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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao"!


“You can judge the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women”.. These are the words of the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit  Nehru. Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. It remains a valuable vantage point, a time to take stock and look ahead. India has the world’s largest number of professionally qualified women. India has more female doctors, surgeons, scientists and professors than the United States or any other country in the world. There is a National Human Rights Commission for Women that handles all human rights violations against women. There is a National Council for Women that advocates policy for Women. There is an entire ministry for women that formulates and implements policy for them. Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. When the former US President Bill Clinton came to India on state visit, he was most impressed by a totally women-controlled ‘gram panchayat’ of a village near Jaipur, where he spent a good time with the panchayat members and even danced with them, an event most publicised in the media worldwide. The women's movement in India is a rich and vibrant movement. It is true to say that they are among the most liberated, the most articulate and perhaps even the most free women in the world.

In India, women have been respected since ancient times. In Hindu mythology, Saraswati is the goddess of education, Parvati is the goddess of might and Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. Man needs all three - education, might and wealth. Women of the Vedic period (circa 1500-1200 BCE), were epitomes of intellectual and spiritual attainments. The Vedas have volumes to say about these women, who both complemented and supplemented their male partners. Scholars believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status with men in all fields of life. Even in the present time, the astonishingly wide social and political spectrum spanned by the "women in power" challenges popular assumptions. Indeed, much progress has been made to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times.

But, truly a big BUT, there is a big black spot that mars the beauty of all the good work done so far for the empowerment of women worldwide, particularly in India, that necessitates the need to seriously spread the message - “Beti bachao, beti padhao”. The second part of the message - “Beti padhao” - has worldwide significance, especially for poor countries like in Africa, South America and some parts of Asia where parents cannot afford to educate the girl child, and also in some Islamic countries where it is considered a taboo to educate girls, but the first part of the message - “Beti bachao” - is most unfortunately and shamefully, relevant to the Indian society in recent times. It is a strange contradiction in the society norms, that on the one hand we worship the girl child - ‘kanjak poojan’ - to please Devi Maa, particularly during ‘navratres’, and on the other we hate to have the daughter-in-law give birth to a girl child. To give an example from personal experience, we were shocked when on our last visit to Alwar we came to know from son of of our very good friend there that his parents have started hating his wife since the day she delivered her second child, who also happened to be a girl, their second daughter. We were wondering over this attitude of our friend, because our friend, if not filthy rich, is regarded amongst the few very rich persons of the city and could not have been bothered by the thought that the girls would cost him a big fortune for their wedding when they grew up. But his son believed that was exactly the cause why his parents hated their daughter-in-law crossing all limits that they do not want to live with them any longer. He explained that in their community the dowry system is at its costliest as much of the family money is finished in daughter’s marriage, and, therefore, daughters are considered a curse. If this is true of the community to which our friend belongs, which, perhaps, covers the largest population in the country, then I believe the major thrust of “Beti bachao” campaign needs to be targeted towards all the communities that traditionally are stuck with dowry system to the extent that they would rather do without a daughter in the family, than fight to free themselves from the  evil of dowry.

Going to Marry,
Set an example.
Been Married,
Create examples.
Mother India needs you.
This is least you can do.
Neither ask nor give Dowry.
Her Daughters will be,
Proud of you!