General studies 1: Role of women and women’s organization, women related issues, Social empowerment
General studies 2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Women Empowerment: Time to deliver on Women’s Reservation Bill
Issue: Call for revival of the Constitution (108th) Amendment Bill to reserve for women one-third of seats in Parliament and the State legislatures.
Status: The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010
Change at a glacial pace— Number of women legislators in the current Lok Sabha is a mere 12 per cent, it has steadily increased through the years (it was 5 per cent in 1951)
Real stumbling block to the Bill: The existing patriarchal mind-set within the very same parties that have affirmed support to it (Congress & BJP; uniformly and strongly chauvinistic)
A country where ancient scripture placed women on a high pedestal—
Gender Development Index: 132ndrank
Gender Equality Index: 127th rank
Suffers from one of the lowest sex ratios (940 in 2011) in South Asia
Gender ratio on the electoral rolls: 800 (almost)
The obstacles to political empowerment are mainly in three areas —
Registration as voter,
Actual participation in voting,
Contesting as candidate
Coupled with—Over-arching gender prejudice in their respective parties
Reasons why female voter turnout is lower—
Concern for personal security
Dependence on the approval of family elders, especially men
Lack of adequate toilet facilities
Addressed—To motivate women to come out and vote, local women icons, Sharada Sinha, in Bihar, and Malini Awasthy in UP, became the face and voice of the voter education campaign proving the fate of election to be a game changer
Female voters at 54.85 per cent outnumbered male voters at 50.77 per cent in Bihar (2010), and 60.28 and 58.68 per cent in UP (2012), with similar results subsequently in all other states
General elections of 2014-
Women’s turnout shot up from 55.82 to 65.63 per cent — a jump of nearly 20 per cent
16 states- Outnumbered their male counterparts
Gender gap- Used to be higher than 10 per cent, came down to an all-time low of 1.46 per cent
Participation of women as candidates—
India is way behind more backward countries of South Asia; even conservative Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have higher female representation
Breakthrough: The enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1992
2009: The Union cabinet approved an increase in reservation for women from 33 to 50 per cent in Panchayati raj institutions
Bill for women’s reservation in legislatures: Been pending in Parliament
Patriarchal mind-set that plays foul:
Of the opinion that it’s difficult for women politicians to win
2014: Women were 7.9 per cent of total candidates, but 11.6 per cent of elected MPs
Since 1957: Women’s “strike rate” has always been 50 to 350 per cent higher; demonstrating that women’s ability to win is greater.
Testimonies to Affirmative Actions—
1917:Sarojini Naidu had joined a delegation of women to meet the viceroy to demand suffrage for women
1919: Madras became the first province to take the revolutionary step of allowing women’s franchise
1927: A 41-year-old medical doctor, Muthulakshmi Reddy, had become the first Indian woman to become a member of the legislative council in Madras
Post-independence: Equal voting rights to men and women (US took 144 years and the UK 100 years)
Today: The Lok Sabha speaker and chief ministers of four states are women
“There will never be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” – American social reformer Susan Anthony
At the local level—Architects of change and empowerment at the grassroots
Women’s political participation is increasing not only numerically but qualitatively as well and has thrown up some real-life political heroines
Stories— From stagnation to Change(Source: The Better India)
ShushmaBhadu, 35 (Rural Haryana)
Elected in 2010 as the sarpanch of the DhaniMiyan Gram Panchayat in Fatehabad district
Transformed the village in to a ‘model’ when it comes to women’s rights and the survival of daughters
To put an end to the inhuman practice of female foeticide:
Announced a handsome cash reward of Rs 51,000 for informers who provide tip-offs on those seeking and conducting sex determination tests and backroom abortions
Instructed the local anganwadi and other health workers to remain alert and immediately intimate the panchayat in case any such incident came to light
Result of this approach: Village has 426 females to 416 males
Educating local girls:
Panchayat has started covering the fees as well as expenses incurred on uniforms and books for girl students up to Class Five for those parents who cannot afford to support their daughters’ schooling
Result: Attendance is reportedly 100 per cent now with zero dropouts and students of higher classes, who have to go to distant schools, have been provided with cycles to help them continue their studies
Nayana Patra, 45 (Odisha)
At Baraun Gram Panchayat of Dhenkenal district in Odisha
Put an end to alcoholism in her village:
Imposed a fine on those found drunk-
Discourage such anti-social behaviour
With the fund, created a fund to build toilets in the village-built six public toilets at convenient places to usher in a higher standard of public hygiene
Got a residential school built for village girls
Mid-day meals to students from Class I to VIII while keeping a strict vigil on the quality of the food served; when they realised that the Self Help Groups were not managing the meals properly, they were immediately replaced with a seven-member Village Education Committee
Protection of the local forests from the timber mafia-
Has put together a brigade of fierce women to patrol the 250-acre Sal forest that abuts the village
Five groups of 15-20 women have been formed and they discharge their forest protection duties by rotation, each with a stick in her hand
Has also planted around a thousand cashew plants on unused government land
All-women Gram Panchayat of Sisva village in Gujarat’s Anand district
Sisva—As per the guidelines of the Samras Scheme
Established two Reverse Osmosis (RO) water plants that provide potable water to families
Each house has a toilet and a few public utilities have been constructed strategically to eliminate open defecation
All roads in this 7,000-strong village have been paved and duly lined with solar lights that keep the streets safe after dark.
Garbage bins have been placed in all the right places and the markets area has been cleaned and given a facelift
Working on creating a website as a first step towards making Sisva an e-village.
Setting up a small-scale industry to give a much-needed boost to women’s employment in the area is next in line.
Spearheading the cause of better sanitation in a remote village of Khanapur in Karnataka
Goal: A toilet in every single house of the Khanapur village within a month
Raise nearly Rs. 4 lakh for the construction of these toilets as this money would be reimbursed by the government only after the completion of the project
Convincing people to allow building a toilet in their private space and making them overcome the dread of the resultant odour as peoplewere just too used to defecating in the open
Every villager helped in the construction process
Women: Provided food for the labourers
30-50 youngsters worked alongside the construction workers; for every one labourer, they deputed three villagers to speed up the work
Result: In a record time of 24 working days, 173 toilets were constructed in the village.
Need of the hour—Gender Analysis
Gender analysis needs to be made a critical element of updating electoral rolls and has since been employed from the year 2006
Gender sensitivity- Taken into account while publishing photo electoral rolls; mandatory to give a hard copy of the rolls to recognised parties
The EC: Stopped handing out the soft copy as women’s photos could be subjected to abuses like morphing
Separate queues and the deployment of women police and polling staff
Need for the parties to push more women workers into the political arena and give them more tickets
Voters need to be made aware of the importance of women participation & representation and thus, should be imparted the idea of voting only for those parties that give a fair share of tickets to women
Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
General Studies 3:
Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.
Intelligence vs Investigation (Or) CBI vs IB?
The controversy surrounding a major confrontation between India’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), and the nation’s internal intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which has been aired in the media emerges out of the Ishrat Jahan case of Gujarat.
In this case a woman and her companions were shot dead by the Gujarat Police in what is claimed to be an encounter between a terrorist group of which Ishrat Jahan was a member, whose objective was to target the then Chief Minister of Gujarat personally.
Crux of the issue:
An IB officer prepared an intelligence report in which the connection between Ishrat Jahan and her companions with a Pakistan based L-e-T terrorist group was mentioned.
CBI which is investigating the case on the direction of the Supreme Court, wants to interrogate, the Special Director, Intelligence Bureau based on the report which links Ishrat with LeT, which the IB is not ready to.
At this backdrop CBI and IB have a faceoff.
Mandate of CBI:
CBI is an investigation agency and it exercises police powers in this case.
In performing police functions, the CBI has to follow in substance and in practice the provisions of chapter XII, Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) and for the purpose of proving a case, it has to function according to the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act.
Anything that CBI does in this behalf has to follow the rules of evidence, including relevance and admissibility of evidence and its credibility.
Chapter XII, Cr.P.C. is very well drafted and any investigation carried out under its provisions is bound to be just and credible.
Therefore, CBI is a police force exercising the powers of investigation of the police when dealing with a criminal case.
This governs the Ishrat Jahan case also.
The only duty of the CBI is to arrive at the truth, not to try and mould evidence to fulfil a predetermined theory of who is guilty, in this case the Gujarat Police.
Mandate of IB:
IB is governed by its own mandate which is to do counter espionage work within India, neutralise espionage by hostile powers within the country, obtain information about likely threats to law and order, internal security and the integrity of the country and to keep a watch on all anti national activity which can result in harm to India.
It has no power to prosecute and, therefore, it has no interaction with courts.
At the same time, it has at its disposal agents who can obtain human intelligence, it has electronic devices for intelligence collection, it has friends and well-wishers and, perhaps, double agents to obtain information and it has other sources, primary and secondary, through which information is collected which might be of interest to India.
It is the job of IB to sift through all this matter and then identify that which is of relevance for maintaining the security of India.
Meaning of the word intelligence:
The world of intelligence and espionage is grey, hazy and all outlines are blurred.
Intelligence officers work in a grey area, because their identity and outline must be hazy so that individuals are not compromised, all intelligence agencies work in the background and try and merge into it.
An intelligence agency by definition must remain in the dark, must not discuss its operations and must pass on information which can be acted upon.
Applying the above meaning to the Ishrat case:
In the Ishrat Jahan case, the CBI is attempting to question the Special Director of IB, with a view to making him an accused, on account of some intelligence report he is stated to have given.
By its very nature an intelligence report has to be confidential and it is the job of IB and CBI to respect this confidentiality.
Nor can such a report be used to incriminate an IB officer.
This would be contrary to the provisions of Article 20 of the Constitution which prohibits an accused person to be compelled to be a witness against himself, which is what revelation of the contents of an intelligence report would amount to.
Such a document is not a confessional statement.
It is not a document in the public domain and it is not a confession and in fact it is not a document which can be admitted as evidence at all under the Indian Evidence Act.
If there is a case against the IB officer concerned it would have to be proved by evidence other than the intelligence report which has allegedly been made by the officer concerned.
It is certainly not a public document as defined by section 74, Indian Evidence Act.
CBI cannot take such monotonous stand of interrogating the IB officer at any cost.
If IB starts hitting back, we may have a turf war in which both national security and control over heinous crime will suffer devastating body blows.
Government can no longer remain a silent spectator.
The time for action is now.
Connecting the dots:
Critically examine the mandate of CBI and IB with special reference to the Ishrat Jahan case.
Critically examine the various legitimacy and accountability issues associated with CBI in India.