Intro: Social reform begins when people openly acknowledge the need to get rid of social ills. When leaders understand their duty to guide public opinion in a positive direction. As a way forward, our Prime Minister has given a clarion call to the people to rise above selfish motives and work for the nation.
The role of a leader is very crucial in a democratic country. It’s because people pick and choose a person to guide them on the right path. A leader must be able to set the direction, create a sense of shared purpose and guide behaviour. That is exactly what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done through his address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort. It was the first time that the PM touched upon so many social issues in the Independence Day speech and gave clear guidelines for social reforms.
“Our heads hang in shame when we hear news about rape,” he said.Yes. How can a self-respecting nation watch its women getting insulted, molested, raped… and not do anything about it? Crime against women is neither a political nor a law-and-order problem. It’s a social issue, requiring drastic social reform.
The role of the police and the judiciary begins after a crime has been committed. But what’s the reason behind the continuously rising incidents? It’s the mindset – a mindset which draws different parameters for women and men. If a man goes out with friends, he’s just enjoying himself. If a woman steps out similarly, she’s of dubious character. If a girl gets raped, people start wondering if she somehow ‘asked for it’. As for the rapist, they tell you, he must have been ‘provoked’! Disgusting comments such as ‘men will be men’ and ‘mistakes happen’, further vitiate the atmosphere. The rising crime against women in Uttar Pradesh is a prime example of negative leadership.
The need of the hour is to change the mindset. Our PM has told us how, values are imbibed from the cradle itself, be it a son or a daughter. Parents are responsible for their son’s upbringing too. They must keep a watch on their son’s habits, just as they watch over their daughter’s. Unbridled youth can be a danger to the society. A famous quote goes thus: “What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.”
Female foeticide and the resultant skewed sex ratio are all impediments to the growth of our nation.
Swami Vivekanand firmly believed that “Liberty is the first condition of growth.” “Our right of interference is limited entirely to giving education. Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them. And our Indian women are capable of doing it as any other woman in the world.”
Swami Vivekanand was repeatedly asked questions during his foreign travels about the status of Indian women. So once he replied thus: “I am asked again and again, what I think of the widow problem and what I think of the woman question. Let me answer once for all — Am I a widow that you ask me this nonsense? Am I a woman that you ask me this question again and again? Who are you to solve womens’ problems? Are you the Lord God that you should rule over every widow and every woman? Hands off! They will solve their own problems.”
“The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women. In ancient Greece, there was absolutely no difference in the state of man and woman. The idea of perfect equality existed. Even in India, no Hindu can be a priest until he is married; the idea behind this is that a single man is only half a man, and imperfect.”
A leader’s greatness is reflected in the message he or she gives to the society.
Let us take Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea to the level of a mass campaign and start a social reform movement to create a healthy progressive society for a better future of women in India.
-Abha Khanna Gupta (The writer is a senior Journalist and