Monday, July 30, 2007

Women development, Indian army and Renuka Chowdhury

This article on TOI is a classic one on the way of the politicians in India.

Women in many parts of rural India live in utter poverty.  They earn lower wage than men in similar labor jobs, walk miles for collecting firewood and water, are often married at a very young age so on and so forth.  Although things have improved due to a number of grass root level NGO's and some government run programs, much needs to be achieved.  India also has one of the largest (I think the largest) child labor forces in the world.  many are impoverished, never go to school and a huge amount intellectual raw material that is required for our country's growth is wasted away in beedi-making  and brick kilns in the rural areas.

Instead of figuring out a speedier process of uplifting these millions, the minister of women and child development wants to reduce gender discrimination in the armed forces.  Is this the priority now, when millions of lives are at stake? Are the armed forces the employer that we need to focus on or is the millions of small businesses which hire women and children at paltry wages?  All that Ms.Chowdhury wants is some issue for limelight.  She is a firebrand, and there is no doubt about that, but I wish she also had the courage to talk about issues that matter and improve real factors not symbolic ones such as women in the military.  I am not against hiring women officers in the military, but there are other areas that need focus in women and child development.  Maybe she can look at the introduction minimum wages for women, make it illegal to hire men and women at different wages, and iincrease the severity of punishment for individuals who hire children.  Focus on subsidized health and education program for poverty stricken children. 

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