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Indian Women and Knowledge Economy

Knowledge economy has significant contribution to economic growth and development society in each nation throughout the globe. Today’s slogan is knowledge-based economy for knowledge-based society. But the gender disparity in knowledge economy is the most challenging issue so far as sharing of space for the woman is concerned. Gender neutrality is a major step to narrow the gender gap. There is the need of action for gender priority and gender opportunity.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s economists and management experts raised its role in economic growth and society. It was popularized by Peter Drucker in 1969. Cortada(1998) defined knowledge as “any human (or human-induced activity) effectively designed to create, alter or confirm in a human mind – one’s own or anyone else’s- a meaningful appreciation, awareness, cognizance or consciousness.” Michael Polanyi(1958, 1966) in his critique of positivism, explored the personal and emotional dimension of knowledge creation. According to Polanyi, there are two types of knowledge-(i) “codified knowledge “(‘a rule based knowledge that can be written down and stored’), and (ii) “tacit knowledge”(‘ which is acquired on the job and resides with the individual as know-how and experience’). The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED, 2002)proposed a generic definition of the knowledge economy in developing national strategies for individual countries :

        “( A knowledge economy) is one that encourages its organizations and people to acquire, create,        disseminate and use codified and tacit knowledge more effectively for greater economic and social development.’ Furthermore, Brinkley(2006) defines, ‘the knowledge economy is what you get when firms bring together powerful computers and well-educated minds to create wealth’

 In India women in science are victims of gender stereotypesness and gender disparity. Their participation is very poor at the age of science and technological revolution in comparison with their male counterparts because of various difficulties of opportunities – (i) lack access of the informal network, (ii) lack of work experience, (iii) long working hours, and (iv) prioritization of ‘live to work’. These are more masculine in nature. Unempathetic culture for a woman is a barrier to their advancement. A study showed that 73% of women left their job because of limited opportunities (which are particularly better training and promotion opportunities), while only 3% left their job due to their family responsibilities.

About 50% of them were victims of gender bias. Here in India, women have to face the problem of absence of employee-friendly policies, flexi-work hours, work-from-home. In addition to the above, it has been recorded that the nature of the job for women is mostly part-time with less pay. In spite of the above difficulties, Indian women in the knowledge economy (particularly in tech jobs) have been brought an economic and social transformation in society. They have established their competency, smartness and hard work, successfully in the global economy. Their influential contribution has created a new Indian culture in the economy. Their identification has been replaced in a global cultural and political landscape as a “new” transnational class.

Knowledge economy needs a gender balanced workforce. The gender imbalance in science and technology are the prime hindrance of achieving the India’s goal of a 5 trillion economy or superpower economy.

COVID pandemic has changed all social, economic, cultural and other related equations deserved by the advanced society. Enhancement of knowledge economy would be the best alternative of the revival of India’s economic growth and development. India should come out from its patriarchal dominance against women. They need sincere attention and scope to adjudge and apply their knowledge for the nation in varied scientific fields. Hindutva can never deny and ignore that women are ‘shakti’ (energy/power) in one hand and in the other they are ‘prakiti’ (nature). Ultimately they are the symbol of all creation and its protection.  Unfortunately, women/girls of various backgrounds reported are facing violence in their home and workplace variously during this pandemic crisis. Many of them have lost their jobs (earning source).

This unexpected environment pushes them into a fatal condition. Particularly, when they are the sole bread earner of their family in trouble. Their effort to come out from patriarchal dominance and dependence have been jeopardized. As a consequence of this, their liberty and justice are  further violated. Therefore, society has to bear its cost. Progress and development of a society are always determined by the status and place of women in that society. There is now a time to protect the women in the knowledge economy and scope should be widened for their enhancement.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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