The Tradition Of Educating The ‘Mard’ And Its Flipside

Posted on May 14, 2013 in Education, Society

By Venkatesh:

Sarita, a 28-year-old-lady, is married to a security guard who guards a commercial complex. Suddenly, one bright morning, she wakes up only to realize that her husband is no more, he died in a road accident the previous night. She has two kids, too little to understand anything that happened to their father. Sarita is illiterate. This has left the family in the invisible hands of our very own God, that too in an unknown city!


Now, unlike the Richie-Richs, the kids in this case don’t have any property to inherit, their father earned a meager 4,000 per month, which at least sufficed their need of bread and butter if not the privilege of playing with toys (Here, as I stress my memory a little, I find myself lucky to get those bats/balls as a kid). Here, the future of kids hovers around darkness, the horizon of darkness that is unknown. The mother being illiterate, the most she can do is work in an unorganized sector, for e.g. she can work as a part-time maid. But when she works, who takes care of her child? This is another problem though. Well, this was fictional, but this indeed is the true picture of millions of households in India in somewhat similar situations, where education is only a dream and if within reach, is only for the ‘Mard’ (as men are referred to in Hindi) of the family. So, while the Mards aspire to become literates, the other gender is left to the hands of her Mard, only to face misery, violence, starvation in her life.

The reason, unfortunately, is our failed realization to honour the importance of educating the often underestimated gender- females (Ironically, in a country where Hindus are in the majority, the female gender itself is hapless, of which Goddess Saraswati happens to be the epitome of knowledge and wisdom). In such a hapless situation, believing in the saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ appears much more realistic. So, relegating the crown of literacy to the Mard is no Mardangi (masculinity). The ‘Shining’ or ‘Incredible India’ as the different governments proclaim it to be, makes no sense when its shine/incredibility doesn’t touch such households, where the lamp of literacy is itself dark. Rather, it continues to remain an eclipse for them and for the kids like those of Sarita’s, it is only darker, thanks to their kismat or fate.

Each day brings with itself another challenge, that of survival. One can call the situation as ‘Do or Die’ for Sarita. And it indeed is, for no other option is left, she either does things and hence survives, else a miracle in the offering can only save her and the kids at the helm of ‘Kismat’. We should feel lucky to not face such a phase in the early years of our lives. As I read the newspaper daily, I seldom find any day which is devoid of such appalling news. Now, appalling stories like this leave us, jump the guns and quickly criticize the government. It gives rise to another debate, that of ‘Bharat vs. India’ (which indeed cannot be refuted seeing the present scenario). We do have the very right; for India is a democracy (in fact, the world’s largest), to raise our voice, rather vociferously. But at the same time, we have the duty too, to mould our thinking, primarily for ourselves and the society we live in. It is very clear as to what the attitude towards a girl child is, right from her birth, and in the later stages of her life, like marriage or education, in our society. What I am trying to convey is nothing new, leading economists and sociologists have already stressed on the importance of educating a girl child.

Here, I try to state a few of the many reasons as to why it is important to do so. Firstly, there is no just reason to not educate a girl child with the thinking that she ultimately has to be married off (which has been the primary reason for this cause, where saving for dowry has looked more appropriate). Secondly, not educating a girl and leaving her to the Mards’ fate in the future would only lead to situations like the above, where the world can turn upside down in a single day. This also goes for those who are well-off, to make women less dependent on their husbands, which has been the usual case. Thirdly and most importantly, educating a woman fundamentally means educating the whole family. This becomes all the more important seeing the degradation of the moral and cultural values which India often boasts of.