When curbs on the girl child go, the wait for champions ends

Updated: Nov 16 2005, 05:30am hrs
Its startling but true that, despite being born in an era quite different from my ancestors, the average persons thoughts about womenparticularly the girl childhavent changed. Girls are in no way inferior to boys and, given encouragement and support, could excel and do India proud in all walks of life. Believe this, if I found success it was only due to my parents support and nothing else. Hard work to me was elementary. I had to defy all odds to first convince those around me that a woman was capable of bringing name and fame to the country.

I guess all this needs to change if India wants to see many more Sanias, not just in tennis but in other fields as well. What I feel needs to change most is ones mindset, particularly towards women. Its strange that a girl child is considered a curse by many in our society, in both villages and cities. This came as a rude shock to me two years ago when I was appointed the brand ambassador of the Girl Child by the Central government.

How can people be so cruel Its difficult to digest that a childs future is just in males. Without women, the world would cease to exist! My heart bleeds when I read that there are some areas in our country where almost 70 out of 1,000 girls fail to see the light of day. Worse still are people in our society, who sympathise and actually support this female-male ratio imbalance.

The figures for female foeticide and infanticide are chilling and the fact that we have not been able to check this is alarming. An end to this barbaric act or stringent measures to check female foeticide to me would be India Empowered.

While female foeticide remains a burning issue, I would also like to highlight that women are no longer cut out for just household chores. Every child I feel should be given adequate and equal opportunity to education.

Education is the first step to building confidence, to tap potential, to be independent, and to speak ones own mind. Its only when we recognize this and act on it that a change will be seen. Once again it is disheartening to learn that when a girl is born its future is pre-determined mainly due to the warped thoughts of parents, relatives and traditionalists who themselves have had limited education.

Let us all join hands in educating people or in doing whatever it takes to totally cleanse our society of such misconceptions. Whoever said or believed that women are not the future are surely not those who think of Empowering India.

Its a fact that in a country starved of championsfor whatever reasonthere are restrictions aplenty, which is probably why India still hopes and waits for its next hero.

For me to see India without poverty may be a huge ask, but it sure is something that I hope the generations to come can see. Theres no doubt that India does possess talent. There are examples in abundance to prove that, but what remains a mystery is the fact that women still fail to enjoy equal opportunity status. What is it that women cannot do What I dream of in an Empowered India is when a child, whether male or female, is allowed its freedom to do what he or she wants, whichwith the guidance of parentsincludes sport too.

One has to remember the adage All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy does put things in perspective, particularly for those who simply think education and not sport can build ones future.

Education is necessary, but so is sport. It builds character and creates an alternative platform. But before that I feel it is very necessary to educate ourselves and believe that an Empowered India can only be achieved by a concerted effort. Lets do it India.

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