Friday, 30 September 2011

INDIA: An uncivilized nation

A nation is judged by the way it treats its citizens. No matter how advanced a nation may be with respect to its buildings, science, medicine, means of transportation, etc., some nations are extremely backward when it comes to justice, the treatment of its women and children and its poor.

India is in my opinion, a backward nation.

The caste system

There is no universally accepted theory about the origins of the Indian caste system. The Indian classes include the priests who are Brahmins, the warriors are Kshatriya, the merchants are Vaishya, and the artisans are Shudras.

And then you have the Harijans, formerly referred to as the untouchables, the lowest of the classes. They worked in what were seen as unhealthy, unpleasant or polluting jobs. In the past, the Harijans suffered from social segregation and restrictions, in addition to extreme poverty. They were not allowed to worship in temples with others, nor draw water from the same sources. Persons of higher castes would not interact with them. If somehow a member of a higher caste came into physical or social contact with an untouchable, the member of the higher caste was defiled, and had to bathe thoroughly to purge him or herself of the impurity. Social discrimination developed even among the Harijans; sub-castes among Harijans, such as the dhobi and nai, would not interact with lower-order Bhangis, who were described as ‘outcastes even among outcastes’. It was always possible for groups born into a lower caste to "rise to a higher position by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism" i.e. adopt the customs of the higher castes. While theoretically ‘forbidden’, the process was not uncommon in practice.

The caste system is still socially relevant in India, even when the topic is avoided in discussions. Caste has become an important factor in the politics of rural India, although elections in the first decade of the 21st century seem to have diminished a hold that was very much evident in the previous few decades.

The Government of India has officially documented castes and sub-castes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation (positive discrimination in education and jobs) through the census. The Indian reservation system, though limited in scope, relies entirely on quotas. The Government lists consist of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes.

The government is carrying out caste census for 2011. It will help in verifying the claims and counterclaims by various sections of the society about their actual numbers. It would also help the government to re-examine and even undo some of the policies which were formed in haste and bring more objectivity to the policies with contemporary realities. Others fear that, given the huge constitutional incentives in the form of educational and job reservations, as well as non-existence of any social stigma at all associated with belonging to a backward caste, a large number of people will falsely declare themselves to be from a backward caste, to avail themselves of the benefits. This will not only result in a marked inflation of the backward castes numbers, but also lead to enormous administrative and judicial resources being devoted to social unrest and litigation, if such dubious caste declarations are challenged.

Independent India has witnessed a considerable amount of violence and hate crimes motivated by caste. According to a UN report, approximately 110,000 cases of violent acts committed against Dalits were reported in 2005. Various incidents of violence against Dalits, almost always by other backward castes such as the Kunbis Kherlanji Massacre and the Jats Mirchpur killings in 2010, have been reported from many parts of India. Many violent protests by Dalits, such as the 2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra, have also been reported.

Treatment of women and girls

The persistence of hunger and abject poverty in India is due in large measure to the subjugation, marginalization and disempowerment of women. Women in India suffer from hunger and poverty in greater numbers and to a great degree then men. Females receive less health care than males. Many women die in childbirth of easily prevented complications. Working conditions and environmental pollution further impairs women's health. Women work longer hours and their work is more arduous than men's, yet their work is unrecognized. Men constantly report that ‘women, like children, eat and do nothing.’

In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India, in terms of rapes, assaults and dowry-related murders. Fear of violence suppresses the aspirations of all women. Female infanticide and sex-selective abortions are additional forms of violence that reflect the devaluing of females in Indian society.

Indian girls with heart disease are being denied treatment by parents who prefer to spend money on their sons or fear that surgery will harm their daughters' marriage prospects. They fear that any surgery will leave scars that will cause matrimonial problems later. Indian girls with heart disease are being denied treatment by parents who prefer to spend money on sons or fear surgery will harm their daughters' marriage prospects, doctors say.

A survey of 400 children under 12 suffering from congenital heart disease found only 44% of girls were treated for their condition, compared with 70% of boys.

Doctors and women's rights campaigners said the figures reflected discrimination against girls throughout Indian society, where women often abort pregnancies if they suspect the fetus is female. The ratio of girls to boys has dropped in India from 933 per 1,000 in 2001 to 914 in 2011.

In India, about 180,000 children a year are born with congenital heart disease, of whom 60,000 to 90,000 require early intervention. However, the actual number of children undergoing surgery is far lower but for girls, most parents think such corrective surgeries are not important, since they will be married off in their adulthood and become the responsibility of her husband. Parents would not mind, if the girl dies due to such disease.


In India dowry (known as Dahej in Hindi) is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's family along with the bride. Generally they include cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils, other household items and even farm animals or equipment that help the newly-wed set up her home or farm. Dowry originated in upper caste families as the wedding gift to the bride from her family. The dowry was later given to help with marriage expenses and became a form of insurance in the case that her in-laws mistreated her.

In India the dowry system has been putting great financial burden on the daughter’s family. It has been one of the reasons for families and women in India resorting to sex selection favoring to have a son. This has distorted the sex ratio in India (933 females per thousand males) and has given rise to female foeticide.

The payment of a dowry has been prohibited under The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code Despite the anti-dowry law in India, it is still widely and illegally practiced across the country. Dowry is a social evil which is hated by most of the educated Indians but it is practiced very proudly in many of their own lives.

As child marriages (both bride and groom are young) were prevalent in India, the brides parents offer dowry to the grooms family in the form of money and materials. This is in order to help support the livelihood of the bride until groom grows up to support her himself.

How can the poor couples living in the poverty-stricken rural India indulge the thought of giving birth to a female child while they themselves are victims of this awful custom of dowry? It is a nightmare for them, having a daughter as they know that they have to accumulate a significant amount of money as dowry to be given during their daughter’s marriage, which would not be possible for them in a normal way. They are so poor that they cannot afford to pay a dowry to the groom’s family.

The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe is ‘bride burning’, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicides. In India during 2006, there were 7,618 dowry deaths, 8,093 dowry deaths in 2007 and 8,172 dowry deaths in 2008.

The practice of dowry is also responsible for many other social evils like female infanticides and the killing of female babies immediately after birth. It is evident that there exist deep rooted prejudices against women in India. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to subordinate women in Indian society.

In Westernized countries, guests to marriage celebrations offer gifts of money to help defray the costs of the celebrations or give gifts such as kitchenware etc., to assist the newlyweds as they begin living in their new homes. That is not the same as dowries.

Child Slavery

In India along with many other countries, small children work in textile, clothing, carpet, footwear, glass industries, fireworks industries, diamond and other gem stone polishing, salt, limestone and mosaic chip quarrying industries. Many of these occupations involve the children in hazardous work.

Many of these children have no opportunity to go to school. Many of their parents, who suffer from illiteracy and ignorance, do not understand the importance of education. Moreover, the high cost of education is another obstacle for these children. Many of these children are abandoned to the slave traders because the parents cannot afford to support their children.

Child laborer in hazardous and other industrial work lead lives of degradation and hardship, and are deprived of their rights as children. The majority of them who are involved in farming and are routinely exposed to harsh climate, sharpened tools, heavy loads and increasingly to toxic chemicals and motorized equipment suffer permanently for these reasons. Because they are not matured mentally, they are less aware, even completely unaware of the potential risks involved in their specific occupations or at the workplace itself.

A very high proportion of these children are physically injured or fall ill while working. Injuries included punctures, broken or complete loss of body parts, burns and skin disease, eye and hearing impairment, respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, fever, headaches from excessive heat in the fields or in factories.
About 13 percent of the ill or injured children work in the wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels. Female children receive 25 percent of the injuries from working in this sector. Occurrences of injuries are significantly higher in the mining and construction sectors. On the average, 35 percent of the female children and 26 percent of the male children are injured while working in the construction sector. 19 percent of the children get serious injuries while working in the transportation sector.

Lack of medical care

Poor governance and not physician availability leads to poor medical care in rural India. While there is suitable governance for many rural activities such as land revenue and finance, security, electricity and telecommunications there are almost non-existent activities in disease prevention and health care and related fields such as sanitation and water supply. There are multiple reasons for lack of optimum healthcare and good physicians in villages. These include lack of appropriate healthcare infrastructure facilities, support staff and adequate financial support in villages. There are generally no facilities to diagnose acute cardiovascular events or to provide basic minimum care which are available in almost all villages in India. There is also no availability of round the clock nursing staff in most of the facilities at primary healthcare level and management of acute medical/surgical emergencies is rudimentary.

Corruption in India

Every country has scammers but India is riddled with them. Someone even tried to sell the Taj Mahal – yes, that’s true. There are scandals involving the Army, the judiciary and of course the politicians. There was even the scam involving the poor quality of bullet proof vests for the policemen. It is not enough for the powerful family members to line their own pockets; they also want to line the pockets of their extended family members.

Bribery or graft is a fact of life for more or less everybody in India. A restaurateur named Vishal, 26, stated, “There are the officials from various local authorities who also receive regular payments – around £50 per month – to ensure that health, safety and hygiene inspections go smoothly. Of the 40,000 rupees (£520) I earn a month from my restaurant, I pay at least a third in bribes," But bribery also extends into his personal life. Vishal has two young children and to get the eldest in to the best local school he paid a "donation" of 25,000 rupees (£340) in cash to the headmaster. A driving licence needed another bribe. Getting an appointment with a competent public doctor cost a substantial amount. And then there are the traffic police. Every other week Vishal says he is stopped, told he has committed an offence and made to pay 100 rupees (£1.25), the standard fee to avoid "too much bother".

Elections in many parts of the country have become associated with a host of criminal activities. Threatening voters to vote for a particular candidate or physically prevent voters from going in to the polling booth – especially weaker sections of the society like tribals, dalits and rural woman occurs frequently in several parts of the country.

Major Factors Responsible For Corruption

The most important factor about corruption is the nature of the human being. People in general, have a great thirst for luxuries and comforts and as a result of which they get themselves involved in all unscrupulous activities that result in monetary or material benefits. Moral and spiritual values are not given utmost importance in educational system, which is highly responsible for the deterioration of the society. The salary paid to employees is very less and as a result of which they are forced to earn money by illegal ways. The punishments imposed on the criminals are inadequate.


As I said at the beginning of this article, India is a backward country. The problem probably stems from the fact that there are so many people living in that country and the authorities can’t control all of them and solve all of the problems inherent in such a populous country.

Attempts are being made to solve these problems but in my opinion, those attempts are not enough to stem these problems. Until these problems are solved, India will be looked down upon by other nations who have solved such problems that India currently has.

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