective reality and not in any extra-terrestrial entity. and such analysis would bring to the fore that the cause lies in the very social system in existence.
We are living in a capitalist society that has become outmoded, degenerated and hence breeder of all maladies. It must be overthrown at the earliest if we want that what is desired and ought to be should come by. It is because of capitalist oppression, economic, political, cultural, social exploitation that among other things, women are dominated, objectified and assigned an inferior status. Emancipation of women from all odds and predicaments is, therefore, inseparably linked with the socio-political movement to uproot capitalist order. Along with conscious men, women at large must come out of their veils and chains to join the movement and take it to its logical conclusion.

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