Ritesh Sharma, Activist & Social Entrepreneur
Even after 75 years of independence, the ‘divides’, rural-urban, rich-poor or the male-female are ever widening and still plaguing India. There are 6, 40,867 villages in India inhabiting 68.84 per cent of the Indian population in which ‘THE INVISIBLE LIFELINE’ OF INDIA exists.
THE INDIAN WOMEN
India the land of contradictions with women being worshiped as deities, without whose blessings, work cannot be initiated but at the same time, the crimes against women and girls are ever increasing creating havoc in the Indian societal pattern.
Even the marriage does not come easy, Indian women do not have the right to choose their partner. Marriage of a girl is always the decision of elders in family within the closed group of near ones and the caste and religion is the first criteria. A girl’s marriage is balanced with the amount of dowry that could be fetched sidelining other qualities of the bride.
At times, the demand from the groom’s family continues and when the bride’s family fails to satisfy their demands, the bride is tortured.
The inheritance of the married girl in the maternal family property is denied despite the gender equal inheritance law on pretext of equating it with the dowry.
Literacy is minimal and education is an alien word for rural women in India. There is a negative attitude of the family towards educating the girl child though girl education is free, but parents are not interested to send them to school for scores of numerous vague reasons.
‘ECONOMIC, SOCIAL & INFORMATION POVERTY’
Women contribute substantially to family income despite the biased long working hours and lower wages. Women workers are struggling to complete their household duties from dawn to dusk. They are often criticized for being not sincere for their work at home and branded as unskilled and non productive workers in their jobs.
Indian women have energy and skills to improve their lifestyle, they fetch firewood and water, operate kitchen gardening, cook, wash, and perform other domestic chores that are equally laborious, but hardly earned from it. They are the missing life line of agricultural rural economy. From childhood days they are engaged in taking care of siblings, cooking, looking after the domestic animals at the parents’ house and often married at an early age, the serve the domestic chores for the grooms family.
At the root is the ‘gender insensitive’ society, Indian women are condemned as a vague, faceless serfdom agrarian worker who work tirelessly for the family and also contribute for family worker.
Supreme Court has aptly remarked the women’s day-in and day-out contribution as a household worker and the labour women provide at the family agricultural land in the rural families. They are the vital and productive workers in India’s rural economy but the statistical bias in undermining the role of rural women in India’s growth story.
Women especially in rural India can provide a positive light to the missing lifeline of India economy and the desired results of ‘aatmnirbhar bharat’ can be easily achieved. Initiatives must be taken for elimination of ‘economic, social & information poverty ‘among rural women by guiding them to initiate and participate into various economic activities which give them financial independence along with social recognisition. The financial independence with the work shall bring in sea change in the mentality of rural women which surely will make them information adaptive!
With time women would engage in decision making regarding spending the money, improved life style, child education that would transform India into developed economy with strong social edifice.
The concept of transformation of rural life with ultimate objective of strengthening womanhood and engaging and recognize their contribution as a paid workforce shall add to more jobs and less dependent population adding to the grown story of India. It is grass-root level participation of every rural women by involvement of civil society, comprehensive planning at village level towards sustainable and equitable economic development. The main objective should be to improve the quality of life of rural households who are vulnerable to desperate measures concentrating wholly on women by channelizing her towards developmental activities at the village level itself.
The 2006 Nobel peace award winner and author of ‘Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty”, Muhammad Yunus, recognized the role of women in any country’s economic growth story, he said: “When a destitute mother starts earning an income, her dreams of success invariably center around her children. A woman’s second priority is the household. She wants to buy utensils, build a stronger roof, or find a bed for herself and her family. A man has an entirely different set of priorities. When a destitute father earns extra income, he focuses more attention on himself. Thus money entering a household through a woman brings more benefits to the family as a whole.”
His words could add meaning to India’s economy. The invisible lifeline of India’s urban and rural growth story needs to realize that there is strength in numbers. The designed pool of the urban women into Community-Based Support for the rural women shall bring in the desired social and economic changes. It can radically change the life of rural women, their children, their families and Indian economy all together.