India ranks near the bottom of 149 countries for gender equality. The media is filled with frequent reports of terrible violence against women in India, and the number of women in the workforce – already very low – is declining.
And yet, India’s political history counts several powerful women, and two female heads of state. How can a country that is routinely dismissive of its women, diminishing and threatening them in the private sphere, be so comfortable with this kind of female power?
This article has an intriguing theory: the key may lie in India’s worship of goddesses in Hindu mythology.
“These women [high-powered female politicians] have been able to develop a sort of cult of personality, becoming goddess-like figures. They are taken out of the day-to-day dynamics, almost like deities.”— Milan Vaishnav, the director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in South Asia