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Stark Deprivations: Defying Nature's Balance

Brinda Viswanathan

Edited by Manoranjan Pal , Premananda Bharati, Bholanath Ghosh and T.S.Vasulu
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 323, Rs. 750.00


China and India are among the few exceptions in the world which continue to show stark deprivations that are specific to women or girl children while the per capita GDP growth has been moving ahead at a phenomenal pace. Neglect of a section of the population has resulted in the lower survival rates of women and female children which defy nature’s balance of having a more than fifty per cent share of females in the population. Statistics from China at least do not show large rates of undernourishment neither is its GDI/HDI ranking as low as for India. A deep malaise in the subcontinent points to the large deprivations in well-being that is associated with the social status accorded to women which has a strong life-cycle impact. In a region where there are multiple deprivations reflecting in basic needs and physical comfort as well as human dignity, these deprivations manifest themselves in worse forms for women than for men that cut across regions, class, caste or religious affiliations. Consequently, India also has a rich legacy of research that delves into the issue of gender inequality and has equally contributed in terms of working towards ameliorating it either through public policy or through civil society interventions. Scholarly contributions from time to time keep the concern for the issue alive and try to push the frontier that has indeed brought about substantial changes in the thinking and perspectives. This edited book is a compilation of 15 chapters dealing with gender discrimination within the Indian context. Nutrition and health issues take up a large share as the title of the book suggests while labour market and policy issues have also found some space. The illustrations are largely through quantitative assessment; however the nature of data used varies from secondary data to primary surveys with the methodology also varying from simple tabular representations to more detailed econometric modelling. In this sense the book also adds to the richness of the nature of enquiry and methodology used to understand the forms of gender discrimination. Public policy and interventions to reduce gender discrimination and women’s empowerment are also considered in some instances. Two chapters deal exclusively with the theoretical issues of measurement of Gender Discrimination/Bias. Caste/class interactions within the realm of gender discrimination are not part of this compilation while one chapter looks into the interaction between religion and gender from the ...

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