Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI May 19 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 33 secs

After we are done celebrating mothers, daughters, women, take a moment to consider these shocking details about the missing women and girls in our country, also what hate-filled speeches by present leaders will do to our beloved country, writes Humra Quraishi.

Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the two states with the highest number of missing women from 2019 to 2021. From Madhya Pradesh, 52,119 women went missing in 2019, 52,357 in 2020, and 55,704 in 2021. In Maharashtra, the numbers were 63,167 in 2019, 58,735 in 2020, and 56,498 in 2021.

In 2021 alone, 90,113 girls (those under 18 years of age) disappeared, with the highest number from West Bengal at 13,278.

Overall, a total of 1,061,648 women went missing from 2019 to 2021 across the country, along with 251,430 girls during the same period.

Last year, on 26 July 2023, Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra informed the Rajya Sabha that 1,061,648 women above 18 years and 251,430 girls below 18 years went missing between 2019 and 2021 across the country. He stated, “In 2019, the number of girls and women who went missing was 82,084 and 342,168 respectively, while in 2020, 79,233 girls and 344,422 women went missing.”

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 82,619 girls went missing in 2019 and 49,436 were recovered. In the same year, 329,504 women went missing, and 168,793 were recovered. In 2020, 79,233 girls and 344,422 women went missing. Of these, 224,043 women were recovered, while the number of girls recovered was not specified. In 2021, 90,113 girls went missing and 58,980 were recovered. Additionally, 375,058 women went missing and 202,298 were recovered.

Even before more dismal figures come to light, several fundamental questions arise: In what conditions are these girls and women recovered? What is their future? Are they reunited with their families, or are they left at the mercy of state-run homes for the destitute? What follow-up care is provided to these rescued women and girls regarding their mental and physical health?

Couldn’t the kidnappings, trafficking, and abuse of these women and girls be prevented? Can the police machinery be made accountable for these disappearances? Is there a nexus, given that large-scale trafficking cannot occur without the involvement of the mafia along with government officials? Do these officials get booked and removed from their positions? What role do politicians play in these kidnappings and trafficking?

Furthermore, do the various government-appointed commissions come to the rescue of these women and girls, ensuring their future upkeep and safety.

I shudder to think what’s in store if the ruling party continues its communal agenda. Never before have we heard such baseless, provocative speeches during election campaigns—speeches from prominent political figures filled with blatant communal rhetoric. It’s hard to believe!

Where are we heading? What will be the future of the masses if hatred and strife are allowed to spread through calculated moves? What will be the end result of this systematic, vicious poisoning, unleashed by the very rulers of the day?

Alas, we have been reduced to such pathetic lows in the last ten years. In the past, the speeches of our leaders were filled with the much-needed and desired inputs for nation-building, with nationalism at the very core. Try reading these two books by academic Professor Rakesh Batabyal: Building A Free India: Defining Speeches Of Our Independence Movement That Shaped The Nation (Speaking Tiger) and The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Speeches (Penguin).

After reading these two books, you’ll realize what the political personalities of years past stood for and lived for. To quote from Building A Free India:  “As the Indian independence movement progressed—from the economic critique of colonial rule by the early nationalists, to the unequivocal demand for Purna Swaraj and the immense moral authority of the Mahatma Gandhi-led resistance—the notion of an equal society that ensured dignity to all— irrespective of caste, class, gender or religion—came to occupy a central place in it. By the time the Constituent Assembly met in December 1946, not just civil rights, but the particular rights of women, of minorities, of the Depressed Classes and the Adivasis were being articulated and demanded, not as favours but as a matter of course… the effect of the speeches delivered by the leaders of our national movement was to focus ‘political action towards scripting an ennobling nationalism that would give us a just and equal society…’”

Yes, those were, and still are, landmark speeches by personalities such as Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjee, Bhikaiji Cama, Lajpat Rai, and Tilak, to Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Bose, Sarojini Naidu, and Maulana Azad. These committed citizens of our country spoke passionately, genuinely, and earnestly about our welfare in the true sense of the term, within a democratic framework where equality, justice, and secure well-being were paramount.

As RUSKIN  BOND CELEBRATES  his 90th  birthday  on the 19th May, I’m leaving you with a verse from his poetry book titled, ‘I was the wind last night: new and collected poems’ (Speaking Tiger)

These simple things /The simplest things in life are best- /A patch of green, /A small bird’s nest, /A drink of water, fresh and cold, /A taste of  bread, /A song of old, /

These are the things that matter most. /The laughter of a child, /A favourite book, /Flowers growing wild, /A cricket singing in the shady nook, /A ball that bounces high! /A summer shower /A rainbow in the sky, /A touch of a loving hand, /And time to rest- /These simple things in life are best…  

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.