June 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm Leave a comment

These days one dreads opening the daily newspapers because the headlines splashed across the pages makes one hang one’s head in shame. Our so called leaders-elected to represent the people make these headlines-sample this of June 8th, ‘Governor tells CBI to prosecute Pinarayi, ‘NCP MP held in Congress leader’s murder case. ‘Valley on boil, Centre, Sonia rush emissaries’.   As though this is not enough another daily-(June 8th) gives, ‘Is Ketan Desai king of capitation fee? ‘NCP MP booked for twin murders, ‘Indian Student’s car torched in Melbourne’, ‘UK poison plot against Asians busted’.

It is depressing that political leaders, former ministers, MPs, top professions like Medical Council of India Chairperson-Dr Ketan Deasi, are involved in murder, fraud and embezzlement. This makes a sad commentary on the kind of leadership we put up, the kind of political leaders we elect and the system not geared to keep these men out of the top positions. The first thing which comes to my mind is the President must show her concern by sending in an advisory note to the Parliament to suspend the MPs who are involved in murder and other heinous crimes till they are cleared. Being an MP gives an undue advantage to them and makes the cops a bit reluctant to treat them as common criminals. Similarly also the chairperson of the MCI must be suspended for a fair enquiry. Men/women men caught in heinous crimes must be divested of their positions and must face the police investigations without any advantage of their positions. They must be suspended and their positions kept in abeyance to ensure a fair trial. This is the least we can expect. It is time we have an active President to put up such a proposal to the Parliament. Can we expect the Parliament to take up the issue in earnest? Will the Parliament work against vested interest and stand by the oath that each MP took on assumption of office that without fear or favor he/she will uphold the Constitution and discharge his/her responsibility. Or will this be just a ritual performed without any meaning?

If the Kerala governor can overrule the Kerala cabinet and give sanction to the CBI to prosecute CPM politburo Pinarayi Vijyan then surely it is appropriate for the President to take stock of the nexus between crimes, corruption and politicians and act. Otherwise doubts may creep up that had it been a Congress member would the Governor resort to such an action? After all Raj Bhavans have become the rehabilitation centers for aged, infirm, and loyal politicians who hold allegiance to the Congress(read Mrs Sonia Gandhi). This is not to decry what the Kerala governor did but to request that the net be spread without political bias and some statutory backing given for such actions.

The need to divest these who are netted from their positions is important if law must take its logical course. Otherwise it will be like Shibu Soren’s case who booked for murder was continuing as a Cabinet minister and went underground with the PM unable to trace his own minister. Another area which made headlines-that the Valley is burning. The cause which triggered this was the rape of two innocent women who went to work in the orchard. The tardy, slow work of the cops-the time lag etc do not speak well.

A young CM at the helm of affairs –youth power has not changed things as far as security for women are concerned. Rape of women seems to be daily news. But it is only when a nun is raped will the country sit up and all hell breaks loose. Nun or non- nun women are at the receiving end. New Delhi with a woman as the CM is said to be the most unsafe place for women in India. Against this background one must view the reservation of women in Parliament which gets a top priority on the agenda of the government. By and large rape and its daily occurrence in some part of India is taken coolly…with the whole country maintaining an ominous silelce – Should only the rape of a nun evoke outrage, condemnation and make international bodies indict India, even provoke the EU to put in its pressure on the PM? In this context the question of reservation for empowerment of women need to be carefully studied. It should go beyond slogans and tokenism and studied whether it will reflect the empowerment of women by and large or will it make women the proxy of powerful men.

There is some substance in the objections raised by Sharad Yadav against the reservation for women in Parliament. One must be careful not to make it again pro-women and anti- women divide for vote bank politics. Please do not make women barters right from the home to the Parliament. Today Parliament seems to represent the ‘elite’, the creamy layer of society. Does democracy flow down to the people? I remember Rajiv Gandhi’s famous statement ‘We will give power to the people. The upside down perception! In a democracy power flows from the people. Will giving a 33 percent reservation to women mean empowerment of the women? Why the 33percent? Is it like subsidy given for an IRDP beneficiary for a pumpset or a melch animal? Does it reflect the process which facilitated women to climb up the ladder to power? It is tokenism.

We had a woman Prime Minister-and is it not revealing that the most under developed countries of Asian had women PMs while the most developed countries did not. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philipines et al. What was the position of women then and even now in these countries when compared to the developed countries? Did it change the ground realities? We have today two constitutional posts headed by women-the President, and the Speaker (time to congratulate ourselves) and an extra constitutional post held by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. This post with no constitutional sanction seems to be more powerful than the former two and even the PM’s post. What does it indicate? Women’s power or a woman’s power? Does it undermine democracy or does it reinforce democratic norms and values?

So we do not raise our eyebrows when we read that Mrs Sonia Gandhi rush emissaries to the Valley. Her capacity as the President of the Congress party and an MP does not empower her to rush emissaries to the Valley. That apart we have 49 women MPs in the present Parliament. A profile of these women would make interesting reading it reinforces the patriarchy centric pattern. Except Mamta Banerjee, who fought her way through to rise to power but look at the hurdles she had to overcome. It was not smooth sailing for her as say Mrs Sonia Gandhi who eased her way to power just on the basis of a name , and on the strength of her being the bahu of Indira Gandhi and more than that being the widow of Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated. So Sharad Yadav and those who are opposing the reservation for women has some substance and it is necessary to dispassionately debate and discuss the issue.

Why had the Congress party, and the other political parties who are votaries of the Reservation for women not give at least 10 percent of the party tickets to women to contest? Reservation of any sort has not proved beneficial-it has only created more backwardness and swept the problem under the carpet. This is true as far as the reservation in education and employment etc. Here again the creamy layers siphoned off the benefits. The same is going to happen for the Reservation of women in Parliament. The elite, so called ‘liberated’ women will corner the seats and it will be a simulated empowerment of women. It will create a mirage of empowerment while the common women at the ground level will continue to be oppressed, victimized and discriminated. Even the methodology of women’s representation is flawed-the rotation method, the reservation of constituencies etc. There is need for the government to discuss all this thread bare before putting such an issue on its agenda.

Another area of concern flashed across the papers is the attack on Indian students in Melbourne and the UK poison plot against Asians .There is a growing fear that not only India but Indians outside the country have become soft targets. Will this government prove by its action that it is capable of taking strong action? Let it stop talking and face the challenge by concrete action. The jumbo ministry which has been put in place should be accountable and put the country and its interest before self and vested interests. Expectations are high and with its numbers above the minimum the Congress should prove that it will delivery. I hope the newspapers will bring us more hopeful news of a government set to work and work in earnest and make our mornings brighter!

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, Vadodara


Entry filed under: personal thoughts, politics.

26/11 – Amusing for Chidambaram Ministry for Minority-Majority Affairs!

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