Social Scientist. v 8, no. 88 (Nov 1979) p. 73.


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Mobilising Women for Change

AN attempt is made here to explore the possible factors which go to make up some kind of a composite answer to the question of the political status of a woman, the role she plays and the factors which help her to determine her status in society. Interestingly, feminist culture and beliefs have only a slight impact on female citizen participation, but for political elites, feminism has been a significant and independent factor distinguishing them from others. The tebhaga movement in West Bengal is a good example of how such attitudes are moulded.

The tebhaga movement took place during 1946-1950 in Bengal—a movement of sharecropping peasants aimed at improving their position within the existing structure. The aim of the movement was to alter the division of the crop into te-bhaga (three parts) of which two parts would be kept by the sharecropper and one part taken by the landlord. The movement was organized and led by the K.isan Sabha or Krishak Samiti, the peasant mass front of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and it varied in intensity and nature in-different parts of Bengal.

Basically it was an economic struggle, but was seen as the first stage in a process towards radical land reform. It was also connected with the nationalist movement insofar as it questioned the land relations with a structure set up and maintained by the British. The main slogan Adhinai tebhaga chai (We want two-thirds, not half) was accompanied by other slogans including Langal jar j ami tar (Land to the tiller). The K.isan Sabha took up the demand as a popular one which would mobilize a large section of the poorer peasantry.

In 1942, with the adoption of "People's War" line of supporting the British on account of the Soviet entry into the second world war, the CPI was legalized. Communists began to work more openly to build up their front organizations and there was consi-



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