Monthly Archives: June 2012

(6)Facilitation of reading and learning of English pronunciations and spellings

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The English language is the most popular and widely used language in the world. However, it is seen that many school going children have difficulty in learning the proper pronunciation and spelling of English words. This is because though the English vocabulary and grammer can be learned with relative ease, the pronunciation and spelling of English words is confusing and difficult for learners as it does not appear to conform to a definite formula or rule, especially its vowels.

Take the letter ‘U’ for example. ‘PUT’ is to be pronounced somewhat like ‘P-oo-t’ . However, ‘U’ in BUT’ is not to be pronounced as ‘Boot’;’it’s more like ‘e’ as in ‘Her’. Likewise, ‘I’ is pronounced as ‘e’ of ‘Her’ in ‘Sir’, but as ‘ee’ in ‘Will’. Confusing indeed for primary class students of English,whose mother tongue is not English.

There is a joke that considering this vast variance and irregularity in the pronunciation as well as spelling of English words, the word ‘fish’ can also be spelt as ‘ghoti'(‘gh’ being pronounced as ‘f’ in ‘tough’; ‘o’ as ‘ee’ in ‘women’,and ‘ti’ as ‘sh’, as in ‘mention’!

Therefore, learning of pronunciation and spelling needs to be simplified at the primary level by devising some sort of learning aid for it. Having been a student of French in school, I have observed that pronunciation of French words is much simpler, though both the languages use the same, Roman script. I also saw that the same is simpler because of aid in the form of guiding marks or ‘accents’ employed for the reading of each letter, e.g. Where an ‘accente grave’ (right oblique line) is placed over the letter ‘a’, it is to be pronounced as ‘aa’ only,while ‘accent aigu/acute’ (left oblique line) over it makes it due for pronunciation as in ‘an’,not as ‘aa’,or in any other way.

Many standard English dictionaries,like the Oxford Dictionary,too, have a method of indication or marking that can also be utilised by English texts,alternatively, for facilitating reading with the right pronunciations, and consequently, writing words with the correct spelling, at least at the Primary level.

This system of marking words to indicate their pronunciation in English text books will, as in French texts, make the learning of pronunciation and spelling of English words much simpler,in my opinion.

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(5)Female foeticide (Women’s Problems in India -No.2 )

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INTRODUCTION:

DEFINITION: Female foeticide-the extermination of a female foetus before its attaining fullterm or delivery by premature induction of termination of pregnancy,subsequent to antenatal sex determination of the foetus-a medically aided earlier and easier replacement of the practice of female infanticide.
The RISING INCIDENCE of this with the blessings of the medical fraternity, especially in cities,has become a worrisome problem for all those who value life for its own sake. This nefarious practice has reached such alarming proportions that its serious repercussions on the male-female ratio have already started making themselves felt by the increasing difficulty encountered in finding brides for marriageable boys in some states in India, because of shortage of girls.

The highest incidence is reported from northern states like Haryana,Rajasthan,Gujarat, but it does happen in the other states also, like Salem in Tamilnad.

Earlier, it was thought to be an evil of the Hindu society but now it is being practised among Other religious groups such as Muslims and Christians also.

It is prevalent among almost all economic strata of society except the very rich or the very poor,the latter sparing them because they probably look upon girls as possessions that can be used for making easy money in many ways like child labour, begging and especially for immoral traffic. This last fact is taken advantage of by those who kill their own girls as a way of getting substitutes for them, for their sexual exploits.

This evil has started corroding the roots of Indian society in a very drastic manner. Still,this deadly trend shows no signs of tapering down or stopping, despite sex determination tests and sex related medical termination of pregnancy having been banned by Law now.

REASON ? The female child being seen as a social and economic burden and liability for her parents,particularly those having one or more daughters already,thanks to our not being able to bring down the number of crimes against women esp. sex related crimes and dowry harassment and murders. So,as long as these crimes continue to occur unabated,the evil of female foeticide, peculiar to Oriental countries and India, is not going to make its exit,and forcible prevention of it will only lead to the return of the more cruel practice of female infanticide, which will be worse!

The antagonists of Female Foeticide think that their duty is over by closing down the Ultrasonography centres of doctors, but they are not bothered to follow up what fate lies before the ‘saved’ girls after their birth viz. infanticide, discarding into garbage bins to die of starvation or at the hands or mouths of street animals, or falling into the hands of beggar gangs or immoral traffickers. At best, they may be abandoned to orphanages.         The protagonists of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ should at least take the trouble to trace or follow up those couples found to be trying for Female Foeticide  upto the delivery of the unwanted girl/s so that they can rescue those girls whose parents seem inclined to abandon or kill them, by taking possession  of the babies to hand them over to authorised orphanages or child care homes, where efforts can be made to get them adopted by responsible people, or to bring them up in the orphanage itself with facilities for becoming self reliant.

CAUSES IN DETAIL:

(a) One cause behind the complacence of our society towards this issue is that it is considered better and less torturesome for girls themselves to die at this foetal, sensation- free stage than to live to suffer more gruesome atrocities and,or death after growing up.Some people even believe that birth as a female is a curse and punishment for sins committed in some past birth.Why,even I am sometimes inclined to agree that it IS a misfortune,curse or a cruel joke of nature to be born as a woman.

For,in every occurrence which is unpleasant to people, the first tendency is to point fingers at a woman as the culprit and torture her physically and mentally,and add insult to injury,by making derogatory statements like ‘Women are the cause of all evil’,’the gateway to hell’, no matter whose responsibility it may really be,whether in the case of rape or marital discord,or simply giving birth to girls or becoming a widow;when in reality,women are a gateway to ‘Life’,including that of men.
However, indeed, if devilish men like rapists,tormentors of women and children,and terrorists who are a menace to society and make it a Hell to live in, are also being born of women, then the reproductive system of women is really a ‘gateway to Hell !

In mythology, Lord Shiva is likened to man, and the socalled ‘ Shakti’ to woman, but virtually, it is the woman who possesses the qualities of both Shiva and Shakti, because like Shiva, she too suffers the ‘poison’of society’s negative attitudes in silence by holding it in her throat and chest, and burning inside with that ‘Hell,’like Mother Earth, while allowing men to enjoy the ‘Amrit’ of all the advantages of human existence,especially the privilege of escaping the consequences of illicit sex and even rape.
Thus, the woman is the true ‘ Nilkantha’, not the man; the ‘Shivalinga’ represents the only the male element and its muscular plus sexual,i.e fertilising power. Hence, Shiva in his ‘Ardhanarishwar’ form is basically a female deity(with the ‘Linga’ being only an additional appendage or instrument of lesser importance), contrary to the common belief that He is a Male !

For Man’s role in reproduction and continuation of the human race starts and ends with just the sexual act, while the role of Woman starts from there,but without any end in sight,as her role as a mate is only a forerunner to her longstanding and multifaceted responsibility of carrying, bearing and rearing the next generation. Therefore,the male dominated society should realise that it owes more consideration towards women’s welfare than it gives at present, as the wellbeing of its future generations depends on that of women.

As if in consolation,some people try to pacify(or fool ) women by recounting in how many ways women are stronger,superior and at an advantage over men-for example,their capacity of forbearance, better resistance to disease,etc.,etc.And some women are flattered by these statements.

These simpletons fail to see that these forms of strength or ‘Shakti’ are useless,unless accompanied by muscular strength also,to enable a woman to defend herself against attacks on her person,like sex against her will,with her being forced to hide her face from society instead of her offender, and worse still,being first forced to bear the child of the man who has outraged her modesty,and then being condemned for becoming the mother of a’bastard’,as they label the poor,innocent child who is actually the victim of our hypocritical system-and of the real ‘Bastard’, that is, the rapist or the unfaithful lover.

Again,if a baby is found in a deserted condition,it is the heartless mother who is blamed for it,because the man is never at fault.For, a man may rape a woman,but should the stupid woman not know that she is not supposed to become pregnant out of wedlock?That women are super human beings who can command their body to reject an unwanted conception so that they can’t seek to be excused under the plea of having been helpless before any man or nature?

Nature or the Mother Goddess is truly unfair to human females because She has made them devoid of phsical strength or personal means of selfdefense against aggression on one hand, and liable to be abused by our male dominated patriarchal society on the other, because of their physical,or more specifically, muscular weakness as compared to men ,making them susceptible to being overpowered against their will, and also because of the natural result of conception following sex,consensual or forced, and social condemnation which comes to the lot of women. She is valued as the mother of males only!

The epic ‘Ramayana’ mentions that Ravana could not lay his hands on Sita, because he had been cursed by his halfbrother,Kuber,whose wife he had ravished by force,that he would die by explosion of his head if he tried to cohabit with any other good woman or wife by force.

Some such curse should befall rapists in this age also, if human Society and Man made Law are not going to be serious and strict about punishment of men who commit such heinous crimes. Otherwise, the whole social structure will be destroyed or impoverished by society’s favourites in the long run.

I’ve heard some women saying that they would prefer to be reborn as animal females rather than as women again,For there is less imbalance between the condition of the sexes in the animal kingdom than in the socalled superior human (or in-human)society, seeing that the sexuality of animal males is better regulated and controlled by Nature than that of human males .

For example, has anyone seen an animal male pursuing or forcing himself on a biologically immature, or pregnant female, or one who is suckling her youngones? It would have been kind of Nature to bestow a similar protection on human females too whereby a male cannot have sex with a minor or unwiling female.

I know all this sounds very harsh and extreme,but does our society think of how the parents or guardians of girls who are raped,and either killed or condemned to a never ending life of shame andcastigation,as also of dowry victims feel? It is Love’s Labour Lost! Even the Legal system is indifferent towards atrocities against women,like in the Ruchika Sharma Suicide case. No wonder that serials are produced with themes and titles like ‘NA Aana Is Desh Me Laado’,about female infanticide,which is also relevant to the evil of female foeticide. Just lately, a shocking case, of a French officer in the French Consulate at Bangalore raping his three year old daughter, but being released from police custody on intervention of the French Consulate, has hit the news.Where is the world heading to?

As for women who have been ‘allowed’ to live,the role model of a ‘good’ woman depicted in films, serials and novels is more that of a meek, self effacive, forbearing and slavish woman like Sita in the film ‘Sita aur Gita’,than like Gita,who stands up for herself,maintains her dignity and selfrespect, and is strongwilled enough to bring her tormentors to book,so that,while being a perfectly good person,she cannot be treated like a slave, robot,or a doormat.

According to a recent survey conducted by a Global 20 poll of experts, infanticide,child marriage ,domestic slavery, dowry- related issues and the high incidence of rape make India the ‘worst’ country to be in as a woman, followed by Saudi Arabia,Indonesia,South Africa and Mexico ! Yet, we are such hypocrites that we claim that we regard a woman as a Goddess,when in reality, our society treats women like children of a lesser god or goddess. We say that we consider every elderly woman as a mother,a young woman as a sister, and a still younger girl as a daughter, and boast before the world that our culture is superior to the culture of the West,esp.for our ‘Morality’- the real truth of which is that we sweep the offences committed by men under the carpet,and justify as well as take pride in how we add insult and mental cruelty to the injury and physical cruelty suffered by the hapless rape victims at the hands of their assailants. Actually,we should be ashamed of ourselves in view of the above mentioned excesses against women in our country.                                     As someone said to me once,it is a universally accepted fact that we are technologically below the standard of western countries,but seeing the shabby treatment our society metes out to the weaker sex, it is not certain that we are culturally superior to them either !

Of course,not all women are so downtrodden and miserable,and there are some who have attained a high position in society and in their profession.Likewise, not all men are beasts or sadists torturing women,but the number of men who are free from the typical ‘Macho-Man’attitude of men in patriarchal society is lesser than those who believe that that is the way a ‘Real Man’ should behave,using his ‘Brawn’ rather than ‘heart’ to maintain his supremacy in his family and society. Therefore, women who’re enjoying a good and respectable life or position remain in the minority as compared to the ill-treated and degraded ones,and owe their well-being to their lucky stars which have placed them among gentlemen, more than to any benevolence of society at large towards women.

(b) Another contributory factor is that it is the impression of many people that the ultimate victims of this vicious chain will be women themselves,for whom it will be like falling from the frying-pan into the fire.There will be more rapes,more prostitution and what have you? All female related problems,aren’t they? How do they affect our male oriented society for the society to take serious steps for their rectification? But see this evil from a wider angle:
It is not as if Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus!Fortunately or unfortunately, men too need a woman to bring them into the world. Therefore,our male oriented,male dominated Society would do well to shed its smug,and self centred attitude of viewing the movement- for more strict and vigilant action to curb this scourge of female foeticide-as an act of charity towards women to ‘let them also live’,as if they regard it as comparable with say, Project Tiger’,i.e a project for some other species.In fact , it should be a matter of importance and concern to the whole of humanity,or at least to Indian society to open its eyes now,and strive to save ‘Homo Sapiens-India’ from this not-impossible holocaust of the Indian Gens.

Besides, men seem to forget that they too will have to face many problems personally as a result of this depletion in the number of women, like sodomy and homosexual harassment of young and weak boys or men. There will also be more cases of wife-snatching, to the detriment of many males, more so those from the downtrodden sections of soctety,as depicted heartrendingly in the films’Aakrosh’ and ‘Bazaar’.A spurt of unnatural sexual activities,other and more disgusting than homosexuality,in addition to ‘gay’activity, will also come about,like Bestialism ,and Male Prostitution to supplement the number of available females.

Ultimately,Indian Society will reach a point where only Goddess Bhagwati can save us.

It is upto our society now therefore to wake up to these dangers and avert this ‘Nadir ‘ before it is too late! The starting lines of a song from an old film,’Boot Polish’ (sung by orphans in the film) can very well be applied to female children, as’ Tumhare hain tumse daya maangate hain;tere laadalonki dua maangate hain.’

It is generally supposed that the oppression of women is an evil related to the PATRIARCHAL SOCIAL SYSTEM. In this context, it deserves to be surveyed what the condition of women is, or was like in the few matrilineal societies in India, like the NAIRS of Kerala, and among the KHASIS in Meghalaya, in comparison to the rest of India.

FINALLY, the fight against selective extermination of females at various stages of life has to go hand in hand with strong measures for prevention or minimisation of the chief banes of the life of many women viz. Sexual and economic exploitation,for it to be fruitful.

(4)Rape and Women’s Apparel ( Women’s Problems – No.1)

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Time and again, I come across the prejudiced view that women get raped,or rather, ‘invite’ rape by the ‘revealing’ and seductive dresses they wear.To make the case of these unfortunate,exploited women worse and weaker,a new and brazenly defiant approach of deliberate exposure has been adopted by some womens’ groups in India on the lines of the ‘ Slut Walk’ flaunted by some women in the U.S., in the name of freedom of dress,which has served to strengthen the misconception of orthodox people,particularly the ‘Burqah’ and Purdah protagonists, that women themselves are to blame for such atrocities against them. While I myself do not like or approve of such tactics like the ‘Slut Walk’ in the name of assertion of freedom of women,I would like to draw the attention of our prejudiced society to the fact that not all,or really speaking, very few of the Rape victims in India at least,are scantily or indecently dressed. For,the majority of our women belong to poor or middle class families who cannot afford the luxury of these latest fashions of dress. The traditional society of ours exerts a strong,inhibitory check on middle class girls in that respect.

Some people admit that in the case of rapes on small or properly clad girls, it is not because of any fault of the victims, but because of the revealing and provocative dresses of some other women which titillate and excite men to such an extent that they catch the very next girl available and vulnerable to release their ‘natural biological urge’. So again,     the conclusion is that the indecent and provocative apparel of some women is accountable for sex crimes on themselves and on other innocent women or girls. They refuse to concede the fact that there ARE some men who are   perverted or wicked themselves, so that they would rape even the most moral and pious girl,if she were to fall in         their hands!

Another tendency is to blame the Moral or Professional background of rape victims. However, it is a matter of fact that many of the victims are small girls even before the age of puberty, and are raped not while roaming alone on the streets at night in skimpy clothes, but in Schools, in the School Uniform! Why should they get raped and murdered?              This shows that there is some defect of male psyche in relation to the female body and individuality-a sad lack of    basic respect. This attitude needs correction by instilling respect in mens’ minds towards women by making them view the latter as fellow human beings of equal worth and rights,who are equally necessary to society,and not just as          sex objects or chattel to be exploited and downtrodden.

I also think that it needs to be checked if the Oedipus Complex plays some part in such perverted acts by studying     the sort of relationship the rapists have with their own mothers and sisters.

Some people have labelled Indian society itself as a ‘rapist’ society , which it is indeed,considering that It is easier to rape or ditch a woman in India and get away with it than to be faithful in love and marry her against the will of society,especially in rural,traditional regions. Yet, we boast before the world of our Indian culture and deification of women. Sheer hypocrisy this!

Another important fact that belies the supposition that it is because of provocative dress that women get sexually abused is that it is Mostly girls or women of ordinary middle class or poor families who become the targets of rape.   We hardly hear of girls or ladies of Socially or Politically Influential and Powerful families like the Ambanis or Birlas,      the Gandhis, or the DHAVALIKARS becoming the victims of rape or molestation. Why ? It is not that all of them are Paragons of Virtue. They too flaunt Western dresses. Still they are spared from Sexual molestation and attacks because of their powerful family backing, which eve teasers and rapists fear! So We hear Only about those cases of girls         from Socially or Politically strong families, who are molested or raped by a family member or a close and Trusted    family friend or employee, as for example in the case of Anushka Shankar,  who has herself revealed that she had      been abused by a close and trusted family friend who was a frequent visitor to her home, when she was very young. Otherwise, Rape is a social malady befalling mostly the common middle class or poor women, or the Labor class Dalit Women!