General Studies 1
- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism
- Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The fight against traditions- Nagaland women reservation
- In 1992, the constitution provided for Municipal Councils in urban areas including reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, as well as women.
- While Nagaland is exempted from the Constitution’s Panchayat system, it is bound by the Municipal Council system, including the 1/3 reservation requirement for women. (Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram have autonomous districts & Councils formed Under Sixth Schedule of Constitution and thus exempted under Article 243M(2) to have a Panchayat)
- In 2001, Nagaland State Government enacted the Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001 but it did not include the constitutionally mandated reservations for women.
- Finally, the Nagaland government enacted the Nagaland Municipal (First Amendment) Act in 2006 which provided 33% reservation for women in urban local bodies (ULBs) in Nagaland.
- This has been opposed by all-male tribal bodies on the grounds that reservation for women in ULBs would violate Article 371(A) of the Constitution and infringe on Naga culture, traditions and customary laws.
- This opposition has made the local elections due in Nagaland for 16 years now and the 2017 elections for ULBs have once again been postponed.
The legal struggle
- In 2011, spearheaded by the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), Naga women filed a writ petition in Guwahati HC, challenging the State government’s refusal to hold municipal elections. The single judge bench directed the government to hold elections to municipal councils and town councils in 2012.
- Later the Nagaland government filed an appeal before a Division Bench of the Guwahati High Court, which stayed the previous ruling. One of the arguments put forward by the Nagaland government was the claim that implementing such a law would ‘upset the peace’ in Nagaland.
- In 2012, the State Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting women’s reservation in ULBs on the ground that it infringes on the social and customary practices of the Nagas safeguarded by 371 (A).
- Further, in 2012, a special leave petition was moved in SC which upheld in 2016 the single-judge ruling of the Gauhati High Court of 2011.
- So, the Nagaland government enacted the Nagaland Municipal (Third Amendment) Bill 2016, which revoked the September 2012 resolution, paving the way for women’s reservation in ULBs.
Rights of women violated
- NMA has said that article 243(T) of the Constitution, which provides for 33% women’s reservation in municipal bodies, applies to Nagaland as well.
- But Naga Hoho, the apex body of Naga tribes — contends that article 371(A) gives precedence to Nagaland’s customary traditions and laws over the laws passed by Parliament.
- Over and above this, the male-dominated tribal bodies assert that Naga society offers equal opportunity to their females. However, these are absolutely false claims.
- In reality, no woman has ever been elected to the state assembly in over 53 years of Nagaland’s existence as a state. Only late Rano M. Shaiza in 1977 was sole representative in Parliament.
- Though village development boards have 25% seats reserved for women, but most of tribal bodies which act as the custodians of tribal culture and traditions are dominated by men. As a result, the property and inheritance rights are highly skewed against women.
- This system has been developed over the years to keep property with the community lest women deicide to marry outside tribe.
Violating the constitution
Differentiating traditional and constitutional
- The tribal bodies who opposed the elections are not traditional institutions recognised by Article 371(A). It provides a special status to Nagaland and protects its religious or social practices, customary law ownership and transfer of land and its resources etc.
- Similarly, the ULBs are constitutional bodies under Part IX of the Constitution and not traditional Naga institutions. Hence they have no right to mandate on its functioning.
- When the state government did not call off election to be conducted on Feb 1, these tribal bodies called bandh in state from Jan 28 to Feb 1. Despite the bandh, elections took place in several places on February 1. This shows that some towns did not agree with these tribal bodies.
- It has to be also noted that even before the bandh call, the focus had started shifting from women’s reservation to issues of taxes and land ownership contained in the Nagaland Municipal (Third Amendment) Bill 2016.
Running away is not solution
- What is even more alarming that Nagaland government decided to write to the Centre demanding that Nagaland be exempted from Part IX A of the Constitution.
- Part IX A of the Constitution dealing with Municipalities contains a mandatory provision under Article 243T for 33% women reservation in ULBs
- According to them, with such an exemption, the issue will be put to rest and avoid further misunderstanding among the people.
- This clearly means that the government is washing its hands of the reservations and sacrificing the rights of Naga women because of traditional male ego.
- If such an exemption happens, Naga women will have absolutely no hope of entering into and participating in decision-making bodies.
Reservation for women is necessary in patriarchal societies like Naga society, where there is a historical culture of inequalities. Though Nagas don’t practise sati, female foeticide and infanticide, and do not believe in dowry or the caste system, but Naga customs, culture and traditions preclude women from inheriting land and participating in the decision-making process. Art 371(A) exactly protects these rights of women.
There is another challenge of how the issue is being portrayed among the masses. Debates around state like Nagaland due to its unique history are complex due to its special relationship with the Union of India enshrined in the Constitution and also insurgency problems. Using words such as ‘upset the peace’ may cloud over the judgement of central government who is not well-versed with ground realities.
Hence, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of policy making has to be changed and take into account local and ground realities while bringing solutions. Equally, the communities have misused their ‘autonomous status’ to perpetuate their own internal inequalities which needs to be taken into account.
Being a case of gender rights, this has to be addressed with a long term vision and not near gains. The women have to fight for their rights, be it triple talaq case or entering into religious institutions.
Connecting the dots:
- The world still believes in patriarchal values and political women empowerment is a myth in India. Do you agree? substantiate
- Exempting individual states from provisions of constitution of India will hurt the fabric of unity, secularity and equality. Examine.
General Studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
General Studies 1
- Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Africa and its significance for the world
Africa is considered the Dark Continent of the world with numerous possibilities. It has faced the discrimination and scourge of the world. Be it the world wars or the slavery and its associated dynamics Africa has been misused by Europe and America for centuries.
The world views Africa through the prism of problems. But it is a continent of hope, promise and vast potential. The need is to facilitate, energize and support the same in all platforms and dimensions.
Challenges faced by Africa:
Challenge #1: Africa’s current economic growth rate is far too low.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP per capita (at constant 2005 prices) was $1,036.10 in 2014. At the 1.4% growth rate estimated for 2015, it would take Africa 50 years to double GDP per capita.
Challenge #2: African industrial development has been stalled since the 1970s.
Only one in five workers in Africa has a job in the wage economy. Historically, the only way to generate such jobs on a significant scale in developing countries has been by means of export-oriented manufacturing. But Africa has made little headway in growing export-oriented industries in the past four decades.
Challenge #3: The lives of most Africans are marred by poverty, hunger, poor education, ill health, and violence.
Although the poverty rate in Africa has dropped in recent years, rapid population growth means that the number of people suffering poverty keeps growing: from 280 million in 1990 to an estimated 330 million in 2012.
- Of the 20 countries in the world with the worst food and nutrition security, 19 are in Africa.
- More than two out of five African adults cannot read or write.
- Health outcomes are worse in Africa than anywhere else in the world, even though life expectancy at birth has risen and chronic child malnutrition has declined since the mid-1990s.
- Tolerance of domestic violence is twice as high as in the rest of the developing world. Incidents of violence against civilians are on the rise.
While this listing of suffering is true throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with regard to all these measures, life is particularly harsh for people living in the roughly 34% of Africa where states have collapsed to the point of irrelevance.
Challenge #4: Every year more Africans live in urban slums.
About 400 million Africans lived in cities in 2010, and 60% of those people lived in slums with no access to basic services. By 2050 that number is expected to grow to 1.26 billion. By 2035 half of all Africans will probably live in cities, with continuing urbanization expected thereafter.
Challenge #5: Corruption, corruption, corruption.
Perhaps the most upsetting sentence in Foresight Africa reads, “No reasonably democratic government in Africa has seen a rupture from corrupt and clientelistic modes of resource distribution.”
Challenge #6: Imminent changes to the architecture of global trade will disadvantage African countries.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—neither of which includes sub-Saharan African countries—will offset many of the trade benefits African countries currently enjoy under America’s Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Africa’s significance to the contemporary world
- Africa provides the majority of UN peacekeepers around the world.
- African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees.
- Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
- The recent resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia once again demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
- According to Secretary-General of the United Nations all of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.
- The plan in place should be to build a better future.
- The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice.
- Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063.
- For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned.
- It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little.
- Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalisation and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it.
United Nations’ role
- The UN is committed to working hand-in-hand with partners wherever conflict or the threat of conflict endangers stability and well-being.
- But prevention goes far beyond focussing solely on conflict.
- The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development.
The Youth in Africa and necessary efforts
- We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people.
- More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age.
- Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work and engaging young people in shaping their future.
- The need to empower women so that they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace.
- The African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
- Secretary-General of the United Nations believes, ‘When we empower women, we empower the world.’
A higher platform of cooperation, gives the whole picture — one that spotlights the enormous potential and remarkable success stories in every corner of the African continent.
With that perspective, we can win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development which are also the best weapons in preventing conflict and suffering, allowing Africa to shine even more vibrantly and inspire the world.
Connecting the dots
- Africa has been an unexplored wonder of the world with a mix of rich resources and high incidence of social malice. Critically discuss the necessary efforts the world should initiate to make Africa an equal partner in growth story of the world.
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