Women have been glorified in Indian literature and in sculpture and painting, but the reality seems to have been otherwise.In modern times, the complacency that arose from having a woman in the highest office of the land was shattered by the 1974 Government report on the status of India's women.
Investigating female infanticide in ''No More Little Girls,'' she views the practice ''not as the act of monsters in a barbarian society but as the last resort of impoverished, uneducated women driven to do what they thought was best for themselves and their families.'' The essay entitled ''Indira Is India, and India Is Indira'' raises the question why Mrs. The final essay, on the failure of population control in India, lays the blame largely on the debased status of women and a family's overwhelming desire for sons.Bumiller spent time in an Indian village as the guest of a farmer's wife.India is a country of paradoxes, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the status of women.The report, ''Toward Equality,'' revealed that in many ways conditions for women had actually regressed since independence.It was the catalyst for an Indian women's movement, which, like the feminist movement in the United States, was founded by the elite.
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A believer in the Indian concept of rebirth would surmise that Elisabeth Bumiller had indeed been an Indian woman in her previous birth, so deep is her empathy with India and so pervasive the humanity that emerges from her book on India's women.