About the Book
This book investigates the complex interaction of the forces of globalisation with shifts in the nature of women’s work in the Indian context. It shows how rapid economic growth in India since the early 1990s has not been accompanied with the required expansion of productive employment opportunities. This has generated unexpected outcomes for patterns of women’s employment in India, which has shown quite paradoxical trends: simultaneous increases in work participation rates, unpaid labour, migration for work and open unemployment of women.
The author attempts to unravel this complicated set of outcomes for women workers, by situating them in wider economic processes and relating them to economic policies and labour market developments. he argues that while the Indian economy’s recent boom has excluded the bulk of women in the country from its benefits, such tendencies are no longer unnoticed or uncontested.
About the Author
Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has taught at several universities in India and abroad, and served as part-time adviser and consultant to many governmental and international organisations.
Among other books, she has co-authored (with C.P. Chandrasekhar) Crisis as a Conquest: Learning from East Asia; The Market that Failed:
Neoliberal Economic Reforms in India; Work and Well-being in the Age of Finance and Tracking the Macroeconomy. She was the principal author of the West Bengal Human Development Report, 2004 which received the 2005 UNDP Award for excellence in analysis. She is currently a member of the National Knowledge Commission reporting to the Prime Minister of India.
This book addresses some questions that have concerned me over several decades. They emerged while I was studying broader macroeconomic processes, when it became clear that these processes tended to affect men and women differently. The particular character of the labour of women under capitalism, with its changing patterns of paid and unpaid work, has engaged feminist researchers for some time now, as has the complex interaction of the forces of globalisation with these shifts in the nature of women’s work. Yet the Indian experience of the recent past is still of particular interest, be- cause it shows how high aggregate income growth, when combined with low expansion of productive employment opportunities, generates unexpected outcomes. Thus, women’s employment in India since the early 1990s has shown quite paradoxical trends, with simultaneous increases in work participation rates, unpaid labour, migration for work and open unemployment. This book attempts to unravel this complicated set of outcomes for women workers, by situating them in wider economic processes and relating them to economic policies and labour market developments.
More than most books, this particular one can definitely be said to be the result of the patience and persistence of its publishers. Ritu Menon of Women Unlimited first proposed that I should write this book, and then did not give up on me despite repeated delays in submission and my unfortunate tendency to get distracted and diverted into other activities. Her quiet but firm pressure has forced me ultimately to deliver. Ratna Sahai edited the manuscript with efficiency and impressive attention to detail, and was a pleasure to work with.
I have benefited immensely over the years from close interaction with some very fine scholars, who have inevitably influenced this volume even though they may not know that themselves! C.P. Chandrasekhar has been and continues to be a co-author and collaborator in much research, and the imprint of that is evident even in my individual work. Abhijit Sen has been a stimulating source of ideas and provided an effective foil for argumentation and testing of analyses. Prabhat Patnaik has influenced and enriched my thinking for more than three decades.
A large number of other scholars and friends have directly or indirectly contributed to this book, through their own work, discussions, other interaction and goodwill: Aditi Mehta. Anuradha Chenoy, Ayesha Kagal, Ayesha Kidwai, Bina Agarwal, Brinda Karat, Charusita Chakravarty, Chitra joshi, Christopher Baker. Devaki lain. Diane Elson, Githa Hariharan, Hemalatha, Indira Hirway, Indrani Mazumdar, Indu Agnihotri. Jeemol Unni, Jomo K.S., Madhura Swaminathan, Mohan Rao, Mridul Eapen, Neeladri Bhattacharya, Nicola Bullard, Nilufer Cagatay, Pasuk Phongpaichit, Prasenjit Bose, Praveen Jha, Radhika Balakrishnan. Ranjana Nirula, Ranjana Sengupta. Y.K. Ramachandran. R. Ramaswamy, Renana Jhabvala, Ritu Dewan, Saraswathi Menon, Seeta Prabhu, Shahra Razavi, Shalmali Cuttal, Smita Cupta, Subhashini Ali, Sukti Dasgupta, Sumangala Damodaran. Sunanda Sen. Suraj Kumar, Vikas Rawal, Walden Bello. Zoya Hasan, Pronab Sen and Modhumita Roy. This is a large number of people to implicate in a small book, and obviously they cannot be blamed for its shortcomings.
Preface & Acknowledgements
The International Context of Women’s Work
Recent Economic Growth and Employment Patterns in India
Conceptual Issues in Assessing Women’s Work
Working for Wages
Women in Public Employment
One’s Own Boss?
Women Workers on the Move
Working Without Pay and Looking for Work
Art & Culture (745)
Emperor & Queen (484)
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