A society in flux and an emerging woman-power

There was a time when issues concerning women were near similar for all classes  across the social spectrum. The uniting factor was the economic condition which more or less was on par.  It was only  later that class demarcations began tearing the social fabric asunder and with them the concerns began diverging too, so much so that the various classes could be populating different planets. I am sure you will be able to relate to this aspect after reading the post.

To repeat the disclaimer: This is not a sociological study of the times but the eye-view of an average Gen X woman.

Do read the first part here.

In the decades after Independence, there was tremendous enthusiasm to rebuild the country on various fronts like education, industry, healthcare, housing…As for the society, it was in a flux.  Except for rich landowners and those who held high posts in the government agencies and the bureaucracy, or public sector undertakings, everyone more or less was economically at par. I would call it the Great Indian (lower) Middle Class.

To get an idea: Bicycles were the usual modes of transport, with the odd scooter or an even rarer car. My father and brothers used them just as the peons and watchmen in their offices/colleges. What we consider basic necessities today like the fan (an AC more likely) was a luxury for many households back then — we didn’t have one, a fan, that is! My mother cooked on a coal stove just as our neighbor who was a goatherd and might have even cooked on a wood stove had it been possible in our house! The only ‘luxury’ we had in comparison with them was that we had our own bath and toilet while they shared theirs with several other families or used the fields. But then they owned the land their hut stood on, while we lived in a rented house. So you could say we were sort of even economically!

This is one thing that has remained unchanged over the decades: The priorities  of the middle-class were focused on education, improving one’s living standards, acquiring of two and four-wheelers — and only after satisfying all these needs did they invest in a house/land. But for the poor, land was and still is everything. They didn’t mind living in a hut or taking a bus or riding a bicycle if the land belonged to them. They bought more land when they had disposable money instead of improving their lifestyle. Even today, one can see more middle class citizens living in rented accommodations than the poor who own their own land whether in a slum cluster in the big city or in their villages.

The remarkable thing then was that class consciousness as it is known today was more or less absent as far as I can remember. We kids played with everyone and went to each other’s houses, rich or poor. Some of our friends’ fathers were in senior positions in government departments, while others were in lower positions than ours, some had businesses, and other were in class four jobs. But the social interaction was remarkable nevertheless. No one pulled ranks and bosses and subordinates inside the office were friends outside it especially while participating in religious and community programmes.

How often do we allow our children to mingle with those of our maids/drivers/presswala? Of course, such clear class demarcations didn’t exist then as they do today.

The welfare state of the post-Independence era envisaged an equal society when all classes would rise to reap the benefits of development. This was especially true of education. Private schools and convents were the preserve of the privileged few, but government schools and government aided schools were excellent too. The Kendriya Vidyalayas and the Corporation schools and schools started by many dedicated educational societies and Trusts vied with each other to provide quality education. In the 60s when many state governments made education free up to secondary school level, everyone got a chance to go to school including the poorest of the poor.  I remember having as classmates, children from all walks of life as also from all religious backgrounds.

The mid-60s to 70s saw this group of school children coming to college and that was when economic backgrounds began affecting the education of those belonging to the poorer sections of society, since it was expensive as compared to school education. In many middle-class families, when it came to a toss-up between sending a son and a daughter to college, the former won, mainly because he had to assume the role of the breadwinner later in life. For instance my elder sister didn’t get to go to college because of this reason. So one of the first things we fought at that time was for the right to get higher education on par with the boys.

The concerns affecting us all at that time were very similar. So whatever social inequities existed vis-à-vis women applied to all classes cutting across religions and regions. We were all fighting for the same things: a better life, better sanitation, better and higher education, a better future, right to land and property, and a say in the patriarchal system of society. Women took part many movements like the Chipko Andolan in the North, the anti-alcohol movement in Andhra Pradesh, the anti-price rise stir in Maharashtra, the anti-dowry movement in many parts of the country. One of our idols in Maharashtra was the paniwali bai Mrinal Gore, the socialist leader for her rolling-pin wielding agitations to bring water to the Mumbai suburb of Goregaon.

Women as a group emerged as a force to reckon with and made a difference to their lives and that of the society. Even ‘Bhagini mandals’ (ladies clubs) did social work and helped the poor in their respective localities, conducting classes for women, both literacy and skill training, organizing cultural events and running playschools. We all joined in their work in some capacity or the other, volunteering our services. Social consciousness was very much there in the air. They had not yet become the fashionable ‘Ladies Cubs’ which spawned in later years with their dainty ‘social work’ culture.

There are thousands of NGOs today which do a lot of work for women, but the general fervor that pervaded the very atmosphere then is somehow absent today. If we had been working together as fellow women to better our lives then, it is more of a ‘benefactor-beneficiary’ exercise today, with paid executives and well-to-do volunteers, many of whom have not seen hardships to be able to empathise with those they are seeking to help. This is not to pull down their work in any way but merely an illustrative observation.

Activist literature also coloured our thoughts or rather robbed them of colour! True to activist axioms, we tried to reduce everything to two shades – black and white. If your freedom is curbed, fight and/or bolt. Bad marriage? What are you still doing there? Walk out! Feeling discriminated as a woman at work by the boss? Just slap him and resign from the job!   Black and White – that was life. Where was the need to complicate it? At least that is how we chose to see it in the beginning.

It took a while to realize that things can never be simplified to such an extent in real life. For while issues could be in black and white, relationships come in thousands of colours. Problems have hundreds of shades and unless we can see them as such, we would be the losers in the end. For to break something or throw it away is so easy, while nurturing and making it thrive took hard work but was so worth the effort.

Changing lifestyles and increasing incomes saw another phenomenon in addition to creating social classes – outsourcing of housework and other chores. This created a new job market. rising cost of living meant that extra money made the difference between eating one meal and starving for the poor who didn’t see anything wrong in sending their daughters to work in houses instead of to school.   Some were sent to work in factories as child labourers. Erstwhile neighbours were now employer and employee and the change began cleaving the once near homogeneous fabric of society. If poverty had bound people, development drew them asunder. It was a sad thing that the very same benefits which were intended for everyone in the society was slowly being appropriated by the privileged few.

Slowly and almost imperceptibly the concerns of the classes began changing and then completely diverged. The social classes got established too: the poor class, the ‘middle class’ which was emerging out of its ‘lower middle class’ status and the upper or rich class. While we were fighting to go to college, take up jobs and postpone getting married, our downtrodden sisters were still struggling to go to primary school, get out of child marriages and escape the hell of abusive marriages, even as they worked to eke out a living and support their families.

The divide that began in the ’70s has widened today to an unbridgeable chasm, with no apparent meeting ground of the two in sight. The worst ignominy for this nation is that the poor women have no access to even basic sanitation. Naturally the concerns are different and there is a huge difference in the demands for empowerment from the women at the two extremes of the social spectrum. Tell me, can there be anything be more demeaning than the denial of this basic dignity for a poor woman? How can she be expected to be concerned with the woman who is demanding the right to go safely to a pub late at night?

And now, back to the past…

We wanted answers to a lot of questions that were baffling to us about customs and traditions, beliefs including religion and the place of a woman in the society, starting within the family. Very few families supported their daughters in their quest for answers and sometimes didn’t even understand what the noise was all about. It even upset them that the girls were asking questions at all about things that had been accepted hitherto meekly by their predecessors. At least my mother kept throwing that line at me! But our minds had been opened and we began thinking about the status of women and other things that affected our lives and so continued asking questions.

Today things seem to have come a full circle here too, but with a twist. It is now to do with extreme individualism tinged with radicalism. Traditions are junked as being retrograde, with the danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water ever present; compromise is seen as weakness and a blow to one’s self-respect (ego?) in relationships — even close ones between spouses and parents and children. One wonders how far Gen Z is going to take their individualism. And then what? The decimation of the family as a unit and the unraveling of the very social fabric in the not too distant future?

The next part of this post will deal with the way we coped and emerged strong/weak/accommodating/rigid, according to our individual natures and circumstances — to shape the next generation, Stay tuned!

…more

90 comments

  1. Brilliant and incisive piece of writing. My limited exposure in college and corporate makes me believe in what I observe – the awesome rise of enterprising women. However changing mindsets will take long!

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    1. Women were always at the helm of affairs if you see our ancient scriptures and myths. It was only in the last millennium that the position of women steadily worsened and came to a pass when they had to fight for their right to a lot of things in the middle of the 20th century. Yes, having regressed, it is going to take some time before mindsets change and women are just the other sex of the human race 🙂

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  2. Found In Folsom · · Reply

    Finally, I get to read this master piece, BM. I so so agree with your first para itself. The situation hasn’t changed much even now, right? The middle class always wanted to better their standard of living..even till date, it is the same. The poor wants to keep their land..I just loved the post for the way you portrayed the evolution from stage to stage. Yes, these days people complicate things. I can so relate and see the women of my family at different parts of your post. Will read the third part as well. you belonged to a generation in between my grandma’s and mom’s 🙂

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    1. Finally, I am replying to the comment 🙂 I just wanted to remember everything as they had happened over the decades and then thought I should record them. So began writing and it went into three posts! I am sure you can see the women in your life reflected in the post and bits of this generation too 🙂

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  3. I agree that the gap between the rich and the poor has drastically increased. This is the case everywhere and it’s tough for anyone in one strata to fathom the difficulties of the other!

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    1. Oh Roshni, while it is not easy for a poor labourer to understand the concerns of a woman of the upper strata, it is not so difficult for those in the upper strata to understand the basic concerns of the former. And this group has both the voice and power to bring about changes in their lives. So why aren’t the classes coming together to fight for these basic rights? That way they can carry those groups along and increase their strength and be reckoned as a force.

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  4. […] The churning of the society during the defining decades of the 60s and 70s produced not just the economic classes but also created distinct groups of women in the middle and upper ends of the social spectrum. These groups were formed as a result of the lessons that the events and experiences threw up, from which they learnt, learnt wrongly or didn’t learn at all. (Read the first and second parts of the series Feminism and the Gen X woman here and here) […]

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  5. […] The churning of the defining decades of the 60s and 70s produced not just the economic classes but also created distinct groups of women in the middle and upper ends of the social spectrum. These groups were formed as a result of the lessons that the events and experiences threw up, from which they learnt, learnt wrongly or didn’t learn at all. (Read the first and second parts of the series Feminism and the Gen X woman here and here) […]

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  6. Oh boy! Reading all of that, not only your post but all the comments, has put my thoughts is such a snarl that I no longer have any coherence. 😛

    No, I’ll not run away and say I’ll comment in detail later. I’ll do it now… however best I can. Please to be forgiving if I go rambling all over the place. 🙂

    The first thought that jumped out at me was when you said that the priority of the (lower) middle class was never in trying to improve their standards but in buying more land. It’s one of those self-evident things that never become self-evident until someone spells it out in black and white.

    India must find solutions to her social disparities- whether women’s issues or any other- from within her own wisdom. Women’s issues in India may look similar to those faced by women in the first world countries, but since the biases are not the same at the core, the issues are not identical either. Nor can the solutions be, therefore.

    One thing that truly jars upon me is this new belligerence Indian women seem to have adopted. There are attitudes they display which frankly leave me appalled. The Vogue video is a case in point.

    And I agree 100% with what Rachna said about the future of marriage. People today, and yes, that includes girls/ women, are a lot less patient than they used to be. The primary impulse is to break than to work at restoring. It bodes ill for the institution of marriage.

    I suppose time will tell if women are on the right track vis-a-vis their ‘rights’ and how to win them. I have my doubts that they are, though.

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    1. WP has swallowed my long reply, which I had posted last night 😦 I had said that for all your disclaimer about your thoughts being in a snarl, you have written more than a cohesive comment. Wonder what it would have been like had they not been in a snarl! you are bang on about the west having no clue as to our unique concerns and the futility of applying their solutions to our problems. While it consigns issues relating to the poor as being social concerns and not specifically women related, the more trivial issues which can be resolved at individual levels get prominence as being main issues. Isn’t it about time we got our of this kind of mindset and put up a united front to get basic rights sorted out first? As for the institution of marriage becoming redundant, I am afraid the same yardstick is being applied here too. The educated, upper class women might be of this opinion and though they are influential and vocal, they are not the voice of the majority. Even here, we will come back to the ways of the west, which is now glorifying marriage and family with poster people opting to tie the knot eventually after living in for years. I don’t think the institution is about die anytime soon but surely needs a lot of dusting up, rebuilding and revamping the edifice from top to bottom and it has begun happening. Like you, I have my own doubts about the women being on the right track as far as their ‘rights’ are concerned.

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  7. This post got me thinking that how much and how little has changed over the years! The innocence has been lost, though there have been material gains!Women have conquered the space and risen to highest echelons in government and industry but majority do not have even a private toilet! The progess has been very uneven and the chasm continues to grow is the biggest concern! Have missed a lot of good posts due very busy time:( Hope you are keeping well Zephyr!

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    1. I had replied a whole bunch of comments and today I find them all having vanished! It is so good to have you here after a long time 🙂 Yes, the development and progress especially in terms of the improvement of living conditions has remained almost static for the poorer sections. The ideal way would be for women to pull together as a group regardless of the economic conditions in order to make an impact. The upper income groups have a voice and the power to bring about changes. So why not use it for the poor, or can’t they see the anomaly at all?

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  8. Empowerment connotes different things to different classes of women as you had yourself pointed out somewhere.
    The needs of rural women with lack of income in off season and acute poverty, high infant mortality, absence of basic health facilities, and even primary/elementary schools within walking distance are totally at variance with the requirements of urban poor women without roofs in hygienic conditions, absence of toilet and drinking water facilities and domestic violence from alcoholic husbands. The empowerment for lower and middle class girls/women would mean treatment at par with boys/men in educational and job avenues with no discrimination at any level, safe mobility and no unreasonable societal restrictions in the name of outdated traditions. The needs of higher class of women can be considered sui generis.
    Common to all is the need for education that would fetch them economic independence and political empowerment. It would be difficult to club them all together in the analysis for their empowerment
    As your essay on empowerment of women progresses from the historical to the modern day, I would expect specific action points to be spelt out by you at the end for the different segments like women, society and the government

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    1. Oh KP! You have too much confidence in my ability to provide solutions to the problems of women empowerment. Besides, this series is only about the time when my generation was coming out of the cocoon, and the references to the present is to highlight the issues of those times. I wish I had solutions to the problems being faced by the poorer section of women. Do read my reply to Beloo too. Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

      The middle classes and upper middle classes today don’t have to fight for an education. If at all, they have to struggle to get into the course of their choice and chart their careers. But for the poor even that is a struggle today. I don’t know if I had mentioned it anywhere, but my maid’s daughter in Delhi was made to quit her school after her 8th standards. She was very fond of Hindi and had excellent memory while reciting poems and giving the meaning of the verses. We were stunned enough to coax her to appear for her 10th Board through Open School, paying her fees and giving her coaching in the subjects as well as arranging for extra tuitions. She not only passed all her subjects in the first attempt, but has become bold enough to take her 12th Boards and join computer classes. That is empowerment for the women of her class.

      Today a girl can take any course she wants if she so wishes. Gender discrimination at work is not an Indian phenomenon but a global one, just as patriarchy is. These need to be fought at a policy level and not by treating men across the board as enemies. I think I need to write more posts in this series and soon 😀

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  9. Well, you say this is not a sociological study, but I think it is lot more valuable than that! This thorough and well-argued post helps us get a much wider picture of the context in which women’s struggles in India must be understood. Urban-rural, rich-poor — all these factors closely intersect with women’s experiences and the challenges they face to move up the ladder, whether it is simply to be treated equally as men, or to get their very basic necessities met like proper sanitation and hygiene. I think most of the ‘White-middle/upper-class’ feminism we have inherited from the West seems out of place in the Indian lower or lower-middle-class setting where the basic fight is for things that most upper or upper-middle class women in Indian metros don’t even understand, or if they do they look at these things in a very distorted way. They either dismiss it with their ‘oh, it is those men with their backward ideas who are the problem’ or they impose their version of what it means to be a liberated women with their over-zealous ‘these women must be liberated from such regressive contexts’, which ends up creating further havoc in the social fabric of these communities.
    There is no single feminism, or single lens through which we can understand the women’s struggles – in India or elsewhere. We need to have a much more nuanced understanding of social dynamics, and posts like yours are really an eye-opener for many of our present generation urban Indians, especially those who came of age in the 80’s or 90s’ when Indian class system began to drastically change, when old socialistic pattern was out, and the middle class aspirations began to soar higher and higher. I don’t see all of that change as a bad thing (the economist in me doesn’t), but it surely had an impact on women’s struggles. Class-gender nexus is part of this modernising-urbanising-liberal economy, I suppose. And in a country like ours where we are struggling big time figuring out what it means to be ‘modern’, the struggles of women will be much more severe and will require very innovative yet culturally rooted approaches.
    The western-style stark individualism is another concept that is highly problematic when it comes to understanding women’s struggles and empowerment. We need to figure out our own version of individualism which is not ego-based but a much deeper thing. I don’t know yet what this version would be like. But in the next few days I am planning to put up a post on my new blog (matriwords) in which I hope to explore a bit more about this relation between Individual and Society. May be that will be of some interest to you.
    Well, this comment has become a post in itself 🙂 Sorry about that. But your post is really thought-provoking and touches so many important points, that one can do a whole big analysis of each of these points and keep writing, keep writing….and I haven’t even touched your brilliant last paragraph 🙂 Thank you for this post, Zephyr. Looking forward to the next one…

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    1. Your comments adds that academic appeal and weight to a largely personal perspective, Beloo. Thanks for the value addition 🙂 I read it several times to imbibe the essence of the well thought out comment. You make me sound wiser than I can ever hope to be 😀 The Middle classes aspiring for better standards of living is very desirable and evolutionary, but the sad thing is that the poor — both urban and rural — didn’t think it important or necessary to do it, especially where it meant getting better and higher education and skill training. Either the changes happened too suddenly in the 60s and 70s for them to tag along and pull themselves out of poverty or the lure of land was too great for them to forsake for anything else, which is why even if the are forced to commit suicide, they cling to their unproductive land as my maid laments. She says that if she owned the land, she would have sold it off and stayed back to do some small business and raise her children with her, instead of leaving them behind in Hyderabad to fend for themselves as she cleans houses in Mumbai to make a living. For her, clearly empowerment means having a say in property matters. If we were to say anything about what her well-to-do and ‘liberated’ sisters are demanding, she would clearly not comprehend it. But we can’t say the same about the latter, who are educated and aware enough to not only comprehend but also capable of raising their voice in her support. But unfortunately are so removed from her reality that they either can’t or won’t do anything. This is the lack of commitment I notice in today’s NGOs and activists.

      And you are so right about developing ‘our own version of individualism which is not ego-based but a much deeper thing’, but I despair here. Aren’t we busy junking anything Indian as being retrograde? Perhaps some day when the West is thoroughly disenchanted with their individualism and turn East for guidance to something deeper, we will wake up to its pitfalls. I will surely read your post on Martiwords though might be out of depth to leave a comment 🙂

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      1. Today’s NGOs, as you rightly note, are run more like businesses with high-salaried executives and perks including fully paid foreign trips, etc. Many of them have dubious agendas and questionable sources of funding. And so many activists are more interested in fame than the nitty-gritty reality of real work on the ground. Still, there are several good efforts going on in many parts of the country that are genuine and I am sure are making real difference. I keep reading about some of these through this website called
        There used to be another website earlier – goodnewsindia.com – I don’t think they update that any longer.
        As for the point on class and economy, including the preference for land ownership – I think this could be an important discussion by itself, perhaps there is also a historical-cultural context to this thing. Like I said, your post brings out so many layers! Thank you!

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        1. I didn’t mean to undermine the good work being done by many good NGOs if they are not done with ulterior motives, of course! It is always uplifting to read about individuals and groups quietly doing service without making a hullabaloo about it. I think there is a website called Betterindia which publishes such stories. There indeed must be a historical-cultural connection to the attachment to land. How I wish there were works about such things that can easily be comprehended by laypersons like me!

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        2. I distinctly remember replying to this comment and today I find it has vanished! I had said that it was not my intention to undermine the good work done by so many NGOs with sincerity and a genuine focus on helping those who need it. But the fact remains that most of them are there for cosmetic purposes and other motives. The website Betterindia shares a lot of stories about such people and their work. I too feel that the more we share the good things, the less the bad things will affect the consciousness of people and slowly they will replace the bad and the crass. There is no harm in hoping, is there? 🙂

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          1. Yes, the Betterindia website is a great resource.

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  10. Zephyr my comment got lost.

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    1. I am so sorry Indu! I checked in the spam folder too, but it wasn’t there either 😦

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  11. I had thought that caste differrence is going down slowly but it is still very much there. After coming to the new flat, I met a lady who asked me why I am letting a dhobi work inside my kitchen! I was shocked. I never knew the caste of my maid. She is very very neat and has studied up to X std. and is very intelligent. These plus points are not visible to her eyes or senses.

    Yes, the divide is still there but education is helping them come up and reach at least the lower middle class. My maid’s and driver’s children are studying in English medium school. When they come home sometimes, they don’t stand and talk to us. They wait in the hall sitting on the sofa, for their parents to finish work and I don’t like to ask them to wait outside. One boy addresses me as aunty and tries to speak in English! The children wear clean clothes too. They ARE coming up!

    I have also noticed that this new generation of ‘educated’ people, try to hurt us whenever they get a chance. This might be the frustration of the insults they faced or their fathers or mothers faced earlier. We see these people in super markets’ billing counters and malls too. Well…may be, now they are growing up!

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    1. But tell me, when you were a teen and in the 70s was the economic divide so much? We all fought for our rights and felt a kinship. I am talking more of the economic divide than the actual caste system. And I am so happy to see that even this divide is slowly blurring with increase in their education standards. It makes them confident. But the turning of the tables as you have rightly pointed out, is more only in Tamil Nadu than in other states. In the Capital, the rich poor divide is the worst in the country.

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  12. Liking it thoroughly. In the wake of shifting class divide and more and more women coming up to realise their acumen, there has been a whole lot of changes in the social and familial dynamics too. It is interesting to read how it all actually happened, I can relate to it…. have seen and talked to the older generations ans sometimes I find they were not at all clouded by the so called modern way of thinking. The black and white problems were simply given a chance, thought over and more often than not, a solution was always in the hindsight.

    Should I take the liberty to tell you about an activist who claimed the rape cases have declined because of the slut walks. What would you say to that?

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    1. I feel that issues were definitely more common to all classes back then. And in Maharashtra where I grew up, all government aided schools offered free education to every one till 14 years, which was the secondary or the 10th standard of now. The schools were damn good too and offered a run for the money of private schools. So we all went to these schools and the stone-cutter’s children, the gardener’s children and the rickshaw wala’s children — all shared the same space. So if we all dreamt of a better life, higher education and good jobs, was there any wonder? Politicians have not only created a religious, regional and caste divides but also class divides so much so that today my neighbour’s son, who is only 5 refuses to play with the son of their maid or even share his toys with him because he is ‘dirty’ and wears old and torn clothes! The mother appals me even more: she doesn’t scold him or make him understand. She must be sharing the sentiments, I am sure.

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    2. And oh, as for the activist’s quote, I have no comments 😀

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  13. Development of individuals and families have always been synonymous with economic development. But why? Are the rich devoid of any problems/hassles? Does the influx of more money always sort out issues and never create any new ones? I liked your balanced perspective on feminism. You write about dreams and aspirations, which is very different.

    I came across the comments on marriage, in this post and I would like to add my 2 cents, as well. I think that marriage as an institution will take longer than 20 years (especially in India) to get disbanded simply because a whole economy and a lot of jobs are built around it. Otherwise, I feel that marriage is about unequal relationship. One spouse (irrespective of the gender) always wants to suppress/control the other. There is always a dominating spouse and a submissive one. Or, they divide their dominion and dominate in their respective areas. I have never seen a single marriage where both the partners are on equal terms. I wonder what this institution was supposed to achieve (other than the monetary exchanges)?

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Money does not solve all problems by any means, rather increases them. 🙂 But the basic needs are met with money — food, santitation, shelter — whereas our poor have no means of doing that either. I prefer looking at both sides of a problem before penning my thoughts because only then can I present a balanced picture. As for unequal relationships, that is there in every relationship, not just between spouses. Even in friendships it happens, as it does between siblings — in short, even in the best of relationships. The difference is, it is not an ego issue nor is it a gender issue and these two can play havoc with the best of relationships, wouldn’t you agree? Earlier, these two were not the main issues since areas of responsibility were demarcated clearly.

      Loved the name of your blog and the story behind it 🙂

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  14. So many thoughts and questions:
    1. So there was no deep class consciousness then as it is now? Why? Was it because it was an urban setting? Why did the lines blur?
    2. Un perfecto phrase: NGOs today as “benefactor beneficiary” relationship. I work for an NGO and I see this and it frustrates me so much. Yes, could we not work as “fellow women” to improve all of our lives?
    3. Yep to the lack of basic sanitation facilities. It is pathetic for people who love to image their country in vibrant feminine words–Mother India, Bharat Mata n what not. Seriously, where can Mother India pee if she needed to?
    4. Your point about not throwing the baby with the bathwater–saving the family as a unit. I am still in doldrums about it. I see the logic of it n the psychological support it offers the child and all members–but it is also a system that excludes, that demands allegiance to its protocols, that always evokes the “already” in its members. How can we preserve the system and yet open its heart out to include all? How can family become a community?

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    1. I did not touch upon the rural setting because it would have meant a deeper divide on caste lines and taken the post elsewhere. and though it was there in urban areas too (still is in many places) the class divide was not so cleaving, because my neighbour the goatherd and we had similar assets, with her being richer for owning the land her hut was built on. we lived in a concrete house with other amenities. That’s all. So when the rights were demanded by the women they were not too different unlike today when there is no connect at all. Even in matters of safety, while we demand that the roads be made safe at night, near bars and so on, my maid makes her two grown daughters come to work with her because girls are routinely molested in her slum. When they go to the field in the morning for their daily ablutions, they go in a large group to protect their girls and young ones. Why can’t the insensitive government run by a woman protect these women by constructing toilets fro them? Because they have never had to defecate in public and without gallons of water to flush in sanitised comfort. Our generation had experienced even this ignominy when we visited out villages and so know the humiliation. Babies are slit up in the slums to satisfy the lust of the beasts, as their mothers leave them with neighbours to go to work. If they bring the children to work, the employers crib and complain. So the difference is stark, even in common causes, wouldn’t you agree?

      I meant throwing the baby with the bath water was for traditions and customs, not family. Family as a unit is an individual thing. When many such units join together, it becomes a community, right? Do you think that the ‘already’ is not there today? Girls have so many preconceived notions about things that they begin any relationship with a handicap. Ah, this was as long as the original post 🙂

      Like

  15. This is as brilliant and comprehensive a post I have ever read. You literally rolled time in front of my eyes. I agree that the socio-economic divide is widening at an alarming and irreversible rate. It was really nice to read how people in those days lived happily with their neighbors without class differences. I felt really sad when I came to the section where you mentioned: “Erstwhile neighbours were now employer and employee”. So sad yet so true.

    Like

    1. You know Raj, there is some truth to the contention that ‘less is more.’ Unbridled greed is the cause of a lot of misery and the rich-poor divide to a great extent. You felt sad at the employer-employee part; but those of us who lived that period felt guilty, confused and angry.

      Like

  16. What a brilliant post, Zephyr. I could actually see all this happening right in front of my eyes as I read it. But more than that, the insights into the growth of the class divide drove home a not so gentle reminder of the state of our society today. Sociologists scream themselves hoarse about India not being a class-based society like Western societies. They love to emphasize that, instead, ours is a caste-based society. I think that we are both and at least in urban areas it is more of a class-based one.

    This is one post that I am going to love sharing with my academician AND feminist friends (rubbing hands with evil glee).

    Like

    1. We are still caste based — both in the conventional way and in the reverse ways and that combined with class can be a deadly combination as happens in the rural areas in the north and everywhere in the south respectively. I didn’t touch on the caste aspect at all since it might have led the discussion in an entirely different angle away from the main focus. Are you sure, this personal piece will stand scrutiny by the academicians? And do let me know the reactions. 😀

      Like

      1. First reaction in from a rather “esteemed” sociologist, who said rather sniffily, “Where is the empirical data to support this?”

        Ooh, they are so predictable. I’m loving it 😀

        Like

        1. I am roaring with laughter as I read this. You did and the sociologist did too? Oh boy, am I glad I kept it to my experiences! 😀 😀

          Like

  17. Bravo!!!

    Beautifully put!

    Dummies guide to feminism!!

    Loved it!!

    Like

    1. 😀 Thank you!

      Like

  18. things are not going to change even in next 100 years. as some of us start looking at things rationally rest of us carry forward the same prejudices for the next generation.

    hey your blog just inspired me to write better 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks for the credit, but you have been writing very well Deb even before you came here. Do read the next part =, I am posting it soon. 🙂

      Like

  19. You have painted such a vivid picture of 60s and 70s. I think in some ways 80s was closer to those times than to 90s, although the class & caste divide was very apparent by then. Living in Tamil Nadu steeped in the Dravidian politics it was hard to miss the caste divide. It is so interesting to see what shaped the Indian Feminist movement, as the country was struggling to form an identity and forge ahead as opposed to the Western movement where the countries had formed an identity and well on the path of development. A personal story in the context of the times & era. Let me get a cup of chai + some pop-corn and get ready for the next post. Bring it soon 🙂

    Like

    1. Caste divide is still used in reverse in the south and in its original form in the northern states. But I focused more on the class divide because my post was abut the concerns of the rich and poor. The personal odyssey continues, but after a few days 🙂

      Like

  20. Well these days more time is wasted in doing everything other than something useful.
    I beleive that most rally’s meeting etc are a place to show off what’s the latest BUY.

    I agree with you on what u say on the changes we did not have electricity and women cooked food on a chulha with dried cotton plant or cowdung as fuel for fire.
    People in cities have moved so forward they forget that in rural areas still a lot are behind.
    For a nation to move forward all have to move forward it won’t help if one section is going ahead and the other left behind that will only create a bigger divide.

    Like

    1. Very true Bikram. For the nation to move forward, we have to take everyone along. Unfortunately that is not happening and so we have this disparity in development. And it is not just the rural urban divide, because there are rich and poor in our villages too. So the actual divide is between the rich and poor and the concerns will never be the same or understood by one of the other.

      Like

  21. I hate it when replies become two words x 20 rows so decided to continue in a new reply thread.. Perfectly true that too much time is wasted in seminars, publicity et all you mention – sadly, yet another reason not to get involved? Hopefully, helping other (less fortunate women in this case) doesn’t have to be only through joining a popular movement. Which once again brings me back to the five reasons I mentioned earlier why we don’t get involved.

    Like

    1. That is something that I hate too 😀 I don’t say that we should stay away from helping people, but when it becomes just an exercise, it is frustrating. So you end up doing something small on your own. But this will not make a difference unless many many more do it too. Remember, at the height of the Anna Movement people chose to stay away because they averred that the change has to come from ‘within’ and not the way that we were doing it. That is fine, but when would all the 1.25 b have a change of heart so that there would no corruption? It is the same. For whatever reason, people shy away from involvement and others end up contributing a drop in the ocean, which is getting bigger and deeper by the day.

      Like

      1. I have never lost faith in the movement – just become even more aware of the way the criminal elements who profess to represent the people are determined to and succeeding in scuttling it and the various reasons people give not to remain involved, united and effective. But IAC isn’t what your post is about. Thanks for the discussion.

        Like

  22. Zephyr, you’ve mentioned the class divide, and so have a few commenters. I agree that the divide seems to be growing wider.

    Also I have sometimes noticed that nowadays, urban, educated women have a tendency to ‘look down’ on their rural sisters. ‘Dehati’ is often a derogatory term. It may refer to dress sense, to customs, or language. Why should the style of rural or less educated women be considered somehow inferior to that of those more educated or financially better off?

    Why should the urban, educated, well-off woman’s lifestyle/ opinions/ values be treated as the benchmark against which others are measured?

    I am not saying that all urban women think this way, but I’ve found that many do.

    Like

    1. The divide starts at a mental level, of perceptions. All those who object to stereotyping conveniently forget that it can be applied to everything besides gender. Didn’t our great MPs object to the term ‘ganwar’ during the Anna agitation in Delhi saying that it denigrated the villagers? I can understand what you are saying : the wrinkling of the nose at an unkempt woman, forgetting that she can’t afford to fill up enough water from the street tap at dead of night to be able to take a scented bath.

      Like

  23. Such a perfectly articulated post !
    Couldn’t agree with you more…
    Loved it !

    Like

    1. On all points or some ? 🙂 After all it is a personal perspective!

      Like

  24. I felt like watching a documentary on the women of yesteryear.

    Like

    1. Thank you, but did the points about today vis-a-vis those days make sense?

      Like

  25. Two points:

    I don’t think the phenomenon of having household helps/ servants originated in the seventies –if anything, I think the seventies marked the decade when many upper class/ middle class families began to find it difficult to afford the armies of servants they had hitherto maintained. Class feelings were actually rampant because they were often tied to caste identities. And while the servants did live in the vicinity of the households they worked for and hence were their ‘neighbours’ technically speaking, I am not sure if their relations were ever neighbourly in the true sense.
    That said, I agree with you in that the class divide then was not the unbridgeable chasm it is today, because everyone was more or less poor. There just weren’t too many things to aspire to, in material terms, whichever class you were in. So yes, poverty was indeed a unifying factor in that sense, and development has indeed served to draw the people further and further apart.

    /So what kind of women empowerment have we achieved in the last half century, feminism or no feminism? /
    While the status of women in the poorer strata of the society may not have changed at all, the amount of change that the status of middle-class women has undergone boggles the mind . It might not have had the desired impact on the society as a whole, but was still worth it.

    Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this fabulous, thought-provoking post, Zephyr.

    Like

    1. You have perfectly put the reasons for the class divide not being so deep then! But hey, I didn’t specifically state that it originated in the 70s. But before the 60s, servants existed only in rich households, senior civil servants’ houses and landlords’ houses. And I am not talking of servants living in close proximity to be able to work. I grew up in largely lower middle class milieu where I saw the change happening imperceptibly. My mother’s side of the family boasted of a lot of very well-to-do relatives and some very modest ones too so I used to make the comparison even as a pre-adolescent and adolescent, which later helped me form a lot of my beliefs and reactions. As LG has pointed out, it has turned out too complex I guess. Thank you for liking the post, nonetheless. 🙂

      Like

  26. Sheila Dixit warns women against being adventurous. Gurgaon Police wants us to stay home after eight. Like you said – So what kind of women empowerment have we achieved in the last half century, feminism or no feminism?

    And one would have thought that the 21st century women will have it so much better? Does she?

    Like

    1. Well she certainly does, but her poorer sister does not. The concerns are so different today except as I pointed out to Alka, where it concerns her safety. As for the Gurgaon police, will someone tell them that assaults on women don’t happen only at nights. What about the daylight rapes and assaults?

      Like

  27. AlkaGurha · · Reply

    The post chronicles subtle and the not so subtle changes over the years in a well defined manner. You are bang on. The middle classes now has several layers…earlier we all belonged to the middle class. Husbands are looking after kids while wives visit spas on weekends…the maid culture, the computer craze, the virtual friends ….a lot has changed.

    Like

    1. A lot has changed indeed, and disproportionately for the less fortunate ones. They are still struggling to come out of ignorance, violence, illiteracy and helplessness, while the urban upper and middle class women have it much much better unless we take safety and security of a woman on the streets as the common factor. A woman is vulnerable to attacks both physical and sexual whether she belongs to the elite class or the slums. And look at our leaders’ and law enforcers’ reactions!

      Like

  28. Hi Zephyr, there are so many issues you’ve touched upon here! I honestly cannot relate to any of these – disqualified on many fronts (not a woman for starters). But this post reminded me yet again of the enormous struggles that I recall my mother (working middle class woman) going through – in keeping her job and raising a family. I am constantly amazed when I think back about my childhood as to how she maintained her sanity. Kudos to all women – working or not – who did that in the 70’s and who do it now (without the support systems the previous generations had)

    One of my pet theories is that the world would be a lot better place if all countries (at least the major ones) had women leaders. Women are natural peacemakers and much smarter at working out meaningful compromises and conflict resolution. Realize this is not the point you’re making, but thought I’d put this out there to see what every one else thinks.

    One point of dissonance – this article is too complex to understand the way it’s written. Not saying it was not enjoyable. I need to read this a few more times before I can claim to have grasped everything in it. cheerio!

    Like

    1. Bur LG, isn’t it about the times per se than just about the women? Agreed, it is a woman’s and that too a single woman’s point of view. But the concerns were broad to begin with and then went on becoming narrower till they stopped at the individual level. The kind of deification of women for being such great nurturers and providers that women are fighting today as being stereotypes they are being straitjacketed in.

      Also I beg to disagree with the view that women leaders would provide better governance. That’s why I mentioned Indira Gandhi and the present crop of leaders. Given your assumption, Delhi should be the safest place for women, if nothing more. But what is the reality? We need leaders not POLITICAL leaders because politics has the ability to dehumanise those who enter it, men or women.

      And uh oh….where did I go wrong? I mean, how did I complicate things? Maybe it is my innate capability to nag that has made the post that way? 🙂 Or have I dared to bite off more than I can chew?

      Like

  29. I guess life is in a permanent state of flux. We realise it only after we’ve lived through it. You’ve described Gen X in all its complexity and detail and done a fantastic job. For any generation, I think the disparity between rich and poor, the educated and ignorant, the thoughtful, concerned, understanding, informed and progressive versus their opposite, are all areas of concern

    Like

    1. How perfectly true! anything static is dead, right? I agree about the rich poor divide being a cause of concern, but wasn’t it a time when we actually tried to bridge it in our own little ways? Today we are more passive and even turn a blind eye to it at times as being the concern of the state, or the NGOs that are working with them. As a whole, the society today is more self centred and insensitive unless the issue affects it directly in some way.

      Like

      1. I believe people want to help but there are five things that make them hesitate – being put off because they know they’ll have to deal with indifferent and what’s-in-it-for-me politicians (or municipal babus), not knowing what to do, not having the will and energy to rise above the exhaustion of our daily grind, the cynicism of onlookers (huh, nothing will come of it) and also, a reluctance to interfere. They need the motivation that Anna and his team instilled, who convinced them that was the very reason to find the time to fight. the system.

        Like

        1. I would like to believe too, but it is not just plunging into things anymore. The need for an NGO, the millions of things needed to set them up and maintain them, the theoretical inputs that come in about social work, the seminars and conferences — it has all become too academic and theoretical. All well to change the policies or formulate new ones, but how much is the woman at the grassroots benefiting? I tried joining these organisations but found them wasting time in such exercises than actually doing something. And oh, they managed to see that they got all the publicity — press and the visual media. Young people today have better things to do, why get into something that might be unrewarding in the long run, or worse, become complicated? Look at he Anna movement: it has been hijacked by politicians and with strategic threats to those who participate in terms of a criminal record and such things, it has been more or less diluted beyond recognition. Sorry if it sounded like a rant, it was 😀

          Like

  30. Zephyr,

    Yes, You have chronicled the social changes in a broad way, as it happened. I was part of it too. Each example you have cited, was in my life. So it was, with million other girls , those days. We were going through drastic changes without realizing what was happening. We went along , chose the best available options, and benefited.

    Like

  31. I don’t think society was ever so homogeneous – only our world was limited, we did not know other side of the coin and so we thought that society was better knit around us – it always had its internal conflicts and dilemmas. Women were always divided (and will remain so) due to other identities like caste, age, religion, education. That is the complexity of the world around.

    Like

    1. True, I was thinking about all those ladies of the lowest strata of society , who were around to help my grand mothers in the village. What was their fate? Their sons/daughters did not go through the times, with the ease with which we went.

      It had taken them 5 decades more to come up financially!

      Like

      1. But have they indeed come up, Pattu?

        Like

        1. Most of them have. And more have joined the lower strata due to non-availability of land , and migration to city. I have seen families in the lower rungs, have benefited by being in the city and brought up kids educating them and giving them jobs.
          At the same time, the huts they vacated has gone to other migratory people.

          Majority of women in south India, at least, are aware of lot of issues.

          Of course, a lot is not changed yet.

          Like

          1. It is like you run fast, but someone is running faster and keeping the distance between you the same. I agree about the south being more aware. I had blogged about the Pudukkottai experiment long ago. But the basic problems remain for the poorer women, water, sanitation, nutrition and safety. And it doesn’t look anything like changing too soon either.

            Like

    2. On the contrary Aativas, it might sound corny and melodramatic, but the poor bond better — even over caste and religious divides. The awareness of the other side actually made this consciousness more pronounced and impelled us to take up issues to fight for to be able to come up to par or excel. Maybe I was lucky to be in a state that was proactive in its response to the movement. I honestly can’t say. And what I have written is not the socio-economic commentary of the times, but my personal perception. But yes, as you say, the world is too complex to be treated in a simplistic manner.

      Like

  32. Zephyr, it appears you have chosen to write a prequel of sorts to the ‘Feminism and Gen X’ series.

    You have traced the throes of a society in grim transition. People, delivered from the clutches of slavery not many years back, were still united at their largely humble stations. The bicycle, the coal-stove and dal-roti (or the equivalent) were normal rations. The curse of prosperity and gaping disparities was yet to befall. Mackenna’s Gold was yet to take its toll. And the hitherto still lakes of humanity were still to turn into turbulent seas.

    You have now undraped the canvas, which already depicts the disturbing decadence in human values, against which you have proceeded to paint your picture. The common theme appears to be the gross substitution of compassion and companionship with greed, hatred and intolerance. The benefactor-beneficiary’ conundrum, so to say.

    The feminist reaction in black and white, as you describe it, has the tell tale signs of a nascent awakening. The movement still had to evolve a richer set of responses, evident by reactions such as you mention: Bolt, rather than hang on and assert freedom; slap, rather than stay and stare back at the boss. However, it was important in the sense that it put the foundation stones of the edifice that the later generation women would build upon. Today, the current generation may have the luxury to look back critically at the predecessors, but they will be denying due credit to a sea of experiences that was passed down. It is easier to perceive now that the relationships come in thousands of colours. Problems have hundreds of shades. Men are to be hated, yet the fathers and the sons are also men!

    Like

    1. Look at the difference in perception and interpretation: while Grond feels it is a bridge, you think it is a prequel 🙂 So there are bound to be any number of interpretations of the post itself and eagerly waiting for the comments to come in. But I am pleased that you picked on a couple of things that disturb me about things today — the benefactor-beneficiary factor for one thing and the shades of relationships and problems. We all took our lessons, some preferred to stay away from school and wallow in ignorance, again, something that is not specific to those times. But I see the divide that has become too deep today, no matter what anyone says about being ‘concerned’ about it, which is merely glossing over the deeper issue. I do hope the next part will be able to sum it up properly and not become too obtuse. 🙂

      Like

  33. Lovely post- very thoughtfully written.

    One point- though I agee that class conciousness was less compared to today, I think there was more caste- conciousness. I spent my high-school years in a small town, so that may be why I noticed that a lot. From what I see when I visit there now, people think less about caste nowadays.

    I agree with you about the black and white view. As we say in Marathi the solution in those days seemed to be-“Ek ghav don tukade”!

    This is just a quick comment- I’m going to write a longer comment later. 🙂

    Like

    1. That was one aspect I didn’t touch upon for fear of it going off at a tangent and missing the main focus. Looking forward to your longer comment. And knowing you are from the same state, I am sure there will be interesting notes to share 😀

      Like

  34. Thanks for the email headsup, Aunty.

    Since this is a bridge tying the previous post and the next one, and it creates a context for the story, I feel that the subsequent comment may well become redundant in the next post. It is also not the actual comment that I wanted to write, since as you mentioned, you have not completed the idea that you ended the last article with.

    However, a dissonance has struck me while reading this post. I read it twice, to ensure that I was not mistaken. The divide created between the classes that you have elaborated in your post is an effect of quite a lot of factors – some of which you have elucidated. Correct me if I am wrong – but you seem to have labelled the women of India (mostly urban India, at that) as stuck in the flow of those factors and deposited on whichever bank the river landed them. I would disagree on this.

    The leaders of India today grew up in the 60s & 70s, cut their teeth in the 80s and 90s and only then did they achieve leadership in the 00s. It is not that they too went with the flow and landed on a particularly rich island. No person is given a predestined island – while everyone will have to ‘go with the flow’ at some point or the other, they can easily select to make a sail and use the heavy winds to go in a different direction, make oars and row away from any dangerous eddies, and so forth. I guess you get the metaphors, and I will not extend the cliches anymore.

    My basic contention is that no one person is faultless – you can either choose to go with the flow, or fight it to come out of it. You can also take a path that provides the middle way – rebel about those issues that affect you directly, and compromise on those that are not that relevant fighting about. Perhaps my understanding of the time is wrong, but I cannot digest the ‘black or white’ ideal that you write about. Was there no moderating input between these two? Did no one give the ideas of a middle path?

    I did write a longer comment, but then I realised that it will be better off to mention those points in discussing the primary context of the article, instead of just this section. Eagerly awaiting the next part.

    Like

    1. Oh Harshal, you should have waited for the last part 🙂 I most certainly haven’t labelled anyone, least of all women to have been deposited on the banks not on their own volition. This post was mainly about the concerns that affected the society then, and it is not gender specific, only that the women took a larger and more pro-active part in the scheme of things and fought for many things, not just their rights directly and indirectly. The awareness of the movement gave them the impetus and the focus to do it, that’s all.

      And the next part will be again with a personal viewpoint, because I am not a scholar on women’s issues nor am I chronicler. But I do hope you will find whatever it is you are gleefully waiting to tear me up about 😀 😀 Looking forward to that eagerly! 😀

      Like

  35. It is interesting to note that women in the 70s saw life as black or white. I mean they actually fought if they thought something wrong. When I see the aunties around me, I think that most of them are just satisfied in playing second fiddle, not inviting controversies and certainly not arguing one-on-one with their husbands. I also came across my dad’s colleagues, ladies who were self-assured and apt at handling their home and office life. He was in a government job. One thing I agree, I have no hopes of seeing my son opting for a marriage. I feel the institution of marriage will lose all its significance by the time our children are grown up. Their generation will just want instant gratification — be it love, money or sex.

    Like

    1. Rachna,

      While I’m not sure which generation your son will grow up in, I can tell you that this generation (the ones in their 20s & 30s right now) does give an important status to marriage, but not that high priority that it was given back in my parents’ generation.

      Getting married, having a good family are all there, just not as important as they were ten years ago. Erm… considering that idea of the downward trend… I agree, twenty years down the line, the institution of marriage may well have collapsed.

      Regards,
      Grond

      Like

      1. Well Grond,

        I am 37, and my elder son is 9, younger one is 5 :). So yes, I was talking 20 years on. Personally, I place a lot of value on the institution of marriage and relationships. Yet, I am much more independent and demanding than my mother ever was. I do see a lot of marriages breaking up these days too. It is not the end all and be all like it was for my mother. In one way, it is not such a bad thing. I would prefer women to have the empowerment to support themselves to walk out of rotten or abusive marriages. But, the flip side is that a lot of us are not willing to put in the effort to adjust and allow the relationships to mature. Can any relationship in life be of perfect equality? Forget husband and wife, see the relationship with our parents, friends or kids. There is never an equal give and take. It changes with situations. But, our generation wants instant results and gratifications. So, a lot of marriages break down before they even had a chance. It is indeed a time of flux now and will only get worse with passing time.

        Like

        1. Rachna,

          I totally agree with you. The idea of marriage today does not command the same priorities and value that it did a couple of generations ago. Perhaps with the increase in information available to people today, thanks to the opening up many more modes of communication than in the past, people have much more choices to make and hence add more to their plate than they would have in the past. This is the reason I attribute for the fall in priority of marriage itself.

          However, I would disagree with you on the ‘instant gratification’ index. Relationships, at the level of marriage and family, still command importance and committment, and hence people do stop and think about it. On one hand, if they are not ready to commit at all, then it is out of the equation. If they are, then patience and waiting still has the upper hand, and people are ready to give it a try before judging. My sister waited for two years for trying to change her first husband before walking out with her head held high.

          Perchance our measure of the time period is different? What you may call too short, I call long enough?

          Grond

          Like

          1. Grond,

            Please read this article. I was only quoting from here in the context of faster breakup of marriages
            http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?280178#.T1_zszYOwuc.gmail

            Like

    2. Ah Rachna, life offers us ample lessons and it is entirely up to us to take them and make changes for the better, in ourselves and in the society around us. But didn’t you see the bold text under the Black and white allusion? also I beg to differ that marriage will lose its significance, though efforts are being made to portray it so. And if at all, it loses its significance, it will only be because the partners have lost the will to make and keep relationships, not because Gen Z seeks instant gratification. As you yourself have said in another comment any relationship needs to be worked upon to succeed and the levels of intolerance and ego is playing havoc with all kinds of relationships, why only marriage?

      Like

      1. Let’s agree to disagree about the future of marriage. Hopefully, we can debate that 20 years on :). Some girls of my generation but younger by say 5-10 years have diametrically opposite views on marriage and expectations from a relationship. I have seen 3 women very close who have wrecked their homes and marriage due to their perverse expectations from marriage.

        It might not apply to all but youngsters are much more impatient. Perhaps, marriage will continue to exist, but breakups will become much more rampant and staying single much more acceptable. Just my view. I understand your disagreement as well :).

        Like

  36. Zephyr, this was a commendable post and touches on almost all vital issues that are vexed.The only hope I can see is that technology like communications and media will hopefully bridge this divide as the political will is still non existent. We like to wake up when the fire reaches door step and remain blissfully asleep otherwise!

    Like

    1. Maybe it will, didn’t a union Minister say something to the effect that poor women prefer mobile phones to toilets? But seriously, I wonder how it will, and would love to have your views on it?

      Like

      1. Zephyr, My view is that so many things happen in India, thanks to the democracy that even if the system wants to stifle, it cannot. Examples are many, the Satellite TV has invaded homes, mobile phones have grown phenomenally and internet is sure to break the barriers. So despite half hearted attempt to promote literacy, people and women in particular, even in countryside are wiser. A combination of education and technology can do wonders if not bridge the economic divide

        Like

        1. That it is already doing, Rahul, but the divide is what is bothering me because the rage, the violence, the perversity all are part of helplessness at the injustice of it all. And with more development and no parallel social net to cushion the harshness, it is widening.

          Like

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