Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reservation for women in LSG

In Kerala we are going through the election process that give 50% reservation for women in the Local Self Government bodies. Most interesting aspect is that 50 % of the posts of president / vice president are also reserved for women. Thus not only in membership of LSG, but in the administration of them, women are going to get their full share of freedom in political participation and democratic governance of their polity. This is a very welcome development; they are brought into the main stream development process of the State. This may also bring welcome changes in the functioning of these democratic bodies. More sober, well considered and less politically biased decisions may come. But this poses a few issues.

1`.In the male dominated LDF- UDF conflictive politics and contests done for its own sake of contesting or for political mileage, will we get enough women candidates to stand for election was a doubt opined by many.

But by the last day of filing nominations over 50,000 women have filed their nominations as party candidates and independents; this has been made possible because of the high level of literacy among Kerala Women and rampant educated unemployment among them. Many of the unemployed or partially employed are SSLC and degree holders. For them this is a chance to be more occupied in life. Anyway the 50 % reservation is going to be full filled. Women are getting the best opportunity to be in the main stream of the society and in the development process of the State.

2. A second issue is the incompetence they may face in their dual functions of house keeping and political participation Women have to perform their biological function of bearing and rearing their children and the consequent house keeping function. When they are called to participate in political functions, it is an additional duty demanded. Will women be able to perform both these functions well or fail?

In our patriarchal system of inheritance, male domination and the division of labour on gender basis, made women to confine to house-keeping and men to dominance and outside duties. So giving them reservation is forcing them to take up the dual function. It may result in both functions imperfectly executed. Ill-reared children and ill-managed panchayats may be the outcome. Thus both the society and political administration may get murky and chaotic.

It is our experience that education and health care areas are mostly manned by women. They do their dual role here fairly well. This became possible because these services are ghetto areas from which men have escalated because of low wages. The vacuum thus created got filled up by educated unemployed women.
Secondly both employments are akin to child rearing and are concomitants to their housekeeping function.

3. A third problem is the possibility of gagging the women presidents and members from exercising their free political participation right by Party Boss or male leaders or even their husbands. Male chauvinism enjoyed by them for the last many centuries may make men to assume that women are incapable of leading or administering an office or a group of members. They are likely to boss over. This is quite a possibility.

Only women can conceive and deliver children. But men can share the burden of women in housekeeping and rearing the children. Women can succeed in their dual role only if they are encouraged and helped by their husbands and the men folk. Wherever they got such support they have proved themselves to be great successes and to fly off after the initial stage of getting experienced in administrative functions. We expect this 50% reservation for women to bring great social change and development in Kerala.

14 Oct 2010 Prof. Joseph K Alexander
Chairman, IIPA KRB


Reservation cannot be wished away.

Some individuals and sub-groups of society suffer discrimination. They are left out of the development process due to
a, inhuman social beliefs and practices of caste, religion, place of domicile, gender or
b, inevitably due to the one-up man ship of the competitive survival of the fittest in economic growth process.
Economic development is quantifiable economic growth and progressive change in the social-cultural-economic modalities of life and the society. It is the duty of democratic good governance to identify the marginalized and give interventionist support for them for inclusion in the development process. Even in the first five Year Plan (1952-’57) Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru highlighted this aspect of the Indian Planning. But it is the market- oriented LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation Globaliasation) that aggravated the pathos of the marginalized who were being made poorer. So Eleventh Five Year Plan slogan of “Inclusive Growth” got projected as the new cliché.

Reservation is for including the marginalized into the main stream to create a more democratic and egalitarian society with participative freedom in the socio- politico-economic functioning of the society. Reservation and inclusive growth are complementary functions.

Three important types of reservation policy are:

1...Political reservation quota in the legislatures, Local Self Government bodies (For e.g.: SC / ST / Women, etc)
2. Employment reservation in recruitment and promotions in the Public Services and in Private employment. (e.g.: 15+7.5 + 27 for the SC/ ST/ OBC respectively)
3. Educational reservation for admission in Public and Private Institutions, 15 % management quota, 50 % for minority community in their institutions etc
I do not intend to expand these issues now.

Caste based reservation given to SC / ST was for a period ten years. This was revived at the end of each period. After 60 years it is still being extended in the Independent India. Anti- reservationists argue that it should be stopped and the resources diverted to other areas like development of rural population who form 60%. Compared to city dwellers they are discriminated and are not able to participate fully in the development of the economy,

My submission is that marginalization of the less endowed individuals and sub- groups of the society are perpetual phenomena. Human endowments (abilities) vary from individual to individual and ethnic, geographical, religious or other criteria groups. This may be natural or acquired genetic factors or due to specialized training. In the competitive market-oriented economic growth process, the less endowed are left out. It is an unequal race like of an able bodied running with a disabled. Those who have more abilities are already much ahead of the marginalized. They run ahead and faster making the relegated to fall far behind at each step-in the race.

Dr. Dean Inge Arch Bishop of Canterbery wrote “if you want to educate a child, think hundred years earlier”. In other words it takes four generations of learning and development to come to the stage one wants. But by that time the more advanced, get ahead, by a gap of five or six generations.

Caste based reservation in India is a great success. It made many of the SC / ST to move up in the social ladder to middle class. But many still lag behind despite all the resources so far spent on them. The first and second generation learners cannot easily reach the standard of the fourth generation by reservation policy. That requires special effort to run faster and only expert runners can achieve it. Special training to compete with mainstream competitors may lead to greater successes of the reservation policy.

We cannot wish away reservation. It is to provide equal opportunities to the marginalized or those getting behind from others. It was a persistent need from the time human society came into being. The Anti-reservationists can perhaps clamour and end the caste based reservation. Even then the other and new varieties of marginalization will crop up and will cry for reservation and Government intervention. Need for reservation and inclusive growth will continue to exist. We cannot wish it away.

15 Oct.2010

Prof. Joseph K Alexander
Chairman IIPA. KRB