Monthly Archives: March 2010
“She is given to the temple by her parents just when she reaches her puberty. Scared she is, about the outcome of that event, as she is dressed by her mother. The poor girl, hardly understands the meaning of marriage, let alone marriage with God!” bemoans Mokshamma, a dalit women working with Navjeevana Mahila Okkuta (NJMO), an organization working in North Karnataka (based at Raichur).
It’s estimated that every year more than 1000 young girls in Karnataka are sacrificed in the name of tradition. These girls come from Dalit families, primarily belonging to the lowest strata of the society. The girls are given away often for money, at times to save the cost of dowry and marriage. Often parents seek boy child and when a girl is born instead, she’s sacrificed. The disabled or deceased girls too end up being the victims. On a few occasions, the Gowdas (upper caste) of the village, on suspecting an evil force active in the village, urges (forces) a lower caste family to sacrifice their daughter in service of GOD. Such a girl is known as a ‘Devadasi’, a servant of God.
After spending past 6 years in the field of Telecom engineering, I have taken a break to get into into full time engagement with community development. This ‘paradigm shift’ has begun with a fellowship that will run for about a year. After the first 1.5 months in Bangalore (where I have been since March 1), I will travel to various places in (mostly rural) India.
There have been plenty of questions from friends and relatives upon breaking this news, but I wonder if I have been and will be able to satisfy anyone’s curiosity to the fullest! There were also typical patriarchal reactions such as “Oh so you are quitting to become a housewife?” “cool, good thing to pass time, keep yourself busy” … Not that I undermine the role of a home-maker, but it saddens me to see that the value of married woman in the society is (largely) thought to be reduced to a house-wife if she is not doing any income-generating work! Many also had concerns about the finances, when they figured that Pulkit too might take similar plunge soon. But, we have done adequate calculations and pondering on that aspect. Also, this brings me to what Gandhi once rightly said: “There’s everything for one’s need and not for one’s greed”. We had decided to do away with many of our greeds long time back; that has helped us save good amount for our sustenance for next few years :-).
For a long time, even before I came to know of the concept of volunteer work, I knew that I had slightly differing views than many in my surroundings. Be it my atheist and feminist ideas or being a bit compassionate towards someone’s pain. But all said, I had never imagined myself being where I’m today. Like any other stereotypical Indian student, I too after my schooling had dreamt of getting a good job, having a respectful position both in society and work place.
Going through the past, I now figure that my year on year job-hopping(sometimes without much good reason or pay) was partly also because I was finding my work increasingly futile for the society. Sure, money could also bring about (i.e. fund) a great deal of change, but in my case, I believe my full time involvement would make a bigger impact. As my involvement with AID and other groups drifted my interests to different issues, the job was becoming an obstacle for contributing to what I felt was more worthy of my time. Can’t say I found my true passion, but I am convinced of this being the best way to go.
I am currently clueless about my final destination after a year, but I will try to keep things posted on this space.