Email: email@example.com. Site: www.stephengill.ca
Ansted Poet Laureate
*Bharat Times (
PEACE AND FREEDOMS FOR INDIAN WOMEN IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Dr. Stephen Gill
The easy availability of information technology even in remote
areas is going to open a new chapter for women in
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of
One institution that subjugates women brutally is the dowry
system. Parents spend handsome amounts
to give dowry as gift to the side of the boys to find decent husbands for their
daughters. Often the parents of the girls have to borrow that money. Though the
dowry system has been illegal since 1961, this institution is flourishing. Though
this brutality has been declared illegal by the constitution of
Women have suffered and are still suffering discrimination from
womb to tomb. Manu has deeply degraded women in his Manusmirti, a book of
conduct for Hindus that appears to have been compiled between 100 and 300 A.D.
This book establishes the doctrine of superiority based on the caste system
that provides the philosophical basis for the antiwomen mindset. Bhartiya Janta
Party (BJP) that is still in power in some provinces and influential in some
others, and also its ideological parents the Rashtriya Swayamsevek Sangh (RSS)
support this book that debases women. The book documents that women are not fit
for independence. It also documents that women should be kept under control of
men when they attach themselves to sensual pleasures and wives become disloyal
to their husbands, no matter how closely they are guarded. Before Manu, the status of women in
For centuries Indian women suffered also due to the Sati tradition that goes back to 2000 years A.D. Sati refers to a virtuous woman who burns herself on her husband's funeral fire to go straight to heaven. A widow who did not burn herself had worse life because she was not allowed to marry again and was forced to shave her head, eat once a day and sleep on the floor. When the British came, they banned the custom of Sati in 1829.
There had been also a mysterious and controversial cult who had girls called Davadasis. Under the cover of temple women this cult exploited girls for prostitution. In some areas, several wives are allowed for men for economic or other reasons. There are several other ways to degrade women.
There are women also in orthodox Muslim families who are not encouraged to go to schools and are forced to live under veils from head to toe. They are not allowed to choose their spouses and to work outside their homes. Education of most women, particularly in the rural areas, stop after their arranged compulsory marriage at an early age.
The status of Dalit women is most tragic in some parts of
abolished about two hundred years ago in the
There have been reformers who tried to free women from their
chains. What they and the laws have not been able to achieve, the digital
technology is going to achieve.
If democracy is to be strengthened in
The digital era will prove that Shakespeare was right who towards the end of 16th century said that men rule the world but women rule the rulers. The world would be a better place to live if these rulers of the rulers are enlightened. It is also said that educating a woman is educating a generation. Information technology would help to say goodnight to illiteracy among Dalits and even others who are far from the big cities. They will become productive partners of the nation.
The author of Manusmrit
and its followers would faint to hear that man of today has failed to create
peace and a time has come to give a chance to woman. Its journey may start from
In the digital era, the process of peace will not be handled
just by activists and politicians. This process will be handled also by
knowledgeable and economically independent women who will eventually realize
that their love for their children will shape their sons and daughters to
become better administrators and politicians of tomorrow. Peace is the outcome
of love and mothers can give it in abundance and intelligently when their
baskets are filled with the flowers of education. The new technology that is impacting all
aspects of life is expected to impact dramatically the alchemy of peace in and
The new era will foster an unprecedented migration of women to
distant geographical regions and will encourage interracial and intercultural
marriages that would build bridges for understanding. Immigrants and the new generation from these
marriages would accept other cultures more readily than their parents did. Even those immigrants who preserve their
ethnic identities closely are open to admire other cultures. The practice of
marrying outside one’s ethnic and religious group promotes a universal outlook
and social harmony. This practice is going to be widened in the digital era
that will accelerate the process of understanding among nationalities and
races. Christian theologians, including
International and intercultural marriages through the internet
will become more common. This would remove caste and religion from marriages.
Mobility will be more frequent. Most religious and social stigmas are also due
to fear from parents, relatives, friends and members of own caste. Once women,
particularly from Dalit communities, move to unknown areas of the world, they
will be able to marry the men of their choice without any stigmas of the birth.
Immigration, the greater ease of travel and digital communications will bring
down barriers and encourage intercultural and interracial marriages that would
improve the status of women, particularly from Dalit families. This will
contribute to the understanding among nations and improve the climate of peace
These intercultural and interracial marriages are going to shrink the world further. Mobility among the citizens of different nations will increase. The birds of new cultures will sing freely everywhere. Interracial marriages create an atmosphere that is conducive to the garden of culture to flourish to a degree unparalleled in the history of civilization. Immigrants and new generation from such marriages will realize that a minority in a country is no longer weak, and the majority is no longer as strong as it used to. be. The philosophy of live and let live is the moral beacon for the mutual survival that has been a constant message of the sages of the East.
What those sages from the East have not been able to achieve, the digital era that was initiated in the West, will achieve through women. International corporations, that are more powerful than some national governments, will set up their outlets for jobs wherever the labor is cheaper and more profit is possible. They do not care for birth stigmas, men and women and black or white. Information technology is based on knowledge and intellect and it is available to the powerful and rich as well as to the weak and poor. This technology has demolished most of the walls and boundaries and is going to demolish even more. There is no discrimination in the digital industry against women, who are already on the increase in colleges and universities. Women software professionals have dramatically increased now. Some call centers prefer women because of the softness of their voice. Moreover, this industry is flexible to hire employees on an hourly basis that provides good incentive to housewives. Also there are sites on the internet for women to take care of their health and education. This knowledge would stop the female infanticide that is common among uneducated Dalits. Through the internet women will come to know what their counterparts are doing in other countries
However, there are millions of poor Dalit families and others
who do not have access to digital technology. Eventually, governments and
international economic forces will make use of these unexplored sources. The
profit-seekers of information technology may go to these unexplored areas and
communities. In return, these depressed and outcast communities would be
economically powerful and independent. Women would be freer and able to express
themselves in the newly-found environment of economical freedom. The digital era has started changing
housewives from diffident to confident civic conscious citizens. Reformers,
including Guru Nanak, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Swami Dayanand
and Mahatma Gandhi, could not bring the desired results. Even the laws of the
British and free
This encouraging fast trend that has the capacity to alter the
Another disaster is caused by terrorists, who hit the belly of economic prosperity. Terrorists do not want tourists to bring foreign exchange in to the country and also they do not want businesses to prosper. Most of the time the national governments spend money and time to find these terrorists and to defend the rights of their citizens.
It is in the interest of democracy and human rights to encourage information technology to enter the backward areas. The government and service organizations can work to make its entry easy and rapidly feasible. Just the cell phones are known to have benefited women in small businesses where they have handled their businesses and also their family issues. At present, most benefits are largely confined to towns and cities because most rural areas do not have the equipments and skills for women to take full advantage of this technology.
Among the negative factors of the digital era, isolation is a major one. Working from home would bring more isolation to women. However, women from orthodox Muslim families and Dalits are already isolated. They will not be as isolated as they are at present because they will be in touch with the rest of the world. They will be able to pass their time in meaningful persuasions. At the same time, they will be close to their home environment, particularly their children.
©copyright Stephen Gill, March 2007