People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 24

June 13, 2010



Unbelievable, Yaar!

G Mamatha


HI, Bengaluru! I did not know that performance would be punished. Oh, sorry, there was Ekalavya who was punished for his superior archery skills. But wasn't that a thing of the past? No! So it seems, with what is happening in Bengaluru, the numero uno city in our country for advanced technology.


It is slowly becoming a common fact that girls are outperforming boys in various examinations that are held in our country. This fact should have been welcomed if we call our society as 'modern' because amidst a desert of adversities – adverse sex ratio, adverse gender ratio in education, high drop-out rates, etc., – this is a small oasis where girls outnumber boys. That this had happened in Karnataka, a state ruled by BJP wedded to the Manuvadi ideology, has made it an eyesore for the Abhinav Manus. Before we go into what is happening in Bengaluru, let us not forget the fact that when somebody says in Karnataka, girls out number boys, they mean it in percentage terms and not absolute numbers. For, according to the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board, 2,61,142 boys cleared the Board examination while 2,60,516 girls cleared it. Though the number of girls who had cleared the examination is slightly less than the number of boys, what they are indeed worried is about the quality – girls secured more marks than boys.


'Leading' colleges in Bengaluru, using this as a pretext, raised the entry bar for women applicants. 'Prominent' aided colleges in the city like MES College and National College have set a higher cut-off percentage for admitting girls. In the much sought-after science course at the +2 level at MES College, the cut off marks for boys are 594 while it is 599 for girls. In another preferred commerce course, the cut-off for boys is 553 and for girls it is 580! It is these 'prominent' colleges that are 'leading' the way in ensuring that “boys need a leg up to equalise classroom numbers”.


Boys need a leg up! According to the media reports, many 'boys' they had interviewed were also against this 'leg up' support that the college managements intend to provide. With all due respect to the intellect of the managements, let us recall some facts, stated and accepted by the government about the status of education in our country.


India is one among the few countries that is going to fail on delivering the promise of erasing the gender disparity in education as accepted in the Millennium Development Goals. Though at the entry level there is not much difference in the number of girls and boys in the schools, if we notice at the higher education level, we find only 40 per cent girls. This is, because, the society and education system works heavily against girl students in our country. Girls are considered minus, while boys plus. You have to pay the fees and also dowry for girls, while for boys you pay the fees and get it reimbursed as dowry, if possible with interest too. Girls, because of this attitude have to look after siblings right from childhood and help in domestic chores. You continue reading my boy!


If overcoming these initial hiccups some girls join schools, there are more, waiting to test their 'endurance' skills. There would be no toilets, water, female teachers. And in the minimum hostel facilities available for them, there would be no security. They have to study among thousands of prying eyes with a constant fear – who would poach upon them and when would he strike – which also include some male teachers, if there are only female teachers - their husbands, sons, relatives, watchman, warden, etc. They live in perpetual fear of the looks of these crooks. As if this 'internal security threat' is not enough, there lurks danger around the corner, outside every girls' school, college, hostel and even co-education institute. Yes, there are hundreds of such stories, if you care to listen.


Child abuse and sexual harassment are one of the major non-economic reasons that prevent girls from realising their education dreams. Significantly, Karnataka has a bad record of crimes committed on women. The reported cases of molestation, sexual assault, kidnapping, abduction and rape have seen a drastic rise from 2008 to 2009. If education system is taken as a game of snakes and ladders, for girls it is more snakes than ladders. Instead of saluting all those girls who progress ahead in education escaping the snake bites, fighting them and shining in spite of all these venomous snakes crawling around, the managements in Bengaluru have now come up with a 'master stroke'. Forget about laying a ladder for these brave hearts, they are trying to change the rules of the game by introducing new 'snakes'.


Looking at this, along with the Rama Senes and Muthaliks, there appears to be a pattern behind all the attacks on women in Karnataka. Manu's laws are being combined with the laws of money. 'Laws of money' prescribe curtailment of opportunities through increasing commercialisation of education. Manu's laws bar education to women and shudras. They are together in their agenda of excluding the majority from availing education.


Enough! Let us announce to the world, that we had had enough. It is not a question of girls or boys, shudras or savarnas. It is a question of equal opportunities for all, question of our dignity, self-respect and survival. We know how to give birth – birth to a new society: bereft of all sorts of exploitations and discriminations.