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


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WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN INDIA 41

December 1974 in Tanjavur district, with a membership of 27,000, half of these from among the'Harijan agricultural labourers of Tanjavur district itself. In West Bengal the Ganatantrik Mahila Samiti (Democratic Women's Organization) held its 14th state conference in April 1973 and proclaimed a notable growth especially among the peasantry and middle classes since the last conference in 1970. 121,632 members from all the districts except one were represented. In Kerala the Women's Federation has grown since 1969-70 to a membership of over 100,000. Its powerful base is Allcppey district where the agricultural labour movement is strong. The Shramik Mahila Sabha (Toiling Women's Organization) of Maharashtra has come to the forefront since 1974. It has its largest base outside Bombay, in the districts of Dhulia and Thana where there has been work among tribal agricultural labourers.l

The GPI (M) has no national women's organization, and People's Democracy has published little in terms of reporting or ideological guidance in 1975. In contrast the GPI has long had a national organization, the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) and published plenty of material during the International Women's Year. These efforts at present seem mainly designed to draw women into support for the Congress Party as a major auxiliary in the fight against the ^twin forces of imperialism and fascism"2, and at its best the ideological approach remains infected with large elements of bourgeois ideology aboufwomen's natural place". A republic day number article notes, "Nature has given women the responsibility of bearing and rearing children but it has given her other qualities and talents also."8 In spite of these differences at the top the pattern of growth of the CPI organizations seems to be similar to that of the CPI (M). The NFIW grew significantly between its 7th national conference in 1970 and its 8th conference in December of 1973 and new unip were established in Maharashtra, Bangalore, Mysore, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu.4

Rising Tempo of Militancy

There is thus significant growth in the women's organizations of the major left parties. There have been new organizations as well from the Women's Anti-price-rise Front to the Progressive Organization of Women (POW) of Hyderabad. There are still significant limitations to all this: there is no sign as yet thai the Left at an all-India level has seriously committed itself to building up a general mass-based women's liberation movement; there are no significant set of activists with a commitment to the women's movement as such on a broad scale; the ideological guidelines for organization as well as theory have only begun to be put forward. But the growth that has come up from the base is indicative of a very broad process of social change.

What is the reason behind this growth? These dramatic develop-ments have coincided with the proclamation of IWY, but it would be an idealistic view of social processes to say that IWY or the influence of



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