Aren’t Ordure and Odour the Same?

They cover their noses as I walk by
As if my very stench is polluting
One whiff and they bring out the gangajal
But do I not smell exactly like them?

They complain about my impurity
Yet ,they don’t let me even touch the tap
Tell me, how then am I
Supposed to become pure like them?

My child is not allowed to sit on the desk
They say she’ll contaminate the others
How is she supposed to learn
Through closed blinds and latched doors?

Or are her textbooks
The broom and dirt underneath
Their feet? Teaching her that
Her worth is all that she can clean?

I can’t use the same teacup as them
The cracked mould is all that I have
Broken like my unbending spine
Are my coins worth less than theirs?

My shadow, oh what tales they spin.
Its crimes are worth too many
A broom hence is tied to my back
To pay for the sins that my body lacks.

They say I am impure
My very existence a blight on their souls
But aren’t ordure and odour the same?
For me they are.

Who am I, you ask?
My name is one they use often
“Ai municipality, come clean this!”
They shout as they walk out of thatched doors
“Ai municipality, come clean this!”
Is what I’m forever christened.



Children of Men?

When the country’s first child sex ratio (the number of girls per 1000 boys below the age of six) was taken in 1961, it was a staggering 976. When it was last taken in 2011, it was at a frightening 914.

According to the 2011 Census, as many as 6 states and union territories in India have a child sex ratio of less than 900. Punjab, being the lowest has 793, followed by Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are all under 925, while Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Odisha are above the national average of 914. Even in Kerala, the state with the best sex ratio, the child sex ratio is at 963. Sikkim boasts the highest child sex ratio of only 986.

And all of this, despite the fact that, scientifically, it has been proven that the immune system of female babies is much stronger than their male counterparts’. The child sex ratio of this country is the only demographic that should have seen a positive trend, but has consistently fallen.

Sociology tries to give explanations to this phenomenon. It argues that there is a trend of male preference in this nation, there is lack of literacy and awareness, there have been social customs that have been against the girl child, and there is lack of effectiveness and implementation of government schemes.

But tell me, when is all that supposed to end? We call ourselves a developed nation, yet we still see thousands of cases of female foeticide and infanticide. We call ourselves an educated people, boast of being intellectually ahead of the West, yet, we see cases of girl children blatantly being denied education. We call ourselves forward on one hand and disrespect women who fail to comply with demands of dowry on the other hand. We say the government is trying its best, developing the nation, yet, our child sex ratio remains at a horrendous 914.

This is not development- it is silent, unhindered genocide.

And it will continue, until we as a people, together, decide to stop it. It can be done through simple ways- choose not to know the sex of your unborn child (which, by the way, is illegal under the Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques- Regulation and Prevention of Misuse- Act of 1996). When it comes to a child’s nutrition, if you see a family discriminating between the male and female child, explain to them what is wrong with this situation. Speak up against the ill-treatment of the girl child. Actively try to curb prejudices against the girl child in your daily life, like those of the girl child being a ‘burden’ on the family etc. Don’t participate in practices that directly affect the societal mindset towards the value of the girl child. Yes, I am talking about dowry, Female Genital Mutilation, honour killings, the taboo of periods being ‘impure’ and so on.

It took us 50 years to bring the numbers down from 976 to 914. We cannot to afford to waste the next 50 years and see the number fall to 0.