chapter  8
14 Pages

Indian Modernity and the Diaspora, a Civilizational Discourse

Indian modernity is not exclusively a product of westernization. Tarabai Shinde, the veteran social worker of early twentieth century Maharashtra, tells us about the dress code for women and men in her times (O’Hanlon 1994). While the women always wore saris, the men took to wearing shirts and trousers while going out to work. Tarabai told her husband in no uncertain terms that he would not be served food at home unless he changed into the traditional dhoti. Tarabai Shinde was a modern Indian woman though obviously not a westernized one. Another woman, even more unfamiliar with the English language and with English ways was the Bengali novelist and Jnanapitha award winner Ashapurna Devi, who wrote a trilogy about three generations of women in a Bengali family where the mother of a maiden turns against her own mother’s wish to arrange a match for her granddaughter at a young age before she had completed her secondary education. These were precisely the kind of opportunities that had been denied to her (the mother) when she was married.