In her column for BBC News Online, Bollywood heroine Preity Zinta, who alone stood firmly against the D-company in film industry, has raised the issue of ´eveteasing´ in India. Advocating a better deal for Indian women, who in general do not feel safe on the streets, she pointed out three prime factors-the sex explosion in the media, humiliating judicial rules for women and men behaving like barbarians-for eveteasing in the country at large.
Highlighting the sex explosion in media, she wrote: ?There´s too much smut on prime time television. Even I feel embarrassed to watch some of the television (programmes) in front of my family.?
Criticising Hindi film industry for its negative presentation of female characters, Zinta said: ?Unlike the Hindi film heroine of yesteryears, who was largely the epitome of purity and had a certain dignity, there is today an emerging ´genre´ of B-grade skin flicks that showcase ´sexy´ heroines in slinky costumes.?
Underlining the irony of modern-day women, she further said, ?Today when women are becoming more independent and stepping out of their homes, their respectability and security is being threatened by men behaving badly. Whereas traditionally, our women, though confined to a homemaking role, held a very respectable position in a society that was-and still is-essentially patriarchal.?
Lastly, raising a question about the role of judiciary, she said: ?A victim of a sex crime has to go through the humiliating process of proving to our judiciary that she was not a ´loose´ character who consented to or invited the offender.?
With the fundamentalist Islamic fanatics of today, there is no dialogue possible, because for them all others are ´infidel dogs´. As soon as the other becomes a wrong-doer or an infidel, dialogue becomes impossible. French philosopher and sociologist, Edgar Morin, who is one of country´s leading contemporary thinkers, underlined this issue in the latest issue of Unesco Courier magazine.
Commenting on Huntington´s theory of a clash between Western civilisation and Islamic civilisation he said it was avoidable. But today the clash is under way, even if it hasn´t really occurred yet. Several elements point to it. For example, until the intervention in Iraq, the kamikaze (suicide bomber) phenomenon was limited to a very small group of Palestinian militants. Now it´s spread to Iraq, where you also find another form of kamikaze behaviour.
Morin observes that dialogue is only possible between individuals who recognise each other as subjects with same dignity and same rights. There is an obstacle when what is sacred for one is not sacred for the other. For example, a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew cannot have a dialogue to establish whether Jesus rose on the third day, or Moses received the Ten Commandments, or Mohammed had a revelation from the Angel Gabriel. But we can recognise what is sacred for the other and engage in a dialogue, that is to say make progress in knowing the other.
Language is the greatest creation of the human race and each individual language testifies in a unique way to the linguistic faculty of mankind. But the horrifying truth is that in modern times, where communication technology is changing the face of the world rapidly, over 50 per cent of the world´s 6,000 languages are endangered.
Languages are vehicles of value systems and of cultural expressions and they constitute a determining factor in the identity of groups and individuals. But the fact is that one language disappears on an average of every two weeks from the earth.
Languages are not only extremely adequate tools of communication; they also reflect a view of the world. Although 96 per cent of the world´s 6,000 languages are spoken by 4 per cent of the world´s population only but half of all languages occur in merely eight countries-Papua New Guinea (832), Indonesia (731), Nigeria (515), India (400), Mexico (295), Cameroon (286), Australia (268) and Brazil (234). Another interesting fact is that 90 per cent of the world´s languages are not represented on the internet.
Commies set to level score
With the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the helm of affairs in the Centre, Leftist brigade of writers have started ganging up against appointments made by previous NDA government. In Delhi, senior Hindi critic, Namvar Singh raised this issue at a meeting of Janwadi Lekhak Sangh (JLS). The persons appointed in the organisations such as National Book Trust, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art, Sahitya Akademi, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Indian Council of Historical Research, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Central Social Welfare Board, Prasar Bharati and Publications Division were on their hit list. The result of this is now evident with the removal campaign of HRD Minister, Arjun Singh in NCERT and ICHR. The rest of the organisations will also bear the burnt of the campaign.
The real story behind the whole drama is that these ´unemployed´ intellectuals, who were removed from plum posts by the previous NDA government, are now lining up to get into these organisations by any means. So, now they have started making a hue and cry on the pretext of so-called communal and BJP-minded people continuing on the top posts of such organisations. And why not, people like Romila Thapar, Rajendra Yadav were removed from the Prasar Bharati Board and Namvar Singh from Raja Ram Mohun Library Committee by NDA government.
Drastic decline in expenditure
In the last two years the expenditure on social sector in the country has come down drastically. In other words, the share of education and health in total expenditure has declined in absolute terms. The Left-ruled West Bengal is a classic example, where this year, the share of social sector in total expenditure has declined by a whopping 18 per cent as compared to last year.
This fact is revealed in the latest figures released by Reserve Bank of India. As most of the states´ expenditure on social services including education and health in relation to overall expenditure has either stagnated or declined over the last two fiscal years, the per capita spending on healthcare in the country is around Rs 860. From 2001-02 to 2002-03, the aggregate expenditure of states on social sector had declined from 35 per cent to 33.5 per cent of the total expenditure. Not only this, in the last two years, it has remained stagnant at 33.5 per cent.