Ambiguity of a vision

Women’s issue can’t be seen or understood in isolation. There are number of socio cultural factors which shape it. A right understanding can be achieved only by viewing it in the context, as a whole.

Society sometimes presents a picture of paradox. I was reading the Times of India, two days back.  I was struck by one of its inner page, which forced me to contemplate on what’s going on in Indian society. The page had many news items, but as far as I remember, there were four news items which attracted my attention.

Three of them presented a picture of grass root reality in India and were depressing. But there was also a piece which celebrated a woman’s achievement. Not just her achievement but women’s achievement. Along with it the achievement of the society, as both are no different from each other. They go hand in hand. A society can’t afford to develop in a real sense if it leaves one of its genders behind in the whole process. A nation is made by its citizens and women constitute fifty percent of its population.

Coming back to the newspaper page let me tell you specifically what the news items were all about. On the top of the page was a picture of a young woman carrying a helmet in her hand, wearing an air force suit and coming out of an aircraft. The lady was Saina nehwal. The Indian badminton player who won bronze in the recent London Olympics. The photograph was clicked at Air force academy, Dudigal. It’s located in the outskirts of Hyderabad, the southern Indian city. The occasion was the closing ceremony of inter-squadron sports championship at the academy where she was a chief guest. She made news by flying in air force’s Kiran MK-1 trainer aircraft.  Surely it was news to be celebrated. To show the world that we give equal opportunity to women to excel.

The question to be raised is that is there discrimination among women on the basis of their status in the society. I am neither against Saina nor honorable Pratibha Patil, the ex-president of India, who too was in news for boarding in an aircraft. The point which I wish to make is that, it is good that woman is able to climb the stairs of success in society but seeing it one should not think that there is gender equality.

The proof is the other three news items, surrounding the celebratory piece in the newspaper. I will just mention the headlines and the place. They are as follows:

  • Ø Father friend rapes child [Chandigarh]
  • Ø Man rapes, kills adopted kid [Indore]
  • Ø Two identified in gang rape case in Jharkhand [Rohtak]

Now what does this news items portray. But this is what is happening at the local level. Much of which might be going uninformed, unreported because of the fear of the same society. The society which makes one its victim and then torments the person throughout the life for the crime which one had not committed, by its continuous comments. I think the message which the patriarchy tries to deliver is that it’s a crime to be of the other sex. The answer to which, the future will show..

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Saina Nehwal’s Olympic win

Saina Nehwal… Sania Mirza… Mary kom… Different stars, different success stories. But one common thought unites them, i.e. they are all  women in sports. Sports women in India.

The developing nation with huge youth potential but also with poor infrastructure and neglected attention towards any other sport except Cricket. Though the scenario is changing now. The organization of commonwealth games may have resulted in huge corruption but also had improved the conditions on the ground as compared to the previous scenario. Stadiums had been built and spirit of sport get boosted with blooming talent which hadnt caught common eye’s attention previously. The talented one’s have attracted some sponsors too.

Money remains a big issue as it affects funding. Poor funding is the reason for poor infrastructure and scarcity of advanced equipments. At the town or district level tournaments the condition is very poor. Basic amenities are not there which affect not only the athlete’s capability to perform well but also restrict them from taking sports as a career. Their families don’t allow them to pursue it in lieu of economic concerns. The common mentality is  that there is not enough money in sports.

The problem becomes huge if the case is of a girl. Social mindset and cultural milieu plays havoc with most of the females sports career. Dreams are crushed and vision blurs with the continuous opposition from the family members. The nation where till today dowry is practiced under the veils and where women is still practically the weaker sex the idea of letting a girl enter into sports as a career option finds no rigid place. People in rural areas send their girl child to school after a great thought and most of them are not even sent which is reflected in the female literacy ratio.

But to look at the other side of the picture there are a few people who were able to cherish their dreams because of firm determination and will inspite of several obstacles of any kind. Sania Mirza was supported by her parents in Hyderabad since the early age. Thanks to their interest in Tennis. Sania took inspiration from Steffi Graff and set on the ride to the world of tennis where she made India proud. Her community raised questions over her dress code and later media too on the reasons of her 1st engagement being broken up.

Mary kom’s path too was not simple. Almost 8-9 years back when she started Boxing playfully she too didn’t knew where her path will take her. One day when she won at a small tournament and her photo was published in a newspaper her world almost came crashing over. Her father didn’t knew of her interest and when he came to knew he called her up and asked to come home. She was asked to leave the thought of Playing Boxing as she says that her father was concerned about her security. Society was the main cause. Her father was insecure over whether she will be able to get a good husband or even get married after her scars which she might get from Boxing. Mary was firm. She continued to play. She fell in love and the boy proposed her but she agreed only on a condition that he will let her play. The marriage was organized and her family was happy. Her husband turned out to be very supportive and she continued to play and win international tournaments. During the last Olympics in Beijing while she was winning and creating her path for the medal her husband was worried whether to inform her or not about the poor health of 1of their 2sons. The son needed an operation. Her husband informed her and she decided to quit the game and go back as she felt that her son needed her more. But her husband asked her to continue playing the game. She won and still today is playing at the London Olympics. She is one of the strong hope for medal for India.

Saina Nehwal who won Bronze in the single badminton championship at the London Olympics and made India proud had also faced many difficulties. She had the will to play and her father supported her from the start. When she was a child, she sat behind her father on scooter and he used to drop her daily many kms away for the Badminton academy in Maharashtra. Her studies suffered but she cope up. She also wanted to play and enjoy the teenage life like many others around her but she preferred to sweat on the court for fulfilling her dream. She got a great mentor in the form of P. Gopichand who had also won for India and she took maximum out of his coaching.

Thus it could be said that by breaking loose the chain of patriarchy and conventional rigid social structure which is biased against women, by providing better infrastructure and family support India can tap more medals and create laurels of its own.