Savita’s death is surely going to reignite the debate surrounding abortion which has been a pet project of the Vatican since a very long time. There should not even be an iota of doubt in anyone’s mind concerning the irrationality around the idea of having a blanket ban on abortions. It’s good to be pro-life but it’s totally insane to not give a lady the liberty to undergo abortion when her own life is under threat. Catholic-majority Ireland needs to seriously reconsider its abortion laws because Savita’s death is a highly shameful incident. The Western Press talks highly of human rights and is quick to attack the East when some unfortunate event triggered by religion extremism takes place in Gujarat or Swat but it keeps mum on occasions when Catholic extremism is the driving force behind violation of human rights. Although I have nothing against Catholicism but I would merely like to remind the world that this whole notion of banning abortions in totality has been the handiwork of the Catholic Church and Ireland is the same country where Mother Teresa of Calcutta (a favourite of the Western media) delivered the message of saving lives by banning both contraceptives and abortions as a whole and this fact is well documented in Christopher Hitchens’s documentary titled ‘Hell’s Angel’.
After having spent about 97 minutes while watching the Third US Presidential Debate themed around foreign policy which took place yesterday, I am very disappointed to state that it had nothing substantial from the Indian point of view because the word ‘India’ was not even used once during the over one and a half hour long confrontation between the two candidates ie President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The only interesting development for Indian diplomats and foreign policy analysts to take note of from the debate was the refusal of Governor Mitt Romney just like President Obama to divorce Pakistan and his decision of continuing to aid the troubled nation (if elected president), which he described as a technical ally but as one which was not acting like an ally. Romney also expressed support for the controversial drone attacks which the Obama administration has been carrying out in the tribal areas of Pakistan. While Governor Romney held Iran to be the biggest national security threat to the United States, President Obama described safeguarding religious minorities and empowering women in the Middle East as a big challenge. Both the competitors vowed to strengthen the American military by increasing the defense budget and to get the economy back on track. Lengthy discussions were held regarding the tense situation prevailing in countries like Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. While references in some form or the other were made to nearly all powerful nations be it Russia, France, United Kingdom or even tiny players like Somalia and Turkey, it was China which seemed to be the one occupying the position as USA’s biggest competitor as both the candidates sounded increasingly worried about the economic tactics employed by the Communist nation. It’s really a shame that a country like India which is aspiring to become the next global superpower couldn’t manage to crawl into the centre of the debate even for a second. It’s just indicative of India’s insignificance at the international forum due to its spineless and non-committal foreign policy.
There is little doubt that women happen to be the most oppressed community in the history of mankind and this is one feature which is strikingly similar among all societies. The biggest dampener in the way of women empowerment has always been religious precepts. All religions without exception carry the guilt of actively discriminating against women and this stems from the contrarian approach embraced by religions in relation to women.
Women were given such a pious and divine status by religions that this divinity eventually led to them becoming societal outcastes. Values such as educational enlightenment, economic independence, political participation and health and survival of women which we hold in high esteem today were kept on the backburner by religion. Economically, religion made women so high in stature that they were not expected to go out, dirty their hands and work to earn bread for themselves. The onus of feeding them was put on the male members of their household. This economic dependence of women over men imposed by religion took away the necessity of their education. Religion sanctioned such piousness for women that they were proscribed from the grimy business of political participation. All these things literally excommunicated women from the daily hustle bustle of public life. Religion has made women just like religious books. We all know how worthless religious books have become in the modern era with only a handful bunch of people reading them and exceptionally few following them but one unusual thing is that no matter how much a person might be ignorant of the holy scriptures, he or she will always ensure that they are well kept and neatly covered in a beautiful piece of clothing and placed at the top of some shelf. This is the worst kind of formality which one can see.
Religious books are not being utilized for what they are meant ie for reading, understanding and following but they are instead being subjected to false honour and comfort of beautiful wrapping cloths. Similar is the case with religion’s approach towards women. Religion says that women are very divine, pious and high in stature but it gives them minimal rights based on botched up logics thereby ensuring their subjugation while simultaneously paving the way for a patriarchal society. This is the reason why I term religion’s approach towards women as contrarian.
The European Union has been bestowed upon with the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 for its incessant contributions in keeping the continent of Europe cohesive and for striving towards achieving peace and advancement through the promotion of democratic principles and human rights over the past six decades in Europe. This trend of honouring organizations with worldly prizes seems to have gathered momentum over the past some years. Organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations and the Inter-Governmental Panel for Climate Change have also managed to bag the coveted Nobel Peace Prize in the past. In 2011, TIME magazine made ‘The Protestor’ (Symbolizing People’s Movements across the globe) its person of the year while in 2006, they affirmed the same status to ‘YOU’ which represented millions of people creating content on the internet. This practice is a commendable one because it is for the first time that we are seeing real organizational abilities being given preference over individual heroic tales. In a world where egos and self esteems play such a prominent role, the recognition given to such organizations would pave the way for greater team work and promote a spirit of organizational brotherhood and societal unity. If this trend continues then humankind would get over its age-old habit of waiting for the arrival of demi-gods to set things right in the society and would instead work as a complete unit towards obliterating all the corrupt demons of our time without expecting any sort of divine intervention from some God-sent Messiah like figure.
There is a great amount of sensitivity involved in water disputes arising out of river blockades caused due to the erection of dams and reservoirs as well as due to lack of strict adherence to river water sharing treaties. South Asia is home to a number of water sharing disputes.
When it comes to Pakistan, the single largest foreign policy issue for them in relation to India after the Kashmir dispute is that of water sharing wherein they accuse India of trying to create a drought-like situation in the country by building massive dams across rivers thereby stopping the entry of water into Pakistan’s territory. India levels same kind of charges against China but the crux of the matter is that apart from our water sharing disputes with our neighbours, we are facing a number of feuds taking place within the nation as well. States have been feuding with one another since a long time over this issue. The warpath doesn’t seem to come to an end. When the year began, we saw an ugly brawl taking place between Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the issue of the Mullaperiyar Dam and these days we are witnessing the escalation of the problems associated with the Cauvery row between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Instead of going into the intricacies of both the disputes, I would merely state that the simple solution to these water woes is the urgent and necessary implementation of the project of inter-linking of rivers, an ambitious project which was envisaged for the first time during the 70’s, brought back to life by the NDA government following a mentioning of the same in President Kalam’s Republic Day Speech and put in the cold storage by the UPA government for the sake of cheap political considerations.
The aim of this project was to interlink all the rivers flowing across the nation and help member states by diverting river water from water sufficient states to the ones who were suffering from deficiency of water. Some states objected to this as they held it to be in violation of the doctrine of federalism as water happens to be a state subject but in a recent Supreme Court judgement, the apex court ruled that national interest was well over regional considerations and the principle of federalism. The Supreme Court directed the Central Government to take steps to implement the interlinking project urgently in the interest of the nation but till now no substantial steps have been taken in this direction merely because of the fact that this happens to be a long term project which would not yield immediate political gains but would rather be very costly on the incumbent government as it would lead to wide scale displacement of people and massive agitations which this UPA government is not in a position to handle. So till the time a powerful government arrives at the centre, we can expect our water woes to continue as the project of interlinking of rivers would continue to lie in cold storage.