Sunday, March 9, 2014
Political Marketing: Our Indian Democracy Must Increase Participation of Women and Young.
India may be the world's largest and most populous democracy, but it is a "flawed" one. India's abysmal political culture and lack of fair political participation have led to it being ranked below Countries such as Chile, Israel and Botswana in the Democracy Index 2012 report.
The Democracy Index, compiled by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit, is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
The top five democratic countries in the world are Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand. North Korea comes last among the 167 countries covered by the index.
India has been ranked 38 in the list of top democracies. But it comes better off than most of its neighbours: Bangladesh is ranked 84, Sri Lanka 89, Bhutan 107, Pakistan 108, Nepal 111 and Afghanistan 152. China is ranked 142.
India, termed a flawed democracy, scores high in categories such as electoral process and pluralism (9.58) and civil liberties (9.41) but slips when it comes to the functioning of government (7.5) and political participation (6.1). Its score is lowest in political culture (5). India's overall democracy score stands at 7.52 — as against the highest of 9.93 (Norway).
The report defines a flawed democracy as a country that has free and fair elections and respects basic civil liberties, but suffers significant weaknesses in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, about 20% of the population, according to preliminary projections from the 2011 census. That’s up from 195 million in 2001.
The median age in India is 25, meaning that half the population is below 25 and half is above it. Compare India to Canada, whose youth make up just 12% of its population and where the median age is almost 40.Women are showing up on the electoral landscape.
India is a youthful nation. India’s young people are on the move. They are reaching for new opportunities made possible. The United Nations defines youth as people between ages 15 and 24. By this measure, there are approximately 240 million youth in India.
Women are showing up on the electoral landscape as a statistic that can no longer be ignored. The number of registered women voters is growing, slowly but surely. Where there were once just 715 listed female voters for every 1,000 male voters in the 1960s, today there are 803. And they are voting in huge numbers, often more than the men.
According to figures quoted by former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, in 17 of the 22 states that went to polls in the past two years, women outvoted the men by far. This was true even in a state like Uttar Pradesh where 60.29% women exercised their franchise in the 2012 assembly elections as against 58.82% men.
India is placed at 111th position out of 189 countries in a list prepared by an international organization that ranks nations on the number of women representatives in parliament.
The organization - Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) - has found that while more and more women are being elected to parliaments across the world, the trend has not come to in India.
Increasingly, they are also deciding for themselves which way to vote. This is particularly true in urban areas, says pollster G V L Narasimha Rao who has been tracking election data for several decades. For instance, in the 2013 Delhi state polls, Kejriwal's AAP attracted more women voters than the BJP or the Congress, which ironically was led by Sheila Dikshit.
One of the chief reasons for this declaration of semi-independence by women, says Rao, is the growth of the electronic media. Television, he reasons, has allowed women to access information in a way they never could earlier. Consequently, they no longer the world, the trend has not come to in India.
In the Lok Sabha, out of the 544 members, only 60 are women. The Rajya Sabha has only 26 women MPs out of 241 members. This means that only about 1 in 10 parliamentarians in India (11.4%) are women.
India's neighbours are also far ahead in making more women enter politics. In Nepal almost 30% of MPs are women. It is ranked 33rd on this list. Pakistan on the other hand is ranked 72 with 21% of parliamentarians in the Upper House and 17% in Lower House being women.
Bangladesh is ranked 74th in this list with 20% female representation in parliament. China is 61st with nearly 25% MPs being women. The only south Asian neighbour worse off that India in the list is Sri Lanka - ranked 133th with only 13 women MPs out of 225.
Women participation means their progress. This will help a lot in our progress. By increasing women participation, we can catalyze our growth. It is now required on the part of all political parties and actors to give more tickets to women and young candidates.
Speaking to TOI from Geneva, Jemini Pandya from IPU said, "The scene for women in politics is very bad in India. Asia and the Pacific are the bottom two regions in the world. What is worrying is that India is barely making any progress. In Asia for example, there is about half a percentage point progress each year.
So it is fairly stagnant and static in terms of progress. With the elections coming up in India, political parties need to put in place a commitment by themselves that more women will be given a chance to enter parliament. One of the ways they can do it is field women from seats which are winnable."
More participation of young will energies our democracy. It will bring good, new and innovative ideas to strengthen it. Women and Young need more role to play in politics. Hence, our political bosses must allot and allow more and bigger role in future to women and young on political landscape.
Heera Lal (Views are personal and based on different sources)