India, the cradle of civilization, is now beset with a number of social evils. They are so numerous that one shudders to think of them. There have been social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Ray, Maharishi Daya Nand and Swarni Shradhanand. They fought against social evils but these evils were so deep-rooted that try as they did some of them persist to this day.
We may first take the position of women. Women do not enjoy a social position equal to that of men. The constitution does allow them equal status with men but it is all on paper. In practice they do not enjoy this equality. They are still treated as inferior to men. In villages which practically constitute seventy percent of the population, women are treated as second class citizens. Although they have been granted the right of voting, yet in practice they are still under the thumb of their men. They are mostly illiterate. In cities, however, they enjoy better status. We have teachers, professors doctors, lawyers, ministers and high officials and it is expected that with their education they would rise still high. Of course, it is a small fraction of women but with the spread of education it is expected that their condition would improve and they would work shoulder to shoulder with men.
Another great evil is the dowry system. A man with a number of daughters is a cursed creature. Whatever he has is given away in marriages and he becomes a pauper. The dowry system has done a great harm to the social growth of Indian life. A man with a number of daughters has to sell his property or borrow money at a high rate of interest so that he might give a dowry to his daughter. In case he fails to do so his daughter has to hear taunts and harassment to such an extent that the poor girl is forced to end her life. Everyday we hear of the burning of young brides because of this harassment from their in laws or husbands. The sooner this social evil is removed, the better it will be for all concerned.
Another great evil which is the bane of Indian life is child marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution and the persons going in for matrimony should be of marriageable age and not that either the girl is married to an old men or she is married at an age when she does not understand what marriage is. We hear of this social evil prevalent in Rajasthan where girls are married off at an age when they do not understand what marriage is. Some of them become widows before they know that they had been married off.
A total war against these and a few other evils like drinking and smoking is of utmost necessity. There is legislation against these evils but they can be effectively checked only if the people decide to check them.