Category Archives: Politics

Protector of Cow, Protector of Nation, Protector of Women: It has always been the same ‘Hero’

Protector of Cow, Protector of Nation, Protector of Women: It has always been the same ‘Hero’

Protector of Cow, Protector of Nation, Protector of Women: It has always been the same ‘Hero’

Wandering very near the fringes of oversimplification of complex ideas, I can not help but see the world divided into two groups, the protector and the protected, with glorification of the protectors to the extent of their being worshipped. But we have rarely stopped to ponder over the question of protection. From what do we need protection and why?

If we try to ask this question, our voices are hushed back into our throats by horrifying instances of violence around us. With a Hindu nationalist organization equating Rape of a woman to the Slaughter of cow and failure of the masses to counter or even recognize the disgusting, inhuman tone of this remark, we need to wonder how far have we deviated from the ideal of a sensitive sensible society.

Importance of cow in particular and cattle in general grew from the Rigvedic times. In fact, according to historian R.S. Sharma, there are so many references to cow and bull in Rig Veda that the Rig Vedic people can be called a predominantly pastoral people. Most of their wars were fought over cows. Even the term for war in Rigveda is gavishthi which means search for cows, in those times cow seems to have been the most important form of wealth. Gradually cow seized to be the cause of violence and land took its place. Since we aren’t pastoral anymore, the logic of protection of cow, today, with the devotional strings attached, relates to the need of protection of God. Protection of Whom by man has caused innumerable deaths of His creation. Only cause that nears the amount of violence done for the protection of god is that of the protection of nation.

The concept and term of rashtra for territory can be traced back to the later Vedic times. And across the waves of time, kingship has been unapologetically linked to Divinity. With king being the representative of the Superior Being on earth, he became the ‘protector’ of land and its inhabitants.  And obeying King became obeying God, this in addition to giving legitimacy to the ruler gave him not only a temporal authority over his subjects but also a moral and spiritual one. In ancient and medieval times protection of the rule of the King meant the protection of God. With time, this glorification of protection of King’s authority faded and with the national struggle and the emergence of nation states emotions were attached to nations, and killing in the name of protecting them became an honor.

In justifications of such bloodshed in the name of nation or god, we often find mention of ‘vulnerable women’. This ‘vulnerable woman’ is a voiceless creature who can’t think and who always needs a protector to keep her breathing. For women in ancient philosophy, there has been assigned no greater role than the service of husband. Even her spiritual and religious existence breathes life with the ceremony of marriage which is recognized by legislators as taking the place, for women, of the sacrament of initiation prescribed by the Veda. And in return of her selfless devotion to her better half, she gets ‘protection’ by him. Whether it be the logic of need of respecting and protecting women just because of them being daughter, wife, sister or mother of ‘somebody’ or  the propagation of idea of a veil to protect against lustful gaze we somehow still can’t rid ourselves of the tendency of deciding what a woman needs.

History is filled with instances of people using the slogan of women’s vulnerability, national pride and religious fervor to further their political and economic ends. What comes as a surprise is how we haven’t learned anything. The act of attributing positive traits to women which highlights them mostly as innocent vulnerable beings and nonetheless justifies their subordination by the protector falls in a broad category of what sociologists call benevolent sexism. And often the protected group consents to the “need” of being protected due to propaganda of fear. And with this discourse we grow into a society where glory to the sword is praiseworthy, where fear rules. Amongst the tools of avarice and fear used for controlling people, fear has always been the easiest and most effective instrument of the oppressors to keep the oppressed in their place, and this need for the creation of fear lies at the core of the propagation of the instances glorifying protection and protectors. It is this protection that manifests itself in the form of violence.

The irony is how when we don’t agree on anything ever, we all agree on violence. Attackers of Charlie Hebdo were protecting their religion, Dylann Roof was protecting his women and nation when he attacked the African American church, the sorry story is the same everywhere, it always has been the same with varied degree of passion and execution and madness. But what nobody notices is how in justifications to these acts of violence we have dehumanized women, and how in protecting god and nation, we have failed to protect the humanity.

What Skill India Must Do To Succeed In Its Mission

As the government continues to focus on skills and launches hallmark programs like the Skill India initiative, it is imperative to examine the impact of such a program. There are over 20 Central ministries/ departments involved in the implementation of more than 70 schemes for various skill development and entrepreneurship programmes. However, many experts believe (see here, for example) that these programs are not achieving the output they should ideally be reaching.

The 4th Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey by the Labour Bureau helps us in evaluating the effectiveness of the skill development programs that have been in place till 2013-14. Of the population aged 15 and above, 6.8 % have received/are receiving vocational training. The rural-urban divide is not so much, with 6.2 and 8.2% respectively. However, the percentage of people receiving formal training is as low as 2.8% with the rest 4% informally trained.

In order to strengthen the National Skilling Mission the government needs to focus on two specific areas: (a) increasing the role of states, since they have a deeper understanding of local needs and can therefore design and launch impactful programs and (b) ensuring gender inclusion that can capitalise on the entire Indian population.

Role of states

Vocational training falls under both the Union List and Concurrent List. While the former includes agencies and institutions for vocational training, the latter specifies vocational and technical training of labour. States have diverse demographic profiles along with unique skills needs and job opportunities. The role of states in designing and delivering vocational training hence attains importance. Though the national average of people receiving skill development is low, states like Sikkim, Kerala do provide different models of skill development.

The latest Skill Development Policy points out that most of the states have not moved towards functional convergence by creating state missions. Replacing an old mission with a new one, therefore, might not solve the existing problem. While the Niti Aayog sub-group on skill development is yet to submit its report, chief ministers have been raising various concerns about funding and the roles of the Union and state governments. It is important that these issues be heard and greater powers be given to the states in framing and delivering skill development programmes.

Women-specific programs

Another challenge is finding long-term and meaningful employment for the people undergoing skill development training. The Labour survey found that about 39% of women have not joined the labour force even after receiving vocational training in different fields. These findings are corroborated by data from the NSSO. In its report “Status of Education and Vocational Training in India (2013)” the survey found that 47% of rural and 32% of urban women have found the formal vocational training they have received “not helpful”. These numbers are significantly higher than overall 36% and 24% for both genders. This is perplexing considering that about 67% of these women have attended formal training for a duration of six months and above.

Most of the women who received training in construction-related and restaurant sectors are either unemployed or have dropped out of the labour force. Interestingly “building, construction and real estate” was identified as the sector with most incremental human resource requirement in the NSDC study.

The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 says of previous skill development programs that they “often remain unaligned to demand, thus defeating its entire objective.” The proposed integration of skill database of states with LMIS may just help us in identifying the real reasons for such lacunae.

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