India: A country for all?
Ujwal Mohanty, Nyayshastram.
We live in a country where a stone is respected but humans are not, a rich is heard and a poor is shooed away, where goddesses are worshipped but women are raped. A country which is known for its magnificent culture and tradition has failed to make a place for its own daughters. From the beginning of civilization, Indians have created distinctions and definitions for men and women. The one with all the independence, privileges and rights were the men and the one who needs to sacrifice, adjust and tolerate have to be the woman. It won't be wrong to say that women in India have been deprived and ignored from the era of Mughals, where women were asked to stay behind the curtains, to the era of Gunjan Saxena where women have had to prove their worth for the positions they hold. The fight is never-ending. Women, as a gender, are always dominated. Till ages, they were not made aware of their rights or their positions in society. Blaming a woman for any mishaps were normalized. From blaming her for her husband’s death through Sati to blaming her for being provoking in the famous Nirbhaya Rape Case, the society has successfully been a villain. But even after years of development, education, research and studies we could only protect a small ratio of women. There are still a huge number of people who are still in the past. There are still child marriages, cases of triple talaq and widow remarriage in some parts, which still remains a taboo.
Our Constitution protects women rights under Articles 15 and15(3). The Constitution empowers the state to make special laws for the protection of women and children’s rights. The reason for such law is that “woman's physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence and her physical well-being becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigour of the race.”
The India Judiciary has an important contribution in bringing change in the society. In the case of Air India v. Nargesh Meerza, the Supreme Court held that the regulation of Air India pertaining to termination of an air hostess if she were to get pregnant within 4 years of service was held to be arbitrary and unconstitutional. This judgment is etched in the history of women rights as an apostle for organizations to regulate the working condition of women on par with their male counterparts.
In the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum And Ors, also known widely as Shah Bano case, the Supreme Court allowed the Muslim women to seek maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), going against the Muslim personal laws. To the time when Former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra while decriminalizing the section of Adultery, said that “It’s time to say that (a) husband is not the master of (his) wife. Women should be treated with equality along with men”.
Justice R F Nariman who wrote a separate judgment, to concur with the judgments of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Khanwilkar, stated that Section 497 was an archaic provision which had lost its rationale. "Ancient notion of man being the perpetrator and woman being the victim of adultery no longer holds good", observed Justice Nariman.
In the case of Sayarabano Vs. Union of India, triple talaq an ancient law was abolished by the court. And to preserve and protect Muslim women rights, the Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, 2018 ("Triple Talaq Bill") was brought into action. The Judiciary has somehow tried to bring in the balance by accommodating new laws and abolishing the old discriminative laws. But still, can this fill in the blank between the opportunities available for men and women?
There are many discriminatory practices and problems that an average India woman faces in her lifetime, from poverty to ignorance to being sexually, mentally and physically abused. Her fight for her rights and life has no bounds. There is still a huge gap between the men and the women who need to be filled. Its high time that our women need to stop struggling for what they deserve. Now it’s the time that we as individuals need to take up responsibility for their upliftment and education, of not only our country only but the world itself. Women since generations have proved their worth. They have been strong enough to face the harsh behaviour that they have been shown and they have proved that they can excel in any field they want to explore and can lead any path that they choose. A woman is strong and fragile at the same time, it's how we treat her and in what circumstances she has been in. And a real woman never backs out because of the problems in her path and returns being stronger and braver.
India is a developing country, but are the citizens coping with the process of development? The answer is simply, a No. We, as citizens need to be more kind towards each other and should be well aware of our rights. Once we accept that society is for everyone and that all of us should cooperate and live with each other peacefully, the world will become a better place to live in. As a human, we have some precious characteristics like humanity, love, affection and knowledge and we should make proper use of it. We need this world to be a better place for us as well as for others. A place where each one of us irrespective of our gender, colour, caste feels safe, respected and loved. A world free from biases and judgements.
“I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft
Let's make this world a little more beautiful for everyone around us, let us be the change, to bring in the change.
 The Constitution of India.
 1981 AIR 1829.  Available on https://www.indialegallive.com/special-story/evolution-of-women-rights-in-india/, last visited on 08/10/2020.  AIR 1985 SC 945.  Available on https://www.mondaq.com/india/human-rights/795312/women-centric-changes-in-indian-law, last seen on 08/10/2020.  (2017) 9 SCC 1.