Accepting Rules and Rituals – Indian Issues
While looking superficially, India looks like a perfectly brewed cup of coffee with the right amount of sugar, milk, water and well, coffee. But stir it a little extra and you have the cup overflowing with froth.
India is one of the few countries in the world to have a rich heritage and history. Traditions and value systems have existed for quite some time now (or must we say, existed too long). Festivals, food, Bollywood or the more global IT, GDP, Trade etc.: Is this what India consists of? Certainly not! No country is all about cakes and candies and so isn’t India either.
More often than not social issues stem from social norms. We do not, by any means, say that those social norms are bad. But then, anything in excess is of harm to you. When social roles, responsibilities and norms become inflexible they become a social issue. These issues are what influence the society as a whole rather than just an individual.
Quite literally, social norms would be meant to benefit the society; to build a sense of unity and belonging to culture. But then, what use are these norms when they do more harm than good? What use are they when in most cases social roles/ responsibilities divide people rather than bringing them together?
Social issues then without doubt stem from rigid, inflexible norms of the society.
Below, we list some of the social issues India is facing as a country and community in general. The issues presented are in no particular sequence of graveness of hierarchy. They are all equally important and call for attention and awareness.
An attempt to define the living
The caste system of India is an attempt to place people, in the social-strata, according to what they deserve. The question is, “Who decides, who deserves what?”
Tracing its roots back, the Indian caste system finds its way into Indian Hindu Mythology. The system however, was not only followed by the Hindus but also by the Mughal and British Empires, during their reign. It is clearly the oldest living tradition in India.
Caste Hierarchy – source – How the caste system is still around website
I wish to not dedicate this article to defining of the caste system, but to highlighting how much of an inconvenience it could be to people in our country. The caste system Hindus into 4 main categories (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra), which are further divided into 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes. And yet, out of this system is placed the ‘out-caste’ or the untouchables. This last category of people is the one which is the least deserving, primarily because they were born into such a family.
Caste system in India moreover is not limited to the Hindu society. This vicious norm finds refuge even in Christian and Muslim communities (of course the boundaries of which are defined by their own rules).
This system has left girls and boys uneducated and famished, married women torn apart and a number of men dead. The out-caste are made to do menial jobs and are put to shame for every action of theirs. They have forever lived their life in submission to the high-caste.
It is not rare to see families of an inter-caste marriage bride and groom, being put to shame by the community. In cases, the newlywed couple is even killed. In one such instance, in May 2016, Bhubaneshwar, a Brahmin man killed his own daughter for having married an out-caste. There are many more cases and recent ones too, such as these; so many more that the internet feels on short of space, for their reportage.
Gender distinctions and statuses of the inferior
Social norms, rules and responsibilities go a step further in trying to sketch out the life a person should live, based upon what ‘it’ is born as. Broadly speaking, in India, we speak only about Males and Females. Homosexuals are still fighting for recognition in the society (with some successful attempts) and the LGBQ community too.
Fortunately, to ease their burden of identity crisis, the society has their roles and responsibilities decided beforehand. A woman belongs in the kitchen and the guy on the field. If a homosexual is born, she must be taken away from the household or maybe dumped somewhere, where she’d be fortunate enough to live and find her own identity. Lesbians and Gays better not open their mouth, let alone express their feelings.
From these gender distinctions stem graver issues such as female foeticide/ infanticide, child marriage, domestic violence, child abuse (the list could go on forever).
What’s even more fascinating is that even though such acts are prohibited under IPC and Special and Local Laws (SSL), it does not mean that the crimes reduce or fail to exist. They persist irrespective of the laws’ presence. In the year 2016, Uttar Pradesh placed rank one in incidence of crimes committed against women. A total of 1056 cases were reported of which 527 were rape cases. A total of 2,541 rapes were committed against Dalit women, i.e., about 6.2% of their population.
Even in urban spaces, women are not given consent to step outside home after dusk. Most of them come behind a virtual pardah system by each day’s end. Their careers are decided upon too. Women are either not allowed to study or are made to take gender specific careers (such as a teacher or more liberal doctor). Their wages are restricted, their working potential is pre-perceived and their work quality taken seriously, less often.
Consequently what India loses out on is: successful business women, lady directors, coder/ programmers; or on the contrary wonderful male chefs, graceful male dancers and choreographers. But most of all what India would lose out on is: an opportunity to teach the young that ‘all are equal’ and that ‘all deserve equal love and respect’.
The Indian Economy is the 6th largest in the world and the 40th most competitive. There is no doubt that Indian Economy is growing by the minute but with no assurance of it continuing. For instance we have still not figured out if ‘Demonetization’ came to us as a boon or a bane.
In the year 2011, Indian Express reported the presence of 30 beggars for every 1 lakh citizens. The religious orientation of theirs is equally astonishing with 72.2% being Hindu and 24.9% Muslim (the others, of course, follow). Closer to us, that is, in the 2015, NDTV reported the existence of 4 lakh beggars on the roads of India (4,13,670 to be precise): 2.2 lakh, males and 1.91 lakh, females.
However, the point of this discussion is not to highlight the presence of beggars statistically but to throw light on how increasingly they have invaded the roads; some out of compulsion but yet others by choice. These people are everyday examples of humans striving to keep themselves alive. Majority of these people do not afford even one-square-meal a day.
An example of the ‘choice-based beggars’ would be Kamlesh, the famous kid, from the documentary ‘Nashebaaz’. This kid, hardly 15, lives his life happily with no hope of a better tomorrow. All he is satisfied with is a bottle of ‘solution’ (inhalant drug). He wishes to never work nor does he find it necessary to live. According to a study done by AIIMS and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, there are 70,000 drug dependents on the streets of our capital. 34.7% of them being minors, who sniff inhalants (because they are cheap).
If these statistics are true, then there will soon be a time where Indian youth would be wasted, lying at the feet of Drug dependency. The damage it would do to our growing economy then, is calculable.
Human Trafficking Image – source – India Today
Moving on to the ‘beggars by compulsion’ category, we come to one of India’s gravest issues and problems – Human Trafficking. It is not recently that India has come to be known as the ‘Hub’ of Human Trafficking. A considerable number (80%) is done for sexual exploitation. However, a sizeable number make business for road side rowdies. They are made to beg for money in teams. They are trampled upon like dirt and treated worse than some of us would treat animals. Children make nearly 50% of the human trafficking population. Most of these children would have otherwise gone to school and made an identity for themselves.
Sadly, they will probably lye in this vicious circle of crime, forever.
Religion and other things
“We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic….”– Constitution of India
We wish to pay attention to the words: Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, and Republic, for the benefit of this article.
Although for long India has stated itself as a Secular, Democratic country; a number of instances contribute towards it being the opposite. The term ‘Communalism’ has never been and will never be bereft of India. And ever since partition, the struggle has only grown.
There have been multiple attempts through particular political parties to separate the Indian Hindus from the Indian Muslims, Christians etc. These attempts are based on the ideology of ‘Hindutva’ and that India is primarily a Hindu nation. For this reason they chose to call India ‘Hindustan’ instead of Bharat or India.
Communal Streets of India – source – Outlook India
These ideologies have led to forced conversions of religion, forced intra-religion marriages, violence and abuse, and tonnes of other crimes; murders and massacres are an understatement.
The point is that, if India were really a democratic, secular country then people would be allowed to live in peace. Changing the citizens is a far-fetched dream; the least we could expect is for the government to not play dirty. And if we do say that the government is clean of all this dirt, then why has implementation of rules and punishment, for the trouble makers (assuming they are the general Indian public) been so difficult? In the first five months of this year, 2017 (up to May), India recorded 296 cases of Communal Violence, 60 of them being in Uttar Pradesh. These incidents left 322 people dead, and 7398 injured. It wouldn’t be surprising if none of the offenders were out of prison on bail, already (if at all they were ever charged of any crime).
Nothing is as smooth as it seems
Speak of the Indian legal system and the politics, and the first word you find yourself looking up to is ‘Corruption’. There is no doubt with many ruling parties have come many improvements in India. But for the amount of Tax we pay, we should have been ruling America by now (Kidding!).
Our newspapers and social media pages are flooding with money scams and scandals. Bangalore Illegal Land De-notification Scam, Mumbai International Airport Scam, Delhi Power Scam, Delhi CNG Scandal, Vijay Mallya Money Laundering Case are just a few famous, recent ones on the list.
Scams and Scandals Monetary Stats – source – Trendy Feeds
There are some private business houses, too, in India, which have been accused of scams; taking bribe in the name of development. Some companies take away personal information and use it to commit fraud (similar to what is known as phishing).
The amount of financial, economic, and social damage these, and other, scams have brought to the development of our country is incalculable. I wish to not delve into ‘Who was responsible for which scam?’ but to churn out questions such as ‘What these scams have done to the country?’ and ‘What we can do to further reduce the number of their incidence?’. Once we have our questions in mind, we can go on to answer these, step by step.
The urgency of this issue cannot be stressed enough and thus it calls for immediate change. The change must come in promises we make, to ourselves, to be forever loyal and truthful in business and at heart. The change must come with choosing responsible bodies to govern the Indian Tax Money. The change must come with a will to help those in need. The change must start with us!
A possible alternative
Finding a perfect solution and hoping it works miracles is a hope, too high to be true. We cannot expect everything to work according to us nor can we expect another person to change against his wishes. We need to map out a plan to make the world worth living, while also consisting of people who care-less.
Education is a good place to start but it doesn’t end there. For example: The Beti bachao and Beti padhao Andolan would be of no-use if the girls land up ‘alive and educated’ in the kitchen. Issues such as these need to be addressed with a sprinkle of human rights, social responsibility and receptiveness, human social development and also clean politics.
Finding your voice could be the first step to work towards a better tomorrow. To find your voice you must know how to respect yourself and treat yourself as significant – ‘Know your rights’. Read, write, talk, sing, dance, act- find an expression through which you can best express your thoughts. Let the world know you matter! Once you respect yourself, no one dare mess with you.
Our farmers for example, know that they are significant and that the country cannot function without them. Consequently, the government and the public are realizing the trouble they are in, and are trying to help their community. The farmers know they live in a democratic country, and hence know they can speak up against the wrong: which is why thousands of them took to the streets in Delhi to protest against rural distress.
The next step is to not take issues with a ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude. When your instinct tells you something is wrong, follow it – do something about it. If you see a woman being harassed, report it. If you see a child begging, help it. If you see a woman being beaten, call for help. If you see someone fighting for human rights, support it. If you let things be, then they will be so, always.The change must come from you! The change must come from me! The change must come from us! Only then will the society, we live in, change and only then will India become a better, smarter, safer place to live in.