May be little off the topic

The Skeptic z900672a at
Thu Nov 24 11:57:44 UTC 1994

  By M.G. Srinath
   New Delhi, Nov 20
     India  was in a state of euphoria Sunday hours after the brandy-eyed
21-year-old Aishwarya Rai won the coveted Miss World title in a contest held
in Sun City in South Africa.
    The widely circulated Hindustan Times newspaper reflected  India's  pride
when it said in a bold headline "World's envy,  India's  pride" as it splashed
the victory of Rai on Saturday on its front page.
    Rai, an architect by profession and a Bombay-based model, won the coveted
crown brushing past 82 contestants from around the world.
    Aishwarya's victory comes seven months after another Indian model had won
the Miss Universe contest to make complete the sweep of the world's top beauty
pagents. The Miss Universe contest was won by Sushmita Sen, an 18-year-old
model at Manila in May this year.
    The year also saw Sheetal Mallar become the second runner-up at the
International Look of the Year competition held in Spain some weeks back.
    While these girls bask in the glory of catwalks and sparkling evening gowns,
another Indian woman did the country proud in August this year when Kiran Bedi
received the prestigious Magsasay Award for public service 1994 in Manila.
    Bedi, Inspector-General of Delhi's Tihar jail, while receiving the Asian
version of the Nobel prizes had said that she planned to start a trust called
India  Vision to carry forward projects in the field of prison reform, drug
abuse prevention, empowerment of women, mental disability and sports promotion.
    While the success of Bedi, Rai and Sen is basically a urban phenomenon,
the lot of the women in the rural areas continues to falter in a male-dominated
    Jayashree Sengupta, an economist, feels that women in  India  need to
change their attitude towards their own sex for a better status in the society.
    In a culture where boys are coddled and indulged, the female child is
usually brought up neglected, submisive and scared of the males in the rural
    Sengupta says that mothers in the villages withdraw their girls from
school at an early age to help them at home and also keep them under their
surveillance. "The older girl child becomes the mother's helper and baby-
sitter for her younger brothers and sisters".
    In 1990-91, enrolment of children at the primary school level was 21
million for boys and 12.4 million for girls. For high school, it was 14
million for boys and 6.9 million for girls.
    While the male child is regarded as an investment and an asset, the female
child is made to feel as a drag and burden on the family.
    "Two of the worst enemies of women", said a  India  government report in the
International Women's Year in 1975, "have been the traditional female and the
conservative male".
    Things are changing, but slowly. Rural women have begun to fight back and
assert for their rights. It was women protests that led to the closure of
locally made liquor vends in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh two years
    A similar movement is on in the northern state of Haryana, a traditionally
male dominated society. In the southern city of Vishakapatnam in Andhra
Pradesh state, it is women who operate a fish market with great success.
    But probably the triumps of Rai, Sen and Bedi may spur the rural women to
break the traditional shackles in a greater force to change the face and
attitudes in  India.

 Aditya Mishra                               | The opinions expressed herein
Phone/FAX 305-746-0442 (Please leave message)| are absolutely not immutable
email:  z900672a at  | and may have changed by the
   (Please excuse for the extra long address)| time you read them due to the
Prodigy: TVDS96A                             | new evidence and/or data.


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