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‘Challenging the Patriarchal Ethos of Society Had Never Been the Agenda of the Indian State.’[Banerjee]. Discuss With Refernce To India Since 1948.

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Introduction

'CHALLENGING THE PATRIARCHAL ETHOS OF SOCIETY HAD NEVER BEEN THE AGENDA OF THE INDIAN STATE.'[BANERJEE]. DISCUSS WITH REFERNCE TO INDIA SINCE 1948. The predominant force in social organizations of the Indian society is patriarchy, and the family id its chief institution. The Indian woman's self identity is deeply rooted not only in her marriage - but in her role in the family, the community - the society. However, the English educated middle class of colonial India started questioning the rigidity of old traditions, and this gradually led to a change in the attitude towards women as well. The Nationalist movement saw women's participation in large numbers and they played a major role in the struggle for freedom. In 1917 the first women's delegation met the secretary of sate to demand women's political rights. The Indian National Congress supported this demand. In 1949 independent India gave them their due by enshrining in the Constitution the right of equality for women . since then Indian women have participated in large numbers in peoples movements including those for land rights, the environment, anti-price rise, anti-liquor agitation's etc. However, in reality the status of women have not really seen any real changes. The clearest indicator of discrimination against women in India is the skewed sex ratio. Though formally equality for women have been on the agenda of the Indian government since independence, no practical changes have taken place. This essay goes on to analyze the government's stand on the gender issue in India by looking at pre independence and post independence India and it's political scenarios. ...read more.

Middle

Adult suffrage added women to the electoral roles and political parties pledged their commitment to women's issues. The new state developed a bureaucratic structure designed to meet the specific needs of women. This included creating the National Social Welfare Board, assigning special duties to block development officer, and asking the Department of Health and Welfare to prepare a specific plan with women in mind. In the documents of the new Indian State the past had been undone, modernity was triumphant, and women were no longer subordinate to men.' [Forbes, 1996:223-224] However, even as formal equality was being explicitly enshrined within the Indian law, fundamental problems remained. In the reform of the 'personal' laws of marriage, divorce inheritance etc in the 1950s Muslim women were not touched. The Act itself was called the Hindu Code. This action itself reflected the discriminatory governmental policies. Alongside, notwithstanding the formal guarantees of equality, Indian women's lives continued to be characterised by pervasive discrimination and substantive inequality. Nehru - who had previously presided on a committee on women's status, overlooked the radical ideas brought forward by the various women's organisations for economic equality and concentrated on constructing women as dependants not recognising women as paid workers in his first Five Year Plan. 'The unproblematic tradition of regarding women as targets for household and motherhood oriented welfare services was given recognition in official policy documents.' [Banerjee, 1998] As Banerjee goes on to say, the Nehruvian plans were based not on providing equal opportunities, but on the advancement of the economy. ...read more.

Conclusion

But a vast majority of Indians live in rural areas in extreme poverty. The relationship between class and patriarchy thus also appears to be complex and variable. Not only are patriarchal systems class differentiated, open to constant and consistent reformulation, but defining gender seems to be crucial to the formation of classes and dominant ideologies. Again, the relation between changing modes of production, patriarchal structures and class positions is both aligned and disjunct. For example, men and women of the same class often have differentiation access to forms of social privilege, wages, means of production. The lives of women thus exist at the interface of caste and class inequality, especially since the description and management of gender and female sexuality is involved in the maintenance and reproduction of social inequalities. Dowry murders, female infanticides, domestic violence, are still everyday occurrences in the rural areas and among the largely illiterate working classes in the urban areas of modern India. Generalised assumptions however should not be made on the working class women alone, as these incidents are common even among the upper classes and the well educated. As Ghadially says, 'these groups (the lower classes), the minority communities, and rural women deserve to be studied in their own right...'[Ghadially, 1996:17] In the light of examining all these factors, we can conclude by saying that, in spite of the discriminatory practices and differential attitudes of India's patriarchal beliefs and systems, progress has been made, even if it has only been a little. Though formally Indian women have long been given equality, to truly achieve it they have to fight for it and go a long way. -----------------------X-------------------- . 1 ...read more.

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