Women representation in Indian politics

  • Increase in the representation of backward castes resulted in an escalation of demands for political representation from other excluded groups, notably women.
  • Changing the social composition of the legislature may have a minimal effect on the structure of party politics, policies and outcomes for the disadvantaged groups.
  • The space available to women within the political system has not been significant (though we had a woman PM for many years)
  • Contd…
  • From 1952 to 1999 over 1400 women have contested elections and over 365 have been elected to Parliament.
  • Proportion of women in Parliament – less than 10 %
  • Parties give low preference to women candidates, even though voters are not disinclined to support their candidacy.
  • Political parties often give tickets only to attract ‘women’s votes’ or appeal to ‘women’s constituency’.
  • Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) pending despite strong pressure from women groups
  • Interestingly, one-third reservation for women in Local Bodies
  • Challenges for political representation in India’s diverse democracy… (1)
  • To ensure a link between representatives and those represented (pave the way for substantive democracy)
  • Backward caste mobilization has successfully challenged upper caste/class domination, the experience of the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
  • However, over-emphasis on descriptive representation could weaken the basis for political accountability.

With this also mention about the beginning of women liberalization in pre independence India. Women in politics idea were first initiated by liberal Indian men who received the western education and compared Indian scenario in its light. This led to help these learned few Indians raise a voice against the age old suffering women and was perhaps the first positive seed in the representation of women in India.. inspire of stances from the medieval period of Rani laxmibai (bravely lead her people against the British removing political instability in Jhansi), jodha bai (with her marriage helped to bring settlement between the rajputs and mougals) the real step towards women representation began by the socio religious reform movements that began in the early 19 century.

  • Raja ram mohan roy – helped bring law against sati, child marriage and widow remarriage
  • Vidyasagar- education for women, widow remarriage

Then later in 20th century reformist like Anne Beasant, Bal gangadhar Tilak, Gandhi made way for women to reach a representative platform.

Post independence with likes of Indira Gandhi, Sarojini naidu, Vijaylaxmi the stigma and stain of no women representation finally faded away.

At present women in the parliament have positively made their space and this has been possible due to the liberal policy and a national univocal attempt for women to be at shoulders with men.

With likes of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Ms Jayalaitha, Ms Vijayraje Sindhia, Ms Mamata banerjee, etc etc the women have definitely created a ever increasing activity centre for them in walks of social life especially in indian politics and have proved their merit.

Kerala Model of Development

Regional Development of Kerala

The reasons why states are poor – cannot be attributed to just income but also low human development.

Kerala, actually stands out because it has low per capita income and yet has a high human development and it figures higher on the social indicators list.

Trickle down hypothesis says that only when you have high levels of income can the State invest in social development. So a State cannot do the latter without the former.

Kerala is an exception because it shows that a region need not wait for income to rise and for a state to intervene and invest

major features of Kerala’s developmental achievements

1. Health Achievements

Demographic indicators

In Kerala, health and demographic transitions have been achieved within a single generation, i.e. after the formation of Kerala state. Four indicators which represent the outcomes of the health and demographic transitions in Kerala are life expectancy at birth, the infant mortality rate and the birth and death rates.

Life expectancy at birth in Kerala is similar to the corresponding figures for developing countries classified as having achieved high human development in Human Development Report,1993.

The birth rate in Kerala is also much lower than the birth rate for all of India. The decline in birth rate in Kerala was particularly substantial in the 1980s. Kerala’s low birth rate is associated with comparatively high rates of birth control.

The death rate in Kerala has declined steadily since the beginning of this century, and more rapidly than the Indian average.

The infant mortality rate of kerala in 1993 is better than the average for developing countries with ‘high human development’.

Food consumption and nutrition

According to the NNMB ( National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau) data, Kerala was the only state in which consumption improved over the 2 periods ( 1975-59, 1988-90) in terms of both anthropometric and intake indicators

Literacy in kerala

Literacy – and in particular female literacy – is an essential facilitator of kerala’s achievements in the spheres of health and of demographic change

Sex ratio

A key indicator of the historical status of women in Kerala and of the influence of the culture of old kerala on socio-economic development is the sex ratio, measured here as females per thousand males in the population. The sex ratio was 1040 in 1991 and has been more than 1000 at every census since the formation of the State.

The economy

 Kerala’s achievements are an outstanding example of the power of public action even in conditions of low production growth. However, Kerala faces an acute crisis in the spheres of employment and material production. People at large and political parties perceive the problems of unemployment and production as the major economic problems of the immediate future. The question also been raised is whether the development achievements of Kerala’s people can be sustained if the employment and production situations are not transformed.

 Net state domestic product per capita in kerala is below Indian average.

 Kerala’s agriculture is characterised by the existence of a series of agricultural micro environments suited to different kinds of mixed farming and by a substantial proportion of perennial crops in total agricultural output.

 The manufacturing sector grew at 2.8 % per annum between 1970-71. and 1986-87; the corresponding growth rates in Tamil nadu and Karnataka wee 5.3% and 6.0%

 Productive capita per capita in the factory sector has been consistently lower in kerala than in the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The state govt spread its invst thin ; most units were small with low absolute levels of invst. Their small sizw has made many of these enterprises financially and technologically unviable

Capital industrial entrepreneurship in Kerala is ill developed. One reason for the slow development of large and medium scale industries is  perhaps the lack of entrepreneurs interested in their development. There is only one big capitalist industrial house from Kerala.

Kerala kas the highest rate of unemployment in the country. Unemployment is high particularly among educated persons.

Kerala has a history of labour migration and remittances from outside the state influence disposable incomes significantly. From the 1970s the migration of workers to countries of West Asia particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE has been a major feature of social and economic life in Kerala.

 Despite the stagnation in per capita domestic income, per capita consumption expenditure registered a steady increase.

 Market forces will not ensure that productive invst appears spontaneously; transformation in the spheres of production and employment requires public intervention. State supported infrastructural invst is crucial for industrial and agricultural growth in Kerala. The potential for the expansion of skilled employment in Kerala is extraordinary. Any plan for rural economic growth in kerala must consider the very promising opportunities for growth based on the mixed cultivation of diverse crops that require skilled crop management and that involve new forms of production organisation.  

2. Historical aspects

a) Aspects of caste and gender relations in kerala

Among the worst forms of untouchability in the country were practiced in kerala, and the oppression of people of the oppressed caste took savage forms

At the top of the traditional caste hierarchy were the Namboodiris, Malayalam speaking Brahmans who were patrilineal. At the bottom of the caste- Hindu scale were the Nayars, who were matrilineal. Below the Nayars in terms of ritual status were the Izhava caste.

The diversity in the traditional caste calling of the people of the Izhava caste was to have important consequences for the Izhava social reform movt.

In traditional Kerala, matrilineal systems of inheritance were followed by an important section of people. The Nayars were matrilineal and so were some sections of Ambalavasi and Izhava caste and sections of Muslim population.

The matrilineal system influenced social and cultural development in kerala in general. It contributed to changing social attitudes and it contributed to creating social conditions in which women made real progress in health and education. Progressive social attitudes towards female survival and female education are a precondition for the health and demographic transition. In the case of Kerala, a set of historical and sociological conditions – inclusing systems of marriage and matrilineal inheritance that were specific to the region – contributed to the establishment of such attitudes.

b) Literacy expansion in the nineteenth century

Mass literacy requires mass schooling, and the history of literacy in Kerala is closely linked with the history of modern schooling, introduced in the region in the first part of the nineteenth century.

Modern schools were first established by Christian missionaries and later by the state. Protestant missionaries were pioneers of modern school education. The importance of Protestant missions for education lay in their leading role in giving a new direction to schooling in the early 19th century.

  • First, the mass base of the Protestant missionaries, such as it was, came from the oppressed castes , the Shanars, the Pulayas and Izhavas.

  • Secondly, there was a clear perception among the early Protestant missionaries that educational work was a necessary pre-requisite for their religious work.

  • Thirdly, it followed that missionaries asserted the right of people of oppressed castes to modern education, and mission schools were the only new style schools to which the people of oppressed castes had access.

  • Fourthly, conversion and primary education were linked with missionary led movements against other features of Hindu Society : against untouchabilty and distance pollution; against agrarian slavery, against upper caste prohibition on women of ritually impure castes wearing clothes above the waist, and against other caste-taboos.

  • Fifthly, missionary education brought girls from oppressed castes to schools.

  • Sixthly, the school courses though biased towards Christian theology, also had a secular component to school studies (arithmetic, geography).

  • Seventhly, instruction in these schools was in the vernacular i.e Tamil and Malayalam.

  • Eighthly, missionary schools were the first institutions of elementary technical training or craft schools.

The rulers of Travancore, under the influence of missionaries and British, took significant initiative in spreading mass education and mass literacy.

Education was linked to employment, and schooling a pre-requisite for a government job

c) Caste based reform movements

The well known caste reform movements were among the people of the Izhava and Pulaya castes and among the Nayars and Namboodiris. Caste movts were active in the movt for social reform and for changes in social practices, particularly the practice of untouchability; they also made efforts to reform internal caste rules and to alter, by means of state intervention through legislation, inheritance laws and rules of family organisation.

The Izhava social reform movt: For all the advances in the economic status, the Izhava people continued to be victims of different forms of caste discrimination. The emerging Izhava elite demanded the right to be full participants in the modernisation that began in the 19th century. Their main movts were against untouchability

for literacy and education, for employment in govt jobs, and for greater representation in the restricted franchise legislature.

The Pulaya social reform movt : Demands for education and against caste discrimination and civil disabilities were important to the agenda of the movt.

Nayars :.Nayar caste movts aimed at increased access to higher education and at large scale Nayar entry into the professions and the bureaucracy. Two important features of reform among Nayars were the reform of marriage law and the reform of property law.

Namboodiris : There were reform movts against reactionary marriage practices within the caste, and for the right to modern education

3. Agrarian change

Agrarian relations

A foundational feature of Kerala’s development experience and of social and economic progress in Kerala, is the transformation of agrarian relations in the state. The history of this change is a history of public action – which took the form of mass struggle and of legislative action – against some of the most complex, exploitative and oppressive rural social formations in the country.

Agrarian movements

Agrarian rebellion was fiercest in Malabar, and the organised peasant and agricultural worker movt in Kerala began there.

Three main currents in the movement to transform agrarian relations in Malabar have been identified.

The first was the movt of Mapilla tenants and agricultural labourers against ‘lord and state’

The second major current was the organised effort of kanakkaran intermediaries to acquire occupancy rights on land over which they had kanam rights

The third current was the most radical current, the movement of peasants and working tenants that culminated in the land reform of contemporary Kerala

The independent class demands of agricultural workers involved the right to organise, demands against social oppression, for higher wages, for payment in standard measures and against arbitrary exactions from landlords.

Land reform

Land reform was crucial to the transformation of agrarian relations in Kerala. The land reforms had 3 major components.

The first involved that burdensome, complex, and rampant affliction of Kerala agriculture tenancy

Second main component of land reform involved homestead land occupied by the rural poor. Occupants of such land were to be given ownership rights

3rd component – concerned the imposition of limits on land ownership and the distribution of land identified as surplus to the landless.

The agrarian movement has played a crucial role in creating an awareness of people’s rights, in democratising rural life, and in creating conditions favourable to the spread of mass education and facilities for improved conditions of public health.

4. The role of the Left

The Communist party and the organisations of workers, peasants, agricultural labourers, students, teachers, youth and women under its leadership, have been the major organisers and leaders of mass political movts in Kerala since the end of the 1930s, and have been the major agents of the politicisation of the mass of Kerala’s people. The different movts included the freedom movt, movt of workers, peasants and radical intellectuals

The first govt. in Kerala was a Communist govt and the major features of its agenda and of later communist ministries in the State were, among other things, land reform, health, education and strengthening the system of public distribution of food and other essential commodities.

5. Women’s agency

2 issues regarding the place and the role of women in Kerala’s development achievements are worth emphasizing. First Kerala’s women have made outstanding gains in the fields of education and health and are more equal participants with men in education and health achievements than in any other part of India.

Secondly, Kerala’s experience is a dramatic example of the role of women’s agency in advancing the social and economic development of a society. Female literacy and education are crucial determinants of child survival, general health and hygiene. These, in turn determine progress in other demographic and health indicators

6. State Governments

The areas of State govt intervention in Kerala that have been most significant for the people have been land reform, health and education, and the public distribution system. It also introduced measures to provide protective social security to persons outside the organised sector, who are not usually covered by such schemes. Throughout the post independence period, health expenditure as proportion of total expenditure has been higher in kerala than in any other state

Education was also an early concern. The proportion of total govt expenditure spent on education in Kerala is much higher than the corresponding proportion spent by all the states.

The 2 tier public distribution system was established and strengthened in the 1970s and the 1980s

Kerala has social security measures that cover most sections of rural workers


There has been a progressive transformation in Kerala of the health and demographic conditions characteristic of less developed societies, and the state is far ahead of the rest of India with respect to these conditions

Essence of Indian constitution as a social text

The Preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve.’ It is a sort of introduction to the statute and many a times very helpful to understand the policy and legislative intent. It expresses “what we had thought or dreamt for so long”. The Constitution makers gave to the Preamble ”the place of pride”. The Preamble declares and secure to all citizens justice, social, economic and political.

The preamble serves the following purposes namely,

1. It indicates the source from which the Constitution comes

2. It contains the enacting clause which brings in to force the Constitution

3. It declares the great rights and freedoms which the people of lndia intended to secure to all citizens and basic type of Government and the quality which was to be established.

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment has inserted three new words in the preamble: Secularism, socialism and integrity. Socialism is implicit in the Preamble and the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution. The term “Economic Justice” in the Preamble denotes nothing but India’s resolve to bring socio-economic revolution. The Directive Principles, particularly Art, 39 (b) & (c) of the Constitution are Charters of social and economic liberties of the people. The word “socialism has, however, no definite democratic and communistic. Generally, the term implies a system of government in which the means of production is wholly or partially controlled by the State. India’s socialism is, however a democratic socialism and not a “communistic socialist.”

In the Constitution of India, the Preamble (as amended in 1976) declares the State to be “Secular”, and this is of special relevance for the Religious Minorities. Equally relevant for them, especially, is the prefatory declaration of the Constitution in its Preamble that all citizens of India are to be secured “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and “equality of status and of opportunity.” The Constitution of India has provided two types of safe-guards -general and specific to safeguard various interests of the minorities. In the first category are those provisions that are equally enjoyed by both groups. The provisions ensure justice- social, economic and political equality to all. The second category consists of provisions meant specifically for the protection of particular interests of the minorities.

1. People’s right to “equality before the law” and “equal protection of the laws”.

2. Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

3. Authority of State to make “any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens” (besides the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes)
4.citizens’ right to “equality of opportunity” in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State – and prohibition in this regard of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
5. Authority of State to make “any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

6.People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion – subject to public order, morality and other Fundamental Rights;
7.Authority of State to make law for “regulating or restricting any economic financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice”, and for “providing for social welfare and reform”;
8.Authority of State to make laws for “throwing open” of Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist “religious institutions of a public character to “all classes and sections of the respective communities;
9.Sikh community’s right of “wearing and carrying of kirpans”

10.Right of “every religious denomination or any section thereof – subject to public order, morality and health – to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable proposes, “manage its own affairs of religion”, and own and acquire movable immovable property and administer it “in accordance with law”.
11. People’s “freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion”.
12. People’s “freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions” wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
13.Right of “any section of the citizens” to conserve its “distinct language, script or culture”
14.Restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, “on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them”.
15. Right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
16. Freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State.

Part IV of the Constitution of India, containing non-justifiable Directive Principles of State Policy, includes the following provisions having significant implications for the Minorities:
1.Obligation of the State “to endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities” amongst individuals and groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations;
2.Obligation of State to “endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”;
3.Obligation of State “to promote with special care” the educational and economic interests of “the weaker sections of the people” (besides Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes)
4.Obligation of State to “take steps” for “prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”.

Part IV-A of the Constitution, relating to Fundamental Duties, applies in full to all citizens, including those belonging to Minorities and of special relevance for the Minorities are the following provisions in this Part:
1.Citizens’ duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India “transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities
2.Citizens’ duty to “value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”.
Some other provisions of the Constitution having special relevance and implications for the Minorities are:
3.Official obligation to pay out of the consolidated funds of the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu 46.5 and 13.5 lakh rupees respectively to the local “Dewasom Funds” for the maintenance of Hindu temples and shrines in the territories of the erstwhile State of Travancore-Cochin
4.Special provision relating to the language spoken by a section of the population of any State
5.Provision for facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage
6.Provision for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities and his duties
7.Special provision with respect to Naga religious or social practices, customary law and procedure, and “administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.”
8. Identical special provision for the Mizos
9.Provision relating to continuation in force of pre-Constitution laws “until altered or repealed or amended by a competent legislature or other competent authority”

Part III of the Constitution gives certain fundamental rights. Some of these rights are common to all the citizens of India including minorities. These rights are enshrined in:
Article 14: This ensures equality before law and equal protection of law
Article 15: This prohibits discrimination on any ground i.e. religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except the procedure established by law.
Article 25: This ensures freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.
Article 26: This ensures a right to manage religious institutions, religious affairs, subject to public order, morality and health.
Article 29: Gives minorities a right to conserve their language, script or culture. It provides for the protection of the interests of minorities by giving them a right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The State is directed not to discriminate against minorities institutions in granting aid.
Article 350A: Directs the State to provide facilities for instruction in the mother tongue at the primary stage of education.
Art 164(1): According to this article in states of Bihar, MP and Orissa there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the scheduled castes and backward classes.
Art 244(1): Regarding administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas – (1) The provisions of the Fifth schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the Scheduled areas and Scheduled tribes in any state other than the state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. (2) The provisions of the sixth schedule shall apply to the administration of the tribal areas in the state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
Art 244(A): Formation of an autonomous state comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and creation of local legislature or Council of Ministers or both thereof. Parliament may by law form within the state of Assam an autonomous state comprising (whether wholly or part) all or any of the tribal areas.
Art 275: Provided that there shall be paid out of consolidated fund of India as grants-in-aid of the revenues of a state such capital and recurring sums as may be necessary to enable the state to meet the costs of such schemes of development as may be undertaken by the state with the approval of the Govt of India for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the scheduled tribes in that state or raising the level of administration of the scheduled areas therein to that of the administration of the rest of the areas in that state. Provided further that there shall be paid out of the consolidated fund of India as grant-in-aid of the revenues of the state of Assam sum capital and recurring.
Art 330: Reservation of seats for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the House of People.
– Seats shall be reserved for scheduled castes
– The scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes except the scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts of Assam
– The scheduled tribes in the autonomous districts in Assam.
Art 332: Reservation of seats for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the states.
– Seats shall be reserved for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (except the ST’s of autonomous districts of Assam) in the Legislative Assembly of every state.
– Seats shall be reserved also for the autonomous districts in the Legislative Assembly of the state of Assam.
Art 334: Reservation of seats and special representation in Legislative Assemblies and House of People to cease after fifty years.
Art 335: Claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to service and posts-The claims of the members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a state.
Art 338: National Commission for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
Art 339: Control of the Union over the administration of Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes.
Art 340: Appointment of a commission by the president to investigate the conditions of backward classes.
Art 341: Power of the President to specify the castes, races or tribes or posts of or groups within castes, races or tribes as scheduled castes.
Art 342: Power of the President to specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as scheduled tribe.
Art 350(A): Facilities for instruction in mother tongue of a minority group.
Art 350(B): Special officer for linguistic minorities.