For three years in the early seventies women, young and old, homeworkers and factory workers, from different castes and classes, came together in Bombay to wage a sustained battle against rising prices. The Anti-Price Rise Movement (APRM) took even the leaders of socialist and communist parties—of which many of the women were a part—by surprise. People hailed the movement as ‘the new women’s movement’, the media gave the protesting women and their chose symbols—the rolling pin, the kerosene tin, the kitchen ladle—wide coverage. Spearheading the action, the Mahangai Pratikar Samyukt Mahila Samiti, a joint front of women from different political groups, led raids on traders, inspected ration shops, fought to have hoarded goods released. In 1975, the declaration of a State of Emergency brought this enormously vibrant movement to an abrupt halt.
This book traces the nature of women’s political participation and militancy in the APRM, and relates it to their everyday experiences within the context of the broader political scene in India in the 1970s. It documents the movement and examines its genesis, its forms of protest, its structure and methods of organisation and raises key issues about our understanding of particular movements and their relevance to political practice.
NANDITA GANDHI is a journalist, activist researcher, and co-founder of Akshara Centre, a Mumbai based non-profit organization working for women’s empowerment. She has a Masters degree from Mumbai University, and holds a Phd in Social Science from the University of Amsterdam. She has been involved in the women’s movement in India since the 1980s, and is a core group member of South Asian Network of Gender Trainers. Her other publications include the co-authored volume The Issues at Stake: Theory and Practice in the Contemporary Women’s Movement in India (1991).