Suddenly 'women' are everywhere. Development experts name 'gender bias as the cause of poverty in the third world'; population planners declare their commitment to the empowerment of Indian women; economists speak of the feminisation of the Indian labour force. Over 1991-92, for instance, upper-caste women thronged the streets in the anti-Mandal protests; the BJP identified women and dalits as the principal targets of their next election campaign; women shot into prominence as leaders in the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. The People's War Group of the CPI-ML found themselves drawn increasingly into popular women's campaigns against sexual and domestic violence, dowry and the sale of arrack. Film after film features the new woman as active, critical, angry-she also figures prominently in Doordarshan programmes. In overwhelming numbers, women have joined the literacy campaigns in Pondicherry and parts of Andhra Pradesh. And now we have the anti-arrack movement that threatens to destabilise the entire economy of the state.
Bibliographical noteThis article also published in S. Amin and D. Chakrabarty (Eds.) (1996), Subaltern studies IX: Writings on South Asian history and society (pp. 223-260). New Dehli: Oxford University Press.
This article also published in N. Menon (Ed.) (1999), Gender and politics in India (pp. 494-526). New Dehli: Oxford University Press.