In the rapidly changing world, ideologies are giving way to practical economics, business sense and market compulsions. World economies are converging into a global village economy. Rapid technological progress in communication and transport sectors, have made movements of goods, services, capital, professional and workers extremely fast. National economic reforms are guided by the global economic order defined by the world capitalism.
Women and Structural Adjustment in India
In response to a mounting burden of debt leading to a balance of payment crisis, the Government of India (GOI) adopted a structural adjustment programme (SAP) in 1991 officially declared as New Economic Policy. It included reductions in public investment, devaluation, cutting food and fertilizers subsidies, dismantling of public distribution system, the reduction of budgetary provision for developmental planning/social sector, capital intensive and 'high-tech' productive activities, economies in government expenditure, an increase in the bank rate, insurance charges and rail tariffs. Simply put, the policy aimed at capital, energy and import-intensive growth with the help of 4 "Ds" - devaluation, deregulation, deflation and denationalisation. The mainstream economists call this process as “economic reforms”.
This policy has intensified the processes pursued in the last decade and a half (mainly in the post-emergency period), as a result of a new international division of labour between the advanced capitalist economies and the post-colonial economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America as per Washington consensus in 1992. The national and multinational corporations in the USA and Europe realized that the best way to reduce the wage-bill and to enhance profit rates was to move industrial plants to poorer countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, etc. The cheap labour of 'docile', 'nimble fingered' and 'flexible' Asian women from the rural hinterlands -the last colony was found to be most attractive step to enhance profit margins. This policy was given the appealing title of 'Integration of Women in Development.'
The new strategy of 'Integration of Women into Development' meant in most cases getting women to work in some income-generating activities, integrating women into market oriented production and thus integrating women into the world market economy. It was not meant that women should expand their subsistence production and produce more for their consumption - for their own food and their clothes. Income-generation in this approach meant money income. Money income could be generated only if women could produce something, which could be sold. People who could buy these products belong to the upper strata of economic hierarchy.