International Women’s day. Good Wills College, Bangalore, 8.3.2018; SV college for Women and Engineering (SVEC), Tirupathi 11.11. 2017
India is called Bharat Matha, not Bharat Pitha, but today India has been labeled the worst place to be a woman of all the rich G20 nations, developing nations. The greatest challenge of the 21st century is the inequality and oppression of women. In a nation like India, women have come a long way, from social and religious oppression like “purdah” and “Sati”, and now though women have many laws on their side, the problem lies deep within; the root of the problem lies in the human mind of an individual accustomed to patriarchal values for years. Atrocities against women like female infanticide, dowry deaths, and marital violence happen both in cities and villages but in cities; it is conveniently kept behind closed doors. My book When the Flame Flickers addresses this problem. India figures third among the top 10 countries where the highest number of rapes has been reported. In the last half-century, more girls were discriminated to death than all the people killed on all the battlefields in the 20th century. These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. The voices of the women must be heard loud and clear: It is a violation of human rights when girl babies are killed; when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution; when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. Mahatma Gandhi said 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, the female sex. Larry Summers, once said that “It may well be that the highest return on investment in the developing world is in girls’ education.” Education is one sure answer for this problem.