Thursday January 18, 2018

Girls Count: Uprooting patriarchy by recognizing the role of civil society

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By Rukma Singh

In 1901, there were 3.2 million fewer women than men in India – a hundred years later the deficit increased over 10 times to 35 million at the time of Census 2001. The most disturbing decline is seen in the age group 0-6 years. The sex ratio (number of girls for every 1000 boys) within this age group plunged from 1010 in 1941 to 918 in 2011.

To recognize and mobilize support for the broader problem of gender-based discrimination, many organizations have sprung up in the past few years. But one organization which has concentrated focus on the utmost important issue of sex selection is Girls Count.

Girls Count is a coalition of organizations :  NGOs, Activists, individuals working all over the country around the related issues of gender discrimination, gender inequality and various forms of violence against women. The main motive of setting up the organization was to address the decline in the number of girls. It is very important to understand the role that the state, the media, and most importantly the civil society has played, to tackle the problems of sex selection.

Recognizing the role of civil activism

To create a cohesive strategy to tackle an issue as pressing as sex selection and declining sex ratio, the wisest thing to do is to build a base in the civil society. Instead of having a dispersed group of people who don’t know about the activities of each other, it’s better to create an interconnected team that can plan and execute the strategy.

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Girls Count decided to focus on challenging patriarchy and effective implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Technique act. They had carried out country-wide dialogue with civil society, media and government officials.

Usage of Media and communications

When it comes to reaching out to people, sensitizing them at a large scale, it is imperative to bring about the proper usage of media and communications to get the right message across. Girl Count recognized the power of media to send messages across effectively. People were mobilized, petitions were signed, an online country wide community was built.

Geographical variations
The problem of sex selection is more prevalent in the Northern region of India as compared to the other parts. One would argue that the main reason behind this is the difference in literacy rate. However, the main issue is prosperity which gives more choices to the people. They have a greater decision-making power. So the main problem comes not from the absence of literacy, but from the abundant presence of prosperity. 10687034_681213801976573_2942313692869556197_n

What adds to it is how the two don’t go hand in hand. In today’s time, one does not have to be literate to be prosperous.

Cultural differences
There are several culture-based differences between North India and the rest of the country. In North-East India, for example, the condition of women and preference given to them is better and higher.  Some states in North East also break the age old custom of dowry and decline it. Females aren’t considered an economic liability in most of the North East.

The sex selection practices started from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, and soon extended to Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh etc.

Following a lot of protest and agitation, the PNDT law was first passed in Maharashtra. But it was a state specific law.

Usage of advertisement


Equipments relating to sex selection, like sex selection kits and books teaching methods to increase chances of having a boy are very easily available. Girls Count decided to look at e-retailers to find out how easy it is to source ‘Sex selection publications’ in India. To everyone’s surprise, there were four e-retailers who were dealing in the sale of such products, which included some big names like Flipkart, Naaptol, Amazon.

For mainstream e-retailers like these to be dealing in the sale of such publications was a huge encouraging factor for people who’re used to shopping online. For public, if it can be bought, it’s legal.

With the continued efforts of Girls count in the form of a petition and mobilizing support for it, the websites were pressurized to take these products down. This was one of the biggest successes of the organization.

Pre-Natal sex determination continues to be a pressing problem all throughout the country. But with the combined efforts of organizations like these who understand the true essence of activism, as well as continued participation from the civil society, it is a problem that can hopefully be uprooted.

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Why Republic Day Is Celebrated On 26th January?

Every year January 26 is celebrated with full fervor to acknowledge the Republic Day

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Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution. Wikimedia Commons
Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution. Wikimedia Commons
  • 26 January is observed to honour the Constitution of India
  • This year, India will observe its 69th Republic on January 26, 2018.
  • The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950

NEW DELHI: Every year, 26 January is marked as the Republic Day in India. It is one of the few occasions when the whole of the nation celebrates the hoisting of National Flag. 26 January is observed to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950. The new constitution replaced the Government of India Act, 1935 into the governing document of India, thus, making India a Sovereign-Democratic nation. The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. The Constitution of India is considered as the supreme law of India and the nation has to abide by its rule.

The other significant day of Indian freedom movement is 15 August. This day is celebrated to glorify the independence of India from the clutches of British rule. After attaining independence, India required a blueprint to run the government and guide its people on a progressive path. Till then, India was functioning under the laws enacted and implemented by the British government. An independent constitution was the best bet to protect the rights of citizens and jot down the principles for running the nation. So to fulfill this need, India’s first law minister and chief architect of Indian Constitution, BR Ambedkar came up with a drafted framework for our constitution. It finally came into force after several amendments made by the cabinet body.

The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. Wikimedia Commons
The Constitution adopted by India was written by BR Ambedkar on January 26, 1950, and since then the day is commemorated as Republic Day. Wikimedia Commons

Constitution was a tool to govern the country in a constructive way and make the country a sovereign, secular, and democratic republic. On this day, the first president of independent India, Rajendra Prasad took the oath at the Durbar Hall and hoisted the national flag, followed by a 21-gun salute. It marked the tradition of flag hoisting and parade began.

Also Read: 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy That Everyone Should Know

Why is 26th January celebrated as the Republic Day in India?
With campaigns like non-violence and civil disobedience movements, India finally attained freedom from British rule on August 15, 1947. This date has a great importance in the Indian history. On January 26, 1950, BR Ambedkar drafted the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly. Then finally, Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950.

The reason behind choosing 26 January as the Republic Day was that, on 26 January 1930, Indian National Congress (INC) announced the declaration of Indian Independence while rejecting the Dominion status offered by the British Regime.

Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. Wikimedia Commons
Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. Wikimedia Commons

Prominence of the Constitution of India
India stands out to be the largest democratic country in the world and has the longest written constitution of any sovereign nation. The credit for the framing the Indian Constitution goes to Dr. BR Ambedkar. He was the principal architect behind drafting the outline of our Constitution.

The idea of making an Indian constitution was coined by M.N.Roy IN 1934. After that, Indian National Congress proposed the formation of the constituent in 1935.
After the validation of the Constitution, India became the contemporary Republic and replaced the Government of India Act, 1935. The Constitution of India states that “It declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity among them.”

Also Read: Mahabharata or Game of Thrones? Quite similar!

The Constitution can never be upturned by parliamentary supremacy. It lays down the fundamental framework, procedures, and duties of government, fundamental rights, directive principles and the duties of citizens. Basically, it is a gateway between the government and people. Any new law initiated by the government should be in accordance with the constitution.

Who drafted the Indian Constitution?
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was India’s first law minister of an independent India. He was an eminent jurist, social reformer and politician. Throughout his career, Ambedkar fought for the rights and integrity of the Dalits and other socially backward classes. For his immense service to the nation, Ambedkar was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, in 1990.

Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. Wikimedia Commons
Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. Wikimedia Commons

Ambedkar is considered as the Father of Indian Constitution and popularly known as Baba Saheb. He was the mastermind behind drafting the Constitution of India. He guided the Constitution of India that laid down the principals of defining fundamental political approach of the system.

BR Ambedkar was the chairman of Drafting Committee which included Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and other prominent leaders. The members took over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. The Constitution got the signed approval of 308 members on January 24, 1950, and came into effect on January 26, 1950 – India’s first Republic Day.

Also Read: An insight into two biggest political parties of India

Republic Day celebrations in India
Every year January 26 is celebrated with full fervor to acknowledge the Republic Day. People from every corner of the nation comes together to lighten up the spirit of oneness and unity. This year, India will observe its 69th Republic on January 26, 2018. The celebrations include Flag Hoisting ceremony by the President of India followed by the March Past at Janpath. The entire event lasts for 3 days. The parade showcases India’s defense capability and its traditional and social heritage.

The parade showcases India's defense capability and its traditional and social heritage. Wikimedia Commons
The parade showcases India’s defense capability and its traditional and social heritage. Wikimedia Commons

Cultural groups of many states display their heritage and diversity through various platforms. The occasion also calls for the display of military might to its people and also to the world. Important awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are been given away by the President, before the commencement of the ceremony.