| by Victor Cherubim
( April 15, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Wife or no wife, Narendra Modi is the man who can change India, say some political commentators as electioneering moves on to the second week.
Gender violence and women’s rights continue to be highlighted in the Indian election by the anti-rape movement with its key demand of “freedom without fear” for women, if Modi becomes the Prime Minister, according to the polls.
Parthavi Nagarsheth, a blogger, sums it well as she states her view about male dominated Indian society:
“Rural India – yes, this area is still very male dominated... dowries are still practiced here, caste based marriages still happen, honour killings of women still occur if a women chooses to marry someone that is not of the same caste, many Indian women in marriages are forced to have children against their wills by the anger of their in laws and are beaten if they use birth control.”
Urban India – less male dominated than rural India, however, women here still do face much harassment from men... that is why in Bangalore, in other Indian cities, city buses are segregated by gender due to the severe harassment Indian women face at night after 9 p.m. in most of India, it is extremely unsafe for a woman to be out.”
As we all know, Indian society is multifaceted and is full of diversity, the differences between North and South India, urban and rural areas, gender, and religious distinctions abound. It is almost impossible to generalise.
Indian Men’s Rights group strongly maintain: “There has been excessive hoopla about male dominated society and quite understandably from modern radical feminists of India. Indian society has never been a male dominated society, because men have always lived their lives for the protection of women in the society. The very belief system of protecting women stems from the attitude of men toward women. By sensitising the society toward women, they are forcing society to be insensitive toward men and this can be clearly seen in the way law and order treats men.”
Recent spate of violent rape
The recent spate of violent rapes and sex attacks in India has disturbed, if not shocked many, but the authorities in some instances have accused rape victims of fabricating their stories to blame governments for inaction. Has the balance of justice turned far enough in favour of the victims?
Two high ranking politicians in their election speeches have caused outrage by suggesting women who are raped or have consensual sex outside marriage should be hanged with their rapists.
On the other hand we note restriction and restraint for women not only in India, but also in the developing world, in virtually every aspect of life limits women’s access to the control of vital resources in a male dominated society.
The role of women in India
Women have been serving India admirably in many fields, as doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, in IT, as call centre operatives besides being dutiful mothers and wives. They are intelligent, hardworking and efficient in work. Their efforts may not have been adequately recognised or rewarded. With over 600 million women in India today, there is no doubt that women are going to play a more important in the life of the nation in the years ahead.
In spite of significant leaps made by India in the economic front over the past decades, there is a common thread, between men and women that has bound the nation politically, together. The sense of belonging to a shared way of life has given Indians everywhere, a unity of purpose, a respect for a national identity.
A blot on the horizon
What took place in Gujarat in 2002 is however, deeply rooted in Muslim minds, when “they were victims of pillage, murder and terror resulting in the deaths of more than 2000 men, women and children. Women in particular were subjected to brutal acts of violence and were largely unprotected by the security forces.”
Sri Lanka and BJP Government
Sri Lanka along with all of India’s neighbours has a right to fear of the intentions of a change in government in India, if it happens. The right word is to be” concerned.” What kind of politics could a BJP Government if elected, bring to change the face of India? Would it be communal or secular? Could it remake Modi to get things done, to get India moving? Would the BJP be an extension of his personality, or would there be a hidden hand behind the scene?
If as Modi has said in Chennai that he will take on his neighbours, he may have a hard road to tread, or will he opt instead to work for the economic development of the entire region or will perhaps,do both?