MODERN INDIAN WOMEN
When we write about modern Indian women, we should be clear that what we are characterizing is the life and philosophy of a very small, though important, section of Indian society viz, urban middle-class educated Indian women, leaving out an overwhelming number of their counterparts who live in villages.
There are some typical features of modern Indian history which affect the life of women in the cities. The most striking among them is the conflict caused by the rather difficult transition from tradition to modernity. It starts from the time a child is born. In many Indian homes the desire for a male child is so obsessive and the preference for and care bestowed on him so pronounced, that depending on the totality of circumstances a girl either becomes timid, subdued and resigned or she turns into a recalcitrant or rebellious person.
The brief interregnum during which she is in college or university is sometimes a turning point in her life. She can continue living a rather shrivelled life, weak of resolution and anemic in will, prior to being dispatched in marriage arranged by others and amounting to a virtual sellout. Alternatively, she can burgeon into an independent and relaxed and sometimes even angry young woman prepared to carve out a career and a destiny for herself even at the risk of displeasing her family and community. This latter type also has to face the gamble of marriage, the outcome of which can make all the difference to her future growth. It is not uncommon to come across cases where the sheer weight of customs and conventions smothers all ambition and all the youthful resolution of college days into despair.
Supposing a woman has weathered all these storms and emerges triumphant as a married career woman, she will to be called a modern woman in its truest sense. What happens to her is the story of the modern Indian women. And this is why her life is like; riven between her domestic duties and the demands of her profession, she starts doing a tight-rope walk. Very often the husband or the in-laws start grudging her forays in the social and professional world outside the home. Physical constraints add to the ordeal. Psychological tensions build up until they reach a point of explosion. Unscrupulous and unethical bosses and employers can hasten the end—inevitable tragic and painful. Those who escape this predicament and succeed in beating grave handicaps peculiar to career women can count themselves among the lucky few.