The women of India have come into their own. They are playing their roles to all walks of life shoulder to shoulder with men. There are women in Foreign Service, in the Indian Administrative Service, in business, as Company Directors, as typists and stenographers, as receptionists, as air hostesses, as politicians, and the Prime Minister of India, Shrimati Indira Gandhik, leads them to a destination where sky is the limit.
It was in the fitness of things that the United Nations Organization declared 1975 as the International Women’s Year. At that time Mrs. Indira Gandhi was also the Prime Minister of India and Shrimati Bhandarnaike was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, another intelligent woman. In India women have been up and doing all works in life, Shrimati Sucheta Kripalani was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Mrs. Vijaya Laxmi Pandit was the President of the United Nations Organization.
In the olden and golden days of Indian history, when the Aryans came to India, women enjoyed equality with men. In sweep of centuries, under the Muslim domination, Indian women, like the Muslim women, were confined to do their house hold duties, but under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, the women of India have regained their confidence and initiative and now they are marching shoulder to shoulder and abreast with their men folk.
But that is not the total story. The increasing demand for dowry has led to the tragic phenomenon of bride-burning. Many brides have been burnt with gas stoves under the pretext of natural accidents, because they could not bring the adequate dowry demanded by their in-laws. That is the saddest part of the whole story. In that direction there is need for the greatest reform. Marriage should be simplified. There should be love marriages. Boys and girls should marry themselves. There should be no dowry. Unless marital relations are improved there can be no equal status for men and women.
The women of India have still to go a long way to claim their rightful position in the polity of India. We are still far off from the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi set before the womanhood of the country. We have some Shakuntalas of conception of Kalidas and some Sitas of the conception of Valmiki but equality for women is still a great way off. There is no Lib Movement in India as in America but women’s liberation movements in USA are seeking sexual equality rather than social equality. In India the woman has enjoyed the highest status as goddesses.
The ideals of motherhood are very high in India. Our temples ring with slogan “Mata Ki Jai !”.