By Vijay Darda
I have always been a strong supporter of women’s empowerment. I have often advocated the fact that every Indian woman should become so powerful that she should rub shoulders with her male counterpart. I have always supported women even in Parliament and also outside of it in their demand for 33 per cent reservation in the parliamentary system. I have always raised my voice against female feticide. Unless women are empowered, how can we imagine development of the country?
Women must have the right to their privacy. The Supreme Court has correctly stated in its judgment that woman is not the property of her husband. A woman is free to make her own decisions. The court scrapped the law made in 1860 that brought adultery within the purview of punishment. The court said that this 158-year-old law violates woman’s privacy.
One very important thing in terms of this judgment is that in section 497 of IPC which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional, there was no provision to treat the woman guilty of adultery. Only the male was considered guilty. The petitioner Joseph Shine had urged why only men are guilty? Women should also be considered guilty. The court removed the provision of punishment. Yes, this provision made sure that adultery will remain the basis for divorce. If a wife is fed up with her life partner’s acts of adultery and commits suicide, then adultery will fall into the category of crime.
Along with this, the court also said one very important thing that adultery should be seen as a social evil. If we look at social references, our culture has developed so much because our family institution has got the most important place in our society. Due to patriarchal system, there has been a lot of oppression on women and there can be no place for this kind of system in any civilized society.
But in spite of this, the institution of family has sustained and continued. The main role in maintaining this family system has played by women only. A common truth is that a woman can guide the entire family alone and no man can do the same. Even the torchbearers of culture are women. A child is more impressed by his mother than father. There is no harm in saying that a man can build a house but it is woman who turns it into home. Women are the carriers of culture.
Women should get all the rights that men want for themselves. But it is also true that if we leave our culture and join the competition to imitate western countries, one day our culture, which has taken shape in thousands of years, will be destroyed. Nobody can ask daughter or son in the West why they did not come home for four days. If the father scolds his son or daughter, then they could approach the police and get the father arrested. Father will be locked in jail!
Can we imagine such a thing in our country? And why should we do it too? We should be proud that we still have a strong family institution. In foreign countries, there are hardly parental ties worth their name. A son does not know where his father or mother is living and with whom. Children sometimes go to meet their mother or father.
Our culture teaches us to respect our elders. In foreign countries, children go to school while puffing at cigarettes and flashing guns; does this mean that our children will also smoke cigarettes in front of their teachers? Unfortunately, we have also created a free society here. Are we going on an overseas path? Father and daughter are drinking alcohol. We are also witnessing things such as live-in-relationship and unwed mother. They feel this is freedom. This section does not look upon the marriage as more than an agreement, so there are divorces among them. Fortunately, a large section of society is still left out of all these things. Hope that our society is spared of all such things.
I want to make it clear that I do not hate pizza and burgers but it is natural to be worried when pizza and burger begin to change culture. Earlier, children were given tiffin so that they could get the taste of homemade food. I say study English but why feel shame in speaking mother tongue? It is important to understand that the emotion felt in the word ‘Maa’ is not in mummy. Keep in mind that our culture is our biggest heritage. If you lose it then nothing will survive! The answers to the questions arising in the competition of modernity will have to be found by the society.
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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