Although the public discourse surrounding the 2014 general elections seems to be centered on the effects of a “Modi Wave”, Mathew Idiculla stresses the need to remember that elections in India are ultimately a multi-polar contest fought over varied issues.
That 2014 would be a year of change seems inevitable. Whichever political formation wins the upcoming national elections, India will soon have a new Prime Minister after nearly a decade under Manmohan Singh. But beyond a mere change of guard, this election has the potential to alter the political and economic trajectory of India. This is not merely because Congress is projected to get one of its lowest ever tallies as per most opinion polls, but also because its chief challenger seems to embody a thought quite different from that held by all previous prime ministers.
2014 could very well be remembered with other landmark years in India’s political history- 1967, when Congress domination ended as it lost power in half the states; 1977, when for the first time Congress was unseated from power at the centre and 1984, when Congress won its highest vote share ever and had for the last time a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family as the Prime Minster. In terms of economic policy, 1991 saw a major policy shift in India with the opening of the markets which was further taken forward by the BJP led NDA government. However, since 2004, India has followed an “inclusive growth” model which sought to go beyond economic growth and focused on delivering social welfare by enacting various socio-economic rights. But with economic growth lowering to 5.5 per cent this year and rising inflation, the viability of this model is under the scanner and the policy priorities of the next government could hence undergo a major shift.
Bhoomika Joshi and Sanober Umar
The widespread protests after the rape of a young woman in Delhi during December-January 2012-13 were analysed as signals of a mass awakening of gender consciousness in India by many commentators, especially among the urban metropolitan youth. Political parties across the spectrum registered their responses against the incident, ranging among demands for capital punishment, castration and life sentence.
However the incorporation of ‘gender’ as an agenda for electoral politics by mainstream political parties did not find an expression and still remains absent. The subsumption of gender as a platform of political ideology under other debates and the absence of taking into account the intersectionality of various identities within the category of gender has prevented the full expression of political consolidation of feminist ideologies at the state level. For the world’s largest democracy, ‘gender’ as a realm of political contestation and agenda remains subsumed under other ‘larger debates’. Elections in India are not fought, loss or feared by political parties over the need to address the impact of gendered discrimination. Gender as a principle of organized agenda for political action, especially at the larger national level has not garnered the same level of interest as other matters of political power, contestation, and negotiation.
Karan Singh looks at the medievalism of the criminalisation of gay sex, and grounds his argument for the reversal of the Supreme Court judgment in India’s long history of social reforms. On 11 December 2013, the Supreme Court of India overturned the 2 July 2009 Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising gay sex between consenting adults, bringing with it an avalanche of emotions, ranging from disappointment and betrayal to satisfaction and relief, from people who waited for the verdict but for diametrically opposite reasons. The subsequent political and media discourse was as much rooted in the religious beliefs, political climate and social conservatism as … Continue reading Getting this Straight: Decriminalising Gay Sex is an Idea Whose Time has Come
Shreeppriya GK On a gloomy morning in the last week of the departing year, a few tube-lights shone down on a solitary teak desk. In the harsh light lay what had been, for the past several days, the daily harbinger of death and depravity – an array of newspapers. The brutal gang rape and torture of a young physiotherapy student in New Delhi on the 16thof December had sparked national and international outrage over the state of women’s security in Delhi and the rest of the country. Her sad demise on the 29th of December after a heroic battle against … Continue reading Rape – The Terrible Child Of Patriarchy
Sucheta Tiwari The three waves of feminism seem to have overlooked the Indian shores. We are a country where any conversation about gender issues tends to get lost within layers of complexities ranging from predominantly patriarchal societal norms to misrepresentation of women in government offices. The issue of women’s health weaves through all of these layers and emerges as one of the most complex, yet one of the most poignant issues of the day. Mr. K.D. Singh brought up the issue of sanitation and drinking water facilities in his post. I will try to delve deeper into the healthcare issues … Continue reading Healthcare for Women: Should be big agenda for Elections 2014
Aprajita Pandey Civic engagement on gender issues has seen a massive recent shift from catering to women-specific laws, policies, and programs to questioning the fundamental structures that propel gender inequality. The influence of active women’s movement in India is visible in research, academic exchange, democratic institutions and larger political debates. Rather than stereotyping women as apolitical, disinterested parties, women are now more fully acknowledged as active political agents. However, there is still a stark difference between women’s engagement as a political class versus male engagement in the political sphere. Women’s networks are largely circumscribed to the domestic / private sphere, … Continue reading Women as Political Actors- Rethinking Strategies
Dr. K.D. Singh, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Hierarchical classifications and gender disparity are broad terms used to identify the plight of women in India. Delve deeper and the manifestation of these attitudes stare back at you: Security, nutrition, sanitation and healthcare. The growing incidence of rape across the country has amplified some or most of the fears and insecurities that many Indian women face today. However, the 2014 general elections have the potential to be a turning point as women constitute 49% of the voters in these elections. This is an unprecedented opportunity for women to highlight their issues … Continue reading 2014 Elections: An unprecedented opportunity for the Women of India