The title may seem pretentious and even condescending maybe. But this is the first title that came to my mind when I sat down to write. During a recent workshop for girls from the lower income strata, I had the most invigorating and illuminating interaction. These girls had the clarity of thought that would put any of us to shame. Their dreams, their aspirations, their ambitions were as steeped in reality as they were. Listening to them share their ideas, I was left wondering why we ignore them so much? Do these young shoulders really need to carry the weight of the society, its ill-conceived norms, biased traditions, and subjugating values?
Beti bachao, beti padhao is the mantra brought to prominence by our present government. And I absolutely am for it. Fortunately, we have enough women in the current generation who have achieved amazing results for them to become our role models. They have broken through the traditional barricades to reach new heights. Be it sports or academics or corporate or even the defence forces, girls have scaled unthinkable limits. So, why are we still so apprehensive about letting them go and explore the world? Or is it that we fear them? After generations and generations of subjugation and repression, maybe we are scared they might come back with full gusto, overwhelming the current male-dominated generation which is enjoying its borrowed time under the sun? Or maybe somewhere deep down in our hearts we know that they are good – intelligent, smart, hardworking, ambitious – and don’t know how to deal with competition of such magnitude.
Maybe it’s this insecurity which is gnawing us within which is making us all the more aggressive and regressive as a society. We are trying our very best to keep the young girls from escaping from the age-old shackles in the name of traditions. Maybe we are feeling so threatened by their optimism that we are behaving more and more like animals, fiercely protecting our turfs, our manhood. If only we had the sense to understand that our manhood is not restricted to the physical appendages but to the way we think. Just like these women, who celebrate being a woman not because of their physical attributes but because of the way they think.
For us to feel liberated and emancipated, we need to first think of these girls as human beings. Give them a well-deserved chance to soar. Allow them to move freely without the chains of traditions and culture. And, then step back and watch them conquer the world. There cannot be a greater service to the mankind.