Prime Minister Modi loses no opportunity to promote nari shakti or women power. His Beti Bachao Beti padhao campaign (save and tech daughters) has arguably contributed to the decline of female foeticide in some parts of haryana. in his latest radio broadcast, the PM commended a young girl who is on mission to climb the tallest peal on every continent. Yet there is a gap between what the pm says and what his government, his political supporters and religious conservatives profess.
The goverment opposed combat roles for women soldiers, only to be overruled by the supreme court. the head of the rashtriya swayamsevak sangh, the ruling party's ideological parent, spoke against divorce, seeming to suggest that education of women was responsible for such sources of social instability, oblivious to the reality that most divorces occur when women find the agency to walk out of oppressive marriages. in a Gujarat college run by a religious group, young women were strip-searched for signs of menstruation the colleges rules enforce an age-old custom of isolating menstrual women. such incidents are over and above the daily barrage of news about sexual assaults on women, honor killings,gender pay-gaps and bulletproof glass ceilings. Democracy is not just about voting in a set of leaders once every five year. It is about removing iniquitous power imbalances in society, including those between men and women. Political leaders of every persuasion should as part of deepening Indian democracy, strive to empower women.
The PM in particular, is well placed to play a weighty role in this process,given the enormous political capital he has accumulated. We urge him to clout to take on conservative prejudices against women, regardless of the source of the prejudice.
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