Social Scientist. v 4, no. 40-41 (Nov-Dec 1975) p. 104.

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Employment^ Incomes and Equality

THE INTERNATIONAL Women's Year, planned much earlier in 1969 by the United Nations, has served to highlight the women's question in India. What for so long had been the concern of left and democratic parties, and social welfare organizations, suddenly received unprecedented attention in government and academic circles. Recent official publications, and particularly the rather voluminous report of the Committee on the Status of Women,1 therefore deserve special scrutiny.

These studies reveal an increasing recognition of economic inequality - between men and women in participation rate, wages, and conditions of work. Although the conventional and popular approach to the problem as one of cultural backwardness, casteism or communalism is going out of fashion, the primary task of comprehensively defining the women's question in India is still to be accomplished. Even the basic outline of a programme for women's emancipation—not just 'modernization9 in the western sociological parlance—cannot be chalked out without first clearly defining the question, which alone can lead to a correct causation framework. In this vast country, in hundreds of forms, social oppression of women exists. Relatively well known are the landlord's or the master's right of the first night; the highly sanctified bargaining for fixing the price (dowry) of the bridegroom in the marriage market; the widow's bondage and the

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