THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN MODERN INDIA
The women of India have into come their own. They are playing their roles in all walks of life shoulder to shoulder men. There are women in Foreign Service, in the Indian Administrative Service, in medicine, in Education, in business, as Company Directors, as computer operators and stenographers, as receptionists, as air hostesses, as politicians and even the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, led them to a destination where sky is the limit.
Now women in service have even become a common sight and they have proved that they possess good capacity to handle jobs better than men.
It was in the fitness of things that the United Nations Organization declared 1975 as International Women’s Year. At that time Mrs. Indira Gandhi was also the Prime Minister of India and Mrs. Bhandarnaike was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, another intelligent woman. In India women have been up and doing well in all walks of life, Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Mrs. Vijaya Laxmi Pandit was the President of the United Nations Organization in the early days after independence.
In the olden and golden days of Indian history, when the Aryans came to India, women enjoyed equality with men. Women in ancient India enjoyed a much higher status than their descendants in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. From the earliest days there had been many notable women in India-poets, scholars, capable administrations and leaders of religious movements. Lila wati the great mathematician during the time of the Aryans, Ahalyabai Holkar, the excellent administrator of Indore State and Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi are a few such examples. In the sweep of centuries, under the Muslim domination, India women, like the Muslim women, were confined to their household duties, but under the inspiring leadership of Mahataia Gandhi, the women of India have regained their confidence and initiative and now they are marching shoulder to shoulder and abreast with their men folk.
The cause of women was earnestly sponsored by our late Prime Minister Pandit Nehru in the Lok Sabha. and the Hindu Code Bill came to fie debated in it, then after a good deal of delay due to stiff opposition of its clauses which were to settle major issues, the greater parts of the Hindu code Bill were passed and this has given women right to a share in parental property equally with her brothers
But that is not the total story. The increasing demand for dowry has led to the tragic phenomenon of bride-burning. Many brides have been burnt with gas stoves under the pretext of natural accidents because they could not bring the adequate dowry demanded by their in-laws. That is the saddest part of the whole story. In that direction there is need for the greatest reform. Marriage should be simplified. There should be love marriages. Boys and girls should marry themselves. There should be no dowry. Unless marital relations are improved there can be no equal status for men and women. At the same time both men and women should realize thus that rights can not suffice until the duties in their parts are realized.
They should remember “there can be no right without duties. The interdependence of man and woman cannot be over looked and they have essentially to be united in a matrimonial alliance for the propagation of the-human race.
The women of India have still to go a long way to claim their rightful position in the polity of India. We are still far
off from the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi set before the womanhood of the country. We have some Shakuntalas of the
conception of Kalidas and some Sitas of the conception of Valmiki but equality for women is still a great way off. There is no Lib Movement in India as in America but women’s liberation movement in USA is seeking sexual equality rather than social equality In India women have enjoyed the highest status as goddesses and the, ideals of motherhood are, very high in India. Our temples ring with slogans like “Jai Mata ki”
Inspite of all the above said eulogy for the women the stark reality observed by the United Nations is “Woman: constituted half the world’s population perform nearly two-third of the work but have received one-tenth of the world’s income”.