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Urvashi Butalia

Urvashi Butalia

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Published by: Anindya Bhattacharya on Jul 02, 2012
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The
Gendered India
FEM
INI
SM
AND
THE
I
NDIAN GENDER
REALITY
Ed. Arnab Bhattacharya
To
cite this article:
(MLA)
Significant Moves:Urvashi Butalia's Contributionto
the
Women's Movementin India
Anindya BhattacharyaUniversity
B.T.
&
Evening College,North Bengal University
Bhattacharya, Anindya. "Significant Moves: Urvashi Butalia's Contribution to the Women'sMovement in India."
The Gendered India: Feminism and the Indian Gender Reality.
Ed.Arnab Bhattacharya. Kolkata: Books Way,
2012.
141-157.
Print.PLEASE
SCROLL
DOWN FOR ARTICLEThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sublicensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that
the
contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, for-mulae etc. should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not beliable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use ofthis material.
 
Significant
Moves:
Urvashi
Butalia's Contribution
to
the
Women's
Movement
in
India
Anindya Bhattacharya
It
was
insuchanenvironmentandpolitical climate, andwith similarconcerns, that we began
Kali for
I%mm
in
1984. We seeourselves
as
located
somewhere
between
the
women's
movement and women's studies, very
much
a creation
of
both.(Menon 2000:292)
Urvashi Butalia
is
a well-known figure
in
the women's studies movementin India.
In
1984, she
joined
hands
with
Ritu
Menon
to
launch
Kali
for
U1>men,
the first major feminist press
in
India.
As
publisherandauthor,she
has
publishedanimpressive n\lffiber
of
seminal texts that
now
areindispensible
in
any women's studies booklist.
Though
her
partnership
with
Menon
broke
in
2002, she continues to
run
Zubaan,
her own
imprint
that
is
still significantly active.This articletries
to
explore the key roles Butalia played in the
beginning
of
the
1980s, an extremely critical
juncture
for women'smovement
in
India; and also
her
contribution
to
women's studies
as
the
author
of
the groundbreaking text
TI,e
Other
Side
of
Silence
(1998) whereshe merges activism
and
research and shows
how one
canattemptacritique
of
sociopoliticaland religious issues
froma
feministstandpoint.
Women
in
Print
Movement:
UrvashiButalia
and
the
Birth
of
the
Feminist
Press
in
India
In the early 1980s women's movement in India probably experiencedits most exhilarating and stimulating stretch, promising
new
breakthroughsanddevelopments.
Ritu
Menon
is
overwhelmed
with nostalgia
when
sheremembers
the
first International Feminist
Book
Fair (IFBF) inLondon, 1984. Feministauthors andpublishers from
all
over the worldgathered
to
know
each
other
better,andcome closer:
Alice Walker,ToniCadeBambara,Buchi Emechcta,Fatima
 
42
The
Gendered
India:
Feminism
and
the
Indian Gender
Reality
Mernissi:Nawal
el
Saadawi
andAlifaRifat,Barbara Smidl;Ellen Kuzwayo, Gert Brandenberg, Suniti Namjoshi and MadhuKishwar-writers, publishers, and activists representing theimpressive energy and potential
of
ilie internationalwomen's
movement~were
there for
all
to see
at
Covent Garden,producing the knowledge and providing the perspective thatwould transform the world.
(Dismalltling 289)
Asa discipline, Women's Studies was a
new
entrant
in
internatio
n
al
academic scene
and
feminist press was an unpromising enterprise
dri
ve
nby
pure
love and devoted
labour
of
activists
and
the meagre funds they
co
uld manage
to
putinto
it. Mainstream press (dubbed 'malestream'
by
fe
minists) considered this
too
risky a venture
and
too
specialised anarea
to
be profitably
brought
out
in
print
.
It
was plain thataprofit-driven mainstream press
would
not bother
to
publish books
on
women's issuesorthose
informed
by a feminist perspective. However, "Feminist publishing. ..
came
about
as
a
consequence
of
the
women's movement,
and
insolidarity
with
it,"
Menon
remarks, "Resistance was its
raison
d'etre"
(291
).
Most
of
the
feminist writers have
been
activists,
writingpart-time
to
bringabout
a change in public
opinion and
policy-making.
In the
mid
1980s, time was
ripe
for a feminist
p~ss.
Urvashi Butalia
partnered
with
Ritu Menon
to
set
up
Kali for
l#men,
th~
publishingenterprise that
would
give a massive
support
to
the women's
movementin
India.
The
devaluation
of
the Indian
currency
vis-a-vis
the
dollar andthe
Pound
resulted
in
a
growth
of
indigenous publishing houses
and
alsoachange
of
taste towards local issues
and
indigenous talent.
As
Butaliarecounts
in
an article,
Always
a large--and economically stable--market
for
importedbooks, the Indian market began to changealitde
as
the value
of
the rupee went down and the imported book (that cameinmainly
from
the USAandthe
UK)
became more expensive
to
bring in. The beginnings
of
market resistance to high prices
of
imported booksset somepublishers thinkingaboutthe possibility
of
developinga
local
publishing industry ...
(Other
Tongues
108)
Peminist
writingtook
advantage
of
this favourable
market
conditions
!l
ndsought
to
establish itself firmly.
As
a small,
independent
publishing
hOl1se,
Kali
for
l#men
concentrated
on
publishing books and pamphlets
Oil
Indian women'sissues. To
quote
Butalia again:
Years
ago,
when
we
started
Kalifor
f.1iOmell,
India's
fir
st
feminist
p~
lbJishillg
house,
we
h
ad
several
things
in
mind.Thewomen's

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