Monday, December 18, 2006

What About Them?

The story of Santhi Sounderrajan raise and fall brings to fore rather uncomfortable questions about them which have so far been brushed aside.
Santhi Sounderrajan
Santhi Sounderrajan raise from obscurity to an iconic status in Tamil Nadu in the last one week was truly awe inspiring and showed the world as to what grit and determination can do. Santhi grew up with abject poverty, yet rose from that to compete in several International Athletic events. Last week, Santhi won a silver medal for India in the women's 800 meters, which brought overnight fame and monies (INR 1.5 million) badly needed by the family. Yet, it also brought some scrutiny in the form of a gender test, which Santhi failed and led to the withdrawal of the medal.

As a society, third gender has been treated shabbily by everyone, including the close families and stuff. Shunned by the society and their own families, they are driven to prostitution, poverty and drugs. Indian movies generally portray them in a poor light as a group that must be kept away. I don't to understand all the issues involved, but I do feel they should be given assistance and not be driven away. Can the latest medical advancement/s help?

In this front, I applaud Tamil Nadu Government for going ahead with the already scheduled award ceremony. Mr. Karunanidhi could have easily hidden behind some procedural trivialities and and canceled award, but by not doing so, he sent out a positive message to the whole group.

I hope this Santhi episode ignites a public discussion and brings forth some positive changes for them.