THE DOWRY SYSTEM AND ITS EVILS
The dowry system is an age-old tradition in India, It means the gifts and presents given by the parents on the eve of the marriage of their daughter. Dowry had both religious and social sanctions in ancient times. No ‘dana’ was considered complete until the receiver was given some ‘Dakshina’. The women were legally denied to hold or inherit the property. Therefore, gifts in cash or kind were given to the daughter on the occasion of her marriage. They were treated as future security to meet her financial needs.
This pious system has become a social evil with the passage of time. Marriages in the present era have become a bargain. Bridegrooms Of different statuses have different values. An I.A.S. officer has the highest value. Even the son of a businessman having a fat bank balance seeks financial help from his father-in-law. Marriage is no longer a sacred ceremony and the union of two souls. The foul institution of dowry justifies the belief that males are superior to females even though the constitution of India has guaranteed equality of status and opportunities to both the sexes.
There is no denying the fact that the very spirit of dowry is against the goal of a socialistic society. The rich people spend lakhs of rupees on this occasion and given many valuable articles as dowry. The poor have to beg, borrow or steal to fulfill the demands of the in-laws of their daughter because they are also expected to follow the same tradition. The spreading of dowry is posing a serious threat to the moral fabric of the nation. Many girls are forced to remain spinsters. Some parents find no other alternative than to indulge themselves in corruption to accumulate money to be given as dowry.
Many unmarried girls have to indulge themselves in unethical or immoral activities to earn money for their dowry. In this way, shameful, the practice of dowry leads to the degradation of moral values and the degeneration of society. It also shows that the value of women’s domestic work is negligible because it is considered as non- productive. It is a pity that dowry is attached to the self-respect of the bride and the status of the bridegroom. The rich people perpetuate the evil of dowry by buying their daughter’s future with dowry. They succeed in entering into marriage alliance with families of high status by virtues of their unaccounted black money. Even the parents of highly educated and employed girls are required to give a higher amount of dowry to get even an equally qualified boy (match) having a lucrative source of earning.
Some parents seek dowry for their sons to meet the demand of dowry for their daughters. The luckless girls whose parents fail to fulfill the expectations of the bridegroom’s family are maltreated. They are tortured beyond endurance and are either burnt alive by the’ in-laws or are forced to seek divorce or commit suicide. The daily newspapers are full of news of such incidents. In a nutshell, the system of dowry reflects on the marital life of the young couple. It breeds hatred and contempt for each other and ruins the very charm of their married life.
The cases of dowry deaths are increasing day-by-day. Dowry is Condemned by all on a theoretical plane in India only. In actual life, even the so-called saintly persons are parties to the vice. Dowry is not deemed as illegal, sinful or unethical but is considered a symbol of high social rank. Even the people who have experienced the pinch of this evil system during the marriage of their daughter remain keen to compensate the same by getting more dowry in the marriages of their sons. In this way, the vicious circle goes on and on. The government and public opinion have been alive to this evil.
Many social reformers have worked hard to abolish the evil practice of dowry. Some states also made efforts in vain to curb this evil by legislative and social measures but it kept on growing. Gandhi was of the opinion that any young man who makes dowry a condition of marriage discredits his education and his country and dishonors womanhood. Such persons as are found guilty of giving, taking or abetting in the giving or taking of dowry should be severely dealt with. The girls of marriageable age should take a vow not to marry the boy who demands dowry.
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CASTEISM VERSUS HARIJAN WELFARE
The bulk of the people in India still consider caste to be a good institution, especially the Hindus in rural areas. There is the segmental division of society namely the brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the vaisyas and the sudras. The brahmins belong to the priestly class, the Kshatriyas belong to the warrior class, the Vaisyas practice business and agriculture and the Sudras come in the category of menial class. Until recently the members of a caste followed more or less their ancestral occupations.
Therefore, the choice of occupations was quite limited. The situation is rapidly changing nowadays. Most of the young persons belonging even to scheduled caste or backward tribes are taking up the non-traditional occupations. Employment quota has been reserved for them in all the fields, streams and spheres of activity. The practice of untouchability in any form has been declared as a crime in the Indian constitution and has been abolished.
The bulk of high caste Hindus are not ready to shed their sense of superiority and reservation has promoted casteism. It has made the Harijans active and increasingly assertive about the constitutional rights bestowed on them. As a result, quarrels between Harijans and locally dominant castes have become a matter of routine occurrence in rural areas. Both the contradicting groups are striving tooth and nail to showdown each other. Before the dawn of independence in India, the Sudras were treated as untouchables. They were not allowed to enter the temples or sit on the cots of the upper caste people. They were not allowed to draw water from the public wells. They could not share the seat with the people of the upper caste in buses and trains. They were given the leftovers to eat and had to remove the fifth from the places of habitation. Even their shadow was hated. During forty years of reservation, the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes have made much progress.
It was, therefore, proposed to continue the reservation for a further period of ten years Keeping in view the welfare of the Harijans. This proposal had provoked the anti-reservation stir at many places. It had also spread a wave of revengeful dissatisfaction in the narrow hearts of the caste-ridden Hindus. They demanded the scrapping of reservation and submitted the following The reservåLion would promote caste rivalry because the privileged classes would grab all the economic benefits. As a result, the meritorious people belonging to high castes would be deprived of chances of seeking employment and promotional avenues. This disparity would spread a poisonous feeling and would mutilate national integrity.
The center and some state governments have stated emphatically that reservation would not be done away with under any pull or pressure. They have girded up their loins to curb the stir and meet the challenge boldly. There is sufficient consciousness among the Harijans to claim their right of full citizenship provided in the constitution. They quite often seek entitlement of special preferences provided both in the public and private sectors. There is no denying the fact that the children born in lower-class families have the least opportunities to learn the manners, techniques, and perspectives needed for success in life.
The solution to this problem lies in providing them more funds for the up-gradation and priority in employment and encouraging adult education and programs in slum areas. free uniforms and scholarships to the students belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are showing magical effects. Opportunities should be created to raise their economic, social and mental level to enable them to stand on their own legs. Adequate means of, livelihood should be provided to them.
THE PROBLEM OF POPULATION
There are many problems in India. “The problem of overpopulation is one of them, It is the most pressing problem before us. It is a challenge to our prosperity. It needs to be tackled. The sooner, the better India’s population is increasing day by day. Now we are about 121 crores. In this respect, we are only second to China. It is hoped that in the 21st century we will leave China behind as after every fifteen seconds a new child is born. Effects—The effects of our population are felt everywhere.
The buses and trains are overcrowded. The number of unemployed persons is increasing daily. Forests are disappearing. Schools and colleges are overcrowded. Unemployed young men have no charm in their lives. Parents are worried to see their children unemployed. In this respect, our government is very serious. Family planning centers have been established throughout the country. A government servant is not allowed to have more than one wife at a time. The marriage age for boys and girls has been raised. So there is an urgent need to check the growth of the population.
Family planning is the only way. Planned families are the need of the day. For it, people and the government should co-operate. Without it, the problem cannot be solved. People believe that children are the gifts of God. They say, “He who has given birth must give food.” Such an orthodox view is the main hurdle in controlling the population. This idea should be uprooted. For this right type of education is the utmost necessity. If we succeed to teach the people about the utility of family planning, the pace of our progress will be faster. We shall stand on our feet then.
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What is not based on reason is known as superstition. In religion, superstition indicates an irrational fear of the mysterious. India is a religious country. People are superstitious by nature. People believe in many superstitions in India. The following are the popular superstitions of India. There are some superstitions associated with birds and animals. People think that certain birds are of good omen while others bring bad luck if we encounter them.
If a crow caws on the roof of a house in the morning, it is thought as a sign that a guest will arrive. People consider an owl is a bird of ill manner in India. The barking (weeping) of dogs at night signifies the coming death of someone who is ill. The vision of a jackal in the night and the snake on the left foretells an unfortunate journey and the opposite signs are considered lucky. When a lizard chirps, it is considered as a bad omen for a journey. People believe that they will fail in their mission if a cat comes in their way. If someone sneezes when we are to start our journey, it is considered an ill-omen.
The Hindus who are superstitious by nature, do not start their new project on Tuesday and Saturday. Religious minded people consider those days of the week as unlucky. Similarly, they regard some old ugly women as witches who are supposed to have harmful effects on the children. The superstitious person considers sneezing as a sign of being remembered by a friend or a relative. If there is itching on the right-hand palm, it brings good luck, while on the left I hand, it shows bad luck and expenditures. When the cow of I a villager does not give milk, he thinks that his cow is possessed by some evil spirit.
The ignorant villagers think that the goddess is angry with them and so they worship it. There have been much cruelty, misery, and suffering inflicted on innocent people due to these superstitions. The foolish people even sacrificed their children to please the gods which even did not exist in reality. Many old and ugly women were burnt alive as the people believed them to be witches. A country whose people are superstitious by nature cannot progress. So people especially villagers should be educated so that they may get rid of their superstitious nature.
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My Solution to India’s problem
India today is filled with unending problems. The newspapers, TV, radio and day to day conversations, publish several problems like pollution, scamps, poverty, unemployment, Bihar, Assam, Punjab, Kashmir, Ayodhya, food, health, education, discrimination, terrorism, corruption, etc. The list is unending. Karl Marx once remarked, “Religion is the opium of the masses.” I feel today, the ‘problems’ have replaced religion. I feel that society makes everyone feel like a problem. It seems that India today is under the grip of problem psychosis more than the problems.
So, what is the solution? First of all, we have to change our perception. We have to understand the problems in our own social and political context. Our attitude towards the problems has to be positive and action-oriented, rather than negative and critical. We have become very fond of telling the government and others what should be done. “What I can do”, should be the approach. India is a vast country with millions of able, skillful, hard-working and loving people.
It is very rich in resources and has tremendous potential for growth. It is unfortunate that our “System” is unable to harness this potential. There is a need to motivate and mobilize the human resources of the country to their best. For this, a very fundamental need is to make every individual feel an important and useful member of society.
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