It was amazing to see during last week’s International Women’s Day, the number of stories in Indian newspapers, magazines and TV’s, which strove to demonstrate that life for a Woman in India is the most miserable, the most dangerous, the most deprived, the most unhappy, the most ostracized that one can dream off on this planet.
There was this article in the TOI claiming that every year, millions of female feticides are killed in India: there was all these statistics on the millions of HIV-infected women, there were numerous articles on child marriage, girls’ labour, girl child exploitation and girl sex abuse, rapes and of course the inevitable reviews on Water, a film, which claims that widows are still persecuted in India.
It’s strange, I am lived for nearly forty years in India and I have traveled the length and breadth of this country, like very few western correspondents have. I am even in close touch with villages of Tamil Nadu, populated only with OBC’s and Untouchables. And my experience has been totally – but TOTALLY – different. Yes, there are abuses on women in India, there may be some villages in UP or in some remote tribal belts, where female feticide is practiced; yes, women in India work so hard, toiling in the fields, looking after their children, cooking, cleaning, getting up before dawn and sleeping late; yes, men in India tend to drink a lot and sometimes abuse their wives. BUT I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANY OTHER COUNTRY WHERE WOMEN PLAY SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE, WHERE SHE IS SO WORSHIPPED, REVERED, PRIZED UPON.
Western correspondents are always keen to do stories on female infanticides in Bihar, child marriages, or sati cases in Rajasthan. But who knows that no nation in the world has granted such an important place to women in its spirituality and social ethos? “Without Him I exist not, without Her I am unmanifest”, says Sri Aurobindo. Thus in India – and it is true that it is often a paradox, as women, because of later Muslim influences, have often been relegated to the background – the feminine concept is a symbol of dynamic realization. She is the eternal Mother, who is all Wisdom, all Compassion, all Force, Beauty and Perfection. It is in this way that since the dawn of times, Hindus have venerated the feminine element under its different manifestations: Makalaxmi, Mahakali, Mahasaraswati, Maheshwari – and even India is feminine: ‘Mother India’. “She is the consciousness transcending all things, she is the emptiness beyond all emptiness, the smile beyond all smiles, the divine beauty beyond all earthly beauties”. India has had many great female figures, whether warriors such as the Rani of Jhansi, or saints like Anandamaia dn today Amrita Anandamayi (who by the way comes from the lowest caste strata and is worshipped by millions of upper castes Indians – so much for the caste divide, another favorite whipping horse of India’s enemies). Today, behind all appearances – arranged marriages, submission to men, preference of male children in some rural areas (but girls are loved in India like nowhere in the world) – the role of women in India is essential and it can be safely said that very often, from the poorest to the richest classes, they control –even if behind the scenes – a lot of the family affairs: the education of their children (men in India are often “mama’s boys”), monetary concerns, and men often refer to them for important decisions.
How come then this flurry of statistics on Women’s Day, which tend to prove the contrary ? Well, if you look closely, you will discover the source of all these statistics. The writer of the TOI piece, claiming millions of female feticides every year, was a Christian working for an NGO, funded by Christian funds (as were many other pieces in leading dailies); there was also a sprinkling of Muslim intellectuals led by Shabana Azmi and her husband, adding their bit about the poor status of women in India and how they are raped, abused and exploited ; The communists, under the banner of Brinda Karat, were not far away in loudly denouncing human rights abuses on women in India; the Congress, joined in the chorus, thereby demeaning themselves as Indians and putting down their own country.
Westerners love to preach India on Human Rights. But countries such as France or the United States, never had a woman as their top leader, whereas India had Indira Gandhi ruling with an iron hand for nearly twenty years; and now Sonia Gandhi, a Christian, a Westerner, and just an ordinary MP, is reigning on India like an
Empress ! The reverse would be absolutely impossible in the West, where there are proportionately less MP’s than India, which is considering earmarking 33% of seats in Parliament for women, a revolution in human history! This shakti concept is so rooted in the subcontinent, that you have had women Prime Ministers, such as Benazir Bhutto or Kaleda Zia, and now Sheikh Hasina, in Islamic countries (Pakistan and Bangladesh) which are predominantly male-controlled in a much stricter way than India.
Now who is the target of all these attacks on Woman’s Day? The Hindus, of course, the common enemy to Christians, Muslims and Marxists ! For Christians, Hindus are still all ‘pagans’ to be converted. Please see the letters written to Sonia Gandhi by some of the Christian religious leaders of this country after the anti Conversion law was voted by the Himachal Pradesh Government. For Marxists, who believed that religion is the ‘Opium of the people’, Hinduism is the greatest threat to their planned hegemony on India (and on South Asia, as they are propping-up the Maoists in Nepal, who are now in the Government while retaining their armed stronghold in the country side. One day they will form a Maoist belt from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh, via Bihar). Of course, this Marxist hatred of religion does not apply to Christianity and Islam, who would immediately reply in kind and who are their allies in their war against Hinduism. Right down from Aurangzeb’s times (see my previous article), Hindus have been looked upon by Muslims as inferior human beings, although it is better to be born a Hindu woman, where one can go with open face, work, have some amount of freedom, than be born as a Muslim woman. Finally, thank God, Water did not get an Oscar, otherwise all Westerners will be certain that widows are persecuted in India, as they are, after the City of Joy, that the whole of India is a vast slum.
When Will Indians start being proud of themselves and their own culture and stop berating themselves and looking down on their own society ? This inferiority complex is a legacy of the British, who strove to show themselves as superior and Indian culture as inferior (and inheritor of the ‘White Aryans’, another false theory). India is a vast, complex, often contradictory country, peopled with different races, religions, ethnies… It is normal that there are problems. But women have played and are still playing such an important role in this country, the Shakti concept is such a unique, vibrant, respectful and holy concept, that all Indians, including Indian Christians and Indian Muslims, whose women have somehow benefited from that concept, which seeped into their religion unobtrusively, should be proud of it. Long Live the Indian Woman and her astonishing Grace.