Today being world literacy day, I suppose it needs to be said that the literacy figures for India are simply abysmal. For women in particular it is about 60%.
But the really bad news is that that really isn’t a real estimate of how many can actually read and write in India. When there was a lot of angst expressed over how India houses almost half the world’s illiterates, the government got down to work on it — of course Indian style.
They created a new official definition for ‘literacy.’ By this unique Indian method, anyone who can read and write their name is officially counted as literate!! So Sita who can write S I T A, but doesn’t know the alphabets, can’t read and write anything else, considers herself literate.
I know because there is a Sit a who worked as part-time domestic help for a year. She was proud to call herself “literate” and insisted on signing the pay register instead of putting her thumb print as is customary. I had about 24 ‘signatures’ from her, all wildly varying shapes and proportions. She turned down repeated requests from me to allow me to teach her. She said what she ‘knew’ sufficed her. Of course I or someone was always there to fill her forms, help her with her banking etc. She was happy and proud to say she could write, as is India! http://indianexpress.com/article/india/education/slow-increase-in-female-literacy-rate-a-concern/
Raj Shetye’s fashion photo shoot (see below), which appears to be motivated by the brutal 2012 gang rape and assault on a woman on a Delhi bus, has angered many in India and around the world.
In an interview with The Voice of the Cape (South Africa), the 50 Million Missing founder, Rita Banerji explains why she is not surprised by Shetye’s project. However Rita also says, it is equally important to analyze the public rage and question what it really represents. She observes that rape seems to touch a public nerve in India in a way that no other form of lethal violence on women or girls does, and goes on to discuss why this is because it’s still seen through a prism that views women as sexual resources owned by men. Synopsis below [To hear the full 15 min. interview click on the box above].
It irritates me when a man fawningly say “Ladies First!” I find it condescending. As a woman I see myself as perfectly able as any man and see no reason for being singled out that way.
Yet, by the same token I hugely resent the “Men First!” approach that I encounter everywhere in India. While walking on pavements, driving, inside homes, and even in offices. It’s that attitude that says, men are entitled to shove aside women and be served first.
It happened again at the bank yesterday and left me fuming. I had accompanied my mother to the bank and she needed some cash deposited. There was a long queue at the counter, so I told her to sit down and I’d stand in line and do it for her. A man came and stood behind me, and then suddenly moved in front and stood next…
This is one place on earth where I’d be really happy to live: the state of Sikkim in India. And the reason is that by 2015 Sikkim will be completely organic! It will be totally cleansed of all kinds of chemicals—pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other chemical additives in their farms and gardens. Which means it will have not just chemical-free, clean food, but also chemical-free, clean soil, water and air.
This did not happen overnight. It was a long term plan that the Sikkim state government implemented very methodically over a period of time, designating areas that had to be chemical free by within certain timelines and dates. Bhutan, just north of Sikkim, is still working on becoming the first country to be entirely organic. But I think Sikkim has been more organized and insightful it the planning and implementation of an organic state than Bhutan has been. The Sikkim government kept to its schedule and took the entire population of the state on board, with intensive public outreach, information, education and incentive programs. And by 2015 they will have reached the final leg of their goal and the entire state will be organic, and officially declared so.
Having been a conservation biologist, I am acutely aware of the long term damage that chemicals added to the soil do not only to the health of humans and other animals, but also to the health of the ecosystem. Chemical dependency for the earth is the same as drug dependency in humans. As Sikkim and other organic farms have discovered, once you start using chemical Read the full post »
This video was put out by a public interest group to raise people’s sensitivity to rape and other crimes against women in India. Please note that the sounds of a woman being assaulted inside the van below are an enactment. However, the responses of the people who walk past the van are real.
We want you to watch the brief video below, and give your opinion on people’s reaction in the multiple choice poll question below the video.
CLICK ON THE SQUARE NEXT TO YOUR CHOICE AND THEN CLICK ON THE YELLOW BUTTON RIGHT AT THE BOTTOM THAT SAYS ‘VOTE’ [DO NOT FORGET TO CLICK ON THE 'VOTE' BUTTON OR YOUR ANSWER WON'T REGISTER]