Bowing down to patriarchy
One of the success stories of affirmative(सकारात्मक) action in India has been the implementation of reservation of seats in local body elections for women, to the order of 33% or more. The importance of democratising the public sphere by inclusive participation of women in a largely male-dominated society cannot be stressed enough. In rural areas the quota has helped improve local governance, enhancing outcomes in delivery of civic services related to drinking water supply, sanitation and irrigation, among others. In urban local bodies, the visible impact has been more quantitative in terms of representation rather than qualitative, with success being linked to emphasis on gender sensitisation by civil society and political parties. It is therefore unfortunate that the Nagaland government, after initial steadfastness(दृढ़ता) to hold the long-delayed urban local body polls on February 1, declared the elections as “null and void” after some tribal bodies, opposed to reservations for women, sought to disrupt(तोड़ना) the process. Rather than bowing to this pressure, the State government led by the Nagaland People’s Front should have enforced the rule of law. That a substantial(पर्याप्त) number of towns participated in the elections despite a bandh called by the tribal bodies reflects public support for affirmative action as mandated by the 74th Amendment to the Constitution.
Article 371A of the Constitution secures a special status for Nagaland. But as the civil society groups striving(झगड़ना) for reservation have argued, urban local bodies are not part of traditional Naga society, and ULBs are constitutional bodies to which customary Naga laws cannot be applied. The conduct of the long-delayed elections was achieved after a protracted(दीर्घ) legal struggle led by women’s groups. Arguments against women’s reservation invoking Naga customs have been consistently quashed(को खारिज कर दिया) by the courts, ultimately paving the way for elections to be announced for February 1. The State government later submitted to pressure exerted by the Naga Hoho, an apex group of 16 tribal groups, which smelled blood and sought Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang’s resignation. The State government then wrote to the Centre seeking exemption(छूट) for Nagaland from Part IXA of the Constitution — which is clearly untenable(असमर्थनीय). The Centre, meanwhile, sees Nagaland merely through the lens of the still- pending peace accord with some insurgent(विद्रोही) groups. This milieu has emboldened patriarchal forces to assert themselves and deny women their constitutionally guaranteed rights of representation in local bodies. Civil society and women’s groups now have their work cut out in realising their just demand for electoral representation. Denial of women’s rights cannot be a measure of the State’s autonomy.
1)Affirmative meaning is being agreeable or assenting,approving,supporting
2)Steadfastness meaning is faithfulness,constancy,fidelity
3)Disrupt meaning is disturb,upset,break,disorganize.
4)Substantial meaning is important,meaningful,ample,big.
5)Striving meaning is try for,attempt,exert oneself,endeavor.
6)Protracted meaning is long,chronic,continued,sustained.
7)Quashed meaning is destroy,defeat,squash,suppress.
8)Exemption meaning is relieve,absolve,freed from responsibility,immune.
9)Untenable meaning is incapable of being defended or justified.
10)Insurgent meaning is rebellious,revolutionary.