The beauty of a young lady

Posted on October 23, 2016 by Damayanti Young No Comments

The West Bengal government has created a program called kanyasri (meaning ‘beauty of a young lady’) for the betterment of girls’ education. My intention in writing this article is to inform you exactly in what way the parents of underprivileged families are affected by this program and how subsequently the education system has been destroyed. In particular, I wish to share with the supporters of Golden Avatar exactly what kinds of challenges we are facing in this situation.

The kanyasri program was initiated with the goal of extending an education to more of the population. Rather than actually making education more accessible, the Government provides a financial incentive of ₹25,000 (USD$ 370) to the family of any girl who graduates from grade 10 and again if they graduate from grade 12. The unfortunate trend among underprivileged families of West Bengal is that all too often, this money is not put toward future opportunities for these girls, rather it is being used to pay for their dowries. These girls are married off at a very young age and even after marriage, if they do remain in school, the second instalment goes towards the expenses of having a child, as the expectation that these girls should bear children as soon as they are married, even at such a young age, is very strong. So what kind of education are they actually receiving? How to get married and bear children as quickly as possible.

In this way, we are only going to have one generation of fools after another. Certainly, the government is helping girls to complete their education, but only in such a way that it facilitates and perpetuates this unfortunate situation.

Sadly, there are so many girls studying here at Golden Avatar, who we are losing gradually. Girls as young as thirteen are having their marriages arranged. Their kanyasri incentive will come very timely as the arrangements are finalised and the dowry has to be paid.

So this government incentive scheme is very nicely helping poor families pay for their daughters’ dowry. It is a rather pathetic situation. Within a short time, one of our girls will have to move to her in-laws’ house. She is herself still a child and it is the time for her to enjoy her childhood, but instead she will have to go and raise children of her own.

People here need the education that will help them understand that a human being needs to be given time to develop and stand on their own two feet before they can take responsibility for another human being. Otherwise they end up simply as beasts of burden.

There are laws in place, education is available and it all looks good on paper—the only thing is that people are still in want of their humanity.  The primitive idea that the only purpose of a woman is to give birth continues to predominate. If a so-called educated lady in society does not receive a true education, then what education has she got to pass on to her children? Our society seems to have missed this point.

Golden Avatar’s challenge is therefore to reach out to these girls who are in need of a true education, to empower them to make a difference in their lives and in society. At least they should understand that fourteen years of age is not the age to get married; it is the age to receive an education. This will prepare them for whatever they face in the future.

We can take a lesson from India’s ancient system of ashram, and its four stages—brahmacharya (celibate student life), grihastha (family life), vanaprastha (retirement) and sannyasa (full detachment form worldly engagements). In the realm of modern education, where there is no place for the teachings of jaiva-dharma (the path for a spiritual being) or the culture of Vaisnavism, where no beneficial instruction or advice is given, this sort of misconduct is inevitable.

I am extremely grateful to all those who are supporting Golden Avatar, and humbly solicit your ongoing support, so that we do not fail to do our duty for want of a measly ₹25,000 incentive.

by Dalia

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