Women in the World reports:
“An Indian soap opera has been kicked off the air after viewers complained that the show glorified child marriage. One recent storyline on Pehredar Piya Ki (or Husband’s Guard) involved a 10-year-old boy marrying a 19-year-old woman. This scenario touched a nerve in India, where child marriage remains widespread, though it is illegal. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asked for a review of the soap, and on Monday, Sony Entertainment Television said it had pulled the program off air.”
Going against the grain of Bollywood movies where a happy marriage is featured, Dangal (2016) became very popular in both India, China, and around the world. Based on a true story, it tells about an Indian wrestler and coach who trained his two daughters to be champions after they beat up guys who harassed them. The girls cut their hair short like a boy in a country where most women like long hair. Daughter Geeta Phogat is fact won a gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and qualified for the Olympic Games. The Hindi language film was produced by the Walt Disney Company India. The government encouraged viewing the film as part of its campaign to educate girls and prevent femicide, but some criticized the film for featuring the father’s fulfillment of his dream to be a champion through his daughters.
These beautiful Dalit (formerly called Untouchable) children don’t have access to school as the children of migrant laborers in Punjab, India. The children in front of the computer, given by the Open Door Literacy Project, are orphans who also don’t go to school. Dalbir Singh does volunteer teaching for these children as he is university educated to be a teacher, as is his wife, Avneet Kaur. Help with supplies is appreciated!
In 2017, minister Gopal Bhargava gave bats to hundreds of brides in a mass wedding in Madhya Pradesh to defend against violent husbands or other drunk family members.[i] Some of the paddles included inscriptions such as “For beating drunkards.” He ordered hundreds of thousands more bats.
Evann Gastaldo, “Indian Wedding Gift: Paddles to Beat Drunk Husbands,” Newser, May 1, 2017.
An Indian girl, Pratibha, 14, reports, “TV and the Internet has totally changed our life. I can’t think of life without the imagination of the Internet and TV.” In regards to Indian young women in particular, Grey Global Group surveyed 3,400 unmarried women aged 19 to 22 from various income and social levels.[i] Altogether, the project involved 40 focus groups in five large metro areas and five smaller cities. Nisha Singhania, senior director of Grey Worldwide India, reported that 51% of young single women in major metro areas say it’s necessary to have a big house and big car to be happy. In smaller cities, 86% agreed with this materialist statement: “This shows that the less women have, the greater are their aspirations,” Singhania concluded. “A typical comment in recent interviews with young women was, ‘I want money, fame and success.’” One of the materialist influences on the respondents was satellite and cable that brought American music videos and TV shows to India in the early 1990s showing passionate kissing, sensitive guys, independent women and new products.
The main goal of young Indians is to “become rich,” according to a survey by Coca-Cola. MTV’s first “Youth Icon of the Year,” in 2003, was an industrialist named Anil Ambani. When he was asked what is the one thing that stands out about today’s young people, Ambani said: “India’s youth are very, very ambitious. Very competitive. There is a great spirit to achieve success and reward.”[ii] But he added, “They’re losing touch with some of the grassroots principles of our society, our culture, our systems. I think we need to harness our core values, our religion, our spiritualism. This is what the whole world wants to learn from us. Indian youth shouldn’t give up on that.”
` Some worry about not being able to meet youth’s rising expectations, as when young people go into debt to buy the latest mobile phone. Indrani Vidyarthi of ORG-MARG, a major market research agency, asks, ”But how to get more when there ain’t more?” According to the India’s 2001 census, about 78 million rural households had no access to electricity, so how can they have Internet access? More than 40% of India’s population depends on kerosene for lighting and uses batteries to see DVDs.[iii]
Right-wing Hindu nationalists protest the sexuality brought by foreign/modern consumerism, seen in the popularity of “cinema culture,” beauty contests, fashion shows and celebration of Valentine’s Day. Beauty is big business, as when Indian women win Miss Universe and Miss World contests. This leads to India’s reputation as a major “beauty machine,” along with Venezuela and the US. Major newspapers like the Times of India cover the winners.[iv] Opposition to the beauty business links Hindu nationalists and the feminist left. Feminists decry the contests as demeaning women: “There are clear links between globalization and the accelerated commodification of women,” stated the leader of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.[v] Although both right and left attack consumerism, it is spreading nevertheless. Women’s clothing, sexuality, and freedom of movement in public are “central to struggles over the cultural meaning and impact of globalization.”[vi]
[i] Pete Engardio, Businessweek, October 3, 2005. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_34/b3948530.htm
[v] Ibid, p. 59.
[vi] Lukose, Op.Cit., p. 13.
A survey by Hansa Research titled “The Youth Vote,” interviewed 4107 people ages 18 to 25 in 16 cities in 2013.[i] It revealed gender differences: Probably because they have more freedom of movement, young men are more likely to have done social service (34% to 27%) and pay a bribe, 20% to 11%.
Not broken down by gender, what they think stops India from progress—in this order: poverty, corruption, terrorism, caste (68% think caste matters to youth and 76% won’t marry outside their caste), and lack of empowerment for women. As to how to improve women’s lives, men’s attitudes should change (52%), police should follow laws more strictly (51%), and better laws are needed (48%). Almost one-quarter think there’s too much emphasis on domestic violence (23%), while a third (31%) thinks there’s too littlie emphasis. A third feel home isn’t safe for women (34%), more so in Delhi (60%). More think women are unsafe in public places (71%) and in colleges and at work (59%). But over half of women think they have equal opportunities at work (51%). The South (67%) is more egalitarian than the North (45%).
Youth are traditional, saying they will have an arranged marriage (63%) and won’t marry outside their religion because they believe in traditions (68%), would become an outcaste (14%), and they want to obey their parents (10%). More men would like a stay-at-home wife (48%), than a working wife (20%) or either (21%), so she can devote herself to family (60%) and it’s the best place for women (37%). Women would more like to have a husband who works in an office (49%) than one who works from home (21%), or either (21%). Parents totally paid for their education for 79% of them. Only 13% say they would prefer to live with a partner (LTA) without marriage or are fine with either. Over half say LTAs are immoral or socially unacceptable. Over two-thirds (65%) would prefer a secure government job to a high-paid private job and 38% think they need the right connections to succeed. One-third would like to study abroad.