Social Scientist. v 22, no. 250-51 (Mar-April 1994) p. 60.

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Development Experience(s) in India: Gendered Perspectives on Industrial Growth, Employment and Education


The central conundrum for feminists when taking stock of the 'status of women* is whether the pursuit of economic development (particularly as it is currently practised in almost all third world countries) helps or harms women. More often than not, development does both; it 'helps' women in so far as the latter are able to find an income and an economic life outside of their patriarchal household structure; development 'harms' women when the latter are pushed back into the household from economic roles they had hitherto played outside. An assessment of the sum total impact of economic development on women must necessarily, among other things, situate the state in the development process. Almost all third world states have attempted to accelerate economic development through growth strategies which, however, exhibit substantial variation in content, form, degree of commitment across countries, instruments of implementation and over time.1

This paper is a modest attempt to assess to quality of state intervention in the Indian economy during the post independence period with particular emphasis on the impact that technological development (in industry) has had on industrial development and labour, women's labour in particular. Such an assessment would broadly involve an exploration into interconnected themes. Just as governmental statements of industrial policy have failed to incorporate labour as an important and integral component of the total process of restructuring of the economy, similarly it has proven extremely difficult to graft gender onto the existing planning process. For convenience of analysis we borrow a distinction made in literature2 between strategic gender needs (interests) and practical gender needs (interests) to bring out the limited impact that government interventions (on behalf of and for women) have had; more important, the 'room for manoeuvrability' seems to be shrinking with the uncritical adoption of new policy approaches.

Madras Institute of Development Studies, Madras.

Social Scientist, Vol. 22, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1994

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