Tuesday, 6 October 2020

K V Dominic's Haiku on Covid-19

 

Haiku on Covid-19

K V Dominic

 

Congregation prays:

God save us from the pandemic

God: I am helpless

 

Man: Aren’t we your dearest?

God: It’s your ego tells you so

All my creations darling to me

 

Man complains to God:

Are we fated to live with mask?

God: Enough you polluted air

 

Dawn now echoes birds’ chirps:

Thank you, thank you, thank you God

For restoring our rights

 

Coronavirus to man:

A lesson for your conceit

Be humble and kind

 

Man to coronavirus:

What harm have we done to you?

Virus: you called us

 

Earth to human beings:

Except you all are happy now

Reward for your crimes

 

God to human beings:

Mask you wear is punishment

For masking in your lives

 

Little boy to mom:

You punished for using cell phone

Now force for online classes

 

Earth to human beings:

You wash your hands for survival

Crimes’ blood still remains

 

Infants wail to guilty adults:

Pandemic is your own product

We are drowned in it

 

Animals warn humans:

Exploit more you perish more

Creator protects us

 

Mother Earth to quarryman:

How ruthless you dynamite

Mother’s breasts that fed you!

 

River to her mother sea:

Man raped and stabbed head to foot

Threw his waste on me

 

Plight of human being:

Social being now antisocial

Result of his karma

 

Members of same group

Bound to keep distance each other:

Reward of leagued crimes

 

Animals to humans:

You are caged and we are free

Tit for tat, mind you!

© K V DOMINIC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 21 February 2020

"K. V. Dominic’s God’s Tribunal as the Departure from the Reality" by Prof. Dr. K. Balachandran

K.V. Dominic’s God’s Tribunal as the Departure from the Reality
Prof. Dr. K. Balachandran

(Paper presented in the 64th All India English Teachers’ Conference, organized by Magadh University, Bodhgaya and AESI, Feb. 6th – 8th 2020)

Abstract

K. V. Dominic’s God’s Tribunal is a One Act Play which stands as a good example in Indian English literature for the departure from the reality.  Reality is one thing / aspect and departure is another.  Reality narrates one as it exists, prevails and functions.  Departure is a deviant one deviating for the present position/existence.  This One Act Play presents a complicated issue - man mishandling the problems on the earth, about which animals (cow, tiger), bird (cuckoo), Nature (tree), fish, the earth, why even women complain to God for justice. What are their complaints against man and how God reacts to them are truthfully narrated by the writer.  Has the earth become unlivable? Is the earth for human beings only? What are the problems in the human kind? Is man doing more harm than good? The 9 characters (God, Earth, Man, Woman, Cow, tiger, cuckoo, tree and fish) also present a deviant argument and picture which are lively and true. The paper presents a vivisection of the One Act Play and also a reality of departure – a novel portrait in words by the playwright.

Full Paper

            Dominic’s One Act Play God’s Tribunal is a departure from the reality because (i) The 9 characters are from all sections - not only human beings (man, woman), but also animals (cow, tiger), bird (cuckoo), Nature (Tree), one of the five elements (earth), fish and God. (ii) It is not only about people but for people and by people.  (iii) All the eight characters (except God) have assembled on the top of a mound expecting God’s appearance and arrival. (iv)  Generally when God exhibits Himself there’ll be thunder, rain or storm; but here it is a gentle breeze and a gleam in the sky.  (v) It is God’s voice and not his presence.  It is like a voice from the heaven.
            The voice of the God proclaims that He has summoned all, since he has been getting complaints from the above mentioned 8 characters.  The voice (speech) of God implants his views:  “I have created this earth and then all inhabitants with a purpose that you all should live here most happily.  I have bestowed here on this planet whatever needed for your existence.  So there is no scope for any complaint.  But I am fed up with listening to your complaints” (God’s Tribunal, p.154).  
            When God asks man about his complaint, man tells, “We have little happiness and peace here”.  God explains to him, “Heaven and hell is here on earth itself.  It is in your own minds I reside in you and all my creations.  I have no separate entity. As I am invisible, I live in your soul. It is true that you are separate from other creatures by having reasoning power or developed brain.  It is the same reasoning power which makes you most selfish of all creatures.”  He asks him who are responsible for destroying his happiness and peace.  Is it because of his co- existence with other creatures?
            As a kind of reply to God all the 5 (cow, tiger, cuckoo, tree and fish) tell, “Human beings have destroyed our peace and existence too.”  God pacifies them and again asks man about his genuine problem.  As a representative of human being, he speaks “13% people are starving, 1% richest people control the lives of the entire human race” (GT, p. 155).  He questions God, “Why have you created such divisions among us very few rich and vast majority poor?”  He argues further, even if the poor people raise above their standard of living they fail. 
They are born poor and die poor.  They have been praying regularly in temples, mosques and churches.  But nothing has changed.  Still majority people have no basic amenities without peace of mind and happiness.  When human beings have such problems, God created non human beings without problem.  They don’t work hard as human beings have to for their food.  Whatever they need are provided by God around them.  They don’t worship him; yet they are provided with what they need.  His complaints are the playwright’s ideas about the humanities.
            God replies him that his (man’s) problem lies in his brain since his brain function is different from creatures’ brain function.  His mental activities are both advantageous as well as disadvantageous.  With his brain he has done more harm than good for him and others. Man is more selfish than other beings.  He (God) admits that he is responsible for all the mess in his (man’s) brain which now boomerangs on him.  He further elaborates that the entire earth is for all creatures’ living.  He hasn’t created any wall between the human beings and other beings.  He has bestowed the earth with sufficient food and other necessities.  When other beings are happy with them man alone is not.  Because of his selfish nature and not satisfied with the necessities endowed by him, mighty people conquer and deprive the weak, and amass and become richer.
            God admits that he is helpless at this juncture and clears the doubt of man, “I never demand you to worship me. Instead you have created innumerable religions and gods”.  These are all part of his (man’s) selfishness.  He is not praying for the welfare of all who are his own brothers and sisters.
            The creator again proclaims that there is only one creator.  Man creates many Gods and religions for power and wealth and to exploit the poor.  Maximum number of crimes, massacres and violence are committed in the name of religion.  They forget to promote love and compassion.  In lieu of it, they instil hatred and discomfort.  Each religion (falsely) believes that theirs is the best and followers of that religion alone will be saved.  He advises man, “You should first learn that work is worship.  What I expect from you is love and compassion.  Love your fellow beings, all living and non-living bodies and the planet itself which is your abode.  When you love them, you love me.  Live and let live should be your policy” (GT, p.156).  This is the playwright’s idea about humanity and he speaks through the mouth of God. 
            Now God asks woman about her complaints.  She tells him that God created both male and female in all the species.  For the continuation of his creative process both are needed.  Among non human beings both male and female have equal status, whereas in the humanity, women are controlled, exploited and suppressed by men.  Men assume superiority over women.  There is no equality in any field.  In most homes, decisions are taken by men only.  Wives have no rights, but duties only.  They are treated as servants or slaves: destined to labour from dawn and dusk.  Ill treatment by their husbands is a common sight.   Physically they are tortured.   Parents prefer sons to daughters.  Birth of a son is a happy occasion whereas the birth of a daughter is seldom welcomed and celebrated.  Female feticide is a frequent one in the low income class.  She continues:
Rape, kidnapping, sex trade, murder of girls and women are found in almost all societies.  There is discrimination in the labour sector. Women are given lesser wages.  They are sexually exploited.  We are not treated equal in praying and worshipping you.  In most of the religions, clergies are all men.  Women are denied entries in some worshiping places.  Dear Father, kindly make men refined and good natured. (GT, p.156)
            What the woman spoke is the reality in this world.  It picturises the precarious plight of women.  Her accusation against men folk cannot be denied.  Her earnest entreaty to God to make men refined and good natured is timely and it has to be tackled without further delay.  Here the playwright brings out the struggles and sufferings of women and by doing this, he expects reaction and amelioration from the stronger sex.
            As a kind of reply and relief measure God tells her, “I haven’t injected any evil instincts into any of my reactions.  Females in other beings have no such complaint.  There male and female live in perfect harmony.  No female being will surrender to a male being.  She will resist and he will go back” (GT, p.157).  He advises her to apply the same strategy that non human beings practise.  “Man can’t live without woman and woman can’t live without man.  They are created for each other.  For the continuation of a species, union of both is necessary.  So there is no question of superiority or inferiority. Both are equals and they should live with perfect harmony and rhythm.  They are part of the universal concert and symphony” (GT, p.157). This is not only the voice of God; but also that of the playwright who has a very clear vision about male and female, their importance for the species called humanity.  There is no question of domination by one sect over the other.  Equality should be the axle of husband-wife relationship.
            Animals have their own grievances.  When God asks them, cow comes as the representative of domestic animals – cattle, sheep, dog, cat, pig, fowls, horse, donkey, camel and elephant.  Its complaint: “We have been serving man as he likes but in return we have not been treated gratefully.  We have been poorly fed and beaten. When we are old and weak, not able to serve him like slaves physically, he kills us and eats” (GT, p.157).  Man slaughters them and kills them inch by inch.  Dogs are deserted and they roam in streets.  Puppies and kittens overrun by man’s vehicles.  Though domestic animals have the tag ‘domestic’ (meaning enjoying man’s love and their liberty) very rarely they are treated so. The cow continues, “We could have lived happily in the forest along with our counterparts there with no fear of human beings.  Dear God, either set us free or make them refined and compassion- ate to the animals” (GT, p. 157). Here also one can find the playwright’s ideas about domestic animals and man’s attitude towards them in the speech of the cow.
            On behalf of the wild animals, Tiger expresses their complaints to God.  They have been leading a very comfortable life in the forests.  Whatever they need, are in plenty in forest.
But human beings, not satisfied with what they were allotted, started encroaching our dwelling places, destroying forests.  We have been hunted by them.  Now we have little food and water for our survival.  So we are compelled to go out of our dwelling places in search of food and water and we are killed by human beings, since we entered their villages.  What justice is there?  Dear God, command human beings to reforest and regain our dwellings and never enter into our area. (GT, pp. 157-158)
From the tiger’s complaint one can understand how human beings are inhuman to the animals and their encroachment in the latter’s area.
            Cuckoo representing all birds on earth tells God about their complaints. “Our grievance is similar to tiger’s.  Since man has destroyed forests as part of encroachments and trees in his villages to construct building after buildings we have lost our abodes as well as food and water. Many of our species have become extinct” (GT, p. 158).  The complaints from birds are truly represented by the cuckoo.  If the existing condition continues, birds will be wiped of from this planet.  They don’t do any harm to human beings.  Instead they have been serving the humanity - giving happiness to their eyes, ears and minds.  Is this not true? Here also one can see the view point of the playwright, his concern for the birds and how human beings have to change their approach and attitude towards them.
            Next comes a tree to record its complaints to God on behalf of all trees. They are fated to live static and immovable.  Their selfless sacrifice and service only sustain all living beings.  Mainly they take carbon -dioxide and let oxygen which is the most important for all beings.  “Human beings so ungratefully kill us, uprooting us, cutting into pieces and even burning, alive… they do it for their comforts and luxuries.  They don’t understand that we too have life and sensations like them.  Their recklessness and destruction mania will wipe out plant life, animal life and their own existence from this planet” (GT, p. 158).  The voice of this tree is the voice of the playwright who feels much for the various plant kingdom in Nature.
            On behalf of the living beings in water, a fish comes forward to complain to God.  It is very angry and asks, “Are we created just for the consumption of other creatures?  Aren’t we dear to you as all other beings?  Don’t you see the cruelty and massacre done to us by human beings?  We never do any harm to man but he tries to extinct us from our habitations… we are used for their pleasurable taste.  In addition to the mass butcher, man poisons our dwelling and billions die of toxins every day” (GT. p.158). Nobody will say that the complaints are untrue.  The writer’s concern for living beings in water is justified by the argument of a fish.
            Lastly God invites Earth. She voices forth her complaints:
I am your daughter and these all are my children. My complaint is, in fact, the totality of their complaints… human beings are the only species responsible for the imbalance of Nature.  They are not only exploiting and destroying other beings and plants, but also wounding me inch by inch.  Don’t you see the atrocities they do on my body digging, mining, quarrying, building huge structures, dams and above all poisoning my wounded body by dumping electronic and plastic wastes… if you remove man from my body, I will recover soon and you can find a paradise once again. (GT, p.159)
As the complaints of all, here also the complaint of the earth is true and unrejectable.  It is the playwright’s ideas voiced forth by the cow.
            So all the complaints have been registered by God and now he has to give his judgment for which all have been waiting anxiously.  He declares it that after hearing all their complaints, he has come to the conclusion that human beings are responsible for all the problems on the earth.  Like them God is also much grieved because he only created man with a noble purpose.  Like any human father, he also will he happy to see the well being of his children, their happiness and harmonious life with co-habitance.  But he is not able to see it.  Human beings have more mental powers and functions.  They have reasoning power.  They can differentiate between good and bad.  He had the impression that human beings would choose only the right things which are beneficial to them and other beings and avoid bad things that are detriment to them and also for others living.  His final verdict, “Having created I can’t call them human beings back.  I am still hopeful that they would learn lessons from their wrong deeds and lead a harmonious life with other beings and Nature.  If they do not change, a total destruction of human race would result”.  He at last cautions humanity, “Life would continue on this planet without man and harmony would be regained, and there will be no more complaints from any creations”  (GT, p.159).
            All the 6 characters (excluding man and woman) heave sigh of relief and tell in a chorus, “We long for that doomsday.”  Now man and woman are in a precarious condition. Is this warning necessary? Yes, it is for their inhuman life.  Why there are so many storms and forest fire in all the continents? Excess rain during rainy season, rain during the harvest times, no rain when it is needed - are not these punishment by the various elements (Rain God, Fire God) in this universes? They occur only to punish human beings.  This realization has not come.  But political leaders and people cry, “This storm has come! That rain downpours!”  When human beings exceed their limit, naturally the five elements will start punishing.  This has to be realized and understood by human beings and mend their ways, not indulging in unfair activities.  If they change they will find Heaven on earth (Terrestrial Heaven), if not hell only on the earth.
Conclusion:
            In this regard K.V. Dominic’s One Act Play, God’s Tribunal in a fine eye opener to all.  Though it is small in 6 pages, its message is powerful, multifarious and multi functionary.  He has deviated from other playwrights to inculcate what he wanted to convey.  Thus the playwright has word painted a vivisection of the present day humanity and man’s harmful activities and how it is most urgent that he turns a new leaf in the interest of all human beings.  “Live and let live” is the simplest message, but it is really a noble and timely one!
Primary source
Dominic, K. V. God’s Tribunal. Writers, Editors, Critics, vol. 9, no. 1, March 2019, pp.154-159.


Prof. Dr. K. Balachandran, Former Prof., Dept. of English, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar – 608 002 (Tamil Nadu), is a bilingual writer who has published 20 books (16 in English and 4 in Tamil) and a number of poems, research articles and reviews in India and abroad. A Gold Medalist from Annamalai University, he has won several awards. He has been serving as UPSC Examiner for the past 20 years. After retirement he has served as Dean and Principal in two colleges.


            

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

CALL FOR PAPERS TO THE BOOK MULTICULTURAL LITERATURE BEYOND ETHNICITY


Esteemed friends,
Glad to inform you that I am going to edit a book entitled “Multicultural Literature beyond Ethnicity” which will be published by the renowned publishing house Authorspress, New Delhi, by the middle of 2020. High quality, original and unpublished papers are invited for the anthology.  The papers submitted will be subjected to peer review by an expert committee. The range of the topics for the book includes:
·         Ethnic pluralism
·         Cultural Pluralism
·         Systemocracy
·         Pluriculturalism
·         Cosmopolitanism
·         Cultural Assimilation
·         Cultural Conflict
·         Cultural Homogenization
·         Ethnocentrism
·         Intercultural Relations
·         Leitkultur
·         Miscegenation
·         Unity in Diversity
·         Xenocentrism
·         Transculturalism
·         Syncretism
·         Racial Integration
·         Polyethnicity
·         Policulturalism
·         Plurinationlism
·         Multinational state
·         Multicultural Education
·         Bilingualism and Multilingualism
·         Multicultural Art
·         Multicultural Literatures of India, Asia, Americas, Europe, Africa, Oceania
Submission Guidelines
v  The article should begin with an Abstract of around 150 words followed by a few keywords or phrases
v  The length of the article should be around 2500-3500 words in Times New Roman fond 12 size
v  MLA Style 8th edition (2016) should be strictly followed for documentation. There should be a Works Cited at the end of the paper which contains a list of works cited in the paper
v  A brief bio data of the author in two or three sentences shall be added to the article
v  There should be a declaration by the author stating that the paper is original, unpublished and without any plagiarism
v  Below the declaration, the author should give his/her postal address with pin code, phone number and email address
v  Once the paper is accepted, the contributor will be requested to remit Rs. 2000 as cost of the publication to the bank account of the editor. A copy of the published book will be sent free to the author. The account details are:
Account Holder’s name: Dominic K V
Account Number: 0722101031859
Name of the Bank and Branch: Canara Bank, Thodupuzha
IFSC code: CNRB0000722 
Kindly send the papers by email to prof.kvdominic@gmail.com
The last date for submission is 31 December 2019


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Gender Discrimination in India--An Exploration



Gender Discrimination in India—An Exploration
K. V. Dominic
(Originally presented at Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, T.N., India on 21 August 2019)

The term ‘gender’ is defined as ‘either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.’ The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female. Sex and gender are different. The term ‘sex’ is defined as ‘either of the two divisions, male or female, into which persons, animals, or plants are divided, with reference to their reproductive functions.’ Gender inequality is the discrimination shown to women by men. It is a product of the patriarchy and women are assumed and treated as inferior and weaker to men in mental and physical power.  It is a global phenomenon, but compared to the West and other developed countries, gender discrimination is very high in India.
India as everyone knows is the largest democracy in the world and we Indians are proud of it. Equality, fraternity and liberty are the basic principles of democracy. Though our governments, both Central and States, are elected by the people, can we call the country a democratic in the strict sense of the word? No. There is gender discrimination as well as class segregation at a very high rate. Discrimination to women was found in all the ages of our country though it was very less in the pre-Vedic era. This paper aims at finding out the causes and effects of gender discrimination.
Let me begin the paper by sharing the views of Swami Vevekananda and Mahatma Gandhi on women and gender discrimination. Swami Vivekananda preached: “The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women. . . . There is no hope of rise for that family or country where there is no estimation of women, where they live in sadness.” (The Complete Works, vol. 7, pp. 214-15) Swamiji spoke on another occasion: “When people are discussing as to what man and woman can do, always the same mistake is made. They think they show man at his best because he can fight, for instance, and undergo tremendous physical exertion; and this is pitted against the physical weakness and non-combating quality of woman. This is unjust. Woman is as courageous as man. Each is equally good in his or her way. What man can bring up a child with such patience, endurance, and love as the woman can? The one has developed the power of doing; the other, the power of suffering. If woman cannot act, neither can man suffer. The whole universe is one of perfect balance.” (The Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 25-26) Being a spiritual man, Vivekananda emphatically exposed the vice of sex discrimination: “Soul has no sex, it is neither male nor female. It is only in the body that sex exists, and the man who desires to reach the spirit cannot at the same time hold sex distinctions.” (The Complete Works, vol. 4, p. 176)
Quotes of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation is dearer to us than any others. Gandhi shared his views on gender discrimination through his weekly journal Young India: “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel (false statement); it is man's injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?"
(“To the Women of India,Young India, Oct. 4, 1930)
See how vehemently he condemned gender discrimination through Young India in 1921: “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity to me, the female sex, not the weaker sex. It is the nobler of the two, for it is even today the embodiment of sacrifice, silent suffering, humility, faith and knowledge.” (YI, 15-9-1921, p. 292) Gandhi was bold enough to blame Shastras and Smritis for discriminating women. He wrote: “Legislation has been mostly the handiwork of men; and man has not always been fair and discriminate in performing that self–appointed task. The largest part of our effort in promoting the regeneration of women should be directed towards removing those blemishes which are represented in our Shastras as the necessary and ingrained characteristics of women. . . . We will feel ashamed of the stray reflections on them in our Smritis, and will soon forget them. Such revolutions have occurred in Hinduism in the past, and will still take place in the future, leading to the stability of our faith.” (Gandhi, Speeches and Writings 424)
Gandhi was totally opposed to gender discrimination. He did not like Indian society's preference for a boy and a general neglect of a girl child. In fact, in most cases she is not allowed to be born. If born her survival is not ensured. If somehow she survives she is subjected to neglect. She does not get respect and the status she deserves equal to that of a boy. Gandhi described discrimination against women as an anachronism (outdated). He said: "I fail to see any reason for jubilation over the birth of a son and for mourning over the birth of a daughter. Both are God's gifts. They have an equal right to live and are equally necessary to keep the world going.”
Gandhiji called women as the noble sex. He said that if she is weak in striking, she is strong in suffering. Gandhi described; "Woman as the embodiment of sacrifice and ahimsa." He further states: "A daughter's share must be equal to that of a son. The husband's earnings are a joint property of husband and wife as he makes money by her assistance.”
Gandhi prepared a primer (beginner’s book) for the children for a primary school. This primer or Balpothi is the form of a mother teaching the child. In a chapter on housework the mother asks her son: Dear Son, you should also help in the housework as your sister does.
Son answers: But she is a girl. I am a boy. A boy plays and studies.
Sister says: How come I also like to play and study?
Brother: I do not deny that but, dear sister, you have to do housework as well.
The mother: Why should a boy not do house work?
Son: Because the boy has to earn money when he grows up, therefore, he must study well.
The Mother: You are wrong my son. Woman also makes an earning for the family. And, there is a lot to learn in housework--house cleaning, cooking, laundry. By doing house work you will develop various skills of the body and will feel self-reliant. In good housework, you need to use your eyes, hands and brain. Therefore these activities are educative and they build your character. Men and women, both need to be educated equally in housework because the home belongs to both. (Quoted in Patel)
Having expressed the views of two greatest souls of our country let me now hunt out the basic causes of gender discrimination. How has this evil attitude got into the Indian minds? Though our country is a secular state our secularism is unlike the Western one and it promotes religions and religious feelings among the people. It has now come to such a worst stage that our people’s primary concern and feelings are religious. Communal and religious feelings give way to national and patriotic feelings. The purposes of the practice of a religion are to achieve the goals of salvation for oneself and others, and (if there is a God) to render due worship and obedience to God. Religious leaders, priests, sanyasis and pujaris are esteemed high in our country and their words are more accepted than even one’s parents. Patriarchy reigns supreme in all religions and rituals and ceremonies are conducted by men. Thus clergy assume themselves as superior to laity. Instead of promoting world peace and happiness each religion professes itself as the best in the world and propagates the message that salvation is possible only through it. Scriptures and holy books were inscribed by men, and women had no role in it. Principles, commandments, rules and regulations were formulated by men and the male superiority complex led them to consider women as inferior and it deteriorated to such a level as considering women as consumer products. It is an irony that even women accept themselves as inferior. It is the religions and the religious leaders who injected this venom of inferiority feelings among women. If they will, the priests of all religions can very well remove gender discrimination from all societies because their words are precious and acceptable to the laity. But they won’t, because they will have to share their power and positions with women and refrain from exploiting them.
Since religions are vote banks, the political parties in our country feed them and support with money and legal concessions. Even leftist parties are no exception to it. Candidates for local bodies, assemblies and parliaments are decided by the political parties on the basis of religion and community.
Some societies regarded women as the root cause of all evil and responsible for downfall of men. Women had a decidedly inferior status and were totally dependent on men. Women were confined to the family and remained under legal and customary subjection of their husbands or other male family members. Customs and practices like female infanticide, child marriage, purdah (veil), dowry, polygamy, sati, repeated pregnancies, permanent and pathetic widowhood, illiteracy, wife beating and verbal abuse made life of common women very hard. (Kaushik)
Based on the most recent UN data India’s population is 1.37 billion. Sex Ratio of India is 107.48, i.e., 107.48 males per 100 females in 2019. It means that India has 930 females per 1000 males. In absolute terms, India has 48.20% female population compared to 51.80% male population. India is at 191st position out of 201 countries in terms of female to male ratio. Among Asian countries, India is at 43rd position out of 51. Isn’t this a shameful and shocking reality of our country which is supposed to be a developing nation and one of the emerging super powers?  This unpleasant sex ratio is a result of sex-selective abortion, childhood neglect of girls and infanticide. Preference of son over daughter is the main reason for female infanticide. Another major reason is dowry system which makes daughters an unaffordable economic burden.
Here are some statistics regarding gender discrimination and atrocities. Millions of girls go missing each year and as per UN Population Fund for Asia, over 170 million girls are missing in Asia alone. The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48%, much less than 92% in Nepal, 74% in Pakistan, 54% in Bangladesh.
India ranks low in global indices of female literacy as well. African countries Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania all rank higher than India.   Daughters are not educated because parents think that it is a wastage of money and they have to be married off paying good dowry at an early age. The concept of the Indian societies formulated by the patriarchal system is that women are created for household work and for serving men. Thus women are destined to lead a prison life of house, rearing children and serving men through food and sex. Gandhi believed that lack of education and information was the root cause of all the evils against women. He believed that education is therefore necessary for women as it is for men. He believed that education is essential for enabling women to assert their natural right, to exercise them wisely and to work for their expansion. He thought that low level of literacy among women had deprived them of socio-politico power and also the power of knowledge. He stood for proper education for women as he believed that after receiving education they become sensitive to the glaring inequalities to which they are subjected. (Kaushik)

Dowry system is another curse of the Indian society. Dowry deaths are deaths of married women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by their husbands and in-laws over a dispute about their dowry, making women's homes the most dangerous place for them to be. Dowry deaths are found predominantly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. Twenty-one dowry deaths are reported across the country every day. The conviction rate, however, is less than 35 per cent.

I composed a poem on the curse of dowry system which was published in my first collection of poems Winged Reason in 2010. The poem is entitled “Laxmi’s Plea”. Let me read it:

Laxmi’s Plea

Rekha’s wedding today;
my youngest colleague
junior by ten years.
To be or not to be;
present or absent;
a terrible trance!
Auspicious occasion;
jocund jolly hall;
a fish out of water;
I can’t slither there.
“Laxmi, when is your wedding?”
“Laxmi, you alone remain.”
Can’t bear these arrows;
heart full of such arrows;
bleeding day after day.
It’s none my fault
single at thirty three.
“Laxmi looks very handsome.”
“She is a lamp to any house.”
A lamp destined to burn out
under a hot pot.
Plenty of proposals;
appeared with tea
before many young men.
None complained my looks.
“What’s the dowry?”
A stumbling block to all proposals.
Father died when I was ten;
mother bed-ridden with cancer;
a thatched house in five cents;
an elder sister married off.
My meagre salary two thousand
hardly meets our food and medicine.
I have pricked my bubble of dreams;
let none dream for me.
Leave me alone;
leave me single.
Gandhi believed that the custom of dowry turned young girls into mere chattels (commodities) to be bought and sold. He called this custom pernicious as it lowered the status of women; destroyed their sense of equality with men and defiled the institution of marriage. (Bakshi 175) To curb the venomous dowry system he advised every parent to educate their daughters so that they refuse to marry a young man who wanted a price for marrying and would remain spinster than to be party to the degrading terms. He suggested that a strong public opinion needs to be formulated against dowry and such young men who soil their fingers with such ill gotten gold should be excommunicated from society. He advocated change in education and also stressed the need of taking recourse to radical measure like organizing youth movements and offering satyagraha against those perpetuating the custom. (Gandhi, Woman’s Role in Society 32)
 The destiny of widows in our country is very pathetic. India is home to an estimated 40 million widows - approximately 10% of all women. Ageing women are more vulnerable than men. Without any financial security or welfare infrastructure, many of them are abandoned in Vrindavan--where they live off charity while they wait to die. Farmer suicides, communal riots, terrorist attacks, road accidents etc. increase the number of widows in our country. I wrote and published a poem entitled “I am an Indian Young Widow” in my fifth poetry book Cataracts of Compassion in 2018. Let me quote from it:
I am an Indian Young Widow

I am an Indian widow
Cruel destiny made me so
at my prime age of twenty nine
With neither notice
nor any prior hint
he left me and our little ones
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alas I have to row all alone now
And sea has become more violent
No glimpse of any terminus now
With none to help from both our families
how will I survive with my little ones?
I who opposed practice of suttee
can now find sense behind its concept
Hellish is the life of an Indian widow
Tragic and nightmarish if she is young
Patriarchy doesn’t allow her to survive
Eagles fly over her wherever she goes
When she craves for love and sympathy
society rends her bleeding heart
shooting arrows of repulsive words
Curses hurl on her from in-law’s house
Burden for her parents and brothers
Looking at her husband’s photo
whines often for deserting them
Pleads him to take with him
In fact she rows not for saving her life
but to save her children from being drowned.
Another major chain of Indian women is that they have no freedom in choosing their dress. Their dress code is decided by the patriarchy, particularly religion. Men have the freedom to wear any dress they like but they dictate the attire of women. Gandhi regarded purdah as inhuman and immoral, for it impeded the march towards swaraj (self rule) by restricting women. (Bakshi 174-175) It denied women freedom as well as free gift of God like light and fresh air. It also crippled the free movement of women; interfered with their advancement and their capacity for doing useful work for the society. It weakened instead of strengthening morality for it did not help in preserving chastity as chastity is not a hot-house growth and cannot be superimposed. (Gandhi, Woman’s Role in Society 22) It cannot be protected by the surrounding wall of purdah. It must grow from within and must be capable of withstanding every temptation. Men must be able to trust womenfolk as the latter are compelled to trust them. He believed that the veil generates the feeling of insecurity in women and results in deterioration of their health. He appealed to public in general and women in particular to tear down purdah. (Gandhi, Women and Social Injustice 96) He was sure that abolition of purdah would lead to mass education for both men and women and would help women in gaining strength and becoming an active participant in the struggle for swaraj.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, reported incidents of crime against women increased 6.4% during 2012, and a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes. In 2011, there were greater than 228,650 reported incidents of crime against women, while in 2015, there were over 300,000 reported incidents, a 44% increase.
Extreme poverty and lack of education are also some of the reasons for women’s low status in society. Poverty and lack of education derives countless women to work in low paying domestic service, organized prostitution or as migrant laborers. Women are not only getting unequal pay for equal or more work but also they are being offered only low skill jobs for which lower wages are paid. This has become a major form of inequality on the basis of gender. (“Gender Inequality in India”)
 According to the Deloitte report titled “Empowering Women & Girls in India for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, 95 per cent or 195 million women are employed in the unorganised sector or are in unpaid work. Women are discriminated in the labour sector with regard to the wages. They are paid lesser than the wages of men even if both are doing the same quantity of work. Among the majority of the poor people in India women are the bread earners of their families. They have to do all the domestic activities and then go for work in factories, estates, and other work places. Men, husbands and sons, either live idle or squander the money they earn through labour. Many are addicted to liquor and drugs and they beat and torture the women and children in the houses out of intoxication. Some even steal the hard-earned money of the women for their drink.
Discrimination to women in sports and games is more visible in our country than the West. Spectators are very less for women’s games. Cricket, as you are aware, is the most popular game in our country. Players of our Indian Women Cricket team get very less remuneration compared to the men. They have no sponsors at all while the leading men players of our country earn millions and millions of rupees every month. I have composed a poem on this discrimination and published it in my third collection of poems entitled Multicultural Symphony in 2014.  The name of the poem is “Women’s Cricket World Cup 2013”. Let me read it.
Women’s Cricket World Cup 2013
I.C.C. Women’s Cricket World Cup 2013
Played in cricket crazy land of India
Opening match at Brabourne ground, Mumbai
Indian lasses meeting West Indian lasses
Live telecast from Star Cricket
What a shame! Empty galleries!
Had it been men’s world cup
galleries full and thousands ticketless outside
Why such discrimination to women’s sports?
Why such double standards to women’s feats?
Had it been women’s beauty contest
or fashion show with minimum dress
the stadium would be full
even if tickets are very high
Dear my brothers in India and abroad
let’s appreciate and promote
our sisters’ talents and skills
rather than looking at them
with vicious hungry eyes.

We have so far examined the impact of gender discrimination in our country. As I have stated earlier this unhealthy attitude and practice have been there throughout all the ages of India. We naturally expect a change or reformation in the society after our independence. Being a democratic country the constitution was formulated in such a manner ensuring equality for women. But even after 73 years of independence what is the position of women in our country? In the 17th Lok Sabha 2019 there are only 78 women representatives out of the total number of 542, with a low percentage of 14.6%. Out of the 236 Rajya Sabha members only 26 are women, just 11%. The Women's Reservation Bill or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, which proposes to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all State legislative assemblies for women is still a pending bill in the Parliament of India. No doubt, the male parliament members of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are opposing the bill’s implementation. Women representation in the State legislative assemblies is also very low and nominal.
Thus it is very clear that as long as patriarchy rules supreme in our country women will never get justice. Unless women fight against this male supremacy by boycotting elections and resorting to Gandhian ways of satyagraha this gender discrimination will never disappear from India. I am winding up my paper with an extract from my poem “International Women’s Day” published in my first collection of poems Winged Reason in 2010.           .

 “International Women’s Day”

Woman is the game!
Birth to death,
an instrument of lust
and hot-selling sex.
Her very birth ill omen:
an unwelcome event.
No guilt in foeticide;
foeticide is matricide;
no life without mother.
Sexism in childhood;
priority to her brother;
her food, his leftover.
Chained in kitchen,
she rarely goes out.
No toys, no plays;
always envies him.
Mum and dad love him;
she gets only reproaches;
beat her very often.
Seldom educated;
hence no employment,
and always dependant.
No choice of her partner;
her individuality
scantily respected.
Born to be dictated;
tyranny everywhere:
slave to her husband,
servant to her in-laws.
Bears the burden of birth;
lives for her children.
Dawn to dusk,
blood turns sweat.
Her love never returned.
Has no place in politics:
councils, assemblies, parliaments,
she has little or unheard voice.
Religions also dishonour her:
she has no right
to enter her Father’s abode;
no place in clergy.
She is always the Other.
Patriarchy is his product;
he dictates the world;
dictates even God,
and corrupts religion.
He writes scriptures,
makes sexism predestinate.
Venerable is woman,
for she is your mother;
she is you sister;
she is your wife;
she is your guide;
she is your teacher;
she is your nurse;
and above all,
she is your angel.

Works Cited

Bakshi, S. R, Gandhi and His Social Thought. Criterion Publications, 1986.
Dominic, K. V. “I am an Indian Young Widow,” Cataracts of Compassion. Authorspress, 2018.
---. “International Women’s Day,” Winged Reason. Authorspress, 2010.
---. “Laxmi’s Plea,” Winged Reason. Authorspress, 2010.
---. “Women’s Cricket World Cup 2013,” Multicultural Symphony. GNOSIS, 2014.
Gandhi, M. K. Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. 4th Edition, G. A. Nateshan and Company, 1933. https://www.mkgandhi.org/ebks/speeches&writingsofmg.pdf. Accessed 15 May 2019.
---. Woman’s Role in Society. Navjivan Publishing House, 1959.
---. Women and Social Injustice. Navjivan Publishing House, 1942.
“Gender Inequality in India.” https://www.indiacelebrating.com/social-issues/gender-inequality-in-india/. Accessed 15 May 2019.
Kaushik, Dr. (Ms) Anupama. Gandhi on Gender Violence and Gender Equality: An Overview.” https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/gender_equality.htm. Accessed 15 May 2019.
Patel, Dr. Vibhuti, “Gandhiji and Empowerment of Women.” https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/womenempowerment.htm. Accessed 15 May 2019.
Vivekananda, Swami. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Advaita Ashrama, 2013.