History of Indian Women In The Past And Today Introduction The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From a largely unknown status in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful History There are very few texts specifically dealing with the role of women; an important exception is the strldharmapaddhati of TryambakayaJvan, an official at ThanJavur around C. 1730.
The text compiles strictures on womenly behaviour dating back to the Apastamba sutra (c. 4th c. BCE). The opening verse goes: mukhyo dharmaH smrtiShuAvihito bhartrA shushruShANam hi : the primary duty of women is enjoined to be service to one’s husband. where the term shushruShA (lit. “desire to hear”) covers a range of meanings from the devotee’s homage to god, or the obsequieous service of a slave. Ancient India Scholars believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status with men in all fields of life. However, some others hold contrasting views.
Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as PatanJali and Katyayana suggest that women were ducated in the early Vedic period Rigvedic verses suggest that the women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their husband. Scriptures such as Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargi and Maitreyi. Some kingdoms in the ancient India had traditions such as nagarvadhu (“bride of the city”). Women competed to win the coveted title of the nagarvadhu. Amrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu.
According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic period. However, later (approximately 500 B. C. , the status of women began to decline with the Smritis (esp. Manusmriti) and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and later Christianity curtailing women’s freedom and rights. sati Sati is an old, largely defunct custom, in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband’s funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be a voluntary on the widow’s part, it is believed to have been sometimes forced on the widow. It was abolished by the British in 1829.
There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence. In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act. Jauhar Jaunar reters to the practice ot the voluntary immolation ot all the wives and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour. Purdah Purdah is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form.
It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women, it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the subordination of women. It does not reflect the religious teachings of either Hinduism or Islam, contrary to common belief, although misconception has occurred due to the ignorance and prejudices of religious leaders of both faiths. Devadasis Devadasi is a religious practice in some parts of southern India, in which women are “married” to a deity or temple. The ritual was well established by the 10th century A. D.
In the later period, the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasi’s became a norm in some parts of India. Crimes against women Police records show high incidence of crimes against women in India. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010. Earlier, many cases were not registered with the police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation cases. Official statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women. edit] Sexual harassment Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace. Eve teasing is a euphemism used for exual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of “Western culture”. In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.
In 1997, in a landmark Judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers. Dowry Main articles: Dowry, Dowry death, and Dowry law in India In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal.
However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported. In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists ot presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules were tramed According to these ules, a signed list of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom should be maintained. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the name of whoever has given the present and his/ her relationship to the person. However, such rules are hardly enforced.
A 1997 report claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in ‘kitchen fires’ thought to be intentional. The term for this is “bride burning” and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban ducated, such dowry abuse has reduced considerably. Child marriage Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. Historically, young girls would live with their parents till they reached puberty. In the past, the child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaving heads, living in isolation, and shunned by the society.
Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice. According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India’s women aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India. Female infanticides and sex selective abortions Main article: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide India has a highly masculine sex ratio, the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood.
Tribal societies in India have a less masculine sex ratio than all other caste groups. This, in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower levels of income, literacy and health facilities. It is therefore suggested by many experts, that the highly masculine sex ratio in India can be attributed to female nfanticides and sex-selective abortions. All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India, due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth.
Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. The abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India… In todays time Women have built themselves nicely. Though it is gradually rising, the female literacy rate in India is lower than the male iteracy rate. Compared to boys, far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997, only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy rates.
According to majority of the scholars, the major factor behind the improved social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy. Under Non-Formal Education programme, about 40% of the centers in states and 10% of the centers in UTS are exclusively reserved for femalesAs of 2000, about 0. 3 million NFE centers were catering to about 7. 2 million children, out of which about 0. 12 million were exclusively for girls. In urban India, girls are nearly at par with the boys in terms of education. However, in rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.
Week 10 – N’chi-Wana (Columbia River): Past, Present, and Future
Week 10 – N’chi-Wana (Columbia River): Past, Present, and Future.
Week 10: Nch’i-Wana (Columbia River): Past, Present, and Future ** NO QUIZ – Final Reading and Course Reflection for 25 POINTS ** In the last week of the course will examine our Home Basin of the Columbia River / Nch’I-wana. Here we will dig deeper into issues of governance, society, technology and nature as they pertain to water issues. The first week focuses on history and the theoretical framing of issues in the basin; namely building upon Donald Worster (and other readings previously) to examine the transformation of the river from a sacred landscape to a utilitarian and engineered system. To start we will watch a three part series (The Chinook Trilogy) from the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission on the history and tribal approaches and aspirations to restore the basin ecosystem and culture. These films provide both an overview of the Indigenous and place based philosophy of restoration that CRITFC puts forth, as well as concrete recommendations contained with the “Spirit of the Salmon / Wy-kan-ush-mi Wa-kish-wit” restoration plan. For a more general background on how struggles over treaty interpretation, questions of sovereignty and self-determination, and how they are inextricably linked to water, land, and salmon we read a few excerpts from Vine Deloria Jr’s “Indians of the Pacific Northwest.” For a more detailed history of the early phases of dam building and its ramifications, we will read Roberta Ulrich’s 1999 essay on “Empty Promises, Empty Nets,” which provides a cutting account of the failure of dominant agencies to live up to promises of compensation for dam building (an ongoing issue), i.e. the promises needed to be made to legitimize transforming the river into an engineered system. Siilarly, through the work of Andrew Fisher we become familiar with the history of the treaty processes and the politics of tribal recognition as they pertain to what constitutes an appropriate governance system for the river – although the US Federal government attempted to rupture the relations of “River Chiefs” and “River Indians” to the river and other tribes and bands, they have maintained resurgent practices of self-determination and refusing to be silent (Fisher 2010). We will also read a non-indigenous perspective on current regulatory dilemmas facing federal agencies within the basin (Hawley – Recovering a Lost River, 2011), and a few newspaper articles bringing us up to date on the decision making process around the Federal Columbai River Power System (FCRPS). Overall, similar to the readings from last week, Nch’i-Wana provides a case study in a truly international river (numerous sovereign tribes, some with treaties, many without, crossing two borders of settler-colonial states, Canada and the USA), in terms of how social, cultural, political, and financial forces have mobilized to transform ‘natural’ river into hybrid environmental and technological systems (explicity building off of the theories in Scott, Agrawal, Worster, Pritchard, White, and in relation to notions of indigenous governance outlined by CRITFC, Wilson, Alfred, Deloria Jr., Means, and others). Nch’i-Wana thus serves as a case study in all of the dimensions of global water issues we have covered thus far. In the flow of the mighty river, human history and aspirations, systems of thought, science, government, and technology all come together to form what Richard White dubbed ‘the Organic Machine.’ This framing of the river as a techno-environmental complex however, remains one way of seeing, knowing, and analyzing a complex political, financial, environmental, social, and technological system, and ultimately a vast living network made meaningful by its human relations. It is not surprising that a river, much like water, continues to resist over simplified systems of classification, categorization, and analysis, as it too is a living entity, quick to change, but perhaps slow to evolve. The future of the Columbia River, like the future of global water, will not be determined by any single factor alone – rather how humans relate to the environment and each other, through relationships, codes of conduct, awareness, ideas, political systems, and technologies, will continue to shape the human relationship with water now and far into the future. If you take one thing away from this course I hope is it a renewed appreciation of both how complex water issues are, in the sense that they are embedded within practically all human activities, throughout the earth system, and all ecosystems, but also how they continue to be actively constructed by social actors such as yourselves. The future of water has yet to be written because we are writing it today. Key Concepts: Politics of recognition and ‘sovereignty’ including treaty processes, what a trust responsibility entails, and how it relates to concepts of sovereignty as applied to water governance. The co-production of technological systems with environmental and social systems (remembering similar themes covered by Ashley Carse and Donald Worster) – meaning that society, nature, and technology all operate on one another simultaneously to produce the world as we experience it. How viewing water through a lens of sacred foods and responsibilities alters framings of the networks emanating out of the ‘water-food-energy nexus,’ both conceptually and specifically in terms of what practices are seen as desirable and by whom. Reading and Course Reflection 2: (25 points) For your final assignment, please describe the main takeway of each reading/viewing (1 sentence each), reflect upon what you consider to be the most pressing water issues in the Nch’i-Wana / Columbia River Basin (which includes the Willamette) and what can be done about them (1 page), and spend another ~30 minutes reflecting on parts of the course that both spoke to you the most (.5 page), the least (.5 page), and what you would like to see changed (if anything) (.5 pages)
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