Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Dance of My Life : Education for Women

I love dancing and if I am to dance for one cause I shall be ready to dance all my life for till every woman on earth gets the right to education, the very cause I took lead of at the DID Indiblogger meet on 23 October 2013. My reason for this cause has its roots on a very personal incident that shook my life. 
 



I belong to a small town in Gujarat and my locality doesn't have many people. The only neighbors we had was the staff of the post-office next to my house, and they too were a 9-5 company. Post 5:00 pm there was nobody to play with. My joy was boundless when one of the employees decided to shift with his family in the staff quarters. That would mean I could tell my classmates I finally had neighbors! The icing on the cake was they had a daughter too, three years elder to me. I had already made her my best friend when I heard they were shifting, before I actually met her. I am not sure whether she was a lonely child too or stayed in a lonely locality before like mine as she loved my company too. She was the company I needed, a true friend and an elder sister that I never had - She was Kalpana - My Kalpana. 

Kalpana was an above average child and very good at extra curricular activities. Though she studied in Gujarati medium government school and I in a better English medium private school, she was sharp at Mathematics. Whenever I had doubts I would go to her. I however never realized why her parents always suggested she should concentrate on looking after the house, cook food, learn embroidery etc. I could understand that her parents were not as modern as mine but they clearly didn't celebrate her genius in studies, which I found very strange. The highest disappointment was after standard 12 her education was stopped and she completely took charge of the house. She resisted initially and I too but I was banned from her house and she ultimately turned to fate, hoping what her parents have in store for her might really be the brighter side of the world. After all they were her parents, they had lived lives, had experience and all parents wish the best for their daughter. Three years thus passed and I saw her parents were trying to arrange her marriage as many strange people visited their house in decorated clothes. In the mean time I moved to another city to pursue my Bachelors degree. I heard one day she was getting married, I attended it only halfheartedly.

Kalpana however seemed happy that day, may be she was finally getting freedom from that jail her house had been for the past few years or it is really the day a girl waits for in her life. It could also be that the parents had paid a lot of dowry to get so called "best suitor" and she wanted them to be happy so she was acting. After the ceremony when she was going to her husbands place her parting words were "This is a new beautiful beginning for me". I prayed with all my heart that may God grant her wishes, but those were just her last words to me, the only remains of my childhoods memories. One day as I returned from college my mother called me and she was crying continuously, after a lot of effort she was able to tell me that Kalpana was brutally burnt alive by her in-laws. My best friend was no more. A few days later the local Gujrati paper's headlines said "Kalpana Chawla - The First Indian Woman In Space" and on page eight a small section that one might even miss reported that a young, newly married woman Kalpana is another victim of dowry and was burnt alive by her in laws.  On one side was a Kalpana - a woman that inspired millions in the country and made India stand out on the world map and on the other side my Kalpana deprived of education, her dreams, trying to find a new life was there alone that night, screaming for help until life gave up on her. 
I don't think anybody who has witnessed such an incident in their lives would ever recover from it. I started questioning myself then "Why are girls considered burden by their families?" "On one end you do Lakshmi pooja on Diwali every year and on the other the Lakshmi in your house, your daughter/daughter-in -law is mistreated?" "Have women not shown to excellent in every field they have pursued, than why while a Kalpana Chawla goes into space, another is tortured and brutally murdered?" The only difference between the two Kalpana's was "Education". Education is the biggest asset that can empower an individual, give them the self confidence and the ability to conquer any situation. Unfortunately many girls in India like
Kalpana are forced to drop out of school even though they are academically brilliant and aim to become someone, some cannot even enter the school gates. How will your daughter face the big bad world unarmed? How will she have the courage to stand up to the wrong that is done to her in any walk and phase of life?

According to statistics: 106,000 Women Burnt to Death in 1 Year (http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/video-murder-by-fire-100000-women-a-year/)

Dawn.com 2013 reports that One woman dies every hour in India over dowry.

Is this a future you want for your daughter? No! Certainly not! Therefore make her an equal in society. Giver her the wings of education to fly and then she will soar to the heights you never even dreamt of. We need more Kalpana Chawla's, P.T.Usha's, Sarojini Naidu's in this nation and not girls being added as numbers to the statistics above!

My dance is a plea to all the parents "Educate Your Daughter", an educated son will brighten up up one house while an educated daughter will enlighten the future of two families. Education will give her the courage to standup against any wrong done to her and help her generate respect for herself in the family, society and the nation.


This year Zee Tv has for the first time in the history of Indian television started a program Dance India Dance's season 4, which will be aired from 26th October every Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 pm with a mission for people to dance for  cause they believe in. I believe it is one of the greatest ideas as dance is the purest form of expression of all kinds, love, anger, hatred, belief etc. And who better than our country to start this great initiative as since the era when Gods lived on this land we know Shiva as "Natraja", he expressed his emotions in the form of a dance. Also they have a great vision that the winners of this season will have a mission to go to places, understand their problems and present it on national television to world in the form of a dance. This mission therefore deserves all the applaud and attention in the world and I can already fathom great changes that will happen because of this.


Also, a great improvement over the other seasons in DID this year is that the finalists will be trained by very efficient, young, energetic and humble choreographers such as Master Mudassar Khan, Master Feroz Khan and Shruti Merchant. We had a great opportunity to meet two of these very talented Choreographers at IndiBlogger Dance India Dance meet in association with ZeeTv on 23rd October 2013 at The Oberoi, New Delhi. They taught us a few steps, divided us into teams and gave us 20 minutes to prepare an act. As I was one of the chosen team leaders, I decided to #DanceItOut for #Education for Women.

The judges Master Mudassar Khan and Master Feroz Khan were very encouraging. They observed each act and pointed out something good from our naivete performances and encouraged us to #DanceITOut. Post the session too they stayed amongst us during dinner, where I discovered how grounded they were and despite the fact that they hadn't slept in last 3 days before the event they stayed amongst us to interact,mingle and tell us stories of DID's mission, audition and their experiences, when they could have chosen their comfort and sleep. This level of dedication touched my heart and now I am 200% confident of Zee Tv's and DID's Season 4's immense success. 

Below are the images of our group's act on the same issue #Education For Women #DanceItOut 
 The team planning for and preparing the act in just 20 minutes 

The performance was divided into two parts: 

Part 1. A girl is forced to leave her studies and forced by her parents to start taking care of the household. She is eventually married to a man and burnt alive by her in laws.

Scene 1: The mother forces the girl to drop out of school and work in the kitchen


Scene 2: She is married to a man of parents choice who is also paid a hefty dowry(picture not available)
                                                                          



Scene 3: The girl is brutally burnt alive by her In laws

 Part 2: Here we show what would have happened if she was educated? She could have educated the community.

 


 The girl grows up to be a teacher and educates everyone


 Lastly as the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi said "Be The Change You wish To See In This World", and Zee Tv gives us a platform with Dance India Dance Season 4 to #DanceItOut , lets dance together and dance till we see each woman educated, confident and an equal to a man.


This post is a part of #DanceItOut https://www.facebook.com/ZeeTvIndia

(The story in this post is derived from and dedicated to countless women whom I have seen suffering domestic abuse and some even brutally murdered. Those who lost their dreams to study and wings to fly and some even their lives)

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