Perhaps no account of the Indian feminist movement can be explored with precision without the mention of revolutionary leader Anuradha Ghandy. From belonging to the Dalit Panther movement, the Naxalite movement, to the expansion of the now forbidden Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghatan, Ghandy has worked with and for oppressed communities everywhere. In addition to her fieldwork, Anuradha Ghandy has also written extensively on issues of women, caste and fascism. “Philosophical trends of the feminist movement”, “Question of the castes in India”, and “Fascism, Fundamentalism and Patriarchy” remain his most important works. His analysis, largely derived from his experiences in the field, enriches our understanding of these topics in monumental ways.
Written around the appointment of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, Anuradha Ghandy provides an excellent forecast of the rise and spread of fascism and Hindutva in Fascism, Fundamentalism and Patriarchy. She begins by pointing out how Hindutva’s ideology distracts people’s attention from their mass destitution and onto imaginary enemies.
She then goes on to explain the complicated relationship between fascism, fueled by religious fundamentalism, and patriarchy. Religious fundamentalism, she says, tries to evoke a nostalgic reimagining of the story where all was well. He then blames contemporary modern culture for the distortion of that peace and tries to mobilize people to return to traditional values. These traditional values demand the submission of the housewife, stripped of all rights and personal autonomy. “It is clear that at present the main enemy of women are the Hindutva forces., “she writes. In the Indian context, fascism is so intrinsically wedded to caste and feudal order that it needs its absolute continuity to maintain itself.
She also describes Hindutva’s promotion of Sati in cases such as the forced immolation of Roop Kunwar in 1987 and his use of rape as a weapon of political attack like that seen during the riots in Gujarat. “They use women for political purposes, both when they mobilize them and when they sexually assault minority women. It is important to remember that these Hindutva forces, whether they are from the Sangh Parivar – the RSS, the Bajrang Dal, the BJP – or whether they are within other political formations like the Congress, they share the same reactionary attitude. towards women., “she writes. She also mentions the Indian state’s attitude towards minorities and women and describes it as patriarchal, feudal and Brahmin in its essence.
Anuradha Ghandy’s analysis of the female sects of the RSS is also very enlightening. The RSS ideology sees women as an important part of the family, but their public participation is denied. The woman is primarily responsible for promoting Hindutva ideology in her home and neighborhood. She is charged with the responsibility of raising her children, with motherhood being one of her most important tasks, in accordance with Hindutva ideology. Her investigation of SSR and Hindutva’s relationship to women’s rights is extremely relevant today and is important reading for all feminists fighting the twin forces of Patriarchy and Hindutva. “For revolutionary and democratic forces, for the progressive feminist movement, the tasks are clearly defined:, she concludes.
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Anuradha Ghandy’s understanding of feminism in its various facets is exemplified in her work Philosophical trends of the feminist movement. It is an in-depth study and consequent critique of the main schools of thought of feminism, including the liberal school, the postmodern school, the socialist school, the radical school and the anarchist school. Ghandy recognizes the importance of theory building in feminism and its close relationship to groundwork and movement building. She attributes the failure of the radical feminist and socialist feminist movements to the construction of an inappropriate and under-studied theory: “how incorrect theoretical analysis and bad strategies can affect a movement can be clearly seen in the case of the feminist movement. Not understanding the oppression of women as being linked to the wider socio-economic and political structure of exploitation, to imperialism, they sought solutions within the imperialist system itself.. “She links the class struggle and the imperialist world system to women’s movements all over the world and concludes that to divorce either feminism will prove to be counterproductive.
Ghandy firmly believes that women’s liberation must focus on working class and peasant women, and her report “The revolutionary movement of women in India” highlights the same. It describes in detail the work underway in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and the mobilization of peasant women. in addition “Rape Law Changes: How Helpful Will They Be?” ” draws attention to the use of rape as a political weapon.
Anuradha Ghandy was instrumental in the Dalit Panther movement of 1974. Her understanding of India’s caste system is notably reflected in ‘Question of caste in India‘ and ‘The return of the caste question‘. She writes that caste has been the most important means of exploiting the working masses: “For the ruling classes of India, from ancient times to modern times, the caste system served as both an ideology and a social system that allowed them to suppress and exploit the majority of the working people.. ” In “Question of caste in India”, it traces the evolution of the caste from Antiquity to modern times. It highlights how everyone who came to rule India very quickly adapted to this system and learned to manipulate it to exploit the masses.
In “The return of the caste question”, she undertakes another important investigation. She begins by sketching the relationship between the left movements and the Dalits. She attributes the decrease in the alliance between these two to two main reasons: “First, the traditional “communists” (especially the CPI and CPM) failed to understand the caste issue in India and often took a reactionary stance on the Dalit issue. Second, the established leadership of today’s Dalit movement is not seeking a total crushing of the caste system, but only certain concessions within the existing caste structure.. “
Ghandy believed in the total abolition of castes. Democratization in India, she writes, is not possible without ridding Indian society of the caste system. “The democratization of society mainly means breaking these old feudal institutions – in economic relations, in the reorganization of political (state) power and in social relations between man and man. Fundamentally, the essence of the democratic struggle must be to build a truly independent India and a complete revolution of all economic, political and social relations.. “This play also provides an insightful critique of the Communist caste position, which she described as intellectually lazy, and ultimately calls for unity between the left and anti-caste movements.
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Anuradha Ghandy’s work takes into account the multiple dimensions of society. Even though some of his writings deal with complicated subjects, they are written in plain language with the masses in mind. All of his work is available free online. Her ideas are important reading for any feminist. And yet her name is spoken in a low voice and her life’s work and writings remain confined to a few communist corners. Anuradha Ghandy was a communist, a revolutionary feminist, an educator, but the only identity the Indian state made sure to be known by was a Maoist terrorist.
It was while teaching a group of Adivasis women in the forests of Jharkhand that Ghandy contracted malaria and died in April 2008. In her preface to Philosophical trends of the feminist movement, Arundhati Roy perfectly sums up the spirit of Ghandy, “Anuradha Ghandy shows us a spirit and an attitude that is not afraid of nuance, is not afraid to engage in dogma, is not afraid to say it as it is – to his comrades as well as the system she fought against all her life.