India – a country experiencing over about 60+ years of independence, and yet considered to be an “ever-developing” country. With an ever increasing population growth, though the income level of people has not increased proportionately with the rising price indexes, India has yet managed to obtain a good literacy level. While the literacy rate was somewhere around 12% during independence, India has now attained a literacy rate of about 74.04% according to 2011 census records. But the question still remains – Has this literacy rate increased all over the country uniformly among both girls and boys? Are men and women equally literate in the present age? Or does the scenario of low literacy rates still prevail among the women of the country?
Answer is No – the scenario today is not the same as it had been before independence. But not to forget, according to 2011 Census, women are still lagging behind men with a literacy rate of about 65.46%, while men have taken the lead to about 82.14%. So, though the gap has narrowed, women are still behind. What can be the possible reasons? Any guesses?
Yes, the prior and the most important reason that has held our women community back, is the backward mentality, that the people are adapted to, even today. We live in an age where even when women constitute almost 50% of the population in this country, they are considered inferior till the date. India has got a rural population of about 70%, which constitutes the mass of the country. With such a huge percentage of backward and poor community, girls cannot be expected to be at par with boys in any ground. And this is not at all due to lack of any ability or skill or quality of girls, rather it’s our social system which tends to keep women tied to household works and far away from the outside world.
We are still now abiding in a male dominated society, where may be the fate of more than 90% girls is decided by men. Even though arrangements have been made by the Government to have schools within 1km of reach from villages, these schools where to study hardly is of any advantage to girls. Making basic education free, providing free books and copies, providing mid-day meals (MDM) as in certain states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, etc. has increased the literacy rates to the present one, but yet the social bars on women have led to the gap in literacy rates between men and women. Women are also debarred form schooling in order to prevent any chances of them occupying higher posts in top companies, where they might rule over the male candidates- and that are quite obvious in male dominating society as in most of India.
Many reasons can be listed which lead into the imposition of such bounds on women, like less safety for women, male dominance, poverty leading to low-age girl marriage, backward mentality of society, etc. But if we peep into the scenario of the middle class or rich society, we hardly find the gap in literacy between girls and boys. Girls in the upper class societies get almost equal opportunities in education and get fair chances to prove their talents and build up a bright career. In fact the increasing number of women top scorers in the different country wide competitive examinations like aieee and board examinations are now a day’s encouraging girls to step ahead of the men community. If this is the trend found someday even in the rural communities, the gap in literacy rates is obvious to bridge down; maybe someday girls are found to be ahead in education and taking the lead.