2013-08-16 / .

How independent is India? By Dr.Cyriac Maprayil

India is the largest democracy in the world. It is staunchly secular and its Constitution enshrines values vastly superior to the rest of the world. It was the first in a sexist world, particularly the West where women are still fighting for equality, to constitutionally proclaim that women are no whit inferior to men and that they must be treated equally in respect of job opportunities, salaries and working conditions. This was not just a theoretical proclamation – the first independent government of Jawaharlal Nehru included some of India ’s brightest women, people like Mrs. Lakshmi Menon, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, India ’s first Minister of health.

Despite sexist attempts to sabotage equal opportunities India can still claim a large number of women in provincial and state politics, the civil service, foreign affairs and diplomacy but also in the professions – science, technology, education and medicine . Women are well represented too in the arts and culture. In this respect India remains a world leader.A famous Indian journal, long before independence, rediculed the Indian caste system which it said made Indians the laughing stock of the world. The Indian Constitution at a single stroke abolished the heinous caste system. Caste has not altogether disappeared still raising its monstrous head and wagging its sick tail. But it is no longer taken seriously. The Dalits inspired by the leadership Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkhar, their revered and highly cerebral leader, are today a formidable force and well represented in all walks of life in their Motherland. Caste is in its dying stages to the delight of ordinary and intellectual Indians.

Even the Western media which so delighted in berating India for its caste oppression – led by America with an ugly record of the racist persecution of its African-Americans people and Europe particularly Britain, France and Portugal with their colonial enslavement of African people – find it difficult to point a finger at anti-caste India.

As for its civilised secular policy India is now equal in the world. It has one of the largest Muslim minorities in the world and unlike Pakistan where non-Muslims are prevented from standing for the Presidency and are apparently excluded from the civil service and the diplomacy including even, ridiculously playing cricket at a professional level, India has had several Presidents of Muslim origins, indeed its brightest scientists are Muslims and many of its Ambassadors and High Commissioners are Muslims. Muslims in India are treated on merit and the rule of law always prevails with the result that Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists largely live in peaceful co-existence.

The Indians have also excelled in space technology and as for information technology they are a world leader with some of the biggest private enterprises in this field controlled and run by Indians with highly respected qualifications and business acumen.

The Indian economy has suffered a slight setback due to global distortions but all the indications are that India will bounce back. She not only has the skills but the resources to do so. Even China which was a serious contender for Super Economy status with the powerful United States has fallen behind because of an economic turbulence largely the fault of the United States and Europe . However, what is encouraging is that India and China are trying to resolve their perennial border disputes and increasing trade with each other.

India lags behind China in the war on poverty. That cannot be denied. China’s adoption of free market policies which sound like a betrayal of the Communism of its founders has its drawbacks – environmental pollution, corruption on the scale of India’s and the growing impoverishment of its masses. However, the Chinese communist leadership has not just sat back and let the capitalists run riot like in India . Her interventionist approach has resulted in a massive achievement – the lifting of over 350 million people from dire poverty into the middle class.

In this regard India remains stagnant – the rich grow richer and the poor grow extremely poor. Corruption particularly tax evasion by the rich and the superrich many with extreme deposits of Indian money in Swiss banks condemns over half of the Indian population to the most demeaning and obscene poverty. But there’s no hope on the horizon. Even the so-called Indian left, once a powerful force for change, is largely impotent in the face of the brigands of capitalism in the Congress, the bureaucracy and Big Business.

But the people are not prepared to be duped any longer. The next election may produce some disturbing results-too early to speculate further.

As I write this I have before me an Asian Age newspaper, which however long winded and tediously dull in many of its feature articles particularly its unhealthy obsession with Western life-styles, largely at the expense of a more penetrating coverage and critical analysis of the Indian cultural, social, literary, theatre and sports sphere is still a reliable in depth reporter of Indian politics and some of its more disagreeable side effects.

Still India needs to go a long way to address the crimes against women. western media give wide coverage of these crimes often.But there is another side, a much neglected side to the oppression of women in India. We mentioned earlier the Indian Constitution perhaps the first in the world – more advanced than the old Soviet Constitution – to enshrine the equality of women. Ancient India was also marvellously non-sexist with such deities as Sarasvathi, the Goddess of Knowledge, Durga, the Goddess of morality and the Kali.

But now Indian media seem to give the impression that India is at the mercy of not just a few rapists but of a disturbingly large number of sexual perverts with no respect for their own women or some of the foreign female tourists who flock to India annually to enjoy the wonderful Indian weather and to marvel at the nation’s ancient historical achievements in arts, architecture and culture.You cannot control such behaviour by law alone. It is not an easy issue to analyse and address. So far India’s sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers have failed to come up with an acceptable analysis of a very serious problem. It is time they did.

International opinion was outraged by the violence and frequency of the attacks on Indian and foreign women. Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Indian Femininist Leaders and the media forcefully expressed the nation’s indignation. There was no question of suppressing this shameful and cruelPhenomenon. Notice was served on would be perverts, sadists and psychopaths that there will be no hiding place for them.The police with their notorious indifference to rape violence against women were forced to revise their views and they acted swiftly to assure the Indian public that they were not above the law.

No democracy is perfect and this also applies to India. While it is impossible to police every city and village ,the law ,political leaders, the media and women themselves must band together to ensure that women can use public transport and walk the streets without fear of verbal and physical abuse.Democracy seems so firmly embedded in Indian soil that it is difficult to visualise the army or rogue politicians trying to impose a lawless Dictatorship.

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