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Representation, all the way up

GS Paper  2

Syllabus: Women and Local Self Government

 

Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express

Direction: Just go through it once. Not much content in the article to make a note of.

Context: Recently, Droupadi Murmu, an Adivasi woman from a humble background, was sworn in as the 15th President of India, made possible by reforms at the local level.

The 73rd and 74th Amendments towards democratic decentralisation have played a key role in diversifying representation in politics.

Constitutional Reform for women in LSG

  • Provided for Intersectional reservation: It refers to reservation for SC Women, ST Women and OBC Womenin the elected councils of Panchayats and Municipalities.
    • A minimum of one-third of seats has to be reserved for women.
  • Reservation beyond 33%: States such as Bihar, and West Bengal have gone beyond the Constitutional mandate by increasing women’s reservations from 33% to 50% and introduced reservations for OBCs.

 

Benefits:

  • Broadening therepresentative character of the Indian state by increasing the total number of elected representatives and diversifying its constituents.

Issues:

Despite 30 years of these constitutional reforms, the local governments have still not become powerful “units of self-government” as:

  • No true financial and administrative power has been transferred (the state still holds a substantial hold over LSG)
  • Expansion of the reservation to other social bases has been relatively ignored
  • Judiciary has been quite sceptical about diversifying representation in local governments, like OBC reservation in local government elections.
  • Issue of ‘Panchayat Pati’: Women are sometimes proxies for their husbands in reserved constituencies.

Conclusion:

Empirical studies have shown that women-led panchayats invest more in public goods, prioritize infrastructure more relevant for women, and increase women’s involvement in village affairs. The SC has given direction that diversifying reservations to OBC should be justified by “empirical findings” of backwardness.

Women in Judiciary

As per government data, there are 4 in the Supreme Court and 96 in the High Courts.

Insta Links

Devolution of Powers to Local Level

 

Mains Link

Q. Have the quota policy for women in local government delivered towards political empowerment of women? Critically comment. (10M)

 

Prelims Link

Local self-government can be best explained as an exercise in

(a) Federalism

(b) Democratic decentralization

(c) Administrative delegation

(d) Direct democracy

Answer: B

Democratic decentralization is the development of reciprocal relationships between central and local governments and between local governments and citizens.