Monday, May 19, 2008

On Mothers...comment by Shubha K

The State of the World's Mothers report is there on the net. Have you read it? Perhaps not. I haven’t either. But I do know certain things.

While it is acknowledged that the (hated) Americans do have extraordinary talent to commercialise and commodify anything under the sun, we also need to acknowledge the horrendous hypocrisy that thrives in the name of `Indian culture.’ To give a simple example, it is quite common in India to blame the influence of `western materialistic culture’ for female foeticide and dowry deaths. Edward Luce in his highly acclaimed book `In Spite of the Gods’ points out with brutal clarity that neither problem exists in the west.
We all know that in India mothers of boys are treated differently from mothers of girls. Does that happen in the west?

A `culture’ that discriminates against the female of the species right from the time she is physically conceived, and continues with the injustice throughout her life: can it be logically expected to suddenly wake up one day and give to a mother due respect? No, we can only expect loud and shrill glorification of motherhood that is designed specifically to camouflage the inglorious truth.

Renowned journalist and author from Bangalore Amu Joseph in a scathing and well researched article in October 2005 highlighted the miserable plight of senior citizens in India, where the shrill hype about `respect for elders’ is unparalleled anywhere in the world. This article too is accessible on the net.

There have been plenty of news reports in the Marathi press about how people take their aged parents on a pilgrimage and abandon them there in the crowd. Old age homes are thriving in such pilgrimage centres, and a large majority of the residents do not wish to go back to their children.

Narayana Murthy of Infosys spoke some time back on `What Indians must learn from the west’. It is a sizzling eye-opener on how easily we turn a blind eye on our own shortcomings.

The speech is available here:

Nobody denies that celebrating a Mother’s Day is nothing more than tokenism, sometimes grotesque. But if we wish to fight this trend, the least we can do is to take our blinkers off. It will be a good beginning.

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