Women and Society: Nepal vs India

Nepal has already seen/done some of the things that are happening in India today

Click here to read on the OpEd page of today’s TKP

By Dinesh Wagle

Following the latest happenings in Indian politics and society is a kind of déjà vu experience for many Nepali people. The upper house of the Indian parliament last week passed a bill that provides 33 percent reservation for women in the parliament (Lok Sabha) and state assemblies. We already have that in action. The Delhi High Court last year decriminalised gay sex. Our Supreme Court did that at least two years before any court in India acted upon it. And we have at least one openly gay MP in Nepal who appears on the pages of The New York Times and Time. Who in Nepal could believe that an Indian newspaper recently reported the plan of the Delhi Police to hire women in its traffic police department?

Even in fighting, or compromising for that matter, we seem to be ahead of our Indian comrades. They are talking about possible talks between the state and the Maoist rebels. One side is asking for a halt to the violence, the other is demanding an end to the armed operation against them. One side has proposed the names of mediators while the other side has mutely frowned upon that move. The press here is also reporting an alleged rift in the top Maoist leadership. We reported about all these things a long time ago. We have lived through offers of talks, several rounds of talks, their breaking, rifts in the leadership and all. We have been there, done that.

But, seriously, our politics may be in great need of proper management, society seems to have moved progressively ahead perhaps without us being aware about it because of pressing economic and political problems. The credit goes partly to the Maoist movement that aimed at dismantling the feudal structure of society and partly to democracy that opened up Nepali society in 1990. We have waged more fights and gained more in terms of rights and awareness than any other society in the region.

Take, for example, employment of servants, domestic help. The trend is quickly disappearing in Nepal albeit slowly in Kathmandu city; but in Delhi, running a home without a maid servant seems impossible. A lot of middle class families and professional people employ women from south India or men from Nepali villages to do their household chores. And these women, Indian women, let’s not talk about Nepali men, are underpaid, perhaps exploited; and they can’t say anything about that as they are unorganised. Sometimes, I feel if they were in Nepal, the Maoists would have already brought them under some sort of All Nepal House Maid Association and helped them wage a movement demanding better pay, permanent posting in a house and perhaps pension after retirement!

Indian society is so vast and unequal that it can’t be generalised. But the intensity of the opposition to the Women’s Reservation Bill in parliament by some parties and politicians is simply astonishing. More so as India has the commendable history of having one of its most powerful, controversial and tough prime ministers in a woman, Indira Gandhi. Her daughter-in-law is now the most powerful politician and allegedly the de facto prime minister of India. The main opposition leader is a woman. The speaker is a woman. The president is a woman. The leader of the second largest ruling party is a woman who, for some mysterious reasons, directed her MPs in the upper house (Rajya Sabha) to abstain from voting last week. It was because some of these women and many other men came together that the bill got passed in the upper house. But it would not be surprising if the same didn’t happen in the lower house in the coming weeks. Some leaders, particularly from the impoverished states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have come heavily against the bill. The fact that women in these two states are in a better situation than women in southern India makes their opposition even more horrifying.

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13 thoughts on “Women and Society: Nepal vs India”

  1. Wagle compares Nepali Society and Parliament with India’s but why don’t he compares politicians and development works? He sees GAY as a symbol of development of Nepalese Society but he may not know what type of social life these people have in America where people give importance to sex life and not to the society. They don’t know relatives, no matter who he/she may be.
    He gives credit to the moists for bringing some changes in the Nepalese society but, what type of change? He may not know that moists are the wretched creatures who actually spoiled the Nepalese Society and devastated Nepal in the name of civil supremacy,but their main motive was/is to impose communist dictatorial rule in Nepal. Other credit he has given to other democratic parties who also get credit for devastating Nepal.
    First of all you evaluate these Nepalese Politicians and give them credit otherwise don’t hit on your head with an axe. Make a habit of doing good things first than talking. We have very reach culture, so don’t try to spoil it to become developed like North Korea or Cuba in the name of civil supremacy and even don’t try to to become Americans. Respect our culture.

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    1. Politicians all over the world, with some notable exceptions, are same: generally portrayed as corrupt, inefficient and people who send them to government or parliament are generally unhappy with them. Same applies with leaders in Nepal, be they pro-monarchy or pro-democracy. Instead of blaming politicians wily nilly we the people stop complaining and think what WE, not THEM, are doing for the society. Yes, sometime we get angry and express our frustration and that’s okay!

      Maoists did a lot of bad things in Nepal but my point is their movement brought about historic, unprecedented awareness in people.

      As for homosexuality, depends on how you see it. It’s a controversial issue, I know. Some people believe gays should be given what they are demanding…some believe they should be suppressed. I support their demand and that our country has given them means we are definitely on correct path.

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  2. Gender issues are partly outdated in the sense that people like me who did not want to copy our mothers and grandmothers are saturated by it, and Wagle is right Nepal is more advanced I do agree.
    It is the out of context thing but I feel in Nepal with the ongoing economy 2 salaries per family are better than just one and maybe India is advanced in the one or two child policies. What my monk friend in Nepal calls a’ baby factory’ in many senses is not very planned economy.
    Not to be a victim is where things do not happen to you, free choice, it can be done.
    If women do not have the family load upon our backs,’ Off our backs’ was a feminist monthly in my years, they can do so much, most of all be hapy examples to their offsprings.
    Do not think we have equality in the west, not because you see one Hillary Clinton or someone like that the invisible ceiling is not very REAL.
    All nice men jobs are pretty closed to us females it has not much to do with intelligence or looks, it’s a mens thing and you may have more in common with India than your nightmares. Just in India everybody is openly obnoxious and horrible and in Nepal all have to be ‘nice’. What I hate about both is the materialism.
    Some return to spirituality would be healing. I guess alll thinking people are nostalgic.
    What happens to imagination and dreams? I think we live in a time where we have to be ourselves, some kind of equality.

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  3. Thanks Om Dhungyel for appreciative and realistic comment.Indeed,one must not roughly and blankly appreciate the current visionless leaders because ,in reality,they destroyed our national unity and rich and highly rich culture.Jay Nepal !

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  4. “but in Delhi, running a home without a maid servant seems impossible. A lot of middle class families and professional people employ women from south India ”

    A very in-correct statement; I am a Delhite and also South Indian who has lived in southern cities and Delhi; it is very hard to get people to work as maid-servant in Hyderabad, CHennai and Bangalore. And you can forget about Kerala which is 100% literate. And you expect the poor in South India to work as slave in Delhi ? It is mostly Biharis and Bangaldeshis who work as maid-servants in Delhi. Just because Biharis and Bangaldeshis are dark does not mean they are South Indians.

    Get your facts right.

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    1. I can understand why it is very hard to get people to work as maid-servant in Hyd, Chennai and B’lore. All of them come to Delhi!! Just walk around in Jangpura, a neighborhood in South Delhi where I live, in the mornings and you will see dozens of south-Indian women rushing towards one apartment from another to do household works. I employ one, my landlords employ another, my neighbors another, my Indian friends another. A lot. Fact is very gloomy indeed.

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      1. Bahadurs from nepal,
        Maids from South India
        A Chotu to run errands…. from Bihar

        Delhites are really cosmopolitan in that nature but highly racist as well

        Bihari, Bahadurs. Chinki are supposedly racist words which is common thing in Delhi.

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  5. One heroic thing my generation feminst did was become our own housemaid. Of course you end up divorcing because who will do dishes, coock and make money.
    Then for Bollywood to be real life employ a nanny, a grandmother. The sad reality about extended family is that poverty at least forces to cooperate.
    The secret of happiness? Middle way, accept that men will promise and not fulfill, we women rule the world but cannot say so.
    All happy marriages are where ( or sucessful in the job) the women let the men believe they are wonderful.
    It bugs me that with my writing skills I never got my foot in the door in my own country.
    So that is my link to poor and discriminated apart from serving the truth for happiness.
    But we feel compassion first generation me who have to shop, coock and babysit and no good at it.
    Women and outcasts share one thing we know we are nothing so it gets only better.

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  6. As an Indian very interested in the affairs of our neighbour to the north, it gives me great pleasure to see Nepal make great strides in social equality. Although I am against far-left ideologies, i do agree that these have their merits, especially in terms of fostering progressive thinking.

    As for gay rights, Nepal seems to be way out of the league of the rest of South Asia. All I can say is, bravo! If Nepal does indeed legalise gay marriage, I’ll be the first to line up to move there!

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  7. Respect for human rights starts right here, money and eduation being fine lines, both have nothing to do with true humanity. But the practical reason we do not keep slaves in the house is they are paid more thanks to unions than the average say translator.
    On top that you have to have tea with them, listen to them, for what? So we keep washing machines and vacuum cleaners, ready made food items.

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  8. ………….they can’t say anything about that as they are unorganised. Sometimes, I feel if they were in Nepal, the Maoists would have already brought them under some sort of All Nepal House Maid Association and helped them wage a movement demanding better pay, permanent posting in a house and perhaps pension after retirement!………… You make me laugh Dinesh ! This is the current situation on our Nepal

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