Cultural Trauma and Welfare for War Widows in India

Original scientific paper

Jyoti Atwal ; Jawaharlal Nehru University

Fulltext: english, pdf (274 KB) pages 52-73 cite

Abstracts
This article explores “connected” and “extended” cultural traumas in order to identify certain issues which dominated pensions of the war widows throughout twentieth century India. Nearly two million Indian men were recruited into the British army during the two World Wars. Despite the fact that notions of race and physical fitness of the Indian men in the war dominated this colonial relationship, about 22,000 Indian widows were receiving a pension by the end of the Second World War. At one level, it was the articulation of the shared cultural trauma by the Indian and British war widows which led the colonial state to adopt a special sense of duty to look after the welfare of the war widows and soldiers’ dependents in India. As opposed to their Western counterparts, Indian widows in general face a wider set of challenges over the years after the husband’s death. The Indian widow was initiated into an extended cultural trauma structured by intersectionality, i.e. religion, customary laws, caste and, most importantly, the question of remarriage. In present day India, widows/dependents of the World Wars are not treated on par with widows/dependents of the soldiers/officers who died fighting the wars in 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 with China and Pakistan respectively. This is based on the state-driven parameters of nationhood – that the former are the Empire’s widows and the latter are widows of the Nation. This paper gives several examples of court cases filed by the widows themselves to show evidence of their trauma.

Keywords
Cultural Trauma; War Widows; British Empire; Indian Nation; Remarriage

Hrčak ID: 183300

URI
http://hrcak.srce.hr/183300

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