Tuesday, August 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



No end to atrocities against women

IT is really very unfortunate and disheartening to read about the atrocities against women even after 53 years of Independence. Not a day passes when we do not hear or read about the torture and harassment being meted out to women.

She is subjected to various types of tortures right from the day she is conceived, and this continues all through her life. Marriage has ceased to provide her shelter where greedy dowry-seekers make life hell for her. Even divorce does not provide solace to her. She lives with the social stigma attached to divorce.

Indian women can be described as the underdog of society. While in theory, the law of equality is practised and women are considered on a par with their male counterparts, in reality our society remains male-dominated.

The need of the hour is to increase awareness among women of their rights and privileges as equal and honoured members of society. For this, the NGOs associated with the causes of women should come forward to make women aware about the opportunities available for their development. These women organisations should organise special awareness campaigns, seminars, meetings and demonstrations for the purpose.


More and more facilities should be provided to women to become financially independent. Illiterate women should be encouraged to go in for self-employment skills like stitching. Single Women's Houses like Old Age Homes should be opened. These will help a lot to unmarried, destitute and divorced women to live in a protected environment without becoming a burden on their parents or relatives.


Who cares for farmers?

Mr Balraj Mehta has put the problem thus: Agriculture creates 30 per cent of the GDP but sustains 70 per cent of population. (The Tribune, August 12).

Does anyone remember our Parliament or any state assembly discussing this important question? Do our planners realise that this is the real cause of rural poverty? Farmers continue to be at the mercy of "shahukars" because banks provide credit on viable farms, and an average Indian farm is not viable.

The often-made statement that the farmer receives subsidy is wrong. The government provides subsidy to fertilisers factories, to the FCI, to Milkfeds and to those who sell animals, never to farmers.

In his book "India at the death of Akbar" Vincent Smith said "Peasants, themselves hungry, toiled to feed the town and cities." This, unfortunately, continues to be the peasant's fate in free India. The farmer can afford neither to eat the grain he produces nor to drink the milk his cow yields. He is forced to sell what he would like to consume himself because of poverty. Nor is there much hope for the poor in India till we elect representatives who can understand, debate and set right all these problems.

Let proper marketing be the first priority. The government cannot go on purchasing grains and milk at half the market-price and call itself pro-farmer. It is pro-middlemen as of now.


Solving J&K problem

The decision of the Vajpayee government to hold talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen proved a fruitless exercise. The government must keep in mind that all the militant outfits operating in the valley are ISI-sponsored ones. So long as Pakistan does not refrain from supporting them, nothing can be achieved through talks with them.

The leaders of India have to understand that there should be no delay in deciding the future of the valley. That Pakistan and India should sit around a table in order to find a solution in accordance with the Simla Agreement is a futile idea. More than 50 years have gone by, and there has been no advancement towards finding a solution of the problem.

The UN should clearly tell the two countries — India and Pakistan — to settle the dispute finally within a stipulated period of time.


Double standards

George Speight and his band of indigenous people who toppled the constitutionally established government of Mr Mahendra Chaudhry in a coup in the Republic of Fiji are usually described by the Western media as “nationalist leaders”, and their activities as “nationalist movement”. This is ridiculous.

Think of a parallel situation where a person of indigenous origin in, say, Ecuador or the USA does what Speight has (un)done in Fiji. Can you ever imagine him being called a “nationalist leader” by the Western media? He will be roundly — and rightly — condemned as a full-blown terrorist, a blackmailer and a violator of human rights. Why these double standards?



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