Women in India, U Kalpagam (ed.), Gyan Publishing House, Pp 232, Rs 650.00
IN this era of globalisation when economic and socio-cultural changes are taking place at a fast pace, the nation-states are facing new pressures from transnational institutions and social movements, calling for an understanding of the ways in which global and local forces are interacting and impacting the women’s lives. Such changes are posing a serious challenge to their traditional roles and cultural identities while creating new roles and identities and marginalising some in the economic and political processes while opening up opportunities for others. The book also throws light on issues of change and continuity in contemporary India and on the ways women of various social groups have experienced these changes.
The book covers a multiplicity of themes related to contemporary epistemology of women’s studies. Written by experienced scholars and activists, the papers talk of the impact of socio-cultural changes on women. A common sociological approach is to study the impact of changes under conditions of modernity and how tradition has been retained, preserved, invented and re-invented under modern conditions despite the Western impact. How modernity has impinged on the lives of women, shaped their desires and conduct, refashioned them as modern mothers, wives, daughters and workers, expanded work opportunities, redefined private and pubic spheres, made them into rights-bearing citizens and modern political subjects, as also the practices and processes of intrusion or exclusion in the modernising process are a central concern and primary theme of research in women’s studies in post-colonial developing societies.
Fatima Burnard Nadeem writes on the Dalit women’s movements in Tamil Nadu, highlighting the social discrimination, economic deprivation and the daily violence experienced by Dalits and which is also very much the same elsewhere in the country as well.
Sunita Parmar reflects in her essay on how the family figures as a recurring theme in the fictional novels of Shashi Deshpande, a well-known contemporary women’s writer. What emerges from her analysis is that some women may be feeling helpless in certain familial contexts, the women’s movements point to the insufficiencies of individual agencies for changing gender power structures in society.
Subhadra Channa studies the Jad Bhotiyan women of the Himalayan mountains and talks of how they have been affected by external forces since the 1960s when Tibet was occupied and how it has stopped the long-standing trade with the Tibetan community and forced them to move to the lower ranges of the mountains.
Rehana Ghadially deals with the recent attempts in the Muslim community to evolve a consensus-based standardised nikhanama.
(Gyan Publishing House, 23, Main Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110 002; www.gyanbooks.com)