A judgement by the Supreme Court of India granted equal rights to women to enter a Kerala temple, where the deity is believed to be a Brahmachari (a man with the virtue of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married,) hence no woman must enter the temple. The judges ruled in favour of allowing equal rights to both man in temple entry and woman as the Constitution of India ensures it.
During my morning walk with our dog Maximus on a bitterly cold Canadian winter morning, our neighbour, Mr Steve, a septuagenarian asked “If you can walk slowly, I can accompany you both.” We commenced our walk slowly along the walkway cleared of snow that had fallen that morning.
After about five minutes of walking, we came to an intersection with traffic lights. The ‘Green Man‘ signal for pedestrian crossing had just turned to flashing ‘Red Hand.’ Mr Steve said “Walk fast, we can get on to the other side before the traffic starts moving.”
“The signal has turned red, do we need to cross now?” I enquired. “Do not worry, get going,” said Mr Steve. On crossing the road, Mr Steve reminisced about his youth and said “In 1939, the Second World War commenced and I was only eleven years old then, studying in Grade 6. Our family then lived a hundred miles North of Toronto. We had a dairy farm with over two hundred cows. On the outbreak of the war, like all able men of Canada, my father and two elder brothers joined the Canadian Army and moved to Europe to fight the war. Running of our dairy farm was taken over by mother and my two elder sisters.
In those days most activities in Canada were taken over by women – from driving trucks and buses, running the banking and postal services, grocery shops and petrol pumps – anything and everything – as most men had joined the Armed Forces and had sailed off to Europe.
After the war, in 1945, my father and brothers returned home. My mother did not allow them anywhere near the diary farm as it had become ‘hers’. With the experience of digging trenches during the war and also in building roads and tracks towards the war efforts, my father and brothers started a road construction company in Toronto. On my graduation in engineering from University of Toronto, I too joined my father’s company and retired as its CEO a few years back.
What all fields Canadian women took over during the war, they have not allowed the men folk to come near them. That is why Canada is where it is today, all because of women empowerment.”
“What does this story got to do with our jay-walking across the road?” I asked.
Mr Steve commenced his justification “It appears that you are not aware of priorities in Canada. It begins with the children, then women, followed by dogs and then other pets, then is wildlife and then are the trees and plants, and last, but the least come the men. If we two were only to cross the road I would have never in my wildest dreams thought of crossing the road. Just because the dog was with us, I told you to get across.”
“Why so?” I asked.
“In case two old men like us get struck by a vehicle, the Canadian courts will only grant may be forty to fifty thousand dollars. If the dog even gets brushed by a vehicle, the driver will have hell to pay as the court will decree at least a million dollars. That fear in every Canadian driver will never allow them to crawl an inch, even if the traffic light turns green,” Mr Steve explained.
In case real women empowerment has to come into the Indian society, some major catastrophe like what happened in Canada, USA or Europe during Second World War need to occur. Supreme Court judgements, or forced entry of women to some temples is not going to give women equal rights they need to be given. The Indian males need to accept this reality and change for the betterment of the society.