Monday, March 29, 2010

World Water Day

World Water Day

“Water is said to be the blood of mother earth”

22nd March is celebrated as World Water Day and this year theme is

“Clean water for a Healthy World”

We present here a note on situation of “safe drinking water in India”

1. Unsafe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene causes approximately 3.1 percent of all deaths over 1.7 million deaths annually and 3.7 percent of DALYS world wide (WHO 2002)

2. Degraded water quality costs countries in Middle East and North Africa between 0.5 and 2.5 percent of GDP per year (WB 2007)

3. Economic losses due to lack of water and sanitation in Africa alone is estimated at USD 28.4 billion (UNWWAP 2009)

4. Population growth is expected to result in a decline in the per capita availability of fresh water- 5,150m3 in 1947 declined to 2200m3 in 2000 it is estimated to decline to 1600cu m.

5. Annual utilizable water in India, surface and ground water is about 1,100 BCM (billion cubic meters) and the fast-growing urban centers the water requirements are expected to double and by 2025 the water requirement would be 770 BCM for agriculture only (Chitale 1992)

6. About 10 percent of the rural urban population doses not have access to safe drinking water

7. About 70 million people in 20 states are at risk of being exposed to fluroisis, and 10 million exposed to arsenic due to drinking of contaminated water.

8. Over extraction of ground water has made water more saline, unsuitable for drinking and irrigation in many of the coastal regions.

9. 195,813 habitations in the country are affected by poor water quality .

10. Total cost of environmental damage in India is USD 9.7 billion annually and 59 percent results from the health impacts of water pollution (world Bank 1995)

11. Rural People in India spend at least Rs 100 each year for the treatment of water/sanitation related disease which accounts for Rs 52 cr less than the total annual budget of health ministry (Sunita Narain 2002 as referred in Khurana and Sen R).

12. The National Rural Drinking Water Supply Programme 1969 -tech support from UNICEF at an expenditure of Rs 254 Cr against 1.2 million bore wells dug and 17,000 piped water supply installations

13. Accelerate Rural Water Supply Programme in 1972-73; assistance to states and union territories.

14. National Drinking water mission (NDWM) was formed in 1986

15. The National Water Policy drafted in 2002 by ministry of water resource : The success depends on operational action plans (water resource plans) in a time bound manner within two years. The policy talks mainly about conservation of water resources for humans and wild life use (pollutants, maintain water quality etc), water sharing, irrigation and provision of safe drinking water to all.

16. Counter argument is that water policy should focus on over-exploitation of ground water and concomitant drastic lowering of ground water table and the policy need to integrate: discharge of treated water into river, maximization of recycling of treated sewage effluent for irrigation in the growth of agriculture, water harvesting, pricing of potable water (Chakrabarti SP, titled: quality of life and our national water wealth)

17. NDWM renamed to Rajiv Gandhi NDWM in 1991, and onus of providing drinking water lies on PRIs (Khurana and Sen R) objectives:

a. Providing safe drinking water to all villages,

b. Assisting local communities to maintain sources of safe drinking water in good condition, and

c. Giving special attention for water supply to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

18. The policies and legislation's lack to address “Right to water” in India (Priya Sangameswaran: Rights, State Legislation, and Civil Society initiative in India, 2007)

19. Current analysis of water situation in India (GoI 2007)

a. Water supply coverage: avg. 81.2%

b. Water availability: avg. 4.3hrs/day

c. Consumption average: 123.3l/c/d

d. Production per person: avg 0.244m3/d/person

e. Connections metered: avg 24.5%

f. Average tariff : Rs 4.91/m3

g. New connection fee: avg. Rs 1584

h. Average capital expenditure/ connection: avg. Rs 1591

Thanking You,

Best Regards,


To celebrate World Water Day, National Geographic has come out with its single topic issue “Water: Our Thirsty World” which highlights the challenges facing our planet's fresh water, and is available for free download until April 2.

ArcelorMittal to shift Rs 50,000cr proj to Bokaro in Jharkhand

Arcelor Mittal to shift Rs 50,000cr proj to Bokaro in Jharkhand

PTI, Mar 18, 2010, 05.05pm IST


NEW DELHI: Disappointed over delays in the launch of its Rs 50,000-crore steel project in Jharkhand, global steel giant ArcelorMittal is set to relocate its plant proposed in Khunti-Gumla to Bokaro district in the state mainly on account of land acquisition problems.

The world's largest steelmaker had entered into a pact with the Jharkhand government for setting up a 12 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant in 2005 but has been facing delays in land acquisition amid regulatory hurdles.

"ArcelorMittal has informed us that they want to shift to Petarwar (Bokaro) and need about 2,000 acres of land for the first phase of their project. They said the response from Petarwar was positive," Jharkhand Mines and Industries Secretary N N Sinha said.

The state government will provide all cooperation to the company, he said adding that they have requested the government for about 50 million cubic metres of water from the Tenughat dam to cater to the requirements of the proposed plant, which will see output of three MTPA capacity in the first phase.

Protests by villagers at the proposed Khunti-Gumla site had forced the company to scout for other places, while negotiations with Petarwar villagers are still going on to acquire land.

The entire project requires around 8,000 acres of land. ArcelorMittal spokesperson could not be immediately contacted for comments.

NRI billionaire L N Mittal, who heads the steel giant, had last month said the company is "anxious" to start work on its proposed greenfield projects in India, which entail an estimated investment of Rs 1.30 lakh crore.

The company has planned to set up three steel projects in the country-- two in Jharkhand and one Orissa with an annual production capacity of 12 million tonnes each. But they have been facing regulatory hurdles and problems in acquiring land for over past four years.

ArcelorMittal has also proposed a Rs 30,000-crore project in Karnataka for setting up a 6-MTPA plant.

Also, peeved by inordinate delays in starting work on its integrated steel projects, the metal behemoth marked its first operational presence in the country by entering into a joint venture with domestic steelmaker Uttam Galva.

Mittal had criticised the country's investment climate in January this year and rued the inordinate delays in his proposed projects in Jharkhand and Orissa.
Today in History (1931): Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev are hanged during the Indian struggle for independence. Our respects to these freedom fighters...our heroes!

March 23 at 10:02pm · Comment ·LikeUnlike · Report

It was Late Shri Ram Manohar Lohia's b'day as well...salute to them, but to celebrate these days are only fruitful if we try to read and learn about their life,thinking, philosophy...struggle and sacrifices...and try to imbibe few of them(qualities/thinking/philosophy) atleast.

Legendary naxal leader Kanu Sanyal dead

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 New Delhi Today's Issue Home ePaper

Legendary naxal leader Kanu Sanyal dead

PTI | Siliguri

Kanu Sanyal, the legendary founder of the Naxalite movement of the 60s in West Bengal, that heralded a violent struggle and had claimed thousands of lives, died on Tuesday, apparently by committing suicide.

78-year-old Sanyal, a bachelor, was found hanging in his room at his residence in Seftullajote village, 25 km from here, Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) KL Tamta told PTI.

He was suffering from age-related ailments of which kidney and prostate problems were severe.

At the time of his death, he was General Secretary of a new CPI(Marxist-Leninist) group, formed by the merger of several splinter groups of the original party.

Along with co-Chairman Charu Mazumdar and Jungal Santhal, Sanyal formed the dreaded triad that gave birth to the Naxalbari movement, which in the later years had transformed into the even bloodier Maoists struggle but he had openly disapproved of the strategy of armed struggle after his release from jail in 1977.

The trio spearheaded the movement which began with a peasant uprising at Naxalbari, a small village, on May 25, 1967 in North Bengal.

The then Officer-in-Charge of Phansidewa police station Amarendranath Pyne was killed by an arrow shot by the Naxalites, as they came to be known, thus starting a series of killings of landowners, policemen and those associated with the establishment.

Sanyal had formally announced the formation of the originial CPI(ML) at Sahid Minar in Kolkata on April 22, 1969.

In the early days of the Naxalite movement, Sanyal wasportrayed as a "great revolutionary" in opposition to the "peaceful" cadres of the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The naxal movement, which also spread its tentacles to some other parts of India, including Andhra Pradesh, was widely believed to have secured support from the Communist regime in China to further its goals and Sanyal had no no hesitation in saying it in public. But whether actually they had received support from the Chinese was always in the realm of speculation.

As one of the key leaders behind the Naxalite insurrection through violent means, Sanyal and other top functionaries were most of the time underground.

Then came the elections in 1972 when Congress had come to power under Siddartha Shankar Ray in West Bengal.

The Congress dispensation had ruthlessly come down on the Naxalbari movement whose back was broken but the Naxalites regrouped only to become Maoists of various shades in later years and also to spread over several states.

In the wake of the failure of the Naxal uprising, Sanyal went into hiding and had claimed to have given up violent struggle after the death of Charu Mazumdar.

He was arrested in August 1970 in the famous Parvathipuram conspiracy case and was jailed in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Sanyal was released from jail at the intervention of late Jyoti Basu, who had just taken over as Chief Minister of the Left Front government in West Bengal in 1977.

In 1985, Sanyal and his supporters along with five other groups merged to form the Communist Organisation of India (Marxist-Leninist). Years later, he was also to oppose the land acquisition in Singur for Tata's cheap car project.


Kanu Sanyal: A revolutionary who came to abhor violence

Kanu Sanyal: A revolutionary who came to abhor violence


Tuesday, March 23, 2010 19:46 IST Email

Kolkata: Kanu Sanyal lit the fire of a violent revolution along with two other members of the Naxal triad that led a peasant uprising in West Bengal in the late 1960s, though in later years he shunned his own anarchist past.

As he battled senility, advancing age, and a blurring eyesight, the bachelor 78-year-old founding leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) abhorred the violence unleashed by present-day Maoists.

He was the last surviving member of the Naxalite triad that included another legendary revolutionary and comrade-in-arms Charu Majumdar and Jungle Santhal.

The three were behind the abortive Naxalite insurrection attempt by radical communist to initiate an "Indian revolution" by violent means.

Sanyal had even actively solicited help from the communist government in China to further his goals, but it could never be established whether this was moral, tactical, or financial.

He was a critic of land acquisition by the Left Front government in Singur and Nandigram and criticised it, calling it capitalist.

Sanyal believed that led by a selfless and strong leadership, the protests in Nandigram had the potential to surpass even the Naxalbari movement.

"Maoism is not the path of Naxalbari. The violence being indulged in can't solve things. I don't support this," he had said of the stepped up violence by Maoists.

"There is a distinctive difference between our way of revolution to that being pursued in the name of Maoism," he had said, dubbing Maoists as people without ideals and direction.

Born in Kurseong in 1932, Sanyal while working as a revenue clerk at the Siliguri court, was first arrested for waving a black flag at then West Bengal chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy to protest against the Centre's ban on the Communist Party of India.

He was lodged at the Jalpaiguri jail, where he met Majumdar, who was then a CPI district secretariat member.

Influenced by Majumdar's ideology, Sanyal joined the CPI after his release, and later sided with the CPI (Marxist) after the party split over the war with China.

He together with Mazumdar and another leader, however, became disillusioned with the CPI(M) and broke away to found the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969, aiming at an 'Indian revolution through armed struggle'.

The Naxalite movement, started by the three, began from a peasant uprising in Naxalbari village in West Bengal on May 25, 1967, when the officer in charge of Phansidewa police station, Amarendranath Pyne, was shot dead by an arrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Supreme court's verdict on live in relationship....!!!

3 days back, there was a verdict of Supreme court on LIVE-IN RELATIONSHIP...they legalised it. Listening to discussion on this issue on different channels....Well I don't want to discuss about momentum anymore...I believe if PARENTS are aware and make their kids aware about pros n cons of growing age in right time, about its problems/adolescent problems....whether it is regarding career,their interest,hobbies,eating habits...e.g... healthy food v/s junk food...whether it is Indian or foreigner food....and its proportion and frequency, use of use of phones,internet, about emotions, physical growth, and relationship balance at home and with peer group, or with strangers...there won't be much problem. People do imbibe family values as well subconciously, what they see around at home and in school/college..etc...I won't put any statistics it were discussed much, but then it was alarming...but TV ad 'VIRGIN ZARA HAAT KE' is interesting of VIRGIN MOBILE.....!!

But as nowadays average age limit of getting married is increasing....maybe one more law won't make much difference. As I feel its our mindset which needed to be changed, and one need to be married on time, otherwise...making law or not won't make much difference.


Saw a news - 7 people convicted in haryana for killing their newly wed sister and her husband...becoz this wedding was against their will and not in their caste.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Just saw programme on SAMBA SPYING CASE...HONOUR EARNED AND LOST on some channel... Its reminds me that in 1990, I did full page story on this spying case,and was first one to interview Mr Rathod and Mr Rana after they came out from the jail...for SUNDAY OBSERVER HINDI.

Sunday, March 21, 2010



WHY STOP IT at all ??? must UNDERSTAND .

Posted by Sanjay Bhatt at 4:31pm on March 20th, 2010


Plastic bags are handed out for the simplest of reasons and in the millions. We love them. They are cheap to make, lightweight, waterproof and convenient.

But with this convenience comes the simple truth that plastic bags are practically indestructible.

Each year tens of thousands of plastic bags are dumped as landfill, or litter. 21% of all landfills in general are made up of these bags.

There they will remain for thousands of years! Or they fly and float out into drains, creeks and rivers, costing money to clean up, blocking drains and ending up in the marine environment, killing marine life.

We have to stop this. All of us.

Some facts:

1. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

2. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

3. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)

4. According to the industry publication Modern Plastics, Taiwan consumes 20 billion bags a year—900 per person.

5. According to Australia’s Department of Environment, Australians consume 6.9 billion plastic bags each year—326 per person. An estimated .7% or 49,600,000 end up as litter each year.

6. Over 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles worldwide are killed by plastic rubbish every year

7. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.

8. According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone "from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78° North [latitude] to Falklands 51° South [latitude].

9. We are collectively using about 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that are used each year.... 12,000,000!


Reduce or STOP Altogether using plastic bags

Just say NO THANKS when you are offered a bag

Tell the shopkeeper every single time NOT to give out plastic bags unless it's asked for

Bring your OWN cloth bag; everywhere

Reuse or recycle, DON'T let it end up in a landfill

Start your OWN ADVOCACY and convince your family first, friends then strangers to also take up a similar stand

Spread the word. Every invitation counts:

Comments (2)
Add a comment...

Sanjay Bhatt wrote at 8:39pm on March 20th, 2010

CLOTH BAG isBEST alternative & washable + reusable +disposble=EcoFriendelhi (.)

JUTE BAG , ETC can be carried by CUSTOMER and as JOSHI says the
paper bags must be provided by VENDORS .


Saturday, March 20, 2010

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Regd. Office
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Ph. 26713782, 26713783, 26713784

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Ph. 26713781 (T/fax) 26713780

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Ph. 23358149

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Ph. 29955139

Important Phone No.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Bihar: Rising From the Shadows

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Bihar: Rising From the Shadows

By Malini Goyal in Forbes India Magazine.

Mukesh Verma, my school friend, is our host. He suggests we go for a drive around the city at 9 p.m. after he shutters his jewelry shop. “Are you mad,” I react instinctively. He assures me it’s OK. We step out. I do not mention this to my dad when he calls. He has already called thrice during the day, every time asking me to be cautious.

We go for a city tour. Cutting through the traffic in the market, we are in the Fort area. It’s quiet, the dark streets lined with thick trees, an eerie silence close to the Ganges. I am on edge. I blurt out: “Where are you going? Let’s go back.” Mukesh is cool. “We do this often. Don’t worry.” Going for a drive at night and indulging in some street food is the only way he can entertain his family in this city. And he is grateful he can do that now after so many years.

I am in Munger, my home town, after almost 15 years. This is where I went to school. This is where my dad once ran a successful business in the 1980s. About 200 km from Patna, it is a non-descript town once famous (rather infamous) for its gun factory, an ITC plant and a railway manufacturing unit.

Barely five years back, the roads wore a deserted look after dark, Mukesh recalls. Shops shut early. Girls would not step out in the evening. “Things have changed in the last three-four years. Nitish [Kumar, Bihar’s CM] has really changed things,” he says. Yet, I hesitate going alone to dinner at my teacher’s house. I avoid stepping out of the car. The gun-totting men outside a temple we are visiting make me nervous.

I admit I have a hangover.

In the 1980s, Munger was like any backward town in India. It was normal to have 20-hour power cuts and we had mastered the art of studying by kerosene lamps. Roads were poorly maintained; garbage dumps and open drains were common. Yet, life was exciting. A big family with five girls, we were a riot. We used to go for long early morning walks in the Fort area. We had our weekly outings — movie or dinner or both. Grand-dad got us our first bicycle. We soon persuaded dad to buy us mopeds. We became famous as “moped girls” — girls there didn’t do such things then. By 1989, I would leave all this to move to Delhi for my college.

By the early 1990s, things had begun to change in Bihar. The state had a new “charismatic” chief minister in Laloo Yadav and his impact was beginning to show. Businessmen, including my dad, felt it first. My sisters needed an escort to go to the market or for tuitions. The family’s weekly outings stopped. By the mid 1990s, kidnappings, ransom, theft had all surged. In 1998, when the Centre imposed central rule in Bihar it said it has “brought to an end a rule which gave Bihar 5,000 murders, 1,000 rapes, 2,500 kidnappings and 3,000 dacoities in a year”.

Smart businessmen had begun to move out of the state, sending their sons to boarding schools, fearing kidnappings. My father with five daughters had begun to get threats too. He was looted once, attacked by a home-made bomb in a bustling market. A simple man, comfortable with the small town life, Delhi was too big and aggressive a place for him to move to. Relocation would entail financial insecurities, the shutting down of a flourishing business and worst of all, social dislocation. For a while, he dithered, hoping things might improve. By the mid 1990s, all the kids were moved to Delhi schools. My parents shuttled between Delhi and Munger. By the late 1990s, my father gave up hope and moved to Delhi.

Even as a liberalised India progressed rapidly, Bihar’s government machinery was failing at every level. Virtually every macro socio-economic indicator tells a grim story. It was — and remains — one of the poorest states with one of the lowest literacy rate and highest child mortality rate. Per capita income in Bihar stood at Rs. 9,765 in 2007-08, less than one-third the national average.

For an average middle class family like ours, perhaps the breakdown of law and order was the most visible. For the rest — schools, hospitals etc — private substitutes were available. However, I would hear stories from the city’s DJ College, where I finished my Standard XI and XII in 1988.

Almost no teachers were hired through the Laloo-Rabri regime and stray appointments were largely political. For example, the chemistry department had only two lecturers (13 posts had been sanctioned) even as the number of students multiplied from 16 honours seats to 50. It was not unusual to have academic sessions delayed by two-three years.

“Classes were perpetually suspended,” my teacher Gautam Mishra, who teaches at the college, tells me over dinner.

Winds of Change
We are driving from Patna to Munger. This is the first time I have ever travelled on these roads. The two-lane highways are smooth, though for a big city dweller used to eight-lane expressways, they seem narrow and congested. But almost everybody in the state is raving about how roads in Bihar have transformed. “Nitish has changed the condition of the roads completely,” gushes Patna-based Raman Jha who runs Super Travel Agency. In the last five years, his 12-car fleet has expanded to 30. His car rental business has grown 100 percent during the period. Earlier people would avoid roads at night. Not any more, he says. Better law and order conditions have helped. For long distances like Patna to Bhagalpur (250 km), train used to be the best option. Now people prefer roads. Travel time between Patna and Munger has come down from about seven hours to about 4 hours. Even city roads in Munger are well maintained.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has rated the road work in Bihar as one of the best. “The aim is that within the state you can reach from anywhere to Patna in six hours,” says Pratyay Amrit, CMD, Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam. For example, Sitamarhi to Patna took 12 hours; now it takes just three. “By 2015, we want Bihar roads to be the best in the country,” he says. Amrit is now preparing his company to bid for projects outside the state.

Government hospitals too are changing. In Munger Sadar Hospital, K.C. Singh, civil surgeon and superintendent, can feel it first hand. The hospital once wore a deserted look. Stray dogs roamed freely. “Today, at times we have so many patients that we can’t handle,” Singh says.

“I come here once in a while. Earlier I wouldn’t have even peeped here,” says Mridula Jha, a retired higher secondary school principal, who lives alone in the city. What’s bringing back the patients is the improved facilities. From note-pads for doctors to ambulances and generators, the government is investing in hospital infrastructure. Hospitals are clean and better staffed with more doctors. At the Munger hospital facilities like x-ray, ultrasound and 15 pathological tests are free.

It’s a similar story at the Baidyanath Girls High School (IX to XII Standard), Munger. The school had no teachers for many subjects. “No recruitment for 15 years had taken its toll,” says Syeda Parveen, the principal. Out of the 45 teachers that they have today, 30 have been hired on contract. The average class size has come down from 100 to 60 now. The number of girls too has gone up from 500 to 1,400 even as academic results show improvement.

Nitish’s Magic Formula
How has Nitish Kumar managed Bihar’s turnaround? Where the Laloo-RABRI government did nothing — or worsened things — for 15 years, even modest work by Kumar’s government makes him look good. He has picked his battles well. Law and order, roads, healthcare and education — the four big thrust areas, have a broader relevance for the people, cutting across income and social class.

Of course, Kumar has tremendous motivation to deliver. His political career hinges on it. Unlike Laloo Yadav who became complacent, assured of loyal Muslim-Yadav votes (which gave him a 26 percent upfront edge over others), Nitish Kumar has no such loyal support base. Only his work will hold the key to his electoral fortunes, as the state prepares to go for election this year. And he knows it well.

Law and order is perhaps the biggest area of emphasis. The government sent a clear signal that political patronage of criminals has ended. “Bahubalis” (strongmen) like Shahabuddin were tried and jailed. “We monitored selected cases, irrespective of the parties, ensured evidence and speedy trial and punishment. It worked,” says Amir Subhani, home secretary, Bihar government. State policing infrastructure is being beefed up — from recruiting constable, sub inspectors to building police facilities like training academy, police stations (200 are under construction). After being neglected for years, the state’s spend on law and order will touch Rs. 2,006 crore in 2009-10. Lawlessness had scared away many. For example road contractors would simply did not bid for Bihar projects. Under Nitish Kumar, any ransom call or threat was tackled on a war footing, says Amrit.

Nitish has picked his team of bureaucrats well. Amrit has overseen completion of 400-plus bridge projects. Once a loss-making state unit with Rs. 300-crore turnover, it is now a profitable enterprise with a turnover of Rs. 2,700 crore.

Use of technology, outsourcing and smart initiatives have enabled him to scale-up rapidly, improve quality and bring transparency. E-tendering has cut the 60-day process to 21. Smart devices like mobile inspectors — GPRS-enabled mobile phones — helped effective real time project monitoring.

Outsourcing and appointment on contract has been a consistent thread across different departments. It enables the government to do quick scale-up, offer flexibility for course correction and
improve delivery.

Teachers, doctors and even retired policemen have been hired on contract. In hospitals, from generators, diagnostic facilities, X-ray machines, housekeeping, ambulances and even food has been outsourced to third parties who are paid depending on services delivered, with regular monitoring.

A Task Unaccomplished
Bihar is vastly better today than it was five years back. But perhaps it’s still not good enough.

To me, Munger still looks like the city I left in 1989. Power cuts are severe; the city survives on invertors and generators. There’s still just one good private school. While contract appointments in government schools and hospitals have kindled new hopes, private corporate investment is missing. Unemployment is a major problem. While schemes like NREGS may have held back the poor in the villages, the Bihari exodus continues. Malls, multiplexes, restaurants, hotels — the consumerist wave sweeping other parts of the country — are years away.

Munger is a microcosm of what Bihar and Nitish Kumar must be grappling with statewide. It has been surviving on funds provided by the Centre but it’ll need to start attracting investments soon.

Electorates have a short memory. While contract appointments may have offered quick solutions, quality of service delivery will be an issue. Take contract teachers. They were hired on the basis of their degrees, but “they are product of the same corrupt regime where cheating in examination was rampant and degrees could easily be bought”, says Jha.

Anjani Singh, principal secretary (HRD) agrees that quality of teachers is an issue, “But we knew it would have taken us 10 years to bridge the gap if went by the existing stiff norms.” Now he is focusing on offering training and conducting annual screening test to vet their knowledge.

In the middle of all this, Nitish is becoming hamstrung by electoral politics in an election year. Already there is infighting within his party, with the party chief Lalan Singh resigning. He has flagged the issue of internal democracy, institutionalisation of the decision making process and collective leadership.

People say while Kumar may be a tenacious administrator with a vision, but he isn’t a great team builder, is arrogant and insensitive. His reliance on a clutch of bureaucrats, critics aver, has cut him off from the masses, fuelling discontent within his own party.

The by-election results were an eye-opener. The reverses suffered by the JD(U) were more severe than those of its ally, the BJP. It doesn’t help that the rival Congress, charged by Rahul Gandhi’s charisma, is on the rebound.

While Kumar’s government may have done a commendable job in bringing Bihar back on the growth path, he needs a re-election to consolidate his efforts.

Political experts say right now, the verdict isn’t very clear. But every person I met during the four-day trip to Bihar — from rickshaw pullers to drivers, businessmen to immigrant Biharis — gave his four-year term a thumbs-up.

The Long Road Home

We are headed back to Delhi. Amit Verma, the photographer, and I are chatting about retirement. He wants to retire to Bikaner, his hometown in Rajasthan. I ponder. Munger just isn’t an option. It is too small, remote and lacks even the basic amenities that I take for granted. Maybe Delhi, I mumble.

The very next day I get a call from a school friend. We connected after 25 years. He works at Stanford in the US. We talk for hours, catching up with each other. Then he says, “I want to return some day to Bihar and teach. I want to give back.”

The cynic in me brands it as the romantic moorings of a home-sick Bihari. Promptly, the optimist in me nudges. At least people have begun to think about returning. That itself should be a big change for a state that had gotten used to its natives fleeing.

Source: Forbes India

1 Response to “Bihar: Rising From the Shadows”

Very well written Malini! The anecdotes describes the current condition aptly.
I want to reiterate what I wrote for The Indian Express when Bihar was partitioned that Bihar can still with the Agriculture, Water, Human Resources, Culture and Spiritual background reach the top, not only in India, but the world (like it was for over 1000 years) with just few decades of similar and sustained efforts.
Then when I met some dynamic officers Naveen Verma, CK Mishra and then the newly elected CM in Delhi, I proposed to connect all NRBs with Bihar. Happily this has taken shape now and the State Govt has formed the Bihar Foundation for similar goals.
So, I feel there is hope all around as the State has already lost a lot and doesn’t have much to lose now.
Best wishes!

Ajit Kumar

Ajit Kumar March 19th, 2010 3:52 pm

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Maybe what I am writing is already known to all....But its my perspective....In last two yrs, besides discussing career and educational topics on phone, or with my student relatives, I use to discuss recipes and household talks,where abouts of other close and distant relatives and friends....about food habits,crops of different places we live...tradition,culture, cloths, festivals, health, music,...etc, routine work....and definitly The News with my parents...or at home!!!

I started liking watching cricket in my free time(regarding which, chinu's friend Shubham and (Sudhirji also)...told me, aunty you're distracted)....while TV's Channel surfing!!!...though we do discuss other games and sports...!!! Started using computer regularly...While writing in a gossip blog,where initially I thought only girls were writing,and definitly I didn't knew it was getting spread.......but then I as always tried to write general comment and not to get personal till late...discussed their studies...and general human relation...suggested not to do speculations over unauthentic gossips(based on some vague news clippings...) as media trial can create a situation which can be embarrasing for person or family....I cut n pasted MS father's old newsclipping also...and made few friends there who later asked me 'AAPKE PATI KYA KERTE HEIN, AAPKI BETI KYA KERTI HEIN....AAP AISSE KYON BOLTI HEIN(in some context...but I am sure his views must have changed positivly)...but then people do enjoy gossiping(or ...maybe momentum)!! My intention was not to spread any thing wrong. I mentioned few contemporary serials and movies there.I could have mentioned PARDES or SUBHAS GHAI SAHEB's , BONEY KAPOOR SAHEB'S, or SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI's or SHAHRUKH's movies in the begining...but it was sponteneous reactions and I was talking in realistic factual terms.It was not my secrets but definitly one's mentality,imagination,observations and experience and at times intentions do reflects in whatever they write or express.But definitly I suggested people writing there that never use language which make others uncomfortable...,be careful what you're saying and never show disrespect to any women/girl(one of them using bad words for other girl).I TOLD THEM YOU ALL ARE LIKE MY DAUGHTER... and a proverb 'not a big deal' used for...I think if kids are going out in city, maybe staying at friends place or on trip with friends(boys or girls...definitly with known to friends), with permission of their parents/guardian, its not wrong, but then what they 'can' do and its consequences 'can' effect their life later on, but then its their personal matter and its their prerogative. We elders are just a WATCHDOG.But then as I had mentioned in the begining in my blog earlier that Mr M.S. Dhoni...and his progress in Career I am watching him since begining...reminds me of Sudhirji's early days.

I talked to unknown and my 'common man' school friends which proved that even their words/views can get highlighted,whether they are celebrities or not. So its not that I was taking FAYDA of TALKING ABOUT FAMOUS stars of different fieldS, FOR JUST BEING IN SPOTLIGHT...I WAS ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN SPORTS AND ....I HAVE WRITTEN ARTICLES AND REVIEWS ON FILMS/MEDIA/ART N CULTURE ...I HAD DONE INTERVIEWS OF BIG PERSONALITIES BEFORE JOINING TVI/SAHARA. AS WELL AS COVERED COMMON PEOPLE's PEOPLE's PROBLEMs.

Well, ...And somehow I feel whoever has spoken ill knowingly or unknowingly,with whatever some misunderstanding...or maybe they got misunderstood in whatever they have said,or in depicting it....but they do get punished/sacked for it, or maybe for some other reasons!!....lots of TODH-PHODH happened in these last few years!!!

Meanwhile I was writing in my blogs and then in FACEBOOK,ORKUT, in my spare time...whenever I ger studyroom and my computer free...etc...and definitly my routine talk on phone and around....with family and friends...contributed for a programme on ETV's all 11 channels and written few articles for Newspaper DAINIK BHASKER's EDITORIAL PAGE...etc !!!

I want to mention in a short that I tried to touch and give balanced views about every related topics somehow which I thought was cropped up ,spread...patterns,designs....naxalism,Terrorism, Talibanisation....blind westernisation( and its blind criticism as well)...Honour killings....mrithyudand(getting hanged on trees,poles,beaten to death,burnt to death, suicides) given by panchaayat to young boys and girls in love in Haryana, Punjaab, U.P, U.K....for Dowry...rape,sexual harrasment...specially in the cars...etc, maybe these news are getting covered more then before(pahle bhi hota tha)...and gettinng weived in Serials also...Domestic violence,accusing,abusing, indiscipline,rudeness....and definitly commercilization of every art form...even sports...everything has become bussiness and tool for earning money....if its good as countrymen need to be Samridh and samarth, it has flip sides as well...need to have some lakshman rekha!!!

(and many more)...may be I was out of my mind but I mentioned it, I put it correctly or not I don't know...but in last few years if one can see these incidents has seemed quite controlled....while chatting with One of my friend Dr.Rajendra from Goa...few months back,in context of PRIDE PARADE, and different kind of flu's...I said in every few months some new diseases(bimariyan) spread,...I think now its not happening...though its good so many Baba's has got exposed now, they need to follow KABIR's suggestion that GRIHASTH SANYASA is the best way of living art....!!!

Lets talk in brief about few pain points,and not just Achievements....!!

I may sound repeatative, maybe now everyone knew about it,maybe one take it as explanation but it is a cleansing work...In last few months I have commented on ISSUES/TOPICS...which I may have overlooked,ignored,not noticed and not reacted,commented,or given opinion, and would have been in good books of everyone...but I did opposite, not becoz I wanted to be in spotlight for wrong reasons,create controversies,sensationalized news....and get flacked at home and outside for spreading 'Badboo by shaking overflowed toilet as potty stinks'!!!

1-But first of all I wanted to prove that people were enjoying watching serials/films/ads/news/overall media....and being part of 'HAWAII PRAISE,CRITICISM AND ATTACKS'...POSITIVE/NEGATIVE/GREY' a supporter or thinking as a character...without doing much effort,like fatafat 20-20 cricket.....and then discrediting you by blindly saying...AAP NE KYA KIYA, YA KYA KER RAHE HO,AAP KAHAN RAHTE HO'...anyway this point is over now...I don't want to convince anyone anymore, neither need any certificates....but the HURTING POINT was aggression(aatankwaad) and Pollution(climate change)...which was effecting life styles, language, behaviour and definitly our mentality!!

2-I had to prove that I have talent as these superficial talks and abberations(even intellectuals does talk like that) which has become part of our life, has become talk of the town....I don't want to dissapoint my well wishers,or embarrass my family,friends as they all have to face people in their circle.

3- People were enjoying these evolving stories from(3RD EDITION IN THESE 2YRS) CRIME/CAREER/SAAS-BAHU SAGA/COMEDIES/PROBLEMS REGARDING KIDS/LOVE STORIES...DEFINTLY THESE ARE NOT DOCUMENTARIES AND WELL RESEARCHED MESSAGE ORIENTED PROGRAMME...ITS NOT INFOTAINMENT 100%...ITS ENTERTAINMENT...THOUGH THINGS HAS CHANGED FOR BETTER,AS THEY ARE SHOWING RURAL BACKGROUNDS ZAMEENEE REALITIES AND EMOTIONS AS WELL AS URBAAN LIFE....AND DEFINITLY EMOTIONAL AATYACHHAR( NOT I MEAN BY THIS,WHAT IS SHOWN ON BINDAAS TV...) ALSO...RICH AND POOR's PROBLEMS, CASTESISM...BACKWARD/FORWARDS/TABOO ATTACHED TO DALITS AND POOR....GOOD/BAD/UGLINESS OF SOCIETY discussed by all of us...but presentation and interpetation is their's so how only am I to be blame....though while watching we also do our became a 'vicious circle'...and we all need to be balanced in 'directing'these 'HAWAII STORIES' here and there, its better now, no one has misunderstandings, they are taking ISSUES AS ISSUES AND BLAMING LESS TO EACH OTHER, as stories are also reflection of our society, but fight for being under spot light is still there...UNCHHA-NICCHA DIKHANA....HUM AACCHE,TUM BURE(I am the worst effected a cruel bhabhiji)...GIVE N TAKE...SHANI MATA KE LIYE BHIKSHA SHANIVAAR KA...AUR USKA KATORA....!!

4- DEFINITLY no one is court dancer here as shown in few serials( for example...RAJPIPLA KE SETH KI BAHU/AND A LOST BETI...) and in movies, neither Bar girls or Bartenders(PRIYA's daughter..MITHI WAS A PART TIME waiteress IN MACDONALD IN SAANS SERIAL....but in next edition it was their Sardar friend who was a Dhaba owner.), no women are Drunkards or chain smokers, drug addicts,or seriously ill, has some big mental problem,autistic,retarded,spastic...etc...neither we live in Chawl...Basti's...but definitly, we all go through complexities of life,emotions,economics,ups-downs,ill ness,accidents...failure in studies,competitions,career...below expectation results...getting Praised,Getting Awards...Honour...respect,standing ovations... but then...every one do face insults,punishments,TU-TU,MEIN-MEIN... teasings, some point of one is finished,and definitly everyone has to begin if they do something new and learn from experiences. I am sure they know their flaws and qualities themselve better than others!!!

5- When writing about transcendental issues,

be transcendentally clear.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

A-I was told I had not taken any STAND on any ISSUES....writing here was a STAND I have taken...I took RISK...knowing If I won't be able to reach properly...I'll be misunderstood and married life or even in public life.... is a chunauti which do not need too much risk....!!!

B- I have supproted cause of HINDI (AND OTHER LANGUAGES)..., even when it was not a HINDI DIWAS OR PAKHWARA...which resulted in EKTA KAPOOR and OTHER's showing how their CHARACTERS(whether they give me credit or not...mein ab choop nahin rahoongi)...for example...IN THE SERIAL 'BANU MEIN TERI DULHAN'...VIDHYA, a girl from VARANASI, uneducated, was humiliated by her sister-in-law in sasural, as she couldn't converse in ENGLISH, so she started learning SPOKEN ENGLISH SECRETLY, and on her anniversary in front of press, suddenly she started speaking fluently......but in next JANM... SAGAAR,HER HUSBAAND WHO WAS AAMAR NOW, WAS GAON KA GORA...BANARASWALA...and has same problem with the language...!!


SARROGACY/PIRACY(AASLI-NAKLI...SHAANTI..I AM THE BEST...swadeshi/vedeshi..Sudhir/Sudhirji's...HT cartoon contest...)...!!

d- NGO...(all of them are not rude in behaviour)

e-Politics/women reservation/or reservation in a general term...I am apolitical person...but definitly an aware person...was a journalist and a wife of a not have very good impression about our systems functioning,people's ( corrupt mentality...and about all Babaji's/and Politicians like others, but definitly by the time passes,even I have evolved, maybe bit earlier arround me and is not averse about them as I feel good and bad are always exists and if one want can change/reformed...!!! (I tried to maintain mujhe lena dena nahin hai in sabse in the begining in the last 2yrs...but then I couldn't stop writing how everything was initially a chain reaction and later on some competition,involvement as characters...'kind of khel', but definitly our home was under spotlight and scrutiny previously as I have written in detail as much I remember)...where ever it was neccessary...I don't want my daughter or any other kid- to say...I am not an artist or leave painting, as she has inborn talent like her father...just becoz wrong impression shown in some movie(...e.g..Titanic)....!!


G- LGBT...LESBIAN/GAY/TRANSGENDER/BISEXUALs(Treat these people as a insaan and help them come out of it by treatment if needed or by education/healthcare/human rights and employment opportunities. ...!!

H- CALL GIRLS/PROSTITUTES...(Same suggestions for them also)














U-EXTREMISM OF VIEWS...WHICH WAS CAUSING HARM ...VIOLENCE,RIOTS...I THINK IT LESSEN DOWN NOW...!! of Finance/stock exchange/sensex/films/modelling
/entertainment...ITEM GIRLS/couch castings!!!

W...Train management!!

X...Communications/mechanization/computerization/mobiles/WLL...which are no more a BIG QUESTION...though lack of electricity/lack of education/economic conditions/lack of awareness and interests...specially ignorance of English language...are still main hurdles in spreading computers/internet in interiors ...unlike TV Channels and cables,dish.

Y- ...Environment/dams/energy/constructions/malls/SEZ/plots...and human rights of people losing their lands...

Z...Paid news...and Media's lakshman much importance one need to give any celebrity's personal life and related gossips and does it needed to be HYPED-YELLOW JOURNALISM? ONE SHOULDN'T DO CHARACTER ASSISSNATION DURING CRIME REPORTING(for example...AARUSHI CASE), TILL THEY HAVE SUBSTANTIVE, AUTHENTIC NEWS.

-Health/health equipments/...accidents/emergency and hospitals, and FIR related laws in accidental case....!!



In short, I can say many new products( for example...Tide washing powder...with a catchline MANISHAJI PHIR TOOFAN UTHAINGI??) has been launched,or atleast their names were changed in updated version on the basis of charchayein,whether it was wrong/fake/speculations...right or based on Praises.!!! channels(e.g...Lemon TV/Focus TV))/publications with interesting centers/BPO's/outsourcing/Hospitality industry/Home keeping jobs/PM's highway road pariyojna(HIRA HAI SADA KE LIYE/KHUBSOORAT)..during NDA's regime...AFTER PRIYA'S COMEBACK ...V R S YOJNA......BLUEPRINT/RUNAWAY GAUTAM AND FOUND IN SOME MANDIR...TULSI VIRANI/PARVATI/PRERANA BAJAJ and many more( though later on word PRISM was mentioned/imerged...I don't think maker(MS NEENA GUPTA) had done much research...)....don't you think these are silver linings in adverse many new laws or amendments happened......or is in the process(I don't think forming too many committees are good idea, unless something substaintial come out within deadline)!!!

And in last this, HAAR N JEET in normal terms are competitiveness...but in films recently it was depicted as, for example...NARAIN SHANKER IN MOHABATEIN said to his son in law(Daamaad)..."MEIN HAAR GAYA, TUM JEET GAYE" is DEV in DHARKAN TO RAM..."MEIN JEET KAR HAAR GAYA, TUM HAAR KAR JEET GAYE"....IN TAAL ANIL KAPOOR TOLD TO OTHER HERO AKHSHAY KHANNA...MEIN HAAR GAYA AUR TUM JEET GAYE....AND TILL NOW IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS...IT IS STILL GOING ON...!!!

As I have written earlier that I have got chances to act in serials, has got modelling offers for ads(good one with substantive role of freedom fighter-in 1985/Gandhian-in 1992/Indian brides-in 1990/Dabur-in 2001).....but I said NO, and didn't do it, and definitly not regreting it.

I had said earlier that I don't need publicity....but definitly do need to work more, not for survival,but for my own satisfaction and to watch less TV, I WILL WRITE, WHENEVER I'LL FEEL ITs NECCESSARY FOR ME TO PUT DOWN MY PERSPECTIVE...AND DEFINITLY ITS NOT MY 'BHADAAS' BUT MY 'UDGAAR' i was told recently that in some bhadas 4 media, and such other blogs take money from people and publish their stories in their favour.!!

I can see now new generation is ready to work and take on...even in our family...they are in different stages of studies and work...its begining for them...they are forming their own opinion....and progressing well!!!

While making/construction of our NGO's website in November 2009, I told my web designer...highlight causes and not a person...person can be a face/a voice or a medium.

I will do maximum effort to follow what I feel is right....and definitly do field work on my own as well....I don't want to commercialize my NGO's work...but definitly will want to sale whatever is made/manufactured during vocational training in subsidies use that money further vocational teaching....AS salaries/stipend and on health and education projects, (they all are inter-connected/linked to each other)...I mean in all the 7 projects (filhaal) of ADITI FOUNDATION.

We have free volunteer option, yearly Membership fees(5,000 rs), free honorary membership(THAT'LL BE OUR CHOICE),and definitly Partenership, sponsorship and donation,grants and funds options...web address is it has some rules and regulations...(and its my original idea)...(but it is open, will ask for help, if their is any urgency..if neccessary).We don't want people to dictate terms and tell us how to work...though suggestions are welcome in our work...but otherwise...Women are prefrably most welcome if they voluntarily feel and has interest and time, as they have much fire in their belley to do something innovative, I mean no less than any man...I have asked each and every member atleast once, around me...we won't persuade them unneccessarily, but we don't want to widen any kind of divide. Definitly Sudhirji's and others support are as usual always there...Sahmati/aasahmati chalti rahti hai....!!!

No more talk of past unneccessarily and will think and act for present and it is I have not written these all, to put any blame on anyone or discredit or disrespect anyone, but to make everything 'more' factual and realistic TIME TO parents and families in mayka/ my parent-in-laws and other members... we all here in sasural...and people around us n friends!!!....Just to come out of any misconception anymore...all of us are moving upward and progressing in positive direction!!






Friday, March 12, 2010






2004/2010...WHEAT...9RS/KILO....NOW 18RS/KILO






PETROL PER LITRE...24RS/.....47.39RS
DIESEL PER LITRE 22.50....NOW 35.50


ONION ...10RS....NOW 32RS.





Treat women and men officers at par, HC tells armed forces

Treat women and men officers at par, HC tells armed forces
New Delhi: In a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court Friday asked the government to treat women and men officers in the army and air force at par while granting Permanent Commission, saying "greater sensitivity was required" while dealing with gender issues.

A division bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.C. Garg also ordered the reinstatement of all women Short Service Commission officers who had to retire after being refused Permanent Commission.

Short Service Commission officers, be they men or women, serve for a maximum of 14 years while male officers granted Permanent Commission can serve up to the age of 60, depending on the rank they rise to.

Women are now eligible for Permanent Commission only in the medical, nursing and dental services of the armed forces. They get to serve for a shorter duration in non-combat or support arms of the armed forces.

Friday's order came on a petition by over 50 women officers of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) who were denied Permanent Commission though they wanted to don the uniform for the rest of their working life.

The verdict, coming three days after the Rajya Sabha passed a bill reserving a third of all seats in legislatures for women, sparked a wave of joy among women who felt disciminated at the military's hands.

A big victory, says women officers

An elated Rekha Pali, counsel for the women officers, cried: "It's a big victory for all of us!"

Wing Commander Rekha Aggrawal, who served in the IAF from 1995 to 2009, said: "I am very glad now. I will again join the office. I want to serve my nation."

"Our three-year-long battle has finally become fruitful. The court has finally understood the disparity that women officers in the army face," Major Seema Singh added.

Verdict may lead to cadre issues

However, the IAF and the Indian Army said it would be well night impossible to reinstate the retired women officers.

"Firstly, there are no vacancies. Secondly, this would create cadre management problems. Thirdly, there are sound arguments on the basis of which an appeal can be filed," an IAF officer said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media on the issued.

Indian Army officers IANS spoke to reacted in similar vein.

The court said its ruling was applicable only to women recruited in the IAF and the Indian Army before 2006, when the Short Service Commission tenure went up from 10 to 14 years.

"The Permanent Commission shall be offered to them after completion of five years (of service). They would also be entitled to all consequential benefits such as promotion and other financial benefits," it said.

The court said women officers who had not attained the age of retirement available for Permanent Commissioned officers will "be reinstated in service and shall be granted all consequential benefits including promotion ... except for the pay and allowance for the period they have not been in service".

Court not interfering in policy decision

But the court said it was not interfering with the "policy decision" to bar women from the combat wings.

The court noted that a Permanent Commission comes with certain privileges including pension. It said the women who felt discriminated "deserved better" from the government.

"There is no reason why these persons who have knocked the door of the court should be deprived of their benefit and the benefit extended only in future for grant of Permanent Commission to women."

Over 5,000 women serving at present

Currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the Indian Army, 784 in IAF, and 252 in Indian Navy. This includes women granted Permanent Commission in the Army Medical Corps, the Army Dental Corps and their equivalents in the other two services as also in the Military Nursing Service.

In the army, women serve in support arms like the Corps of Signals, Army Ordinance Corps, the Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, and the Army Service Corps.

In the Indian Air Force, women are inducted in all streams barring the fighter stream. In the Indian Navy there are restrictions on posting women officers aboard ships and submarines.

Source: IANS

Indian Women...and her difficult journey

Medieval Indian Women Medieval India was not women's age it is supposed to be the 'dark age' for them. Medieval India saw many foreign conquests, which resulted in the decline in women's status. When foreign conquerors like Muslims invaded India they brought with them their own culture. For them women was the sole property of her father, brother or husband and she does not have any will of her own. This type of thinking also crept into the minds of Indian people and they also began to treat their own women like this. One more reason for the decline in women's status and freedom was that original Indians wanted to shield their women folk from the barbarous Muslim invaders. As polygamy was a norm for these invaders they picked up any women they wanted and kept her in their "harems". In order to protect them Indian women started using 'Purdah', (a veil), which covers body. Due to this reason their freedom also became affected. They were not allowed to move freely and this lead to the further deterioration of their status. These problems related with women resulted in changed mindset of people. Now they began to consider a girl as misery and a burden, which has to be shielded from the eyes of intruders and needs extra care. Whereas a boy child will not need such extra care and instead will be helpful as an earning hand. Thus a vicious circle started in which women was at the receiving end. All this gave rise to some new evils such as Child Marriage, Sati, Jauhar and restriction on girl education

Sati: The ritual of dying at the funeral pyre of the husband is known as "Sati" or "Sahagaman". According to some of the Hindu scriptures women dying at the funeral pyre of her husband go straight to heaven so its good to practice this ritual. Initially it was not obligatory for the women but if she practiced such a custom she was highly respected by the society. Sati was considered to be the better option then living as a widow as the plight of widows in Hindu society was even worse. Some of the scriptures like 'Medhatiti' had different views it say that Sati is like committing suicide so one should avoid this.
Jauhar: It is also more or less similar to Sati but it is a mass suicide. Jauhar was prevalent in the Rajput societies. In this custom wives immolated themselves while their husband were still alive. When people of Rajput clan became sure that they were going to die at the hands of their enemy then all the women arrange a large pyre and set themselves afire, while their husband used to fight the last decisive battle known as "Shaka", with the enemy. Thus protecting the sanctity of the women and the whole clan.
Child Marriage: It was a norm in medieval India. Girls were married off at the age of 8-10. They were not allowed access to education and were treated as the material being. The plight of women can be imagined by one of the shloka of Tulsidas where he writes [r1] "Dhol, gawar, shudra, pashu, nari, ye sab tadan ke adhikari". Meaning that animals, illiterates, lower castes and women should be subjected to beating. Thus women were compared with animals and were married off at an early age. The child marriage along with it brought some more problems such as increased birth rate, poor health of women due to repeated child bearing and high mortality rate of women and children.
Restriction on Widow Remarriage: The condition of widows in medieval India was very bad. They were not treated as human beings and were subjected to a lot of restrictions. They were supposed to live pious life after their husband died and were not allowed entry in any celebration. Their presence in any good work was considered to be a bad omen. Sometimes heads of widows were also shaved down. They were not allowed to remarry. Any woman remarrying was looked down by the society. This cruelty on widows was one of the main reasons for the large number of women committing Sati. In medieval India living as a Hindu widow was a sort of a curse.
Purdah System: The veil or the 'Purdah' system was widely prevalent in medieval Indian society. It was used to protect the women folk from the eyes of foreign rulers who invaded India in medieval period. But this system curtailed the freedom of women.
Girl Education: The girls of medieval India and especially Hindu society were not given formal education. They were given education related to household chores. But a famous Indian philosopher 'Vatsyayana' wrote that women were supposed to be perfect in sixty four arts which included cooking, spinning, grinding, knowledge of medicine, recitation and many more.

Though these evils were present in medieval Indian society but they were mainly confined to Hindu society. As compared to Hindu society other societies such as Buddhism, Jainism and Christians were a bit lenient. Women in those societies enjoyed far more freedom. They had easy access to education and were more liberal in their approach. According to these religions gender was not the issue in attaining salvation. Any person whether a man or a woman is entitled to get the grace of god. During the time of king Ashoka women took part in religious preaching. According to Hiuen Tsang, the famous traveler of that time, Rajyashri, the sister of Harshavardhana was a distinguished scholar of her time. Another such example is the daughter of king Ashoka, Sanghmitra. She along with her brother Mahendra went to Sri Lanka to preach Buddhism.

The status of women in Southern India was better than the North India. While in Northern India there were not many women administrators, in Southern India we can find some names that made women of that time proud. Priyaketaladevi, queen of Chalukya Vikramaditya ruled three villages. Another women named Jakkiabbe used to rule seventy villages. In South India women had representation in each and every field. Domingo Paes, famous Portuguese traveler testifies to it. He has written in his account that in Vijaynagar kingdom women were present in each and every field. He says that women could wrestle, blow trumpet and handle sword with equal perfection. Nuniz, another famous traveler to the South also agrees to it and says that women were employed in writing accounts of expenses, recording the affairs of kingdom, which shows that they were educated. There is no evidence of any public school in northern India but according to famous historian Ibn Batuta there were 13 schools for girls and 24 for boys in Honavar. There was one major evil present in South India of medieval time. It was the custom of Devadasis.
Devadasis: It was a custom prevalent in Southern India. In this system girls were dedicated to temples in the name of gods and goddesses. The girls were then onwards known as 'Devadasis' meaning servant of god. These Devadasis were supposed to live the life of celibacy. All the requirements of Devadasis were fulfilled by the grants given to the temples. In temple they used to spend their time in worship of god and by singing and dancing for the god. Some kings used to invite temple dancers to perform at their court for the pleasure of courtiers and thus some Devadasis converted to Rajadasis (palace dancers) prevalent in some tribes of South India like Yellamma cult.
The plight of women in medieval India and at the starting of modern India can be summed up in the words of great poet Rabindranath Tagore:
"O Lord Why have you not given woman the right to conquer her destiny?
Why does she have to wait head bowed,
By the roadside, Waiting with tired patience,
Hoping for a miracle in the morrow?"

Modern Indian Women

The status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. If on one hand she is at the peak of ladder of success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering the violence afflicted on her by her own family members. As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a long way. Their path is full of roadblocks. The women have left the secured domain of their home and are now in the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. They had proven themselves. But in India they are yet to get their dues. The sex ratio of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against female. There are 933 females per thousand males in India according to the census of 2001, which is much below the world average of 990 females. There are many problems which women in India have to go through daily. These problems have become the part and parcel of life of Indian women and some of them have accepted them as their fate.

The main problems of Indian women includes:


Generally in India, women are the one who eat last and least in the whole family. So they eat whatever is left after men folk are satiated. As a result most of the times their food intake does not contain the nutritional value required in maintaining the healthy body. In villages, sometimes women do not get to eat the whole meal due to poverty. The UNICEF report of 1996 clearly states that the women of South Asia are not given proper care, which results in higher level of malnutrition among the women of South Asia than anywhere else in the world. This nutritional deficiency has two major consequences for women first they become anemic and second they never achieve their full growth, which leads to an unending cycle of undergrowth as malnourished women cannot give birth to a healthy baby.

Poor Health

The malnutrition results in poor health of women. The women of India are prejudiced from the birth itself. They are not breastfed for long. In the want of a son the women wants to get pregnant as soon as possible which decreases the caring period to the girl child whereas the male members get adequate care and nutrition. Women are not given the right to free movement that means that they cannot go anywhere on their own if they want and they have to take the permission of male member of family or have to take them along. This results in decrease in women's visit to doctor and she could not pay attention to her health as a result.

Maternal Mortality

The mortality rate in India is among highest in the world. As females are not given proper attention, which results in the malnutrition and then they are married at an early age which leads to pregnancies at younger age when the body is not ready to bear the burden of a child. All this results in complications, which may lead to gynecological problems, which may become serious with time and may ultimately, lead to death.

Lack of education

In India women education never got its due share of attention. From the medieval India women were debarred from the educational field. According to medieval perception women need just household education and this perception of medieval India still persists in villages of India even today. Girls are supposed to fulfill domestic duties and education becomes secondary for them whereas it is considered to be important for boys. Although scenario in urban areas has changed a lot and women are opting for higher education but majority of Indian population residing in villages still live in medieval times. The people of villages consider girls to be curse and they do not want to waste money and time on them as they think that women should be wedded off as soon as possible.

The main reason for not sending girls to school is the poor economic condition. Another reason is far off location of schools. In Indian society virginity and purity is given utmost importance during marriage and people are afraid to send their girl child to far off schools were male teacher teach them along with boys.

The lack of education is the root cause for many other problems. An uneducated mother cannot look after her children properly and she is not aware of the deadly diseases and their cure, which leads to the poor health of the children. An uneducated person does not know about hygiene this lack of knowledge of hygiene may lead to poor health of the whole family.


In India violence against women is a common evil. Not just in remote parts but in cities also women bear the brunt. They are subjected to physical and mental violence. They are the one who work most but are not given their due. The women is not safe anywhere neither at home nor at workplace. Every hour a woman is raped in India and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death due to dowry problem. There are many laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, to protect women and punishment is severe but the conviction rate of crime against women is very low in India.


Indian women work more than men of India but their work is hardly recognized as they mainly do unskilled work. Their household chores is never counted as a work, if a woman is working in a field to help her husband it will also be not counted as a work. A study conducted by Mies in 1986 states that in Andhra Pradesh a woman works around 15 hours a day during the agricultural season whereas a male on an average works for around 7-8 hours.

Lack of power

In India a large percentage of women do not have power. They cannot take decisions independently not even related to their own life. They have to take permission of male members for each and every issue. They don't have any say in important household matters and not in matter of their own marriage.


The family mainly fixes the marriages in India. The scenario in villages is very bad. The girl is not consulted[r6] but is told to marry a guy whom her family has chosen for him. They are taught to abide by the whims and fancies of their husbands. Going against the wishes of husband is considered to be a sin. In marriage husband always has the upper hand. The groom and his parents show as if they are obliging the girl by marrying her and in return they demand hefty dowry.


It's a serious issue. Courts are flooded with cases related to death due to dowry harassment by husband and in laws. In ancient times women were given 'Stridhan' when they departed from the house of their parents. This amount of money was given to her as a gift which she can use on her and her children but her in-laws did not have any right on that amount. This amount was supposed to help the girl in time of need. Slowly this tradition became obligatory and took the form of dowry. Nowadays parents have to give hefty amount in dowry, the in laws of their girl are not concerned whether they can afford it or not. If a girl brings large amount of dowry she is given respect and is treated well in her new home and if she does not bring dowry according to expectations of her in laws then she has to suffer harassment. Due to this evil practice many newly wed women of India have to lose their lives.

Female infanticide/foeticide

As women were supposed to be and in some areas of India are still considered to be curse by some strata of society their birth was taken as a burden. So in past times they were killed as soon as they were born. In some of the Rajput clans of Rajasthan newly born girl child was dropped in a large bowl of milk and was killed. Today with the help of technology the sex of the unborn baby is determined and if it is a girl child then it is aborted down. In all this procedure women do not have any say they have to do according to the wish of their husbands even if she does not wan to abort she have any choice.


The divorce rate in India is not so high compared to western countries but it does not mean that marriages are more successful here. The reason behind low level of divorce rate is that it is looked down by the society. It is regarded as the sign of failure of marriage, especially of women. She is treated as if she has committed some crime by divorcing her husband. In some communities like Muslims women did not have the right to divorce their husband they were divorced at just the pronouncement of " I divorce you" by their husband thrice and they could not do anything except to be the mute spectator. Recently Muslim Law Board has given right of divorce to women. After divorce women is entitled to get her "Mehr" for herself and her children's sustenance. In Hindu society women get maintenance for themselves and their children after divorce.

The statistics testifies to the brutalities afflicted on women folk
Social Indicator India World

Infant Mortality Rate, per 1000 live births 73 60

Maternal Mortality Rate, per 100,000 live births 570 430

Female Literacy, % 58 77.6

Female School Enrollment 47 62

Earned Income by females, % 26 58

Underweight Children, % 53 30

Total Fertility Rate 3.2 2.9

Women in Government, % 6 7

Contraception usage, % 44 56

Low birth weight babies, % 33 17

Though there are problems in the lives of Indian women but they are always ready to fight all the odds and enjoy their life to the full they have their own talent, hobbies, and they socialize according to Indian customs.


In ancient India both men and women used to wear clothes, which did not need stitching. This custom resulted in women wearing the unstitched long clothe to cover the lower part of body this clothe came to be known as 'Sari' and the upper half of the body was covered with "Stanpatta", modern day 'choli' or blouse which was tied at the back. This attire of the past along with certain modifications continues till today. It is the major attire in rural India. In northern India and especially in cities women also wear 'Salwar kameez', which is comfortable in workplace. Nowadays some women in urban India also wear westernized dresses like trousers and shirts but majority of the women wear Indian attire.

Recreational Activities

Indian women pass her free time with her family or socializing with her friends and husband's family. The major part of housewives time is spent in looking after the family especially children.

Women's Struggle And Reforms

Though women of India are not at par with her counterpart in Western world but she is struggling hard to make her mark in men's world. We can count on certain names from the British India where women put the example of extraordinary bravery which even men might not be able to show. Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi was the one such woman. She was the one who put even British rulers to shame with her extraordinary feats in battle. She fought for her kingdom, which Dalhousie, British Governor General, had unlawfully annexed. She was in a true sense the leader of uprising of 1857. There are certain men who took the cause of women in India. There have been social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekanand, Swami Dayananda Saraswati who have helped women gain their previous status in society.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Born on 22nd may 1772 he was the torchbearer of social reforms for the women. He was strictly against the evils prevalent in society in his time. He is the one who has done women a great favor by abolishing Sati lawfully. It was due to his efforts that Lord William Bentinck banned the custom of Sati in 1829. Though this law was not a great deterrent but it changed mindset of people to some extent. Ram Mohan Roy also did great work in the field of women education. He was against child marriage and favored widow remarriage. He himself married a widow thus setting the example for the whole society. Along with 'Dwarka Nath Tagore' he founded "Brahmo Samaj" for the reform of Indian society and emancipation of women.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was popularly known as Vidyasager, which means sea of knowledge. Testifying to his name he was truly the sea of knowledge. He was a pillar of social reform movement of Bengal in 19th century. He widely read ancient Hindu scriptures and came to know that the gender divide which was prevalent in Bengal was not encoded in our ancient texts instead it is the politics to keep women subordinate to men. He strongly supported women education in Bengal and went door to door to persuade people to send their girl child to school. He also did a lot in the field of widow remarriage. He opened many schools for girls.

Mahatma Jyotirao Phule

Born on April 11, 1827, Pune, Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was a real philanthropist. He was the one to open first girl school in India. He is also credited with opening first home for widows of the upper caste and a home for newborn girl children so that they can be saved from female infanticide.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

He was the founder of Arya Samaj and gave a cry, "back to Vedas". He translated Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that a common man can read it and understand that the Vedic Hindu scriptures gave utmost importance to women. He emphasized for the equal rights for women in every field. He tried to change the mindset of people with his Vedic teachings.

Mahatma Gandhi

The social reformers of 19th century laid down the stage for the emancipation of women but it was Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi under whose influence these reforms reached masses[r10]. He was the one who liberated Indian women from the clutches of 'Purdah' and other social evils. He brought them from their confinement and asked them to participate in the struggle for independence. According to him women should be liberated from the slavery of kitchen only then their true potential could be realized. He said that responsibility of household is important for women but it should not be the only one. In fact she should come forward to share the responsibilities of nation.

When Gandhiji came to the stage of Indian struggle for independence then the average life span of Indian women was 27 years and only 2%women were educated this shows what a Herculean task it was to bring the women of India who was not getting her basic rights to fight for the cause of the nation. But it was due to his efforts that so many women like Sarojini Naidu, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur came forward. He spread the message of equality of the gender to the masses and criticized the desire of Indian people to have male child instead of a female. Gandhiji was strictly against the child marriage and favored widow remarriage. He urged the youth to come forward and accept young widows as their life partner. He said that the girls are also capable of everything boys can do but the need of the time is to give them opportunities so that they can prove themselves. It was mainly due to his efforts that when India got independence 'right to vote' came naturally to Indian women whereas in other developed nations like England and America women got this right very late and that too after lot of protest.

Current Scenario

Some Bright Spots Some Bright Spots
India has world's largest number of professionally qualified women.
India has largest population of working women in the world.
India has more number of doctors, surgeons, scientists, professors than the United States

Women Achiever

With the help of these social reformers women of India slowly started recognizing her true potential. She started questioning the rules laid down for her by the society. As a result, started breaking barriers and earned a respectable position in the world. Today Indian women have excelled in each and every field from social work to visiting space station. There is no arena, which remained unconquered by Indian women. Whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, literature, technology everywhere we can hear applauses for her.


Women of India are highly active today in this area. Sarojini Naidu, Vijaylakshami Pandit, Sucheta Kriplani were the torchbearer for the women of India. Mrs.Vijay Lkshami Pandit was the first Indian woman to hold a post in the cabinet. Thus paving the way for other women. The most important name in the category of women politicians of recent times is Mrs Indira Gandhi. She was the one who made world stop and notice the talent and potential of Indian women. She was the first women Prime Minister of independent India. Today her daughter-in law Mrs Sonia Gandhi is following her footsteps and leading the Indian National Congress.

Other women who have made their name in politics of India are Shiela Dixit, Uma Bharti, Jayalalitha, Vasundhra Raje and Mamata Banerjee.


Indian women have achieved great laurels for the nation in every sport. Whether it is cricket or hockey India have national women team for every game. Indian women cricket team has won Asia Cup of 2004 and 2005 and made country proud. Some women sports icons of India are:

P.T. Usha (Athletics)
Kunjarani Devi (Weight lifting)
Diana Edulji (Cricket)
Sania Mirza (Tennis)
Karnam Malleshwari (Weight lifting)
Art and Entertainment
This arena is full of Indian women. We have many names to boast of like M.S. Subbulakshmi, Indian Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle as famous singers. Madhu Bala, Rekha, Aishwarya Rai as Bollywood queens. Today Indian woman is a painter, an actor, a singer, and a beauty queen.


In past women of India used to write, but their work did not get the recognition. Today they are getting their dues. Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Shobhaa De, Jhumpa Lahiri are famous names in Indian literature. Not just in India now these women are recognized all over the world. Arundhati Roy has been awarded with the Booker Prize of 1997 for her work "God of Small Things". Kiran Desai has been given Booker Prize of 2006 and Jhumpa Lahiri got recognition in the form of Pulitzer prize.

Corporate Divas

Kiran Majumdar Shaw is the undisputed corporate queen of India. She is the richest Indian woman. She is the MD of Biocon India. She is the wealthiest entrepreneur of India Kiran wanted to become a doctor but could not get admission in medical colleges but even then she did not lose courage and went on to become India's first woman 'Brew Master' and subsequently corporate queen. Another names in this list include Vidya Mohan Chhabaria, Chairperson of Jumbo Group, Naina Lal Kidwai, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of HSBC Securities and Capital Market, Sullaijja Firodia Motwani and Mallika Srinivasan.

Social saints

The Indian saint of today's times Mother Teresa is the name which every Indian whether rich or poor is familiar with. She was the person who used to consider the smile of her countrymen as her wealth. She worked for those whom even their own families have deserted. She did not care whether she is in the company of a person suffering from communicable disease or whether it is day or night. Whenever or wherever one needed her she was present. She opened various homes for these people most famous of which is 'Nirmal Hriday". It is open to everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Another important names working for the cause of people includes Aruna Roy who worked for the save RTI Campaign and Medha Patekar who is associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Universal Queens

Indian women have not just made their mark on earth but they have engraved their name in the whole universe by flying to space. Kalpana Chawla, who was the member of Colombia Space Shuttle, which exploded on its way back, was the first Indian women astronaut who visited space station. And now following on her footsteps another women of Indian origin Sunita Williams has become the second one to be the member of International Space Station crew.

Indian women have mastered anything and everything which a woman can dream of. But she still has to go a long way to achieve equal status in the minds of Indian men. The desire of Indian women can be best summed up in the following lines of 'Song of an African Women':

I have only one request.
I do not ask for money
Although I have need of it,
I do not ask for meat . . .
I have only one request,

And all I ask is
That you remove
The road block
From my path.
Ayn Rand, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher... What do these people have in common?
One, they are women.

Two, they are successful leaders.

Three, their lives were full of struggle,

but they succeeded nevertheless.

There is lot to learn from the stories of women leaders.

In the case of Helen Keller, she had to overcome her physical disabilities to fulfill her dreams.

Mother Teresa spent her lifetime in India, serving the poor.

These are women of substance -- women who fought for dignity, independence, and individuality.

Other than these famous women, there may be many unsung heroes out there who are fighting their battles alone.

This is my message to all the struggling women: "Hold on tight. Keep it going. We are with you."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Women's Reservation-May 15, 2003

Society / Opinion Web | May 15, 2003

Women's Reservation
The Alternative Bill
Enhancing Women's Representation In Legislatures - An Alternative to the Government Bill for Women's Reservation
Forum for Democratic Reforms , Dhirubhai Sheth , Jayaprakash Narayan , Yogendra Yadav , Madhu Purnima Kishwar

Also In This Story

Women's Reservation
Table 1
Women's Representation in Parliament 1952-1998

Women Reservation
Table 2
Declining Representation of Women in State Legislatures 1952-1997 (% of women MLAs)

Women's Bill
Table 3
Rotation of Seats

Table 4
Independents Elected to Lok Sabha in Successive General Elections

Women's Bill
Table 5
The gender advantage - Though the number of women elected to Lok Sabha has not been very impressive, their success rate (% of contestants getting elected) has always been higher than the male aspirants.

Women's Reservation Bill
Table 6
Performance of Candidates of Recognised Parties in Lok Sabha Elections - Gender-wise

The Forum for Democratic Reforms comprises Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta, Hyderabad), Dhirubhai Sheth (Lokayan, Delhi), Yogendra Yadav (CSDS, Delhi), Madhu Kishwar (Manushi, New Delhi)


The ugly scenes and stalemate over tabling the Women's Reservation Bill in parliament have had a very beneficial effect. They have finally brought the grim truth into sharper focus that politics has proven to be very inhospitable for women in independent India. What we are witnessing today is a worrisome phenomenon of further decline in the participation of women, not only in our legislatures, but in many other of our political and public spaces.

Most countries in the world have failed to give due space and representation to women in their political life. Women are moving in the direction of near equal participation in only a handful of countries, such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. In these societies women have begun to seriously alter the very nature of politics, making enduring, and substantial gains in every field. However, in all other countries, including the supposedly advanced democracies of western Europe and North America, where women exercise certain freedoms and have acquired the wherewithal for economic independence, female presence in legislatures remains small and relatively insignificant.

In India the problem for women is more serious for several reasons:

While in many other countries women are inching forward bit by bit, in India the participation of women in politics has actually declined since the days of freedom movement, both in quantity and quality.

Government and politics are more important factors in the economic, social, and power structures in India than in most other countries with stronger civil societies, and so, the effect of women's marginalisation in politics is even more detrimental here.

The increasing violence, sexual harassment and victimisation of women at the ground level in many of our political parties has made their participation extremely hazardous now.

There were many more outstanding women leaders and workers in the Congress Party at all levels during the freedom movement than are at present in all parties put together. In states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, virtually every neighbourhood and most villages could boast of at least one effective woman leader, even into the 1950s. But as politics became more centralised as well as criminalised, thus undermining all other institutions of civil society, women were pushed out of leadership positions to function on the margins, at best relegated to the domain of social work at the local level. Even that tradition eroded from the 1970s onward.

The set back to women's participation is even more severe at the state level than in Lok Sabha (See Tables 1 and 2) . This is clearly evident in Bihar, which had 14 women elected to the Vidhan Sabha in 1952, 31 women in 1957, and 26 women in 1962. But in the 1967 elections, women won only 11 seats. Their number declined to 4 in 1969. Thereafter, it reached a plateau, levelling at a mere 13 during the last state assembly elections.

The representation of women in the Lok Sabha has basically remained stagnant. It reached a "high" of 8 percent in 1984. This figure has not been crossed since then. Thereafter, it has showed some decline rather than register an increase. This despite the fact that every major national party in recent years has declared through their manifestos that they would implement a 33 percent reservation for women in all legislatures.

One of the most puzzling features of this depressed level of women's political representation in our legislative bodies is that it seems to have no direct correlation with literacy and other seemingly related indicators. A comparison between the states of Kerala and Rajasthan, whose literacy rates are at opposite ends of the spectrum, demonstrates this clearly. In Kerala, the overall literacy rate is reportedly 90 percent, with 86 percent female literacy. By contrast, in Rajasthan, female literacy is a mere 20 percent and only 12 percent of females are literate in rural areas. Kerala has a matrilineal tradition in which women have a much larger measure of autonomy and freedom of movement. Kerala's women also tend to marry at a much later age compared to women in other states. Most women in Rajasthan live far more restricted lives in aggressively patriarchal communities that still practise purdah and perform child marriages. But the cultural and educational advantage that women in Kerala have, does not translate into higher political participation as compared to Rajasthan. The percentage of women in the legislative assemblies of both states is low. In Kerala it rose from less than one percent in 1967 to six percent in 1991. However, in Rajasthan, the representation of women was four percent in 1967 and reached eight percent in 1985-90, slightly more than in Kerala, but not significantly greater. Since then it has been going down.

Similarly, the state of Manipur, which has a tradition of women playing a dominant role in both the family and the community (again due to a matrilineal heritage), never produced a single woman legislator till 1990 — when it elected its first. Nagaland and other North-eastern states which have less repressive cultures for women have similarly low levels of women's representation. By contrast, take the proportion of women in politics in UP, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. Though these states are known for their low education levels and repressive cultural norms for women, they have not only sent a relatively larger proportion of women to the Lok Sabha than those from the North-east, but have also elected relatively more female MLAs.

In independent India, pervasive gender discrimination has resulted in sidelining even veteran women politicians. It is difficult for women to establish a foothold without patronage from powerful men in the party – that too through close personal relations, as wives, daughters and sisters. This is indeed a matter for serious concern because the level of political participation among women in any society acts as a reliable barometer of the health of its democracy.

It is significant that stagnation and/or decline in women's political participation rates run contrary to trends in many other fields.

Women in India have made major inroads in various male-dominated professions, including the governmental bureaucracy. In the fields of business, medicine, engineering, law, art, and culture, women who were given opportunities to acquire the necessary skills and education have proven themselves capable of holding their own, without availing of any special measures to facilitate their entry. But they have failed to gain ground in the field of politics. Moreover, the agenda of women's empowerment seems to have lost the kind of moral and political legitimacy it enjoyed during the freedom movement, as was evident from the ugly scenes in the aftermath of tabling the Women's Reservation Bill in parliament. Such a response would have been inconceivable in the India of the 1920s to the 1940s.

All these trends indicate that women's representation in politics requires special consideration, and cannot be left to the forces that presently dominate our parties and government. Today, even the best of our female parliamentarians feel sidelined and powerless within their respective parties. The few women in leadership positions have not been able to encourage the entry of greater numbers of women in electoral and party politics, and are an ineffective minority within their own respective political groupings.

The very same male party leaders who compete with each other in announcing their support of special reservations for women have shown little willingness to include women in party decision-making, or even to help create a conducive atmosphere for women's participation in their own organisations. In fact, women's marginalisation is even more pronounced in the day-to-day functioning of almost all political parties than in the Lok Sabha. Therefore, it is urgently required that we take special measures to enhance women's political participation in ways that help them influence decision-making at all levels of our society and polity. Our democracy will remain seriously flawed if it fails to yield adequate space to women.

Given this worrisome scenario, the national debate and efforts to provide constitutional and legal mechanisms to enhance women's participation in legislatures are welcome and long-overdue.

Problems with the Present Bill

The 85th constitutional Amendment Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha in December 1999, includes the following key provisions:

(i) One-third of all seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas shall be reserved for women.

(ii) Such reservation shall also apply in case of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

(iii) There shall be rotation of seats so reserved for women.

(iv) Such rotation shall be determined by draw of lots, in such a manner that a seat shall be reserved only once in a block of three general elections.

This Bill is seriously flawed, insofar as it mechanically provides for entry of women members to fill one-third of vacancies in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas. Such mechanical reservation and rotation suffers from serious defects:

1. One-third seats are reserved, and such reserved seats are rotated in every general election. This rotation will automatically result in two-thirds of incumbent members being forcibly unseated in every general election; the remaining one-third will be left in limbo until the last moment, not knowing whether or not their constituency will form part of the one-third randomly reserved seats and thus require them to scramble at short notice to find another seat to contest.

2. There is already resentment about reserved seats for SCs and STs being frozen in the same constituencies over a long period of time. Inevitably, there will be vociferous and justified demands for rotation of seats reserved for scheduled castes, and in some cases scheduled tribes, where their population may not be very large. This will trigger off further instability in our polity.

3. The population of scheduled casts and scheduled tribes is now estimated to be around 16 percent and 8 percent respectively, on an all India basis. In certain states, their combined population is much higher, reaching 35 percent or more. In the event of rotation of all reserved seats (women plus SCs, STs) with one-third seats reserved for women, every single seat will be rotated in every general election. This means that practically every member of a legislature will be unseated in every single general election (See Table 3) .

4. Such compulsory unseating violates the very basic principles of democratic representation. It jeopardizes the possibility of sensible planning to contest and nurture a political constituency for both male and female candidates.

5. As legislators do not have the incentive to seekre-election from the same constituency, plunder will increase, and politics will be even more predatory and unaccountable. This will contribute to a more unstable political process, and make it difficult for women to build their long term credibility as effective representatives, since they will not be able to contest twice from the same constituency.

6. If seats are reserved exclusively for women in every election through territorial constituencies, voters in such reserved constituencies would have no choice but to elect women only, violating the basic principles of democratic representation.

7. In such a situation, there is likely to be greater resentment against women, undermining the very objective of the Bill. Those men who get pushed out of their constituencies or who see their allies sidelined will either sabotage female contenders in revenge, or spend much of their political capital helping their own female relatives in cornering these reserved seats. Such proxies would be expected to keep the seat "safe" for the men until the next election, when they would again try to reclaim their seats. Such women would lack legitimacy in the eyes of the voters.

8. Women elected in reserved constituencies will be contesting against other women only, and will lack the legitimacy and opportunity needed to prove their ability and acceptability. Leadership acquired in such a manner will be seen as unnatural, artificial and foisted.

9. Women legislators, when elected, will not be able to nurse their constituencies on a long-term basis, and thus will be deprived of a strong political base and will forever be regarded as lightweight politicians. This in effect will make their presence in legislatures ornamental, and will not lead to a more effective participation in politics.

10. This Bill does not address the more fundamental issue of inadequate participation of women in politics and their much greater marginalisation within the political parties.

11. The experience of fixed quotas in a few countries where it has been tried, such as Nepal, the Philippines, and the erstwhile Soviet Union, has not produced very successful results for women's political participation.

12. While this Bill provides for election of SC and ST women as legislators, it does not adequately address the issue of participation of backward castes (BCs) and minorities. As parties have no choice about the seats reserved for women, they will be unable to nominate women candidates from these under represented sections in constituencies where they stand a reasonable chance of success.

13. Even though there will be no legal bar on women standing from general constituencies, it is highly unlikely that any women will obtain party tickets to run for office outside the reserved constituencies. This same pattern is evident with SCs and STs who have been permanently ghettoised to fixed reserved constituencies.

14. This Bill is completely silent about women's representation in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils. Given these serious infirmities, it is necessary to design better models for enhancing women's representation in legislatures. Therefore, we present an alternate model which will address many of the flaws listed above.

The Proposed Alternative Women's Reservation Bill

THE important provisions of the proposed Alternative Bills are as follows..

1. A law should be enacted amending The Representation of the People Act, 1951, to make it mandatory for every recognised political party to nominate women candidates for election in one-third of the constituencies.

2. Each party can choose where it wishes to nominate women candidates, duly taking local political and social factors into account.

3. Among seats reserved for SCs and STs also, one-third of the candidates nominated by recognised parties shall be women.

4. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in states or constituencies where the party's chances of winning election are weak, and to ensure an even spread of women candidates, the unit for consideration (the unit in which at least one out of three party candidates shall be a woman) for the Lok Sabha shall be a state or union territory; for the State Legislative Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies.

5. In the event of any recognised party failing to nominate one-third women candidates, for the shortfall of every single woman candidate, two male candidates of the party shall lose the party symbol and affiliation and all the recognition-related advantages.

6. A law amending Articles 80 and 171 of the Constitution should be enacted providing for women's reservation of one-third of the seats, elected or nominated, to Rajya Sabha or Legislative Councils. Corresponding amendments need to be made in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution and, the Representation of the People Act, 1950.

Advantages of this Model

1. Parties will be free to choose their female candidates and constituencies depending on local political and social factors. Parties will nurture women candidates where they can offer a good fight rather than in pre-fixed lottery based constituencies, where they may or may not have viable women candidates. Thus there is flexibility and promotion of natural leadership.

2. Though seats are not reserved, there will be a large pool of credible and serious women candidates in the fray. This is so because the real contest in elections is only among candidates nominated by recognised parties. Table 4 clearly shows that the role of Independents in our elections is marginal and declining. In Lok Sabha elections, as many as 99.7 percent of Independents are in fact losing their caution deposits.

3. A woman candidate will be contesting both against female and/or male candidates of rival parties. Therefore, the democratic choice of voters is not restricted to compulsorily electing only women candidates.

4. As women members are elected in competition with other candidates – without reserving seats – they will be seen as legitimate representatives in the eyes of the public and not just beneficiaries of charitable measures.

5. A winning woman candidate will have been elected on her own strength, backed by party support. She will not be a mere proxy or political lightweight.

6. There will be no need for rotation of reservation. Therefore the elected women and men can nurture their constituencies and emerge as major political figures in their own right, with an independent power base.

7. At the same time, in the absence of reserved seats, there will be healthy competition for nomination for a particular seat between male and female politicians.

8. Parties will be able to nominate women from BCs, minorities and other communities for elective office in areas where there is electoral advantage to them. This obviates the need for a quota within quotas – an issue which has blocked the existing bill. Those who are concerned about BC representation need not settle merely for one-third quota for BC women within the 33 percent women's quota as they are demanding now. They can field as many BC or minority women as they think appropriate.

9. This method is mostly likely to find favour with political parties and incumbent legislators, as there will be no fear of being uprooted at short notice by draw of lots. Both compulsory reservation and regular rotation are avoided.

10. Unlike with the lottery system of reserved constituencies, in which women's presence is likely to get ossified at 33 percent since there would be resistance to letting women contest from non-reserved constituencies, this model allows for far greater flexibility in the number and proportion of women being elected to legislatures. If women are candidates for one-third of all seats contested by each party, theoretically they could even win the vast majority of seats – all on merit.

11. This model also provides for reservation ofseats for women in the upper houses.

However, given the present state of affairs, it is likely that, to begin with, about one-third of the contested seats will be won by women. But this percentage is likely to grow over time as women gain more confidence and strength. It also ensures that their presence in legislatures more nearly reflects their actual electoral strength so that they are not seen as mere recipients of charitable measures.

Plugging Possible Loopholes

1. A party may be tempted to nominate women from constituencies where it is weak. However, by making the unit of consideration the state or union territory for Lok Sabha, and a cluster of three Lok Sabha constituencies for the Legislative Assembly, this risk is avoided. Parties will be compelled to nominate women in all states and regions. No serious party seeking power can afford to deliberately undermine its own chances of election on such a large scale. It is also mandatory to nominate women in one-third constituencies because otherwise twice the number of male candidates of the party will lose party nomination.

2. In the absence of actual reservation of seats, there could be fears that women may not be elected in one-third constituencies, as the voters may prefer a male candidate over a female candidate on account of gender bias. However, evidence so far suggests that women candidates of parties have not suffered any gender discrimination at the hands of voters. In fact, very often, the percentage of success of woman candidates is higher than that of male candidates. Table 5 shows that the success rate of women candidates in Lok Sabha elections has been uniformly higher than that of their male counterparts in every general elections. It is possible to argue that the few women who contest are more often party candidates, and therefore, their success rate is exaggerated. However, Table 6 clearly shows that even among candidates of recognised political parties, the success rate of women candidates is higher than that of men. While 32.53 per cent of women candidates of recognised parties have been elected to Lok Sabha since 1984, the success rate of male candidates is only 26.50 percent. This trend is seen in all general elections since 1984, except in 1989. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that women will be elected in large numbers, and that, in fact, their presence in Lok Sabha will exceed one-third in many cases. In any case, past evidence suggests that in at least a quarter of the constituencies, women are likely to get elected if recognised parties nominate them in at least one-third constituencies.

It is noteworthy that women's participation has increased dramatically, to near equal or even higher than equal participation, only in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Finiland, Germany and the Netherlands which have implemented party-based quotas of the kind we are proposing.

Other Necessary Measures For Enhancing Women's Participation

While it is necessary to institute a system of reservation for women as spelt out above, this or any other system of ensuring women's presence in legislatures is not by itself sufficient if our objective is to make women equal partners in democratic politics. The problem is not just that women in the political arena are denied tickets by political parties. The fundamental problem is that given the nature of electoral politics today, the system itself creates insurmountable obstacles for women. Proposals for reservation for women must therefore be a part of a larger package of general reforms in electoral politics.

The following general measures of electoral reform would go a long way towards making politics less intimidating for women.

1. Measures to check criminalisation of politics:

(a) The list of offences where a conviction leads to disqualification from contesting election should be expanded as per the recommendations of the Law Commission.

(b) Disqualification should not be conditional upon final conviction. It should come into operation as soon as the judge has framed charges with references to offences specified above.

(c) A candidate should be required to make a declaration of all the cases pending against him or her, involving charges of criminal
conduct or corruption, at the time of filing nominations. This declaration should be made public. False declaration should be a ground for disqualification.

2. To bring about internal democracy within political parties; all the recognised (national or state) political parties should be required to include in their respective constitutions:

(a) Rules governing the membership of party and a Register of Current Members that is open for inspection by any member or the representatives of the Election Commission of India.

(b) Provisions for a periodic and democratic election of all the office bearers and the highest executive body by the members of the party.

(c) Procedures for selection of party's candidates for elections to legislatures.

(d) Procedures for deciding upon various policy documents including the party's election manifesto.

(e) Internal mechanism for adjudicating any dispute, including those concerning the interpretation of the party constitution.

(f) The Election Commission shall review the party constitutions for their compliance with the above mentioned requirements, and also serve as a court of final appeal against any decision of the internal adjudicating authority in every party. The failure to comply with the Election Commission's instructions or decisions will invite de-recognition of the party.

3. Measures to curb the influence of black money in politics:

(a) Every candidate shall make a declaration of his/her income and property at the time of nomination. False or incomplete declaration shall invite disqualification.

(b) All citizens and corporations shall be exempted, upto a certain limit, from paying income tax on donations made to registered political parties.

(c) The candidates and political parties shall be required, after the completion of election, to file a detailed statement of account. Non-disclosure or false declaration should result in disqualification for candidate and de-registration for political parties.

(d) While the current ceiling on electoral expenses needs to be revised, certain items of expenditure (direct inducements in cash or kind to the voter, or expenditure to bribe officials or hire hoodlums) shall be considered illegal.

(e) Every candidate who secures 2 percent or more of the valid votes polled in a constituency shall be reimbursed a reasonable sum of, say Rs.10 for each vote secured.

(f) It shall be compulsory for all registered political parties to get a statement of income and expenditure audited annually. The statement shall be a public document.

4. Measures to curb electoral malpractices:

(a) The local post-office shall be in charge of maintaining and revising electoral rolls on a regular basis. At present most citizens have no access to electoral rolls, and the procedure for additions, deletions and corrections are ineffective in reality, though the law is eminently sensible. There is evidence to suggest that in urban areas the electoral rolls are flawed upto 40 percent.

(b) It should be mandatory for the Election Commission to provide voter Identity Cards to every citizen who figures on the electoral rolls. Once this process is completed, the voter identity card or other means of identification should be made compulsory for voting.

(c) If the proportion of "tendered" votes in a polling booth is greater than one percent of the total electorate, a repoll shall be ordered in the booth. A tendered ballot is given to a voter in whose name a false vote was already cast, and who establishes identity. Therefore, a tendered vote is indisputable proof of personation and rigging. At present a tendered ballot is kept in a separate cover and is not counted, while the false vote cast is counted! If this repoll provision is incorporated and publicised, people will then avail the facility of tendered vote, and rigging will be self-limiting for fear of a repoll.

Provisions of the Alternative Bill
A Bill To Amend The Representation of People's Act – 1951
(New Section 34)

Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, every recognised political party shall nominate women candidates on behalf of that party, as nearly as may be, in at least one-third of the constituencies in which the party is contesting, in every general election.

Provided that for an election to Lok Sabha, the State shall be the unit for such nomination, and for an election to Legislative Assembly, a cluster of three parliamentary constituencies shall be the unit as nearly as may be.

Provided that for Lok Sabha election, in case of States with less than 3 seats, a cluster of States to be defined by the Election Commission shall be treated as a unit.

(For removal of any doubt, these provisions will apply in all States and union territories for recognised national parties, and in the respective State or States for recognised State parties)

Provided that in respect of seats reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the State shall be the unit for nomination of women for all general elections; and one-third of all candidates nominated for the reserved constituencies shall be women.

Provided that in case of by-elections, the party shall nominate as nearly as may be one-third women candidates for the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly, with the nation as unit for Lok Sabha and State as unit for Legislative Assembly. Provided further that, in respect of State parties, this provision will apply for State as unit for Lok Sabha.

In the event of a recognised political party not complying with these provisions, for the shortfall of every woman candidate while nominating candidates for elective office, two male candidates of the party in the State or cluster of parliament constituencies, as the case maybe, as decided by the party shall be deemed to be Independent candidates for all purposes including allotment of symbols.

The Election Commission or the officials authorised by it at the State or Union Territory level shall determine the compliance or otherwise of these provisions after the completion of withdrawal of nominations.

Provided that the candidates so disqualified shall be from reserved vacancies in case the shortfall is in reserved vacancies.

Part B - Constitution Amendment Bill
(Amending Articles 80 and 171)

In the Council of States, as nearly as maybe one-third of all seats, whether elected or nominated, shall be reserved for women.

In the States in which Legislative Councils exist, as nearly as maybe, one-third of all seats filled from each category, whether elected or nominated, shall be reserved for women;

Provided that in case of members elected by members of local authorities, graduates, and teachers, the seats reserved for women shall be rotated, and decided by draw of lots.



Also In This Story

Women's Reservation
Table 1
Women's Representation in Parliament 1952-1998

Women Reservation
Table 2
Declining Representation of Women in State Legislatures 1952-1997 (% of women MLAs)

Women's Bill
Table 3
Rotation of Seats

Table 4
Independents Elected to Lok Sabha in Successive General Elections

Women's Bill
Table 5
The gender advantage - Though the number of women elected to Lok Sabha has not been very impressive, their success rate (% of contestants getting elected) has always been higher than the male aspirants.

Women's Reservation Bill
Table 6
Performance of Candidates of Recognised Parties in Lok Sabha Elections - Gender-wise

Filed In Topics: Women Reservation Bill, Forum for Democratic Reforms, Dhirubhai Sheth, Jayaprakash Narayan, Yogendra Yadav, Madhu Purnima Kishwar
More In: Society, Opinion

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