As per the laws of Manu it has defined women’s behaviour by insisting on women worshiping her husband all the time as if he is the god for her, even if her husband is a Casanova and womanizer. It is basically assumed that the husbands by their nature are disloyal and passionate towards other women. Our Indian society is also among those other countries and society regarding patriarchal. From past women are being restricted from doing a number of activities which they are capable of doing and a lot of their rights are also being denied. As per them a women must be the one who is always thinking of her family and should self-sacrificing and should assume that all her world revolves around her family and she is just there to fulfil their needs and to take care of them is there sole duty is to take care of her husband’s family.
In our Indian mythology paragon of virtue like sita, savitri, draupadi, damyanti etc. are the women who have been truly dutiful and self-sacrificing for their family and husband. These legends have proved that with faith, purity and self-less love can make anything possible and can save their loved ones from death such as draupadi saved her husband from the clutches of death. At many places wives have been regarded as restraining all their senses and listening to their hearts without having a control on their minds. For women neither sacrifices nor shrada are a difficult task. There sole motto is to serve their husband in all odds and goods of life. This is a common belief that women by serving men get heaven. On one hand women is fertile full of prosperity, love and emotions and on the other hand she is considered aggressive, malevolent and destructive. This dual character could be seen in the goddess like kali and dirge these are equally important goddess like laxmi, saraswati and mariammal who are benevolent.
The female is considered to be Shakti (energy/power) is also prakriti (nature) the undiffertiated of the universe. Uniting these two facets of female women are both energy and nature which is uncultured and this the uncultured power is most dangerous this is doubtlessly derived from fear of population that women are regarded as impure on many occasions while studying the inner world of Indian child there is an intimate relation between the mother and son. Wherein for the son mother’s original perfection remains unchanged by the reality. He remarks that in case of Hindu women the goddesses are worshiped as mothers but lacks respect of women in the society. The value structure of presenting the dual character of women seems to have been successful in creating a myth that Indian women possess power, which is far from the position in today’s reality. This whole concept still doesn’t again clarity and needs more explanation. However it is a valuable and important concept in learning about the inferior position of women in India
In order to get a clear understanding of the actual position in India we have to study the problem in socio cultural context. Our one of the holy literature Rig-Veda shows that women are fully the equals of men as regards to access and capacity for knowledge. Even the knowledge of the absolute brahma. The brahma vadinis were products of educational discipline off brahmacharya for which women were also eligible. Rig-Veda refers to young girls completing their educations as brahmacharinis and then gaining husbands in whom they merge like rivers in ocean. The yajurveda also stated that a daughter who has completed her education should be married to the one who has similarly learned. The atharvaveda also referred maidens qualifying by brahmacharya fit for married life in the second ashram that is grihastha ashram. The Upanishad also emphasis that men and women should be the equal participant of knowledge.
The majority religion in India assigned a lower status to women. According to the religion a women must never be independent. The life of an ideal Hindu wife is to be spending first severing her husband and his family and then her sons. She auto proved her “pavitrata” for being accepted in the society. She is expected to be an obedient daughter faithful wife and devoted mother. Marriage was the single important event in her life that should take place as soon as she finishes her school life. The custom of sati, the non-acceptance of widow remarriage even when she is widowed as a child was prevalent. A Hindu woman is compelled to die with the pyre off his husband’s body as she is considered to be “a pavitra”. In addition prohibition of inter religion and inter caste marriages compelled some women into prostitution or commit suicide.
Like the ancient period women were generally concerned mentally inferior. There sole duty was to obey there husband blindly. Women were denied the right to study Vedas. Furthermore the marriageable age for girl was lowered there by hampering there higher education. However in some exceptional cases there were stories on the skill of princesses in the fine arts specially painting and music. Daughters of high officials were supposed to be highly skilled in various arts including poetry. As for the normal girls the age of marriage was between 6 to 8 years.
In medieval India muslins in India appear as warrior class. There rule in India is divided into two eras the era of Delhi sultanate and Mughals. The only women who ever occupied the throne of Delhi were raziya sultan. India also stores history of heroic women such as Chand bibi who appeared on the ramp parts of the fort of Ahmed nagar addressed in male attire. Jija bai the mother of shivaji was a devoted mother who was strong build and autocratic at home but subordinated herself to the interest of her son. There were great changes in the social life of women during this period. Dependence of women on their husbands or other male relatives was a prominent feature of this period.
Similarly many women dealt with the ideals that there ideal place was there home. Thus they were persuaded by the circumstances to accept there inferiority and secondary position .men were considered as the provider thus women became dependent on them economically for their existence. Many social evils prevailed in the country like female infanticide, sati, child marriages, purdah system and zenana (the seclusion of women) which created a very socially backward society for the women. These practices developed due to the political instability of northern India especially due to various invasions. Muslim rulers in India had large harems which promoted women as instruments of sensual satisfaction. Even among the Hindu there was no limit set to the number of wives a men could take but in Muslim community could have four wives.
This period stretches from the period of A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1947. In India the caste order of the society was challenged. Due to colonisation Indian economy was destructed and displaced the whole section of artisans who started migrating to the new town seeking employment. The ownership law made the traditional agriculture land a commodity which can be sold transferred. At the advent of the British rule the position of women in India was at its lowest. Sati was evidently prevalent; purdah was strictly enforced on Muslim women. Dancing girls had lucrative profession. There were major changes during this period related to women laws such as abolishment of sati system on humanitarian grounds. It was on the 4th December 1892 the British government declared sati as a crime of culpable homicide punishable with fine, imprisonment or both. One name who represented this opinion that sati had no religious sanction was Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Due to this the widows get right to remarriage. Even the dayabhagh system allowed the widow to inherit the property of the deceased if she is having a child. Sati effectively prevents the inheritance by the widows. The act regulated the ‘illegal’ sati and permitted legal sati (sati practise voluntarily) .this regulation became a sign of government approval of widow immolation leading to actual increase in this practice. Due this practise women were also put in the pickle of either keeping her children or remarrying. Even the lower caste women faced many new problems related to inheritance of there husband’s property if they remarried. Therefore after the act was passed fewer remarriages took place. Those married widow who were virgin didn’t get any share in there husband’s property.
In this period we had a lot of proud moments such as Annie Beasant being a part in Indian National Congress and that too by becoming its president. We had Vijay laxmi pundit as elected president U.N. general assembly in 1953.
The status of women in modern India still gives us a mixed image of women. On one hand there are examples were women are at the peak of there careen and achieving success in all the streams such as on the other hand we have example of women suffering violence by her own family members .as compared to the past the women in India have achieved a lot but in reality they still have a very long way to go. In modern times women are given liberty and rights such as freedom of expression, equality and also the right to education but still are society is fighting with the crisis such as dowry, female infanticide, sex selective abortion, health, sexual exploitation and even murder. Large percentiles of Indian women are malnutrient, anaemic and consecutives abortions affect their health. There is female foeticide and in our society be blame women for the purpose so having a female child but scientifically women has to play no role in this, she has nothing to do with the gender of the child. According to the Indian sex ratio the Indian society is still prejudiced against the female. There are 940 female per 1000 male in India according to the census 2011 sex ratio. A part from this there is many other problems which have become a daily routine for Indian women and the sad part of the story is that the women have accepted these problems as there faith.
Even after such reforms in our culture even a working lady is expected to look after the home and balancing their official duties and house side by side. Whatever said or done even today the Indian society still remains a male dominant society and the wife may be called the better half but always remains the worst half.
A lot of special initiatives have been taken for women:
- Many constitutional provisions for support of women has been made to enhance status of women in our society by giving them equal rights, special provisions, reservation (were required). It provided sex equality, protection against exploitation, ensuring that women should not be treated as second grade citizens.
- As per 72nd and 73rd amendment of our Indian constitution in 1992 there have been reservation of women in local self-government for 1/3rd seats in rural and urban local bodies.
- Statutory body for women has been made that is National Commission for Women in January 1992.
- For the purpose of saving and protecting the girl child National Plan for Action for Girl Child has been there to have a secure future of girl child in India.
- Dowry prohibition act is also been made to protect the women from violence against them for the purpose of dowry.
- The equal remuneration act is there. According to this act the women should be paid equally for the same work as paid to the men.
- Hindu marriage act , succession , adoption and maintenance acts: for prohibiting polygamy, giving parental rights, adopting child for childless women, maintenance from husband in case of divorce
- Different schemes have been made:-
Mahila samridhi yojana
Indira Mahila yojana
Women development corporation scheme
SBI Stree Shakti
A lot of efforts and initiative have been taken up by for the social, economic and political benefits of women, yet these are not that effective and enforceable but we can say that the position of women is now becoming better with all these support.
Now in today’s India we can see women in all the fields such as:-
We can easily from analysing the literacy ratio say that from 1991 the literacy ratio of women has increased from 39.42% to 64.1% in 2001. For the purpose of higher education and to increase women’s participation in it a lot advantages and benefits have been provided such as free ship, scholarship, loan benefit, single girl child concession etc.
Women’s work in language is also more than men such as Mahadvi verma and subhadra kumari chauhan are well known Hindi poet. Even are even separate girls colleges such as lady sriram college of Delhi, mother Teresa University and many more.
Economic and Employment field:
Now a days women doesn’t live in these four walls of household they have put there steps out not only the women in urban areas but also women in rural area. In this competitive world women are giving a strong competition to men in all the fields of employment whether its politics, army, navy or air force. one of the leading example of lady fighter pilots are Avni Chaturvedi, bhavana Kanth, mohana singh; last year these three women raised the heads of all women of our country by being the first lady fighter pilots.
Employment has given the best thing to women for which they were struggling so hard for a long period that is their independence and feeling of importance in eyes of everyone. Now they are self-independent and don’t require any one for either social, economical or financial support they are self-sufficient to fulfil all their needs on their own.
In the field of employment to provide some ease in there daily routine women are provided with some legal benefits such as:-
- The maternity benefit act,1961: Women are provided with 3 months leave during there pregnancy stage.
- The factories amendment act, 1976: Crèches for working women children have been made, separate toilets for them is made, maximum 9 hours’ work for a day.
Women have not even left the political field solely for men; here also they are ready for competing with them. This in not only in this 21st century its going since decades such as Suchitra Kriplani being the first female Chief Minister of Indian State , Sarojni Naidu governor of Indian State, Indira Gandhi the first female Prime Minister, pratibha Patil the first female president of India.
By their hard work, dedication, and capabilities they are able to discharge with their duties as ambassadors, C.M., Governor and other.
In this field of sports whether it is long jump, high jump, tennis, shuttle, cricket, athletics and many more games women are proved as the gems and jewel of our country. P.T. Usha has a lot achievement, Mithali Raj the captain of our Indian Cricket team has recently proved by being the 1st Indian and 5th in world to score over 1000 world cup runs, Geeta Phogat the Indian women wrestler has brought the 1st gold medal in common wealth games 2010, Mary Kom our best Indian boxer who had won a bronze medal in the 51kg flyweight category of boxing and many more such golden and outshining stars we are having in our country to brighten the country’s name.
Science and technology
In this field also women are not lagging behind they outshine in this field also the most famous example is Kalpana Chawla who even lost her life in the spacecraft and has set a world record.
It’s not just above five fields were women are working we have a lot of fields such as dance (Saroj Khan), music (lata mangeshkar), art (Amrita Sher-Gil) and many more. IN every field women have effectively proved their capabilities.
Gandhiji once said “Women are the noblest of God’s creation, supreme in her own sphere of activity.”
These words are now proved right. Increase in education and awareness has inspired women to come out the four walls of their homes and do something which would make the country proud. The modern women have started thinking about their own social, financial, emotional and cultural needs. Women nowadays have become more aware about their lives and started thinking about their own future. They are no longer dependent on the male members of their family. They are self-sufficient to fulfil their day to day needs.
In end I would like to conclude that if we seriously on a genuine note want to see our country touching the heights and achieving success we need to give our women status above in all their respective fields and spheres of work. Our late president Dr. Radhakrishnan said that:-“the progress of our land towards goals of democratic socialism cannot be achieved without the active participation of our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters”.