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Women in Modern India (Problems and Issues)

Women in Modern India (Problems and Issues)
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Item Code: NAU239
Author: Suman Gupta
Publisher: National Publishing House
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2001
ISBN: 8121406951
Pages: 236
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.42 kg
About the Book

Social and political reformers of Modern India, beginning with Raja Rammohan Roy, concentrated their attention on the principle elements of India’s perennial social disorganisation. The most prominent of the variety of social maladies with which they dealt were the problems which Indian women had suffered from times immemorial. The present study has revealed that women not only suffered at the hands of their male counterparts, but viable solutions to their problems have also been unearthed and implemented mostly by the latter. In either case, Indian women have invariably been on the receiving end.

The study unfolds by taking a comprehensive view of the problems and issues pertaining to women. The sudy has also revealed that the variety of problems that women have faced may be ground into four broad categories, namely; Liberation, Identity and Equality, Welfare, and Special Status.

While the West was still fighting for the emancipation of women, we introduced progressive measures in our constitution and conferred equality before law, universal adult franchise and equal opportunities for men and women. After fifty years of our independence we find that many of our aspirations still remain in letters. The society takes much longer to react to change and give the real spirit to the letter of the law.

It is hoped that the National Commission for Women would facilitate India’s women meet the new century with the capacity to fully achieve their potential with dignity and equality. The present study thus reveals that though a lot has been done, a lot more remains to be done.

About the Author

Dr. Suman Gupta is a specialist in the area of women studies, the area in which she received her doctorate from the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi in 1992. Earlier, she had worked for her M. Phil in Political Science on the working of the Shah Commission Enquiry as a case study in the area of the working of the Enquiry Commissions appointed by the Governemnt of India from time to time.

At present, she is engaged as Reader in Political Science in Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi. She has been teaching for over a decade. A number of articles an research papers of hers have been published in journals and magazines of repute.

Her extra-curricular activities include her honorary assignment with the Delhi Police and her work as a Reiki Channel as preventive and curative method of physical and psychological disorders.

Preface

Ever since I passed out from my school, and entered the University, I have been keen to understand the issues that affected us as women through India’s struggle for Independence which even today continue to haunt us. I always used to wonder as to why we are oppressed, suppressed and exploited by men? The stories of female infanticide, child marriage, bigamy, polygamy, sati and devadasi, have always been difficult for me to comprehend. The escalating demands for dowry, the incidents of bride-burning, and the horrors of prostitution, simply make me shudder. I feel nostalgic when I find my clan being portrayed in the media, as elsewhere, as a symbol of intoxicating beauty and sex. I still think as to why the untiring efforts of our social and religious reformers, and also of the awakened and enlightened politicians and lawmakers, could not liberate us from the kind of disabilities to which we have traditionally been subjected. These were the questions which have bothered me all through my college- days and I thought I should undertake an in-depth study into the question as to why have we been treated, and why have we allowed ourselves to be treated, the way we have been treated.

As a student and teacher of Indian Government and Politics, I was enamoured by the perceptions of our issues and problems by the founding-fathers of our Constitution, and the countless provisions of far-reaching consequence they made to liberate us from some of our social stigma, to restore us our identity, dignity and equal status, and guarantee not only co-equal Fundamental Rights, but also directed the State to make special provisions to help us achieve our welfare in all walks of life, so that we may be able not only to improve our lot, but also the quality of our life and of those who come in contact with us.

I have, nevertheless, felt that despite all these efforts and constitutional and statutory provisions, we, as women, still lag far behind. Why are the provisions of the Constitution and the law not effective enough? Why are we not sufficiently awakened to our own issues and problems? Why do we still find it difficult to take initiative and solve our problem ourselves? These are the questions that bothered me, and I know, have bothered women in every nook and corner of India. And, these precisely were the questions that impelled me to undertake this study.

During India s struggle for Independence, the issues concerning women were the constant focus of attention of social and political reformers, starting with Rammohun Roy who is rightly considered the father of Modern India. These issues continued to attract the attention of social and religious reformers of Modern India in various forms and in varying degrees. Social and religious reformers of different shades and opinions depicted their deep concern and put in their best efforts to understand and resolve these issues to the best of their ability, time and circumstances.,p. The principal issues concerning women have been multi- dimensional and have been studied and analysed into the following four broad categories :

i.) Liberation;

ii) Identity and Equality;

iii) Welfare; and

iv) Special Status -

My hypothesis is that the social reformers and political agitators of Modern India ventured to grapple with the issues concerning women, offer solutions, and implement them to the best of their ability, depending upon their own perceptions, priorities and circumstances. The only notable exception were the extremists led by Bal, Pal, Lal, who preferred to postpone the work of social reform, for devoting their attention exclusively to the cause of India’s political freedom. They believed in Swaraj first and social reform thereafter.

The study has been divided into six principal chapters. Chapter I is a historical backgrounder, devoted to trace the emergence of the issues and problems of women as initially perceived. In constructing this chapter, I have relied primarily on A.S. Altekar’s most celebrated treatise entitled, The Position of Women in Hindu Society, which is widely acknowledged as the most authentic study in the area. As revealed by this study, the issue of the Liberation of Women was the main issue before the social, religious and political reformers of Modern India.

They were eager to liberate women from their age-old oppression, suppression and exploitation by men, and the institutions and practices like female infanticide, child marriage, bigamy, polygamy, dowry, purdah, sati and devadasi.

Chapter II takes into account the Formative Era, spreading over three quarters of the nineteenth century. It opens with the perception and handling of these issues by the foremost social and religious reformer of our times, Rammohun Roy. It also takes into account the supplementary and complementary efforts put in by the leaders of a variety of socio-religious reform movements, like Dayanand, Vivekanand and Ramakrishna.

Chapter III corresponds to the Liberal-Moderate Era of pre- Independence India, covering a period of two decades from 1885 to 1905, coinciding with the first echos of India’s struggle for Swaraj, through the path of Moderate-Liberalism, constitutionalism and gradualism. In the area of the struggle for Swaraj and social reform, this era was represented by Naoroji, Ranade and Gokhale, the last two of whom devoted much of their time and energy to understand the issues concerning Indian women and to put in their voluntary, individual as well as collective, efforts to ease this problem.

Chapter IV takes into account the Extremist-Militant Era of Indian politics (1905-1920), which was the era of political turbulence but, with regard to the issues concerning women, was, perhaps, the feeblest period, marked by noticeable reluctance and hesitation. Bal, Pal, Lal and Sri Aurobindo, the principal representatives of this era, did depict their concern towards the issues and problem of Indian women but, unlike their illustrious predecessors, did not attach their priority to the cause. Their priority, instead, was the attainment of Swaraj. They were just not ready to divert their attention to undertake the work of social reform, simultaneously with their struggle for Swaraj, as the former was likely to weaken the latter. The issues concerning women did not, however, altogether escape their attention, though the attention they received was, at best, marginal, compared to their collective and individual efforts for hastening the process of India’s freedom from the alien British Rule.

Chapter V deals with the Gandhi-Nehru Era of Indian politics wh.ch covered a period of over two and a half decades from 1920 to 1947. In so far as the work of social reform is concerned, this era marked a sort of revival of the Moderate Era. Like the Liberal- Moderates, both Gandhi and Nehru believed, in their own respective ways, that the work of social reform must go hand in hand with that of India’s struggle for Swaraj. They believed that India’s Freedom Movement would remain incomplete and lopsided, if the work of nation- building is not taken up concurrently. Gandhi devoted as much time Chapter II takes into account the Formative Era, spreading over three quarters of the nineteenth century. It opens with the perception and handling of these issues by the foremost social and religious reformer of our times, Rammohun Roy. It also takes into account the supplementary and complementary efforts put in by the leaders of a variety of socio-religious reform movements, like Dayanand, Vivekanand and Ramakrishna.

Chapter III corresponds to the Liberal-Moderate Era of pre- Independence India, covering a period of two decades from 1885 to 1905, coinciding with the first echos of India’s struggle for Swaraj, through the path of Moderate-Liberalism, constitutionalism and gradualism. In the area of the struggle for Swaraj and social reform, this era was represented by Naoroji, Ranade and Gokhale, the last two of whom devoted much of their time and energy to understand the issues concerning Indian women and to put in their voluntary, individual as well as collective, efforts to ease this problem.

Chapter IV takes into account the Extremist-Militant Era of Indian politics (1905-1920), which was the era of political turbulence but, with regard to the issues concerning women, was, perhaps, the feeblest period, marked by noticeable reluctance and hesitation. Bal, Pal, Lal and Sri Aurobindo, the principal representatives of this era, did depict their concern towards the issues and problem of Indian women but, unlike their illustrious predecessors, did not attach their priority to the cause. Their priority, instead, was the attainment of Swaraj. They were just not ready to divert their attention to undertake the work of social reform, simultaneously with their struggle for Swaraj, as the former was likely to weaken the latter. The issues concerning women did not, however, altogether escape their attention, though the attention they received was, at best, marginal, compared to their collective and individual efforts for hastening the process of India’s freedom from the alien British Rule.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








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