Women, in India, are perceived as ‘Shakti Rupena’ and worshipped as Goddesses since time immemorial. The ancient Indian scriptures give a platonic idea of women who are no less than reincarnated divine beings. Women were not only treated equal to men but were extremely free in the society as well. They were allowed to study Shastras (Weapons) as well as Saastras (scriptures). From Shastra Gyana to diplomacy and horse-riding to swordsmanship, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men in every field. During Vedic times, women were allowed to wear the Sacred Thread (Janev) so that they could perform the duties of a priestess. Brahmavadinis were the women who devoted their lives to studies of Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures that shows that we had many women scholars in the ancient times. Gargi, Maitreyee, Apala, Lopamudra were the prominent Vidhushis during the ancient times of India.
It was during the medieval age only that the status of Indian women was completely toppled. It happened mainly due to the influences that Indians derived from orthodox and fundamentalist religions once they arrived in India. In ancient India though, the body of a woman was seen as an aesthetic inspiration. The caves of Ajanta, Ellora celebrated the beauty of human bodies to its fullest. But in medieval ages, men started oppressing women by snatching all her rights, be it her right from her body, to her right to take decisions about her life, everything was just snatched. Indians, being highly influenced by Abrahamic religions, started to preach about morality and decency; thus, women started witnessing degradation of their quality of lives. People started looking at the woman body either as something that needs to be covered from tip to toe or a lump of muscles that quenches bodily thirst.
Marriages stooped to reciprocation of commodities from the platonic idea of exchanging hearts, and women became a mere part of those commodities by now. The sacrosanct idea of marriage remained in scriptures only. Thousands of regressive customs were made part of day-to-day life. Every single custom introduced was an insult to womanhood. Women were stopped from getting basic education, they remain illiterate and oblivion of the outside world. Child marriage, polyandry, veil system, dowry, illiteracy, forceful marriage, all evil systems that a reasonable and prudent person can imagine, were introduced to our society and the lives of women were made miserable; unbearable.
Indian women lost their pride and freedom in a drastic manner, revival of which seemed to be a really tough job until Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. Women are slowly regaining their status as they had in the ancient days.
From providing education schemes, skill development trainings, business loans, Law-making to providing help to women is distress, working women, financially deprived women, the Government led by Mr. Modi spread their lights to each and every aspect of a woman’s life to drag them up from the level they have been pushed down to.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Andolan, one of the most successful schemes of the Modi Govt. aims at providing education to all female child and also eradicating uneven male-female sex ratio. STEP or Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) scheme, although introduced in the year of 1987-1988, gained in traction after 2014 only. PM Modi led Government of India through National Skill Development Corporation, and its training partners such as Mann Deshi Foundation, Shri Mahila Sewa Sahkari Bank Limited and Sri Sarada Math Rasik Bhita are working exclusively on skill development of women, especially in rural areas. The training includes imparting digital, accounting and entrepreneurial skills so as to widening the possibility of setting up their own business. NSDC in collaboration with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, is also driving skill development of workers for Swachh Bharat Mission and has roles such as mason training for twin pit toilets and cow dung gas (bio fuel), which has seen encouraging participation from women. Under Pradhan Mantri Mahila Kaushal Kendra (PMMKK) scheme more than 6000 women have been trained for Self Employed Tailor, Beauty Therapist, Customer Care Executive, Hair Stylist, Yoga Trainer etc.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Scheme, underprivileged women, especially from rural areas, are supported with free Gas Cylinders. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is also a very successful scheme providing easy loans to women entrepreneurs. Apart from Mudra Yojna, Stand Up India and Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme are the schemes specially designed to help women in setting up their own business.
National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), Pradhan Mantri Vyay Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) and Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), Sabla aims at supporting women and girls who are socially insecure, the initiatives like Samagra Shiksha, Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship, Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojna, Swacch Vidyalaya Mission, etc. ensure that schools are girl-friendly especially for underprivileged sections of the society and have adequate facilities in place to fulfil their needs that involves extra care.
The aforementioned Schemes are mainly for women in general and for financially underprivileged women. Nevertheless, the Modi led Govt formed schemes to help women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence to lift them up from the abyss of the society and start living in the streamline again. Women Helpline and One Stop Centres (OSCs) are one of those noble initiatives taken by the Modi Govt.
A successful Government is not the one that focuses only on the underprivileges but also gives ample opportunity and resources to the well-educated sections of the society. The Modi Govt has not only highlighted women empowerment but has taken the already empowered women to the limelight, it shows the farsightedness of a government. Women are given power at every important sector, from executive to legislative to judiciary, all three pillars are seeing important roles played by eligible and empowered women. Smt. Draupadi Murmu is the first woman President of India who hails from a tribal background. India right now has 9 women Ministers (2 cabinet ministers) to glorify its name.
In a historic moment, the Indian Parliament passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam that secures 33% reservation for women in the Parliament for equal representation of women in the Indian politics which will encourage more women from every corner of the country to take an active interest in politics. All Indian women hail this movement of the Modi Govt to the core of their hearts and generations to come will remember this reservation as an act of upholding womanhood, politically, socially and economically, to its peak.
That judiciary is also not behind in the era of Modi when it comes to women empowerment. Hon’ble Miss Justice B.V. Nagarathna was elevated to the Supreme Court of India in 2021 and she will grace the nation as the First woman Chief Justice of India in history. India has seen five female Judges in the Supreme Court of India in 2021 which is the highest number of women in the Supreme Court the nation has witnessed till date. From Judges to Additional Solicitor Generals of India, women can be seen to be successfully doing justice to all these roles.
To sum up, it can be said that what women had in ancient times are being given back slowly to them by the Govt led by Shri Narendra Modi ji. Women have been given so many opportunities in so many sectors in the current regime that it cannot be added all in a mere article. It is hoped and wished that the Bharatiya Naris under the aegis of PM Narendra Modi will take their Bharat to a height that the world never imagined.