A+| A| A-

The Desert Women

By being both suppressed and defiant, the women of the villages of Rajasthan display an ability to persevere and survive, and offer subversion in a tradition of resistance.

From the perpetually soggy October night in Bengaluru, my home, I am moving across the Aravallis into the cold comforts of desert in Rajasthan. My mind paints pictures of things unseen, with the deftness that experience rarely dares—saffron sands, dry teasing winds, and veiled women. The comfort of being a stranger is not there. I am going to live with the villagers as one of them and I am going to do it the Indian way—as a padyatri, walking on foot.

The bus from Delhi comes to a deliberate stop at a small town called Bhim in the south of Rajasthan. I realise that this is the dholawara land, the land of deeply entrenched traditions of patriarchy, of sati, of the heroic valour of Rajputs, of caste oppression. But this is also the epicentre of the people’s resistance movement. Rajasthan gave India deeply meaningful democratic rights like the right to information, the right to employment and the right to hearing. It was fascinating to me that with low levels of literacy and a higher degree of conservatism, large numbers of women actually participated in these struggles.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

A climate scholar weaves a critique of environmental policy with a personal tragedy in light of the toxic levels of air pollution in Delhi.

Who decides whether one is disabled “enough” and how does it affect one’s sense of self?

A tribute to actor Soumitra Chatterjee who died of COVID-19 complications.

Having lost a dear friend, the author reflects on the nature of friendship, and its relationship with memory.

As mounting performance pressure on students lays the ground for increasing malpractice, what can academic administrators do differently?

At the root of sexual harassment in the arts is an unquestioning culture of subservience.

Could the lived experiences of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, shared with millions of Americans, be their ticket to the White House?

Back to Top