For the longest time the Indian Muslim woman had evaded the collective imagination of male reformists in Colonial India. She had remained absent from the political consciousness of a people enthusiastically aspiring to redefine itself as a nation in the wake of a deep sense of cultural anxiety. The obsessive preoccupation with the construction of the ‘motherland’ was fundamentally a desire to generate the figure of a Hindu Motherland. In the mindscape of colonial India, struggling to be free, both politically and culturally, the Muslim woman was consigned the space of the ‘other’, forever silent and obscure. This paper critically examines the experiences of Indian Muslim women and their negotiation with ideas of Indian womanhood against the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance. The paper is divided into two sections. Section one historically contextualizes the generation of the model of the New Indian (Hindu) Woman in nineteenth century colonial Bengal. Section two records the plight of the Muslim woman as she struggled to plant herself firmly within the political present of a nation that persistently relegated her to the background. In order to aid a detailed understanding of the same I would briefly explore the novel Padmarag (1926) by Begum Rokeya.
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