logo
  New Login   

Turning the Soil


L.C. Jain

BREAKING THE POLITICAL GLASS CEILING: WOMEN AND LOCAL GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH ASIA
Edited by Damayanti Sridharan and Vesna Rodic
Friedrich Ebert Stiffung, Delhi, 2004, pp. 110, price not stated.

VOICES OF WOMEN IN PANCHAYATI RAJ
By Susheela Kaushik
Friedrich Ebert Stiffung, Delhi , Centre for Development Studies and Action Repeat, 2004, pp. 150, price not stated.

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 6 June 2005

What Damyanti Sridharan reports so ably is not quite breaking the political glass ceiling. It is more like turning the soil–breaking the crust which every farmer does before sowing the seeds. For far too long, women have been kept down–below the ground, laden with crust.   Universal adult franchise adopted by the Constitution of India which ‘We the People of India gave to ourselves’ in 1950, accorded recognition to women as equals in the political governance of the country. Since the First General Election in 1952 upto the latest Fourteenth Election in 2004, women have been listed as voters; and, they have voted in varying proportion but in considerable numbers–by the millions. Yet neither their vote nor the numbers have secured them even a foothold in the arena of actual political governance. ‘Good girls, you have stamped the ballot, your job is done, rest now for five years till the next round, meanwhile we will carry the load’ say the men to them patronizingly. Some women albeit in insignificant numbers, however managed to enter the charmed circle–the circular House of Parliament, mainly on the wings of patronage but a fraction of them solaced with a berth in the cabinet–the sanctum sanctorum of political decision-making. To keep the women turning up at poll times, passionate speeches and slogans were mouthed by party leaders that women must be given their ‘due’ share. But due always meant only residue.   The career of this endless cynical political play came under massive challenge with the enactment of the 73rd/74th Amendments mandating that a minimum of one-third of the three million elected members of panchayats and nagar palikas have to be women. Since then momentous, one may even say revolutionary, changes are in evidence all across the country, that have busted the regime of patronage on which we had relied for forty years to ensure that women partook of their due share. This is the pith and substance of the two books here on the journey of women on the panchayat train. In the first, Damyanti and Vesna have assembled telling figures and facts which highlight that the change so ushered in is massive and the train is on the move. They report that at the end of 2000, when all the states (except Bihar and Goa) had completed their first round of elections, there were a total of 2.6 million members including over half a ...


Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article
«BACK

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.