chapter  7
India
Pages 38

Since gaining independence from British rule on 14 August 1947, the Indian state has been extremely reluctant to incorporate international norms of sexual non-discrimination. In fact, in recent years, the state has been increasingly loath to do so. The most significant impediment to norm diffusion has been the gender-biased corporate identity of the state, which was politically and judicially reconstituted in the post-independence period as an implicitly communalist nation in which women are subordinate to various religious communities within the state. For although independent India was established as a secular state, successive Indian governments have given precedence to systems of personal law based on Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Parsi religious norms over other legal provisions that might have some bearing on the provisions of personal law. Also, in the post-independence period, government public policy-making was based on the notion of women as supplicants in need of the protection of the state. This imbued the corporate identity of the state with a paternalistic aspect. In recent years, the Indian government has tacitly sought to establish the supremacy of Hinduism and create a Hindu state predicated on asymmetric gender relations in both the familial and the social contexts. The deeply paternalistic and increasingly communalist corporate identity of the state has effectively prevented the diffusion of international norms of sexual non-discrimination.