Madhu Kishwar

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Madhu Kishwar
Madhu Kishwar01.jpg
Alma materDelhi University,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
OccupationProfessor, Activist, Author
OrganizationCentre for the Study of Developing Societies

Madhu Purnima Kishwar is an Indian academic and a conservative commentator.[1][2][3][4] She is currently employed as a chair Professor in the Indian Council of Social Science Research. Kishwar along with fellow-academic Ruth Vanita have been regarded as pioneer scholars of women's studies in India; they were the founder editors of the critically acclaimed journal - Manushi.

Whilst her earlier work in the domain were quite favorably received by the academia and fellow activists, her reputation was considerably affected post the '90s, once she began to increasingly embrace the growing support for Hindutva.[a]

She has been awarded the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediaperson in 1985.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Kishwar graduated from Miranda House in Delhi,[7] where she was the President of the Student's Union.[8] She received her postgraduate degree in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.[8]


She was a professor and a senior fellow[7] at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS),[9] until retiring in 2016.[10] Post her retirement, she asserted the institution of being a chaotic fiefdom of the chosen few and alleged the higher echelons of CSDS to be ideologically biased towards left, who treated her unfairly for years due to ideological differences, and supposedly, even robbed her of a legitimate government awarded scholarship.[11][10] The institute rejected the allegations, en masse.[11][10]

She then joined the Indian Council of Social Science Research as the Maulana Azad Professor.[7] In 2017, she was appointed to the Academic Council of the School of Art and Aesthetics of Jawaharlal Nehru University.[12] The appointment was perceived to be politically motivated with her domain-expertise being questioned and students protested in large numbers.[13][14][15][12] Kishwar rejected the charges, describing them as whining of the leftist intellectuals, who were losing their clout.

Manushi and feminism[edit]

Kishwar, along with Ruth Vanita, were the founding-editors of Manushi,[2][9] a highly acclaimed journal in the domain of women's studies in India.[7][16] Established to bridge the gap between academic discourse and popular activism by raising awareness of gender inequalities through ground-activism, it has been one of the longest-running and most-influential women's periodicals in South Asia to the extent of being heavily instrumental in setting the agenda for women-right-movements.[17] Manushi has been described by Amartya Sen as "a pioneering feminist journal".[18] Her books and miscellaneous writings in the topic area have been also quite favorably received.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

Notably, Kishwar does not self-identify as a feminist.[29][30] Kishwar's (self-proclaimed) reasons behind the disapproval of feminism aligns with that of the postcolonial feminist theory - perceiving liberal feminism as a monolithic western entity which discounts indigenous ways of life and actively incorporates a western framework.[17]

Anita Anantharam, an associate professor of Women's Studies at University of Florida, writing over Feminist Media Studies in 2009, deems Kishwar to subscribe to a brand of aggressively nationalist feminism that takes a highly holistic view of the local society, culture and traditions.[17] She notes that as the editorial board of Manushi thinned out over the years for varied reasons and the journal came under near-absolute stewardship of Kishwar, it chose to embrace the contemporaneous rise of the right-wing-nationalism through the realms of Hindutva.[17][31] This led to the introduction of religious and communal discourses into a hitherto secular and non-polarized space which vocally urged for a return to a golden atavistic past and amplified the "hierarchies of "East" versus "West", Indian womanhood versus western feminism, and Hindu versus Muslim identity" from the lenses of religion and ethno-nationalism.[17][b]

Kishwar has since criticized her fellow feminists urging for laws to prohibit the Hindu practice of Sati, instead focusing on the potential hampering of freedom to undergo death by a means of their choice and the implications of a secular state trying to regulate religious customs; she had also attacked other avenues of feminist activism from anti-dowry legislation to purported abolition of khaps and introduction of female quota bills, from within the Hindu way of life, arguing for a more nuanced and cultural approach, if at all.[17][33][34][35] Her views have been challenged and rejected by numerous other feminists.[35]

She was also one of the fiercest critics of the highly acclaimed film Fire, which focused a spotlight on the lesbian community in India.[36] Deeming that as ramblings of a self-hating-Indian that was meant to stereotype and vilify Hindus, she mocked the queer rights movements to be a Western import that went contrary to the ethos of Hindu public life and middle class values.[37][38][39][40][c] Gradually, in the process, she joined a newly evolving group of (self-proclaimed) Hindutva scholars in asserting of biases in the western (and marxist) scholarship of Indic religions and weaponed Manushi as a tool during the California textbook controversy over Hindu history et al.—Anantharam notes a heavy intermingling of Hindutva and her works by the middle 2000s.[17]

Anantharam goes on to note that almost all contemporary feminists have since disowned their roles in the magazine to avoid any association with this hyper-nationalistic cum Hindu fervor.[17]

Of late, she has been an often-vitriolic critic of the newer waves of the (allegedly) western-derived maisntream feminist movements in India; using pejoratives abundantly and portraying them as fascist endeavors reeking of dominating and oppressing the male gender.[17][41][42][25][43] She had lodged legal petitions arguing for dilution of anti-rape laws to mitigate bias against males[44] and has been also highly skeptical of the motivations of foreign-funded NGOs, working for the causes of women.[35] Some scholars have now come to recognize Kishwar as a former feminist who has since turned into an ally of anti-mainstream-feminist causes.[45]

Politics and fake news[edit]

Kishwar has been noted for her adulation of Narendra Modi, to the extent of comparing him with Mahatma Gandhi.[35][46][47][48][49] She had also written a book that absolved him, a then prime-ministerial candidate of any involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots and effusively praised him as a non-communal politician.[35][48][50] Incidentally she used to be a vocal critic of Modi.[48]

Kishwar has been accused of aiding in the propagation of communal material[4][51][52] and to have propagated fake news over numerous occasions, via her Twitter handle.[53]


  • In Search of Answers: Indian Women's Voices (with Ruth Vanita, Zed Books, 1984). ISBN 0862321786.
  • Gandhi and Women (Manushi Prakashan, 1986). ASIN B0007BRY8S.
  • Women Bhakta Poets : Manushi (Manushi Publications, 1989). ASIN B001RPVZVU.
  • The Dilemma And Other Stories (with Ruth Vanitha, Manushi Prakashan, 1997). ISBN 8186573003.
  • Religion at the service of nationalism and other essays (Oxford University Press, 1998). ISBN 0195641612.
  • Off the Beaten Track: Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women (Oxford University Press, 2002). ISBN 0195658310.
  • Deepening Democracy: Challenges of Governance and Globalization in India (Oxford University Press, 2006). ISBN 0195683528.
  • Zealous Reformers, Deadly Laws: Battling Stereotypes (SAGE, 2008). ISBN 0761936378.
  • Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi's Gujarat (Manushi Publications, 2014). ISBN 978-81-929352-0-1.[54]


  1. ^ In India, Hindutva is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations, "Hindutva ... refers to the ideology of Hindu nationalists, stressing the common culture of the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. ... Modern politicians have attempted to play down the racial and anti-Muslim aspects of Hindutva ... but the term has Fascist undertones."[5]
  2. ^ She also rejects any static interpretation of religious scriptures in her bid of arguing for a highly elevated status of women in the Hindu culture, contra most scholarly readings.[32][17]
  3. ^ Kishwar believes that the Indian society had been always far more comfortable with homoerotic strains of relationships in private than other civilizations or societies. Thus, despite not exocitizing them in public sphere, there is no need for any radical activism in the domain.


  1. ^ "Madhu Kishwar's open letter to PM on how to break the UCC stalemate".
  2. ^ a b Burke, Jason (31 March 2011). "Shiney Ahuja, fallen Bollywood star, jailed for raping maid". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  3. ^ When a feminist turns right,, 2 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b Mirchandani, Maya. "Digital hatred, real violence: Majoritarian radicalisation and social media in India". ORF. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  5. ^ Brown, Garrett W.; McLean, Iain; McMillan, Alistair (6 January 2018). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations. Oxford University Press. p. 381. ISBN 9780192545848.
  6. ^ "Prof. Madhu Purnima Kishwar" (PDF). Developing Countries Research Centre. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d "Resume of Madhu Purnima Kishwar" (PDF). Delhi University. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b Kumara Swamy, V (4 August 2013). "I would like to sue Amartya Sen for defamation". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  9. ^ a b Meyta, Neha (7 March 2010). "Ashrams of Sex and Sleaze". Mail Today  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Madhu Kishwar Denounces 'Discrimination', CSDS Rejects Charge". The Wire. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b Chakravarty, Ipsita. "I faced 'humiliation and discrimination' in the 'Left citadel' of CSDS, says Madhu Kishwar". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b "JNU Manufactures Outrage Over Madhu Kishwar's Appointment To Academic Council; So What's New?". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ Staff, Scroll. "JNU faculty 'confused' by pro-Modi scholar Madhu Kishwar's appointment to Academic Council". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Madhu Kishwar named to JNU Council, row breaks out over her status as an 'expert'". The Financial Express. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Madhu Kishwar Has Been Nominated To JNU Council As School of Arts Expert, But Not Everyone's Happy". HuffPost India. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  16. ^ Nag, Moni (1985). "Review of in Search of Answers: Indian Women's Voices from Manushi". Population and Development Review. 11 (4): 784. doi:10.2307/1973476. ISSN 0098-7921. JSTOR 1973476.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Anantharam, Anita (1 December 2009). "East/West encounters: "Indian" identity and transnational feminism in Manushi". Feminist Media Studies. 9 (4): 461–476. doi:10.1080/14680770903233076. ISSN 1468-0777.
  18. ^ Sen, Amartya (2006). The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. Penguin. ISBN 0141012110.
  19. ^ Balani, Laju M. (1999). "Review of Religion at the Service of Nationalism and Other Essays". Journal of Church and State. 41 (3): 600. doi:10.1093/jcs/41.3.600. ISSN 0021-969X. JSTOR 23919950.
  20. ^ Douglas, Carol Anne (1985). "Review of in Search of Answers: India Women's Voices From Manushi". Off Our Backs. 15 (1): 8–20. ISSN 0030-0071. JSTOR 25775289.
  21. ^ Jantzen, Esther (1986). Kishwar, Madhu; Vanita, Ruth (eds.). "Book Review: Recommended for the Classroom". Women's Studies Quarterly. 14 (3/4): 74. ISSN 0732-1562. JSTOR 40003830.
  22. ^ KarunaKaran, Chithra (2002). "Review of Off the Beaten Track: Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women". The Journal of Asian Studies. 61 (1): 293–294. doi:10.2307/2700263. ISSN 0021-9118. JSTOR 2700263.
  23. ^ Farrell, Susan A. (1989). "Review of Man-Made Women: How New Reproductive Technologies Affect Women". Contemporary Sociology. 18 (1): 127–128. doi:10.2307/2071996. ISSN 0094-3061. JSTOR 2071996.
  24. ^ Chatterjee, Manini (17 January 2000). "Book review: Madhu Kishwar's 'Off the Beaten Track'". India Today. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  25. ^ a b Menon, Nivedita (26 July 2016). "Book Reviews : MADHU KISHWAR, Off the Beaten Track: Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 290". The Indian Economic & Social History Review. 38 (2): 207–209. doi:10.1177/001946460103800204.
  26. ^ Shodhan, Amrita (25 July 2016). "Book reviews and notices : MADHU KISHWAR, Religion at the service of nationalism and other essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998. xix + 323 pp. Notes. Rs. 495 (hardback)". Contributions to Indian Sociology. 34 (2): 274–276. doi:10.1177/006996670003400206.
  27. ^ Marshment, Margaret (30 June 2016). "Book reviews : In Search of Answers: Indian women's voices from 'Manushi' Edited by MADHU KISHWAR and RUTH VANITA (London, Zed Press, 1984). 288 pp. £6.95 paper". Race & Class. 26 (4): 97–99. doi:10.1177/030639688502600407.
  28. ^ Shodhan, Amrita (25 July 2016). "Book reviews and notices : MADHU KISHWAR, Off the beaten track: Rethinking gender justice for Indian women. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 290 pp. Notes, references. Rs. 495 (hardback)". Contributions to Indian Sociology. 35 (3): 428–429. doi:10.1177/006996670103500318.
  29. ^ Forbes, Geraldine Hancock (1996). Women in Modern India. The New Cambridge History of India. 4. New York, United States of America: Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780521653770.
  30. ^ Kishwar, Madhu. "Why I do not Call Myself a Feminist" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  31. ^ Rajan, Rajeswari Sunder; Park, You-Me (2007), "Postcolonial Feminism/Postcolonialism and Feminism", A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, pp. 53–71, doi:10.1002/9780470997024.ch3, ISBN 9780470997024
  32. ^ "Hinduism Ancient and Modern", Hinduism and Modernity, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2008, pp. 33–46, doi:10.1002/9780470775707.ch3, hdl:2027/hvd.hnb659, ISBN 9780470775707
  33. ^ Banerjee, Sikata (1 September 2010). "Women, Muscular Nationalism and Hinduism in India: Roop Kanwar and the Fire Protests". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 11 (3–4): 271–287. doi:10.1080/14690764.2010.546085. ISSN 1469-0764.
  34. ^ Krook, Mona Lena (1 October 2008). "Quota Laws for Women in Politics: Implications for Feminist Practice". Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society. 15 (3): 345–368. doi:10.1093/sp/jxn014. ISSN 1072-4745.
  35. ^ a b c d e "When a feminist turns right". Rediff. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  36. ^ Arora, Kulvinder (1 August 2006). "The Mythology of Female Sexuality: Alternative Narratives of Belonging". Women: A Cultural Review. 17 (2): 220–250. doi:10.1080/09574040600795820. ISSN 0957-4042.
  37. ^ Kapur, Jyotsna (1 September 2006). "Love in the Midst of Fascism: Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary Indian Documentary". Visual Anthropology. 19 (3–4): 335–346. doi:10.1080/08949460500297448. ISSN 0894-9468.
  38. ^ Marsh, Julie; Brasted, Howard (1 December 2002). "Fire, the BJP and moral society". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 25 (3): 235–251. doi:10.1080/00856400208723500. ISSN 0085-6401.
  39. ^ Lohani-Chase, Rama (1 April 2012). "Transgressive Sexualities: Politics of Pleasure and Desire in Kamasutra: A Tale of Love and Fire". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 16 (2): 135–152. doi:10.1080/10894160.2011.605008. ISSN 1089-4160. PMID 22455339.
  40. ^ "The controversy over 'Fire': a select dossier (Part II)". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. 1 (3): 519–526. 1 January 2000. doi:10.1080/14649370020010012. ISSN 1464-9373.
  41. ^ "Gender justice and the feminazi". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Farewell flattery - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  43. ^ Chanda, Geetanjali Singh; Owen, Norman G. (1 January 2001). "Tainted Goods?: Western Feminism and the Asian Experience". Asian Journal of Women's Studies. 7 (4): 90–105. doi:10.1080/12259276.2001.11665916. ISSN 1225-9276.
  44. ^ Johari, Aarefa. "Are India's anti-rape laws as draconian as Madhu Kishwar says they are?". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  45. ^ Mandal, Saptarshi (3 July 2014). "The Impossibility of Marital Rape". Australian Feminist Studies. 29 (81): 255–272. doi:10.1080/08164649.2014.958124. ISSN 0816-4649.
  46. ^ Gopinath, Vrinda. "Madhu Kishwar interview: 'It is hard to understand why Modi has not punished the scamsters'". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  47. ^ "The Monologue of the Modi Mausi". Outlookindia. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  48. ^ a b c "No communalism in Modi's DNA: Madhu Kishwar". Business Standard India. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  49. ^ Staff, Scroll. "10 Madhu Kishwar tweets that explain how difficult it is to remain a coherent Modi supporter". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  50. ^ Venkataramakrishnan, Rohan. "Five ways in which the Modi government has managed to disappoint Madhu Kishwar". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  51. ^ "The 'New And Improved' Love Jihad Formula". Outlookindia. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  52. ^ John, Rachel (24 October 2019). "Zee sees 'conspiracy' against Hindus in Kamlesh Tiwari murder, News 18 goes after Pakistan". ThePrint. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  53. ^ [fakenews 1]
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  54. ^ Nair, Sangeetha (6 April 2014). "Congress to blame for Godhra, says author Madhu Kishwar in her new book". The Times of India. Retrieved 23 April 2014.

Fake news spotted by fact checker websites[edit]

  1. ^ Archis (13 June 2019). "Madhu Kishwar's Never-Ending Tryst With Fake News | | BOOM". Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  2. ^ Chaudhuri, Pooja (15 December 2018). "Madhu Kishwar's fake news spree: Defends misleading video with another misleading video". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  3. ^ Desk, Alt News (29 May 2018). "J&K Police pulls up Madhu Kishwar for sharing fake news". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  4. ^ DelhiAugust 16, Amanpreet Kaur New; August 16, 2019UPDATED; Ist, 2019 21:33. "Fact Check: Madhu Kishwar tries to target Rahul Gandhi, falls for fake video yet again". India Today. Retrieved 30 August 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Newslaundry. "Newslaundry | Sabki Dhulai". Newslaundry. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Fake tweet quoting Rana Ayyub goes viral again, she threatens legal action". Asiaville. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  7. ^ स्टाफ, द वायर (16 April 2018). "फ़ेक न्यूज़ फैलाने का आरोप लगाते हुए प्रशांत भूषण ने मधु किश्वर के ख़िलाफ़ केस दर्ज कराया". The Wire-Hindi. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Madhu Kishwar Tweets DMK 2016 Manifesto, Claims Anti-Hindu Agenda". The Quint. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Fake News Alert: No Muslim Men Have Been Arrested by Police for Attacking School Bus in Gurugram". The Wire. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Breaking Down News: Truth or Snare". The Indian Express. 21 April 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  11. ^ Grover, Priyamvada (14 December 2018). "Madhu Kishwar, Tarek Fatah share fake video of Muslim procession in Rajasthan". The Print (India). Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  12. ^ Chopra, Rohit (23 February 2018). "A glimpse inside the secret Madhu Kishwarji Fan Club WhatsApp Group". The Print (India). Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ Sidharth, Arjun (10 February 2018). "Madhu Kishwar tweets a fake quote attributed to Kapil Sibal". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  14. ^ Patel, Jignesh (16 September 2018). "Madhu Kishwar tweets fake quote from parody account ascribed to rape accused Kerala Bishop". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  15. ^ Sidharth, Arjun (24 July 2019). "Old photos, false claim: Weapons recovered from a mosque in Gujarat". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  16. ^ Sidharth, Arjun (17 June 2019). "Has CM of Andhra Pradesh appointed an evangelist to head the Tirupati Temple Trust?". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  17. ^ Chaudhuri, Pooja (21 May 2019). "Mamata Banerjee's speech clipped to portray her as religiously biased towards Muslims". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  18. ^ Patel, Jignesh (13 December 2018). "Tarek Fatah tweets old video falsely claiming Muslims waved Pak flags to celebrate Congress' victory". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  19. ^ Chaudhuri, Pooja (19 October 2018). "Media analysis: How 'fanatic evangelism' was declared as motive behind Gurgaon shooting". Alt News. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  20. ^ Patel, Jignesh (31 August 2019). "Madhu Kishwar tweets photoshopped image of Amul Ad targeting Gandhi family". Alt News. Retrieved 1 September 2019.

External links[edit]