In the weeks running up to a general election, and until a new government is formed, government departments, local and national, drop the curtain on their activities. The purpose of purdah is to avoid any existing incumbents’ activity from gaining an unfair advantage at the polls.
There are two reasons this drives me mad; the main one being an etymological one (the minor reason being that campaigning should be ongoing, not an unseemly jostle to the finish line blanketed in sound bites and false promises).
Anyway, purdah is apparently from the Persian word pardah meaning curtain. Purdah was once widespread in India amongst Muslims and high caste Hindus and is the practice of keeping women segregated from men in a domestic setting: behind a curtain or screen or wall.
Women living in purdah were extremely limited socially and economically. Now if a woman chooses to keep separate from men at home, or chooses to wear a burqa or hijab in public, it’s no business of mine. But. If women are segregated and kept from the world for reasons of control and oppression how could I not care?
So why the British government choose to use this loan word as part of the democratic process – even with its oppressive connotation – presumably borrowed during the years when India was a colony with its people being oppressed and exploited by the British is somewhat beyond me.