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"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die"
– Haji Ali to Greg Mortensen (p.150)
This is one of the most inspiring book I have read. Its the life story of one American, Greg Mortenson, and his quest to build schools in the most dangerous and remote regions of Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. This one man saw the importance of education, especially for girls, and how it is needed to bring peace and a future to areas that are ignored but a hot bed for strife and unrest, especially in these times.
He has so far build 50 schools in that region. A really amazing feat! Here are some of his words of wisdom –
- The happiest people are those who serve others.
- If we educate a boy, we educate an individual. If we educate a girl, we educate a community.
- When your heart speaks, take good notes.
- The real enemy we all face–in Africa, in America, in Asia–is ignorance, and ignorance precedes hatred.
- If God is on anyone’s side, he’s on the side of the refugees, the orphans, the widows, the 78,000 wounded war veterans.
If anyone deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize, it is this man with his efforts to unite the world through education and female literacy. It is a truly remarkable story that will change your perspective on what goals you see as attainable.
The Govt. of India has recently announced Palna – the cradle baby scheme for girl child. Under the proposed scheme, the Government plans to open a centre in each district where parents can leave their girl children if they do not want to bring them up themselves. The state will then raise the child.
Jayalalitha the former chief minister had already introduced this in Tamil Nadu years ago, but its nice to see entire India covered now. The government is stressing on the girl child as they find statistics to show that female infants are the one’s abandoned the most.
It is pure ignorance, selfishness and to a lesser extent illiteracy causing this. China too has a similar problem and I suspect because of their censored media, not much is heard of female infanticide/foeticide and abandonment. Girls in Tamil Nadu, compared to most other states of India, are better educated and score more marks than boys in high school and college exams. Go to any industrial town in the state, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Chennai etc., and you will find women workers far outnumbering the men. There are more women engineers and graduates in the state and the IT and Call Centre industry reflects that.
Female emancipation has brought in its own set of problems, especially for men, but I would rather have my daughter emancipated than lead a life subservient to men in her life. I propose laws should be made stricter so that any man or woman found guilty of abandoning their infant girl should be forcibly castrated or sterilized so that they are no longer capable to repeat such callous behaviour.
More details of the Palna scheme can be found at this official press release.