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Patriachies in both the countries have been subjected to strong cross-cultural currents for centuries together. However, Confucianism in China and Brahminism manifested in the Manusmriti in India treat women with discrimination which are dominant idiologies. Of course, Buddhism preaching equality between sexes did prevail in both the countries but have only a tangential impact on the patriarchy.

In the present century both the countries have undergone catalytic events namely the Freedom Struggle in India and a Political Revolution in China which tried to include women in the mainstream of those events. With the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes in both the countries some of the feudal values have reemerged, though it is our contention that the situation will not slide back to the original dark age due to the presence of the women's movement and awareness among men and women. In the subsequent sections we will discuss the social and economic status of both the countries to show that the Chinese women are a shade better than their counterparts in India.

Social Status of Women

India: The family and society at large consider women as second class citizens. The rituals relating to birth and marriage reflect a son-preference.1. A related phenomenon of son-preference in the modern context is the amniocentesis test to abort the female feolus. This unfortunately is more prevalent in urban India. The sex selective test has increased the male-female ratio between 1981 and 1991 in a significant manner (Murthi, Guio & Dreze, 1997). The prevalence of dowry has increased a great deal and has spread to the low caste groups which earlier practised bride price. So much so that the ideal Kerala practice of husbands staying in wiv9s houses has changed to demanding dowry. This phenomenon of taking dowry has increased considerably after the young men started going to Gulf countries and needed a lot of money to buy tickets and other things. Another important point with regard to marriage practices is that the majority of the marriages are arranged by parents. Love marriages are not encouraged even in urban areas though acute violence against women in recent years compel the parents not to consider arranged marriages particularly in the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Bombay etc. The assumption that the urban population are more modern in outlook and hence the traditional bias would get reduced there is proved wrong.

Other indicators of slow changing social mores are the characteristics of matrimonial columns of the leading English dailies, and advertisements in other media. For example the majority of the matrimonial ads show the preference of brides from the same castes and should absolutely be of fair complexion. The same bias for fair complexion also gets reflected in the range of cosmetic and more specifically a brand of face cream called "fair and lovely". It seems that the sale of this brand of cream gets sky rocketed just before the onset of the marriage season. If this is so in the urban areas it would be even truer in the rural areas.

In spite of Sharda Act which was passed in the 1950s to raise the age at marriage, child marriage particularly in North India is quite prevalent though the average age at marriage for females has increased to 18. Child marriage gives a very long span of reproductive age telling upon the health of the women as we will see a little later. This also gets reflected in terms of intra-family distribution of food, access to basic education and health care.

In the 1970s there was a discourse on whether women get adequate nutrition according to their needs or are they discriminated against. Some felt that women do sedentary work and hence require less calories. However, if we examine the work schedules of both men and women it is noticed that women are working for longer hours than men. But according to social norms they get less food.

In so far as access to health care also generally women do not get the best treatment when they fall ill. In addition the consciousness of being ill is more manifest among men than among women who always voluntarily suppress their ailment. (Kynch and Sen, 1983).

The size of average household has marginally declined from 5.55 to 5.51 in the last decade with a sharp decline in urban India during the same period indicating a high fertility and son-preference in the rural area particularly in North India. The total fertility rate for India as a whole is 3.7 in 1991.

The large size family shows that parents live with married sons since facilities are few for old age homes and taboos are attached if the parents stay separately or with married daughters. While it is important to look after old people, it is also true that in-Iaws interfere in every sphere of life of the daughters-in-Iaw. As a result the norms of having large families, son-preference, discriminating attitude towards daughters get perpetuated.

On the front of literacy the picture is equally bleak. As per 1991 census only 39 per cent of the women population are literate. In other words more than 60 per cent women are still illiterate reflecting the low priority given to female literacy. The per centage of illiteracy is much higher (64 per cent) in the older age groups.

Another important pointer towards the discrimination against female child is the increasing sex ratio (males per 1000 females) over these years, in the age group of 0-6 years even though the child mortality rates for males and females in the age group of 0-4 years have narrowed down in the eighties. The explanation as alluded to earlier, lies in the fact that selective abortion is taking place in the urban areas of almost all the states. (Raju and Premi 1994).

In other age groups also women do not fare well compared to Chinese women. For example the maternal mortality rate is quite high in 1990 amounting to 570 per 100,000 births (Human Development Report, 1997), one of the contributory factors being only twenty per cent of the births are attended by the health personnel even as late as 1990.2.

Generally women live longer than men after the reproductive age is over. Coupled with that the total fertility has declined. Hence the life expectancy at birth for females shows a shade higher than that of males, being 61.4 and 61.1 years respectively in 1994 (Human Development Report, 1997). However, the full potential of biological advantage accrue to women especially after the reproductive age has been denied to Indian women partly because a majority of women deliver their babies at home in North India and do not get best medical treatment when they are ill. (6reze and Sen, 1995). Thus we find that the social status of women in India, though with regional variations, is low as indicated by the indices like high sex ratio, high maternal mortality, low literacy rate etc.  

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China: Socially Chinese women have come a long way from the picture depicted in the famous novel Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. They no longer have to bind their feet to be able to walk like swans. One, of course, notices some women born before 1949 having tiny feet.

A spectacular achievement of the women of China has been in the field of education. For example in contrast to India's performance as we have mentioned before 68 per cent of China's adult females are literate.3.

The life expectancy at birth for females is 71.1, according to Human Development Report 1997 and is higher by 4 years than that of males.4. This is at par with some of the developed countries. Low maternal mortality rate namely, 90 per 100,000 live births and also low percentage of home delivery of babies (20 per cent in 1990) contribute to the longevity of women at a later age. (Human Development Report, 1997). It may be mentioned here that even though the health care needs of the mothers of the future workers have been taken care of, the work hazards of the women workers have not been attended to.

With regard to adult female literacy rate China has done exceedingly well since 71 per cent of its female population are literate by 1994. No wonder the infant mortality rate has been reduced to 31 per 100,000 live births in 1992, (Dreze and Sen, 1995) indicating a link between literacy and health care of the children. It is also important to mention here that the total fertility rate (1.7) has declined to the replacement level and has been fluctuating around that since 1990 which is comparable with the economically developed countries5. (Lin Fude, Liu Jintang, 1997). This was made possible by many factors such as reduction in the span of reproductive cycle due to late marriage, low infant mortality rate, nuclear family, high female literacy and involvement in economic activities.

We have already noticed that the infant mortality is low and hence the desire to have more children will be less, provided son-preference syndrome does not influence the desire. Similarly, the link between female literacy and small family norm is also well established. At this point the famous Marriage Act, 1950 should also be discussed in brief to establish its link with low fertility rate. The Act provided women with a number of opportunities including treating them at par with men in the family, valuing their household work socially, encouraging them to be workers rather than being reproductive agents only.

In other words the Law tried to destroy the centuries old notions of family where patriarchy ruled supreme. It did yield significant results namely the age at marriage for females increased from 18.52 in 1950 to 25.5 in 1992 in rural area. In urban area the levels are even higher. Couples arranged marriages are less both in China than in India (Sha Jicai, Xiong Yu, 1997) and theoretically the decision of child bearing also rests with the wife.

Since the social pressure in the form of parent's desire for large family or the demand of dowry is apparently absent, Chinese family can opt for small family norm without feeling guilty about it.

The Marriage Law 1950 which entrusted so much power to women including taking initiative for divorce in a tradition-bound society, inevitably had serious consequences also. This increased the Divorce rate at a rapid rate at the initial stage though it has been declining now. A more traumatic consequence of this Law was that a large number of women committed suicide due to unbearable social pressure. Yet another negative impact of this Marriage Law is that it could not restructure the familial relationship between husbands and wives. The families still wanted to have male children. The one-child policy of the government made this situation more complex. The rural areas witnessed large scale female infanticide in order to have one male child. As a result the sex ratio (males per 100 females) at birth is higher than that of the developed countries. In 1982, for example it was 108.47. (Li Chengrui, 1992). According to Li, the phenomenon of high sex ratio can be explained in the following manner. First of all the racial influence leads to more male children to be born than female children. But the more important fact is the social practice of drowning female infants particularly in rural areas (ibicf). This reflects the patriachal mentality, since sons are preferred particularly in the rural areas to carry out family names and worship the ancestators etc. Monica Das Gupta and co-authors (1997) also noticed that the juvenile sex ratios are high and have been increasing reapidly since 1960 in China fuelled by fertility decline and availability of sex-selective technology. They also noticed that the influence of son-preference decreased along with urbanisation. But they do not recommend urbanisation a panacea for this evil. On the other hand they feel that attitudinal change towards female child will play much more important role in reversing the trend. (ibia)

The discriminating attitude gets reflected in not sending girl child to school in some areas. It is also interesting to note that the political dramas written after 1949 Revolution showed the heroic deeds of women but they were never given the supreme command in any scenario (Julia Kristeva, 1977).

On the whole however, the situation of Chinese women is much better than that of India in so far as family and society are concerned though it requires many more years for the Confucian traditional patriarchy to be replaced by a new culture in favour of women.  

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Economic Status 

India: Low social status of women gets reflected in low economic status also. We have noticed before that about 61 per cent of the Indian women are illiterates as per 1991 census. Accordingly, most of the women work in unorganised sector either in agriculture or in household industries. This in turn does not get captured in "statistical purdah" created by existing concepts and the methods of measuring labour participation that creates invisibility of women's contribution to National Income of the country (Gopalan, 1995). For example, the census defines work as gainful economic activities but activities done for domestic consumption are not considered as work. So we find that as late as 1991 only 22 per cent of total female population are considered to be workers in contrast to 52 per cent of the male population though the rural areas show slightly higher female work participation rate namely, 27 per cent, than that of the total rate. As expected the urban area has failed to provide much avenues for female workers as is evident from the statistics. (Premi and Raju, 1994).

In this context it is interesting to note that the recorded female participation rates varied across the states inversely with the influence of dominant patriarchal values except perhaps in Kerala. For example Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana recorded female participation rates much below than the national average namely 22 per cent. But the states like Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur recorded much higher rate i.e., above 35 per cent which are not influenced by the patriarchal values of the North. Also Maharashtra which has undergone several social movements and is witnessing a different pattern of development compared to Punjab and Haryana has 33 per cent female work participation rate in 1991.6.

Sectoral division of work participation rate is also available from various sources. For instance, in 1981 about 94 per cent of female work force and 89 per cent of male work force was working in the unorganised sector" In 1991 on the other hand the share of male work force has increased by 1 per cent whereas that of female work force has increased by two per cent. (Gopalan, 1995)

The Census also gives nine-fold classification of main workers in different industrial categories which can be further aggregated into primary, secondary and tertiary activities. The most important feature of this classification is that about 81 per cent of the total female workers are engaged in primary sector consisting of agriculture, live stock and mining in 1991. This per centage is very high in rural area namely 89.5 per cent which shows a marginal increase as compared to the 1981 situation. In contrast the per centage of male workers in the primary sector is 63.4 in 1991 and lower than that of females in rural areas by 8 per cent (Premi and Raju, 1994). It should also be noted that the per centage of male workers in the primary sector has declined between 1981 and 1991 and that of service sector has increased. But in case of female workers there has been a '1eminisation" of primary sector. Several explanations have been offered to analyse this phenomenon. First of all, the Green Revolution has created some opportunities for women in agriculture. Secondly, the growing middle class has withdrawn male children from work and is sending them to schools leaving behind the girl child to slog in the field. Finally, whenever development generates more lucrative job opportunities, the men workers try to grab it first. With regard to the female industrial work force we notice another feature. The National Sample Survey Organisation has detailed industries into 384 divisions. It is interesting to find that women workers concentrate only in a few industries such as rearing of poultry, manufacturing of beedies (indigenous coarse cigarettes), matches and cotton spinning etc. all in the low skill and low paid categories. (Gopalan, 1995)

Since the female literacy rate is low (39 per cent in 1991), the per centage of women employees in Central and State governments is much lower than that of men (the per centage being 7.50 and 34.91 respectively in 1990). (Gopalan,1995)

The gap between male and female wage rates show that for the same type of work women workers get lower rates vis- a-vis men workers. For example a male construction worker gets Rs. 31.58 per day but a female worker gets Rs.18.27 in a rural setting. The gap however, narrows down slightly in the urban area but it is still too glaring. (Gopalan, 1995). However, it is to be mentioned that different state governments have passed laws to give equal wage rates for men and women for doing similar kind of work. With regard to the impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes on Women's Work which was introduced in 1990, no systematic study has been done. But most of the women work in the unorganised sector. It is likely that in some cases their demand for certain specific activities such as electronic goods may increase. But in other cases they will be eased out first, if recession sets in the economy. More lucrative jobs will be taken up by men and market may perpetuate unequal status for women.

Thus we notice that the low status of women in the society gets reflected in low status of employment opportunities which gets reinforced by lack of land rights to women in India. In the next section we will see how have the Chinese women fared in so far as the economic empowerment is concerned.  

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China: Unlike Indian leaders who did not recognise the value of domestic work done by the women on the eve of the Independence in 1947, the Chinese leaders realised this value and championed the visibility of domestic work after 1949. This realisation led to the formulation of certain economic policies which enabled women to take part in the job market. Again since it was realised that women are the carriers of tradition and feudal values, the government not only formulated the policy but also implemented it with all sincerity.

As a result the share of female employment to total employment increased from 7 per cent in 1949 to 44 per cent in 1994 which is higher than the world average of 34.5 per cent (China's White Paper on Women, 1994). In other words 72.33 per cent of the total female population over the age group of 15 are employed in 1992.

So much so that the Human Development Report 1997 remarked in the context of feminisation of poverty that "China has made enormous progress in gender equality" vis-a-vis other developing countries. With these general remarks let us discuss the sectoral distribution of female employment as revealed by the statistics.

According to the While Paper on Women (1994), women are employed predominantly in "industry, agriculture, building, transport and communications, commerce, public health, education, party and government organs and social organisations". Even though it is quite vague in classifications the enumeration of these sectors indicate that women have access to almost all the fields. However, in so far as the nature of the job is concerned we find that women workers constitute only 34.4 per cent of the total persons employed in scientific and research job. Similarly the financial and insurance establishments employ 21.6 per cent female workers and the government establishments have 37 per cent of total jobs for women. (White Paper on Women 1994). We also have data on the per centage of female workers in soft sectors such as public health, sports and social welfare namely 50 per cent and in commercial consulting and other public service establishment it is 45 per cent (quoted in Agarwal, 1997).

The population census of 1990 also gives occupational breakups in terms of the above category. It is important to notice that the farm sector still employs the largest per centage of female workers namely 76 per cent which is higher than that of male workers by 7 per cent. Next in the order is the industry which employees 13 per cent women workers and 14 per cent of men workers. Industry as an occupational category however, is not defined clearly. Perhaps the township enterprises have been identified as industries which have been set up in the rural areas and out of a total of 100 million workers women workers constitute 40 per cent. According to some sources, the per centage of women workers to total workers is much higher in cer1ain industries namely food, clothing, knitwear, toy and electronic industries as well as the traditional handicraft sector (Agarwal, 1997).

In the cities also the women participation rate increased more than that of men in certain sectors namely, public health, sports, catering etc. between 1982 and 1990 {Agarwal, 1997). The data regarding the sectoral composition of work force was also given in the 1982 Census. A comparative analysis of two sets of figures shows that nothing much has changed in the span of eight years. The census authorities commented that the proportion of women working as heads in various government organisations in 1990 increased by one per cent point. However, men work force in this sector constituted 90 per cent of the total. (Women and Men in China 1990). With regard to the wage rate men and women workers are supposed to get the same wage rate for identical kind of work. But the White Paper of 199.1 notes that "due to current differences in cultural and professional composition, some real income gaps still exist between men and women". According to a survey conducted in 1990 it was revealed that women receive only 77.4 per cent of monthly income of men. In rural areas it is slightly higher i.e., 81 per cent of what their male counterparts get.

It is time now to focus on the impact of Structural Adjustment on Women. As a result of increasing private investment more women than men have become unemployed. In some places the private companies refuse to employ women on the ground that they have to be given maternity leave. The women are also encouraged to retire at the age of forty five (Rai, 1994). It is also interesting to note the comments of China Association for Labour Studies (1995) on the new trend of women's employment in the wake of Structural Adjustment Programme. The Association observes: "Guidance has been provided to enable women, in light of the industrial restructuring to shift to the tertiary sectors both suitable for women in terms of their physical chalacteristics and favourable to bring their advantages into play" (italics are mine) It is worth commenting that the so-called anti-patriarchal state has brought the element of femininity to characterise their economic activities.

Similarly with respect to poverty also the Human Development Report 1997 observed that women in China constitute the bulk of the poor. More than 80 per cent of dropout children in 1990 were girls and the number of illiterate women was twice as much as illiterate men. In addition women in China are deprived of land rights also. Thus it is noticed that on the labour market front women's role is more visible and acknowledged also compared to that of India. But the patriarchal notion of femininity being suitable to only specific activities is becoming more evident in the wake of the market intervention.

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Both China and India situated on both sides of the Himalayas have experienced centuries old civilisations with underlying partriarchal ideas. The present century witnessed two catalytic events in India and China which tried to involve women in the mainstream. In India however, the post-independent government did not make sustained effort to visibly enhance women's contribution. As a result, after the freedom movement was over women were still treated as second class citizens. Even after the anti-dowry laws were passed the incidence of dowry death has still been on the increase. Son-preference, has still dominated the Indian psyche. Women are still discriminated against with regard to access to food and health care. The sex ratio over the years has increased and reached the highest point of 107 in 1991. Similarly the low status of women and girl child got reflected through low literacy rate.

In India, the reality of the low social status of women, evidently prevents their work from getting its due value. The total work participation rate of females in 1991 is only 22.27. In rural areas it is slightly higher namely 26.79 than the total rate. Sectoral distribution indicated that 95 per cent of the female workers are concentrated in agriculture although the service sector also absorbed more women than the manufacturing sector which is the least women-friendly. As expected the wage rates for equal amount of work are not the same for males and females. But one positive thing has occurred in India namely women's movement which started in 1975. It not only has changed the academic curriculum at the university level, but also has influenced the policy perspective of the government leading to 33 per cent seat reservations in the local level political institutions along with other things. This in turn has brought about one million women to public life for the first time.

In contrast to the Indian situation, the political revolution of 1949 in China created situations in which the social and economic roles of women were much sought after. The leadership's resort to breaking the feudal values created a frontal attack on the bastion of such values namely, the family. As a result, grudgingly though, the patriarchal regime conceded some ground. The Marriage Law of 1950 was passed which raised the age of marriage and put emphasis on the mother's and child's health. The maternal mortality declined. Literacy increased. Women's participation in economic activities increased considerably.

Like the nine lives of the cat, the patriarchal regime bounced back after the reforms had started. Women could not get out of the agricultural sector and made only a modest gain in the service sector. Because of the one child policy female infanticide particularly in the rural areas have started reappearing. Women workers are most vulnerable to retrenchment. They do not enjoy equal pay for equal work. Their retirement age is lower than that of men though their life expectancy is higher than men by four to five years.

Unlike India, the interventions through women's movement started very late i.e., after 1990 though the oldest women's organisation (All China Women's Federation) came into being in 1949. After 1990, the women study centres have been set up in different universities and have taken up the gender issues more actively. Thus we find the status of Chinese women better than that of Indian women though both the sister countries have to take long journey before they reach the goal of equality and justice.

Table 1: Some Basic Statistics Showing Female Capabilities

In India and China 1990 and 1991

India (1991)          China (1990)

1. Sex Ratio females per thousand males                                    93                              94

2. Adult literary rate                                                                    36.1                           68

3. Life expectancy at birth (years)                                                59                              71

4. Total Fertility rate                                                                   3.6                             2.0

5. Births attended by trained health personnel (rates)                    34                              84

6. Pregnant women aged 15-49 with anaemias (1975-91)               88.                             n.a.

7. Maternal Mortality per 100,000 live births                                  570                            95

 Sources:         1. Richard Jolly (1997) Human Development Report (Oxford University Press, New Delhi).

2. J. Dreze and A. Sen (1995) India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity. (Oxford University Press Delhi).

Table 2: Women and Political and Economic Participation

India arid China in 1990 and 1991


                                                                                                India                 China

*1. Gender Empowerment measure rank {GEM)                            86.0                  28.0

2. Approximate Earned income share {per cent)                            25.7                  38.1

3. Labour force as per centage of total

population (15 and above age group)                                            31.0                  45.0

4. Farming, forestry, animal husbandry etc.                                  81.0                  76.0

5. Industry                                                                                 8.0                    13.0

6. Tertiary                                                                                  10.8                  11.0



*Gender empowerment measure rank is calculated taking women parliamentarians, administrators and managers, professional and technical workers and earned income share. So lower the value higher the rank. However if we include the women in politics at the grassroots level with 33.3 per cent reservation, the rank of India's GEM will increase.


Source:      1. Human Development Report, 1997

                  2. M.K. Phemi and S. Raju {1994) Gender in work force participation in the 1991 in India. Submitted to UNIFEM (Unpublished).

                  3. Department of Social Science and Technology Statistics State Statistical Bureau {1995) Women and Men in China: Facts and Figures {Statistical Bureau, PRC Beijing).

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China Association for Labour Studies (1995). Woman and Employment in China. (Beijing).

Chinese Government's White Paper on Women {1994). Reproduced in China Report {1994) 30: 4.

Das Gupta, Monica Jiang Zhenghua Xie Zhenmlng L, Bohua (1997) "The status of Girls in China: in 231d IUSSP General Populalion Conference Symposium on Demography of China, China Population Associabon Beijing, 1997.

Dreze, Jean and Sen, Amartya (1995). India Economic and Social Development (Oxford, University Press Delhi" Government 01 India (1995) Country Report prepared on tile eve of Fourth World Congress of women, Beijing (Department of Woman and Child Development New Delhi"

Gopalan, Sarala. Women and Employment in India, Har-Anand Publications, Delhi 1995.

Gulati, L and Rajan, l 'Gender issue in work force pa",clpat"n on Kerala' unpublished state report for IASP -UNIFEM Project on Gender Issues in 1991 Census Thiruvananthapuram CDs 1993.

Jolly, Richard, Human Development Report Oxford University Press, New York 1997.

Kynch Jocelyn, and Sen Amrtya 'Indian Women Well-being and Survival", Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol. 7, 1983.

Li, Chen9nJi, A study of Chinas population, Foreign Lan9uages Press Beijing, 1992.

Lin Fude and Liu Jintang 'Chinas Fertility Transition and tile Prospect of Population Situation' 1997 in 23rd IUSSP General Population Conference, Symposium on Demography of China, China Populatlion Association, Beijing, 1997.

Mohanty, Bldyut 'Women and Panchayati Raj and Seventy Third Amendment Act', Economic and Political Weekly, Vol52 1995.

Murthy Mamta Guio Anne Catilerine and Dreze, Jean 'Mortally Fertility and Gender Bias in India A district level analysis' in Sen, A and Dreze J (ed) Indian Development Selected Regional Perspective, Oxford University Press Delhi,1997.

Premi, MK and Raju, Saraswab (1994) Gender issues in work force participation in the 1991 Census in India A repo" submitled to UNIFEM (Unpublished).

Raju, S and Pre.;, MK 'Decline in Sex Ratio: Alterative Explanation Reexamined", Economic and Political Weekly, April 2S, 1992.

Rai, S 'Gender Issues in China A Survery", China Report, Vol 30, No 4, 1994.

Ritu Agarwal, Gender Justice and Economic Reforms In India and China A Study of the Country Papers Presented at the Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing, M phil Thesis submitted to Delhi University (unpublished" 1997.

Sha, Jicai and Xiong Yu 'An Analysis on Family status 01 Contemporary Chinese Women\ in Symposum, 1997.

State Statistical Bureau Women and Men in China facts and figures China Statistical publishing House, Beijing 1995.

1. The birth rituals relating to male child are different from that of female child. Similarly in traditional marriages, girls have to sacrifice symbolically their maiden identity. There are of course regional variations namely the southern regions wanted to eliminate the supremacy of Brahminism. However, in so far as the practice of dowry is concerned even these states have allowed the practice very conveniently. Again women in South India in general, and those of Kerala in particular, have some links with land and their social status is relatively good vis-a-vis their North Indian sisters.

2. In the state of Kerala on the other hand 92 per cent of the deliveries take place in the medical institutions in 1991 {Dreze and Sen, 1995).

3. It is interesting to note that one of the Indian states namely Kerala has achieved a spectacular result in terms of female literacy. About 86 per cent of the females {7 and above) are literate according to 1991 census.

4. In the respect of life expectancy also Kerala is well ahead of China i.e., 74.4 in 1990.

5. Dreze and Sen {1995) on the other hand, have reported that the total fertility rate is 2 and Kerala has still lower rate compared to China (1.8).

6. Kerala which has done superbly well on the literacy front has recorded very low work particpation rate of females in 1991. This can partly be explained by the presence of Gulf money sent by the male migrants. Other factors could be deliberate concealment of the work status for getting unemployment dole, and demographic transition etc. {Premi and Raju, 1994).

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1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

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