In a New York Times Op Ed, Sonia Faleiro describes Narendra Modi, a strong contender to become India’s next prime minister in 2014, to be no ‘Champion of India’s Women. Sonia makes her claim based on the fact that the Modi administration in Gujurat politically manipulated and publicized the success of Nari Adalat, a grassroots court system dedicated to India’s marginalized women, for political mileage. She concludes that “The features that made the program a success — in-person surveys, nuanced assessments of caste tensions, meetings with local leaders, and home visits to women who often can’t leave without permission from their husbands or in-laws — are mostly gone. ”
If we were to examine Sonia’s claims without taking sides, and with just a little common sense it seems odd and unlikely for a chief minister to claim credit for something like the Nari Adalat if it was not successful. Sonia does not really substantiate her claims.
Sonia does admit that the Modi administration has expanded the Nari Adalat
in Gujurat. She does not seem interested in analyzing the functioning of this local court across the other 35 states in India, where the politics and the politicians are very different. Such an analyses, could have given credence to her claims.
The other reasons Sonia cites are raw data, like male to female population ratios in Gujurat(918 lower than the national average of 940), the exploitation of Dalit women in tribal areas, the inefficacy of a government official in Ahmedabad in dealing with spousal abuse, and an Oxfam claim that one in three married women in Gujurat are subjected to domestic violence.
Sadly none of this data indicates that Modi is any worse at protecting the women of his state, than other politicians. The truth is that there are many states in India with similar statistics.
There is however, plenty that Narendra Modi has said in public to indicate he is a misogynist.
He has referred to Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Minister Shashi Tharoor as his ‘fifty crore girlfriend,’ and Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, according to Modi, needs lessons in ‘running a kitchen.’
As Monobina Gupta’s excellent article tells us, when it comes to misogyny in the Indian political sphere, there is sadly so much to go around that Narendra Modi and the fascist Hindu Sangh Pariwar do not make a cut above any other Indian political party.