|You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.
- Jawaharlal Nehru
However much a mother may love her children, it is all but impossible for her to provide high-quality child care if she herself is poor and oppressed, illiterate and uninformed, anaemic and unhealthy, has five or six other children, lives in a slum or shanty, has neither clean water nor safe sanitation, and if she is without the necessary support either from health services, or from her society, or from the father of her childen.
The women who participate in and lead ecology movements in countries like India are not speaking merely as victims. Their voices are the voices of liberation and transformation. . . The women’s and ecology movements are therefore one, and are primarily counter-trends to a patriarchal maldevelopment.
Amartya Sen – The Unheeded Conscience: We will lionise him, but will we ever listen to what he’s saying? Sen points out that when he took up issues of women’s welfare, he was accused in India of voicing “foreign concerns.” “I was told Indian women don’t think like that about equality. But I would like to argue that if they don’t think like that they should be given a real opportunity to think like that.”
The self-styled avatar Sathya Sai Baba, worshipped by Prime Ministers, Presidents and many other governmental and judicial elite, ‘put women in their place’ – on a most traditional religious-spiritual pedestal as ‘grihasta’ (or householder-homemaker) - where they should be worshipped as mothers (though preferably should be celibate!) and who should rather follow Rama’s dictum which he quoted as “Women have their estimable role in household affairs, but they should be kept out of state politics.” (Sanathana Sarathi, May 1995, p. 118) Despite this the woman President Patil visited him at festivals and worshipped him! See Ladies Day – Sathya Sai Baba vs. International Women’s Day and true female emancipation
Despite Sai Baba’s backward-looking influence on many Indian women, there are some strong and very promising women’s rights movements in India which are taking up the battle against male chauvinism (in whose ranks Sai Baba firmly belonged – known also to many devotees as a homo-erotic misogynist). For example, the leader of the pink vigilante movement which has targeted corrupt officials and wife beaters, Sampat Pal, is a serious contender in one of the key and most populous states in crucial polls coming early next year.
‘We realise we are not strong enough to carry out our plans of emancipating women and getting rid of poverty”, says her close aide, Suman Singh Chauhan. ‘We don’t have money or power. So we need to get one of our own into politics. If we get one person elected, we’ll become powerful.” Sampat Pal agrees.
‘We have tremendous support on the ground because of our reputation. Women make up half of the population and yet have so little political power. (See BBC report)
||Indian women’s legal rights face legal, practical hurdles|
| CHRONIC HUNGER AND THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN INDIA