I readily admit that, not suprisingly, I'm much more familiar with the roles of women here in the United States than in India, a country I've only visited twice for brief periods.
My impression (and please correct me if I'm wrong, something many commenters on my posts love to do) is that just as India is transitioning to a modern advanced economy, Indian women are likewise moving from traditional roles to more empowered and co-equal roles in relation to men.
A couple of stories in the Indian business press caught my eye in this regard.
Here's excerpts from a September 7 India Today story, "Singh brothers case: Shivinder's lawsuit exposes widespread forgery, fake documentation, corporate governance issues."
In a serious allegation, the petition says Shivinder's wife Aditi, other directors and Shivinder himself were documented as discussing and approving the bulk of proposals when in fact, the requisite meetings did not take place.
...In fact, (Aditi) Petitioner No. 3 was usually sent a thick stack of minutes and papers to sign at her residence, with a short notice along with a note to sign and return immediately with no further explanation, says the petition which also says there was an understanding between the brothers that ladies in the family were not supposed to ask any questions regarding business dealings.
It was always the understanding between the families of Respondent No. 2 (Malvinder) and Petitioner No. 2 (Shivinder) that ladies from the families are not supposed to ask any questions with regard to the business activities as the same were supposed to be handled by male members of the families, as was the age old tradition and family values. Therefore, the ladies were expected to follow the instructions given to them for signing the papers, says the petition.
"Age old tradition and family values."
Wow. I can pretty much guarantee that if a newspaper in the United States used those words to describe why some American women were supposed to do what their male relatives instructed, the outcry by outraged women would be so loud, it would reach the ears of the Great Goddess who rules heaven and earth.
A September 14 Bloomberg story, "Ex-Billionaire Drops Lawsuit Against Brother After Mom Steps In," shows another side of Indian female empowerment.
A public rupture between the heirs to one of India’s most storied business houses looks to be healing after the mother of the two Singh brothers -- synonymous with each other for decades -- convinced her younger son to withdraw a lawsuit against the elder.
Shivinder Singh withdrew a suit alleging “oppression and mismanagement” against his brother Malvinder and a senior manager in their corporate group after their mother requested they engage in mediation led by family elders instead, according to an order Friday by Justice M.M. Kumar of India’s National Company Law Tribunal.
So this tells me that ex-billionaires in India listen to their mothers, notwithstanding the assertion in the India Today story that business activities traditionally are handled by the men in a family.
I hope the Indian business press reports on the mediation between the Singh brothers "led by family elders," because I'm curious how many women are going to be part of that process. My guess: few, if any.
To stimulate some comment discussion by Indian readers of this blog, I'm sharing a provocative April 2018 story from The Guardian, "India's abuse of women is the greatest human rights violation on Earth." Here's how the story starts out:
India is at war with its girls and women.
The planned rape of eight-year-old Asifa in a temple by several men, including a policeman who later washed the clothes she was wearing to destroy evidence, was particularly horrific. Asifa’s rape has outraged and shaken the entire country. Yet sexual abuse in India remains widespread despite tightening of rape laws in 2013.
According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, in 2016 the rape of minor girls increased by 82% compared with the previous year. Chillingly, across all rape cases, 95% of rapists were not strangers but family, friends and neighbours.
The culturally sanctioned degradation of women is so complete that the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, launched a national programme called Beti Bachao (Save Our Girls).
India can arguably be accused of the largest-scale human rights violation on Earth: the persistent degradation of the vast majority of its 650 million girls and women. And this includes the middle classes, as I found when interviewing 600 women and men in India’s cities.
India’s women are traumatised in less obvious ways than by tanks in the streets, bombs and warlords. Our oppression starts innocuously: it occurs in private life, within families, with girls being locked up in their own homes. This everyday violence is the product of a culture that bestows all power on men, and that does not even want women to exist.
This is evident in the unbalanced sex ratios at birth, even in wealthy families. But India also kills its women slowly. This violence is buried in the training of women in some deadly habits that invite human rights violations, but that are considered the essence of good womanhood.