The news form India about rape, murder-rape, abortion of female foetuses and killing of baby girls at birth have dominated the media with horror stories and western outrage. But there is much less about the efforts being made by different sectors of society to bring about an end to gender discrimination in all its forms (not an exclusively Indian problem by any stretch of the imagination!).
A particularly interesting campaign is taking place in Piplantri where villages “plant 111 trees every time a girl child is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up. Over the years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons”.
“To ensure financial security, after the birth of a girl child, the villagers contribute Rs 21,000 collectively and take Rs 10,000 from the parents and put it in a fixed deposit, which can be broken when she turns 20. To make sure that girl child receives proper education, the villagers make the parents sign an affidavit which also restricts them from marrying her off, before she attains the legal age for marriage. Shyam Sundar Paliwal, the former Village head, started this initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran, who died a few years ago. The initiative begun in 2006 has turned Piplantri village into an oasis. The birth of girl child is now welcomed and the village is covered with Neem, Mango, Amla and Sheesham trees leading to a higher water level.” Wikipedia
This is a wonderful example that nonviolence solutions can be as creative and diverse as people’s imaginations allow. For those who fret about committing to nonviolence, thinking it necessarily implies self-sacrifice, defiance and near-impossible to stick to moral standards, it is important to note that most nonviolent campaigns are joyful encounters of community to build on something that benefits everyone.
There are of course campaigns of civil disobedience and situations of risk, but there is complete freedom of choice. Nonviolence is a day-to-day creation on which we change ourselves and join others in changing together. Examples like Piplantri’s abound, and yet they are not often reported by the media. Let’s remedy that!