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August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:August' 2017


A matter of woman sensitivities

M. R. Dua

ver since the terms 'gender politics and 'women studies' were 'innovated' under the umbrella of social sciences by researchers and academic world globally some 50 years ago, the area has bloomed into a full-fledged universitylevel discipline. Several universities have set up departments of women studies. Also, umpteen gender-sensitive intensive field surveys and research projects have investigated concrete and specifically specialized women's concerns and their multifarious aspects including historical, societal, economic, political, social, violence-domestic and marital violence. Also, several clutches of women activist groups have founded exclusive fora to study women's crucial dilemmas. 'Women Unlimited' and 'Kali for Women' that have collaborated in putting out this publication have richly contributed by women issuescentricstudies. This book focuses on vital segmental studies on 'feminine vis-à-vis masculine archetypes.' It's a prodigiously valuable collection of 'unlikely subjects of politics', passionately researched, 'femininely' analyzed, and competently commented upon. Most scholar-chapter writers in this volume have concentrated on currently relevant gender issues, only from Indian political viewpoint. Frankly, it won't be proper justified to commentor review the bookas a single body. However, the overall acme of this volume has been brilliantly summed in its very title. (That ordinarily may be hard to easily comprehend). As the editor pithily states, the book 'deals with multiple temporalitiesand diverse regional standpoints…is focused on detecting new lineages, connections, and ruptures across time and space, rather than offering one encompassing framework encapsulating all gender and politics phenomena.'

This book focuses on vital segmental studies on 'feminine vis-à-vis masculine archetypes.' It's a prodigiously valuable collection of 'unlikely subjects of politics', passionately researched,'femininely' analyzed, and competently commented upon.

Manuela Ciotti The topics touch the very crux of women studies, and, it's 'the unlikely subjects of gender politics' in India: Take a look:'women were largely depicted as mystery-laden but passive objects/victims of conservativism and male lust;' and, men 'a vision of gentle, patiently constructive, nonviolent, self-abnegating, practically androgynous masculinity.'
Beginning with the 'lowly' view of woman's physical appearance, i.e., body of a Dalit woman, and the body of a Dalit man, as in Charu Gupta's chapter, 'Representing Dalit Bodies in Colonial Times,' the author has deeply reflected on Dalit women in the Hindi literature of the 1920s' and 1930s', their physical 'movements and actions, eye-rolling, lipsprotruding, feet-stamping,
pawing, gesticulating and exhibiting a frenzied madness.' But as, Gupta elaborates, the scenario transforms from the late 1920s into 'gender equality, within anti-colonial politics, and for the future citizens.' But only when the Subash Bose-Nehru era dawned, and British interest in India became vital.
Similarly, in another essay analyzing woman war heroines' pictorial presentation in 'Textbooks and the Gendering of a National Imagination,' on a chapter from an NCERT's history book, 'Modern India', shows how a woman warrior, Rani
Lakshamibai's life story was descried differently under India's different regimes, UPA and NDA, reflecting on the treatment of illustrious women in the national freedom struggle, suiting the policies of the ruling parties.
Also, in other books, by Guru Golwalker and Sadhvi Rithambara, feature films on Rani Lakshmi, or a Zee TV programme on the Rani offered new gender constructions, representing nationalistic images, from specific angles in view.
There are chapters critiquing diverse women issues, such as controversial legislation, the Women's Bill,politics on Dalit women's participation vis-à-vis upper caste women in administering villages, and 'to know the historical roots of transformation of Dalits as political subjects'—the case of Mayawati—in a manner that the Dalit women became equal partners in political moments leading to the gendering of political participation among Dalits.
How do the 'leadership qualities among Dalit women and their self-representation' help propel women 'to exercise their power locally' is the theme of the chapter, 'I Will See the World'.
The final chapter, 'Rescuing Gender from the Dalit Trap,'by Edinburgh University researcher Hugo Gorringe, illustrates how Dalit women in a south Indian village who are at the lowest ladder in society face horrible consequences if they participate in the rights movements along with upper caste women. For, they'll be at a disadvantage if they fall prey to the 'impetus'and participate in the rights' movements. Such steps are bound to plunge them in the 'poverty trap.'However, the fact is that gender norms and expectations shape the movements 'that operate as a site of both opposition and hegemony.' In any case, these are complex women's issues, researched variantly under given regimes and situations.
These studies on women's issues –mostly past, some current-- in this excellent compilation, are not exactly of great relevance in India today, but should go a long way in properly comprehending the general state of Indian of colonial times. Some essays, though enlightening, may also confuse readers. Finally, it's time that old myths about women's subjugation and exploitation are halted and sociologists—Indian and foreigners—focus on the progress Indian womanfolk have registered that's increasingly matching the western standards.