India is the place of extremes. Go two kilometers away from your place, and you will see a change in culture and lifestyle.
But is this diverse culture helping us or harming us? Surely HELPING US. Many Indians don’t even know about India as a country. They know that India is diverse but don’t know HOW and in WHAT WAYS is it diverse…
Here we are going to address how Indian cultures can learn from each other and make India better. Here we are particularly discussing women in different Indian cultures.
First, let’s start with the issues women face particularity in northern India :
- India has seen a lot of horrible rape cases over the years.
- The govt is very slow in giving justice.
- Delhi is ranked really very low on safety for women as well as men. Its a shame for Delhi being a capital.
- Although women’s safety depends upon region to region and culture to culture, there is a widespread patriarchy like any other Asian culture.
- Women have “specific jobs” like teaching, NGO, IT, engineering, medical, etc. Only lower caste women are seen doing jobs which are mostly for men in other countries – like construction jobs. If you travel by a local train in Mumbai on Sundays, you will see women repairing railway tracks. Good. But let’s face it – they are doing it because they have to support their family. and not because they wanna do this job on their own…
Of course, no one wants to be a construction worker be it a man or a woman and they do this job for family only. But men at least come to sign up on their own. Women are very much dragged into this for extra help not for “equality” as such…
- With this we have another point – the women of minority entities, religions and caste in India, are seen doing more participation just like minorities in other countries. But again, it’s not because “I wanna do this. I love this job!”. Its because “I have to do this. I have to support my husband in earning money. This is the only option for me”
- The most important problem- education and female foeticide. Female foeticide is reduced in India but now abandoning a female child is increasing. Especially, in those places which are very unsafe for women (so they cant even be used for construction jobs). The literacy rate of women is better but still lower than men.
Is there no solution to this? There is. And, guess who has the solution- India itself.
Now let’s see the other extreme :
1. Meghalaya :
The traditional matrilineal system of the Khasi tribe has empowered women in other spheres. In Meghalaya (and in fact much of the north-east), there is :
- No purdah system imposed on women.
- There is no restriction on women’s physical movement, nor their attire.
- There is no bride burning, female infanticide or foeticide and no dowry (there are instead cases of a bride’s price)
- And there is no social stigma attached to a widow re-marrying.
2. Kerela :
When it comes to matriarchy, it is clear that there never was any matriarchy in Kerala. However, women in Kerala seem to be more politically empowered than their sisters in Meghalaya. An article in The Hindu says that a large number of women from Kerala participated in the freedom movement. This tradition has stood them in good stead today and there are not surprisingly, 7 women in the Kerala Legislative assembly.
There are other states which are doing well in terms of women’s participation in politics and in other spheres but if one takes into account the status of women in the family and the sex ratio then certainly both Kerala and Meghalaya stand out as shining examples to the rest of India.
3. THE GARO TRIBE:
Neighbors to Khasi, this tribe has a similar social formation and also follows the matrilineal methodology to trace property. A Garo family is headed by the mother of the house but the father is responsible for providing sustenance. The tribe is divided into sub-tribes and clans, with marriage outside the tribe highly discouraged.
The daughter of the family carries the clan name throughout her life, whereas the son takes up his wife’s clan name after marriage. If the marriage doesn’t work out, the couple can get separated without any social stigma. Similar to the Khasi tradition, the youngest daughter in a Garo family will inherit the property and if there is no female inheritor within the immediate family, the property passes to the daughter of the mother’s sister.
As explained earlier, in this post,
The reason why these places have women empowerment are :
- These cultures support education for all.
- Women stand for themselves.
- Women raise a voice against the injustice done to them.
- Men support women in their fight.
Surprisingly, Meghalaya has less literacy than Delhi. BUT, women say they have better control on their lives despite the literacy rates. So we have an exception here of Meghalaya which is because it is still following its culture. But it is said that literacy rates have now improved a lot which is a good news 🙂
Other states of India which lack women participation can improve their education like Kerela did, and make their states better in women participation.
However, one also needs to understand that if you see these cultures in modern concepts, some of these matrilineal cultures are in fact biased towards men. Which backfires by having more anger in men towards women.
But, I personally think that Northeast and Kerela are really ignored in India because they don’t have “urban cities” like Delhi, Bangalore etc. But seriously, what have these cities achieved? Most people have a stressed life there and half of the life goes in dealing with traffic. Yes, women can “Dress” like they want, but does that mean they get equal treatment? Probably No.
So we can see that matriarchal and patriarchal cultures both have their flaws. But as far as empowerment is concerned, matriarchal cultures have an empowerment in jobs and overall life for both the genders which can be seen in the northeastern cultures…
So basically what we need is to learn from each other. Kerela and Northeast need to have at least one major urban city for having ample jobs because they lack it. They then don’t have to worry about who will get the jobs because, given the embedded women empowerment, both the genders are gonna get jobs, not just men. Kerela even has transgender empowerment.So even transgenders can have jobs.
The patriarchal society of rest of India, can learn from northeast and Kerela and adopt their means of women empowerment because they lack it. It will provide jobs for all and overall happiness, prosperity, better sex ratio, and solve many of their existing problems.
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