The Census Ratio
Our first born was a lovely girl-child. We distributed delicious ladoos to all and sundry; many found it against the best traditions as celebrations are strictly reserved for the male offspring. Some predicted bad omen as augury for more daughters to come; our next was a bonny boy! Let all reformers sweat and toil, but the ancient Hindus well understood the scope and depth of the lurking fear in the human mind and fully exploited it to imprison the span of the varnas so that none dared to question or doubt the sage Manu and his code of social behavior. Vedas regulated the customs and traditions of the Aryan society, working out auspicious times and procedures so that one had to simply adopt and follow the sacred directions, binding all into rigid rigmarole of the family Brahmin on each and every step.
With the influx of Islam into custom bound Aryan culture, spearheaded by the invader's sword and the coaxing of the Sufi saints, the locals were swayed to adopt Islam as a new wave philosophy, yet the mindset of the common man wavered on the possible bad influences of the stars and suspicion of adverse signs of the ancient rules and regulations, making a hotchpotch of the original Islamic tenets. There are a sizeable number of people who readily adopt the more successful faith rather than go by ultimate truth. In the history of civilizations, the defeated nations acknowledge superior spiritual powers of the victor's god in comparison to their own. Thus, the defeat and failure is attributed to inferiority of their godhead. The Hindus, especially of Malwa region in the southern Punjab, found it more lucrative to adopt Sultani faith, in worship of Guga Pir or Sakhi Sarwar or yogic-sufi brand of Muslim doctrine, which practice has continued on adoption of the Sikh faith in dera culture instead of pure canonical Gursikhi. The eclipse of Sikh rule and the advent of the British period made Christianity fashionable, subject to local innovations and modifications. The trend does not change. There are Rai-dasias or Ramdasias who are gradually drifting away, but retaining the basic philosophy of Sikhism.
It is debatable to what extent the Sikh movement of the puritan Guru Nanak was affected by the age-old Manu smriti and its observations that tightly held the mind of the converts to Sikhi that was not swayed by the sword but by the whole Truth. It has to be accepted as a historical fact that the conversions in large scale to Sikhi happened after the abatement of the Mughal and Abdali atrocities. Hindus in large numbers found it advantageous to, at least, have some members of their families adopt the rising religion of Sikhism. In the mixed families it was mostly the label and not the content of pure Sikhi. Old superstitions continued to persist. Such fence-sitters were the first to jump off the rail when fortunes changed, or tried accommodating themselves by mingling their brand of Sanatni Sikhism by patronizing the Sikh Granthi and the Brahmin at the same time.
Religions change but the basic culture of the subcontinent continues to subsist with fervour. The observances of age-old superstitions, auspices, sooth-Sayers and omens operate by the dozens. Preference for male progeny over the female is a carryover of Manu's code that one may find salvation only by having a male child, during this life and thereafter. The male child has been pampered in India to no end as a special heavenly boon to be celebrated to the extent of spoiling it. The rapid strides of inventions and discoveries in the Twentieth Century virtually changed the demography of the modern nuclear family. In the life time of a single generation, the market has been flooded with new gadgets and facilities to completely change the horizon and to sit up to think in a broader context. The ancient oriental culture has to accommodate the revised paradigm. A new sense of liberty of the girl child in face of various opportunities loosened the traditional restrictions and controls, bringing her exposure to higher education and training at par with the boys. The girl child has made full use of this new freedom through better standings in various examinations conducted in comparison to the boys. They have made strides to heretofore typical male bastions of professions, in the armed forces, as business top executives, in judiciary and administrative services including police cadres and scientific research schemes. Meanwhile, the male child has clung to his age-old scriptural legacy and rights to superiority in the family structure. This lopsided pre-eminence of a son has devastatingly hampered his growth to the new realities of stiff competitive struggle for placement in life.
The daughter in the family is raised with a clear understanding that she has to move, sooner or later, to another family setup and utilizes all available opportunities to get the best knowledge and experience. The boys finding the establishment already existing for them go slack in education and experience, indulging in drugs, wasteful ventures and idling. Their minds remain juvenile and brute and they turn out to be total misfits as life partners of the highly qualified and proficient women. Year after year, the university and Board examinations disclose the ascendance of the girls in securing better results and positions compared to boys. Such skillful girls have to go to a wider field to select life companions in other provinces and societies.
The government gazette screams at the top of its voice about the dwindling gender ratio (females per 1000 males). The anomaly is not as simple as the plain statistics indicate but much more grave as our professionally qualified daughters have to settle outside our society and cultural norms due to a dearth of capable and suitable suitors, further accentuating the gender gap of dwindling females! Our sons have wasted chances not only of their generation but the future progeny as well, until and unless Manu's code is rejected and sincere and a serious attempt is made to make the young men compatible to our emancipated and highly qualified girls. The malady is not confined to a certain region or country. From the Diaspora news is trickling in that the young women as well as qualified boys tend to look for suitable life companions outside the restricted circle of the community. Alarm bells should be ringing. Alternatively, mediocre families will find virtue in denying the girls their right to education to keep them as serfs to drug-addict, boorish and crude young men who are of no consequence to society and nation except adding to the census numbers.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2013, All