This book focuses on the economic activities of Khasi women, a matrilineal tribe in North-East India. As an informal group of the market economy, Khasi women are engaged in diverse forms of income-generating activities, ranging from agriculture and commerce to contractual services in the tertiary sector. However, women’s contribution to the economy remains a largely neglected area, both in research as well as in policy, not only in North-East India, but also nationally and internationally. What accounts for this general indifference to the economic role of women is one of the issues addressed in this book.
The central issue, however, revolves around the question of why, despite the substantial time and energy Khasi women invest in their business, many continue to stagnate, and why some, after acquiring some measure of success, slide into oblivion.
The author adopts an integrated approach, and through her analysis reveals that women’s entrepreneurial growth is not only severely constrained by a biased gender ideology but also by the general apathy and inefficiency of the state machinery. An important point that emerged from the data is the close interplay between women’s work, gender ideology and the system of kinship and marriage (matriliny), with the state reinforcing the relationships between the three.
TIPLUT NONGBRI was a Professor of Sociology at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She was the founding Director of the North East India Studies Programme at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and has also taught at the North Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Her publications include Development, Ethnicity and Gender: Select Essays on Tribes in India (2003), Development, Masculinity and Christianity: Essays and Verses from India’s North East (2014), and she is the co-author of Migration, Identity and Conflict: Lived Experiences of Northeasteners in Delhi (2017).