The people of India have solemnly resolved through the constitution, to secure to all its citizens equality of status and of opportunity. There had been all the good intentions when this was formulated but once this were put to practice, it faltered. The closest we achieved is “equality among equals” and that too is limited within specific sections of our society.
Now to put things into Indian perspective, it’s not a secret that we are a vast country with thousands of years of heritage. It is also the confluence of matriarchal and patriarchal society with numerous cultures constantly adopting and lending values to one another. What we have today is diversity in unity and vice versa. In lay man’s term we can make a politically correct statement about Indians and surprisingly even the opposite of that statement will also be true. One good example is the statement “women are not safe in Indian roads” or “women do not have freedom in the Indian society”.
As far as my humble understanding goes all women and why single out women, everyone wants to be treated specially. There is not debate about it and that is not the point of this discussion either.
We cannot undermine the fact that some of us can do certain things better than others and this is due to hereditary, social upbringing, genome issues or some other reason that I am not aware of. Again there are some activities that used to be a male or female domain for reasons there were unarguably valid half a century back but not any longer owing to industrial revolution and other technological developments, while perception of our society remained unchanged. One good example is that of a warrior who had to be big and mighty then but today anyone with a gun is equally capable of defending the nation while our perception remained that women cannot handle it. The perception is built as our children still indoctrinated to with age old concepts with gender centric toys with the girls getting kitchen sets while boys get a machine gun.
Whether we want to give it or not, today’s women take their share of dominance in the society and equally participate in all good and bad things that a man does. We have seen women reaching the pinnacle in all possible direction from being a corporate CEO to visiting the outer space. When the pictures of institutions like ISRO flashes on our television screens after a successful mission, we see men and women sitting side by side giving us the thumps up.
The Indian society is nowhere near where it should be as we witness regularly how the mighty and the shrewd take advantage of weak and vulnerable. While men own lion share of injustice and cruelty against women, violence by women against women in all possible forms are not rare.
Coming back to the prime motion of if today’s women want to be treated equally, my understanding is that they want to be treated differently equally and as differently equally they look at men the folks in their personal life. This is because each one of us is unique by our own rights because of our internal constitution excluding those for the sake of this argument who has been oppressed by the society as a whole or own family in particular.
In this respect I would refer a speech, I once heard by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, by far the most powerful woman India has seen in the recent history. She was addressing a large audience about creating opportunities for people and their ability of availing those. She gave an example of setting up a well-resourced library in a town with equal access rights to every individual. But more educated the person is, more gain shall he make from this project while the illiterate will lose out completely. Giving advantage similar to golf handicap ranking will not be sustainable in the long term.
While the environment could be made conducive for equality, all people, men and women alike will have to take their own step forward to develop themselves to make equality for all a reality. Otherwise it will remain a relative term tangled in linguistic complexities such as equality among the equals etc.