Wednesday, 20 November 2019

A Legitimate Share For The Fair Sex

Updated: March 17, 2012 3:58 pm

The current female-male judges ratio in the Supreme Court and the various High Courts in India is a proper indicator of the fact how poorly women have been represented in an institution such as the judiciary, which is supposed to ensure social justice in the country. Presently, the male-female ratio in the Supreme Court of India is 28:2. The Supreme Court has seen only four women justices in the 61 years since it was set up. Out of a total of 685 judges in the various High Courts of India, only 57 are women judges. When the facts and figures are compared to the number of females in the lower judiciary, it can be noted that the number of female judges in the lower judiciary is comparatively higher.

It took seventy-one years for our country to get its first woman judge, followed by only a handful of women appointed as judges. Several former woman judges, who would like more balanced representation on the bench, are nonetheless opposed to a parliamentary committee’s suggestion for gender quotas in the judiciary.

In October 2008, a Parliamentary Committee Report placed in the House raised concern over “inadequate representation” of women, besides Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, in the higher judiciary. Seeking a promotion of these sections, it recommended social equity and justice in the higher judiciary. The Committee is of the firm opinion that there is no adequate representation of women in the social, economic and political life of the country even after more than 60 years of Independence.

In order to come up with a solution to the problem of low representation of women in higher judiciary, it is necessary to first analyse the root cause of the problem. Moreover to get a better picture, it is important to analyse whether this is a problem pertinent in India alone, and if not, then the ways and measures which other countries have adopted to deal with this problem, if any.

The reasons for low representation of females in higher judiciary in India

Dr NR Madhava Menon suggested a three-prong test which can be used to assess the performance of the judiciary with regard to gender justice. According to him, one of the indicators which help in assessment of judiciary’s performance in furthering gender justice is the position of women in the judicial establishment.

It is pertinent to note that the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women in its twenty second session, while considering India’s initial report, expressed concern over the low participation of qualified women in the administration and the judiciary, including family courts, lok adalats or conciliation tribunals. The Committee urged the Indian government to take affirmative action to increase women’s participation in the judiciary and lok adalats, and provide sex-disaggregated data in its next report.

However, many would still forward the notion that people only achieve what they really deserve, implying that most women don’t deserve to be judges. However they fail to realise that gender and other social categorisations used in perceiving people, involve a host of stereotypical judgments about their abilities, interests, and willingness and in particular, how well they “fit in” in their ‘club’. And this gender bias may lead to many ‘able women’ into the trap of theory of ‘self-perception’.

The positive development for women in the educational field over the past three to four decades has not been matched by greater empowerment. Typically, the statistical evidence shows that women have been significantly under hired for non-traditional jobs, relative to their distribution in some larger pool of eligible workers. But some employers argue that the statistical evidence proves nothing, for the segregation is attributable to women’s own choice

Law has long been considered a man’s field. Women weren’t even allowed to practise in India until 1924: Cornelia Sorabjee, the first Indian woman to study law at Oxford, spent most of her life pushing for legislation that would allow her to argue in court.

Nearly 90 years later, women are no longer prohibited from entering any profession. Still, a stark gender divide remains: According to 2004-2005 National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data, only 7 per cent of Indian women as opposed to 10 per cent of men work in the formal sector. Most are in jobs traditionally considered “feminine”, such as education, health care and public service. Fewer than 5 per cent opt for careers considered “masculine” like real estate, finance, retail, or law.

“Law goes against traditional norms of what it means to be a woman, because it’s about standing up and being vocal, and requires long hours,” said Reiko Tsushima, a gender specialist with ILO. “Unless you have a very supportive husband and family, it’s very difficult to maintain.”

Apart from all these reasons, at the very grassroots level in our country, the literacy level among woman is very low. There is a large drop out ratio of female child after primary school level. Even if they pursue further education, due to stereo typing, women in many families are prevented from entering professions which are stereotyped as “male-dominated” professions. The very notion that long working hours and strenuous work conditions which professions, such as legal profession etc, requires would reduce the number of suitors for a woman in the “marriage market”, makes them undesirable for women in the view of family members.

In India, female lawyers face many barriers in establishing their practices and are often not taken seriously by the legal establishment, the public and the government. Hengasara Hakkina Sangha from India explains that some of the barriers lie within institutions themselves, in their spirit, structure and functioning. There is so much bias in the system against [women lawyers] that it makes it much harder for them to establish practice when compared to their male counterparts. Senior advocates don’t entrust [junior advocates in their learning stages] with challenging cases like criminal cases. They feel that women can’t handle such cases which involve working with police and other investigating officers, meeting clients over a drink in the evening, etc. They are always involved in drafting and filing petitions, taking dates for the next hearing. Even after 10 to 15 years of practice, many women advocates would not have conducted even a single argument or mediation.


 “Liberation of humanity—New agenda for gender equality”—Dr Pratibha Ray


 Known as one of the versatile writers of our generation, who had explored ancient epics to put forth the role and status of women in present context, Dr Pratibha Ray has redefined the Odia literature during her forty years of literary career; devoted to bring humanity above all. Dr Ray has devoted thirty years in teaching education in different Government colleges of Odisha and six years in Odisha Public Service Commission as a member. She has authored more than sixty books including 20 novels, 23 story collections, 2 essay collections, two poetry books, ten travelogues, and 5 books for children. Besides these she has also retold tribal myths based on her research. Her literary works have been widely acclaimed and translated into various Indian and foreign languages. Her novel Jagnaseni (story of Draupadi) was applauded by literary community and got numerous awards and appreciations. She was the only woman in the country who had received the coveted Murti Devi Award for 1991. Apart from various awards and honours she is the recipient of Sahitya Academy Award and is honoured with Padma Shri by government of India. She has travelled more than thirty countries for delivering lectures. She is a literary activist and at times she has raised her voice against social injustice and corruption. Sudarshan Chhotoray of Uday India met her recently at Bhubaneswar to know her mind on the occasion of World Women’s Day.

What is your message on women’s day?

I wish the International Women’s Day 2012 should mark the beginning of a new journey for empowering women. Despite living in a globalised world, far too many women still grapple with abject poverty and acute hunger. Beneath the veneer of a civilized society, women, even educated women, continue to be the subject of unacceptable discrimination. Let us hope for a just society which will give equal opportunities to women to be a decisive force in all areas of public and private life. The ugliest face of hunger is reflected in innumerable starvation deaths in third world countries. Let us join hands to fight hunger and poverty and in doing so, inspire women to believing in humanism. Time has come for the new woman to redefine her new role, new status, and new identity and determine its parameters to herself and to the society in every field. Liberation of humanity should be the new agenda for gender equality.

What about the status of women in 21st century, according to you?

Twenty-first century Indian women, in spite of higher education and science education are still caught up between feudal values and the conventional role of women on the one hand and the fast approaching faster life of civilized world on the other. Trapped between the burden of home and workplace, bread baking and bread earning, child bearing, mothering, maintaining the glory of good wife, good daughter-in-law, struggling between conventions and modernity, they first have to survive. The modern women are walking on a tight rope. The civilized culture has strongly fused with the ancient culture and perpetuated the inferior and powerless status of woman. Even most of the civilized and developed countries in the world have failed to give due space and representation to women in all walks of life, mostly in socio-political participation. Women are still being treated as lesser human beings or weaker sex, though they are not so.

In the present era, do you think feminist movement is gaining strength and what is its relevance?

Feminist criticism has already entered the post-feminism era. In India and also in western countries radical feminism is not appreciated even by feminist social workers. Why should women consider maternity, motherhood and family responsibility as burden? Of course men should share in the household responsibility. Feminist struggle has been misunderstood as war against men even in some western countries from where it emerged. In Sweden, it is said that women enjoy near equal status with men in all sphere. An intimate dialogue with an environmentalist in Sweden surprised me as he commented: “Here men do not prefer feminist wives.” If this is the attitude of Swedish men regarding feminism what to speak of India?

In a state like Odisha where women are still struggling to get their equal place in society, what would be the way out?

Women as a class in all parts of the globe, has remained in state of subjugation and inferiority. This is still continuing in spite of gender equality agenda in feminist movements and the politicised slogan ‘empowering women’ in India. But this subjugation cannot be allowed to continue. Women at all ages have to trespass the man-mad social norms imposed on them in terms of Laxman-rekha or questioning the law-makers regarding human rights and social justice in court of Hastina by Draupadi, stripping herself to make Mahisasura powerless and weak as Durga, or walking upon the husband’s chest like Kali to wipe out corruption and terrorism from the society. Woman has proved herself as embodying both protective and destructive power. Destruction is not aim; rather it is to destroy the destructive evils of the society. Those privileged few women who empowered with their own talents, education, achievements and economic independence are expected to trespass the discriminating Laxman-rekha of the orthodox past and rescue herself from the in-human god-heads of the society. Woman should free herself from her age-old inner bondage. Clarity of vision and fearlessness is rising in the east. If woman herself will not come out of her bondage no law, no movement, no slogan can save her. Holding the key to liberation if the educated woman searches for rescue, than who can rescue her.

Do you think literature is playing its role for the betterment of the society?

Literature holds mirror to the society. Literature liberates from bondage of all kinds. Indian literature written in various languages and numerous dialects, not only reflects a common culture and uniquely Indian vision of universal brotherhood and humanity, but also inspires the voiceless to voice their inner agony, and anguished emotion. Therefore, The great literature (Epics like Mahabharat and Ramayan) has transcended time and rose to the status of holy scriptures.

What is your view about the marginalised women belonging to Adivasis and Dalits in Odisha?

The adivasis and dalits have been marginalised as a whole, but the women belonging to the above communities are enjoying near equal status in society. They may be called liberated and empowered women as they earn their livelihood and participate in decision making. There is no dowry demand for a girl in marriage market and mostly they choose their life partner. They are hard working, courageous straight-forward and at the same time home-makers. But when they feel the marriage is not working they have the right to divorce and remarry. This is my experience as a researcher with tribal life and culture. The problem is illiteracy for which they are not responsible alone. The so-called educated, modern women have to learn many things from tribal and dalit women.

What according to you is the rightful place for women in the present-day society?

I believe that every human being should have fundamental rights whether man or woman. Despite biological differences, women should have equal social, economic, political, legal and religious rights with men. They should have the same freedom as the citizens of a country or as the members of global village. Humanism is the greatest ism which believes in human interest and man and woman’s paramount power. If women will be placed accordingly to their potentiality without gender discrimination then the earth will be in safe hands. Reservation for women is made not because they are week but because they are forced to remain week for the discriminative attitude of male-dominated world.


Financial and time resources were also cited as major constraints. Hengasara Hakkina Sangha noted: “Holding offices in bar associations is a difficult task as winning these elections requires significant money and time and that even with phenomenal leadership qualities.” Women who do not have these resources cannot participate to the fullest extent.

Is the Position Same Everywhere?

The American Bar Association Commission on Woman in The Profession noted that women’s representation in the judiciary had increased substantially over the past decade. At the turn of the 21st century, women accounted for about 18 per cent of Federal, District and Appellate judges; double the percentage from the early 1990s. In some jurisdictions, the increase in female representation has been especially dramatic. In Massachusetts, for example, women constitute 30 per cent of the bench and a majority on the Supreme Court. Yet such progress should not be grounds for complacency. Much of the increase in women’s representation on the federal bench has been recent, and has reflected exceptional commitment to diversity. President Clinton’s appointment of 100 female judges was a major factor.

Women’s disproportionate family responsibilities also carry a cost when pitted against substantial research, teaching etc. Although work schedules in law school generally permit more flexibility than those in legal practice, performance pressures and time demands can be even more unbounded. Racial, ethnic, and gender biases persist within the legal profession generally, and there is no reason to expect legal education to be different. Female students and faculty are subject to the same double standards and double binds that women encounter in other legal settings. Their competence is subject to heightened scrutiny and they risk criticism for being too assertive or not assertive enough.


 “Equal status has to be earned by society”—Mahasweta Devi


Padma Shri and Jnanpith Awardee noted writer, feminist and activist Mahasweta Devi in an exclusive interview to Uday India stressed the need for awareness among women through education, without which International Women’s Day is of no use. If the day be celebrated world wide without following it in spirit it will lose its meaning. The interview of Mahasweta Devi to Jaydeep Dasgupta is as follows:

What is Women’s Day for you?

Throughout the year I try to write for the common people, I work closely with the tribal’s and non tribals mainly for the poor women. In fact my focus of interest is this section of the society who has been kept outside. The area of development for women is uniform and to provide workable literacy. I mean this much literacy which they can use. Our women are amongst the poor women, the main problem is dowry or bride price etc they had to face. These women are definitely the strength of Indian Society.

They labor hard throughout the day, just to run their family. I personally has seen their hardship in the dry regions of West Bengal and Bihar, the working women {Tribal and Non Tribal }after whole day’s labour dig a big hole digging the sand over the night and again after some sleep they reach those water holes before the sun rise to collect the drinking water and go back home.

What is the Significance of Women’s Day for Indian Women?

I am talking of the very poor. Here I must say for more than 90 per cent Indian women “Women’s Day” doesn’t exist. They share equally with man the hardship of earning a sqaure meal for their family, most of the women are illiterate or at best semi literate, but these women work hard to sustain their family, specially there children. They do not know what “Women’s Day” is, but they are the people who teach us, how and why Indian women make this Women’s Day successful.

What is to be done to empower Women folks in India?

I think Indian women are concerned. It would be much better if the Central and State Governments could bring such legal centers in the remote areas where justice would be readily available to the suffering women. There should be continuous progress against dowry and neglect of girl child. We just need to start empower campaigns not just for name sake but in spirit because Indian women are proving themselves over the years that they are fully capable of sharing responsibilities of the society and their family.

Do you feel Indian women are liberated?

No, just few instances will not do justice. Equal status has to be earned by the society, collective effort of the people needed to be involved.

What is your message to Women on the eve of Women’s Day?

Just literate yourselves. I firmly believe it can be done, I have seen even women of low literacy in the interior parts of the country are doing it.

By Padma Shri and Jnanpith Awardee


The position is no different in England and Wales as observed by Hon’ble Lady Justice Arden in her address to the Association of Women Barristers on June 3, 2008. She stated that from October 2005 to April 2008, there had been no women appointed as High Court judge. The percentage of women on the High Court bench is a mere 10.19 per cent. In April 2008, finally there was a new woman High Court judge, namely Justice Eleanor King in England. In the same period, 29 male High Court judges had been appointed.

Why women are needed in the Judiciary?

Many conservatives believe that gender should not factor into the choice of judges and justices. Because many fewer women than men went to law school in the 1970s and 1980s, and more women drop out of legal practice to care for their families than men do, the pool of judicial candidates today is dominated by men. It stands to reason that if male judicial candidates are passed over in favour of women, less qualified people will be selected.

Yet there is an alternative view that women may actually be better judges. Most women, unlike most men, know what it is like to be discriminated against and oppressed and, if they want to succeed, must “learn to see both sides in ways that men do not”. Men face no similar pressures and so live in a happy bubble of illusion. Because the job of the judge involves seeing other people’s perspectives, female judges have a real, albeit hard-won, advantage.


FIRST WOMAN CHIEF JUSTICE


Leila Seth is the first woman chief justice of High Court (Himachal Pradesh) in India who has lived all her life on her own terms and conditions. She never gave up nor did she give in to any pressure prevailed in the prejudiced society of that time. She knew how to deal people having a frozen mental format. Justice Seth has worn many hats in one life time, the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court and also the first woman Chief Justice of a state High Court, she was the first woman to have topped the London Bar exams in 1958.

Born in Lucknow in 1930 to simple parents, her upbringing was done in West Bengal. She went to Loreto convent in Darjeeling. After schooling, she moved to Lucknow and studied English literature at Loreto College before going to England to study Law. She had to undergo tough times and met a new fight at every step of her walk.

She was merely 20, when she tied the nuptial knot with Prem Kumar. Marriage was no obstacle in the way to her studies. She held her ground firmly and went on battling for justice. Coming from a background where no bow or black coat was clad she took to law as her career defying all prejudices with pride against women folk in the profession. The air was rather thick to breathe. She joined the Bar Council in 1959 and appeared for more than ten years as a counsel in trial courts (Patiala House, Delhi) and High Courts before graduating to sittng in the centre to pronounce verdicts as a judge. Seth never hurried off to a summary trial.

During her tenure she handled a large number of tax matters, civil, criminal and matrimonial cases. In 1978, she was appointed as the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court. In 1991, she was appointed the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh. She is against capital punishment and sat upon enquiry commissions that examined the case of Rajan Pillai who died in police custody and served on the Law Commission of India till 2000 and was responsible for the amendments to the Hindu Succession Act which gave equal rights to daughters in joint family property.

Leila Seth’s autobiography, On Balance, was published by Penguin India. In this book, she talks about her early years of homelessness and struggle. Her straying into law while in UK with her husband Prem, and how Justice Pathak endorsed her ; and her happy marriage of over fifty years, including the experience of bringing up three promising children: writer Vikram Seth, peace activist Shantum and film-maker Aradhana. She overtly writes about skin-deep corruption eating into the vitals of the country. Besides, she never pronounced a verdict on the gallows as she was deadly against capital punishment.

She spends sitting pensively basking in the sun in the sylvan surrounding in NOIDA. She reminisces looking back on those nostalgic knots, unwinds herself and refreshes those sepia memories on her mind spent in Patna, Batanagar (Kolkatta), Darjeeling, she was schooled at, Shimla, Moshabra, a perfect place, far from the madding crowd oozing peace and serenity to introspect oneself, to write a tome lapping around in nature, Delhi’s Kautilya Marg where she lived, England, she spent her salad days.

Syed Wazid Ali


The reality is that many people, particularly women, may have less than complete trust in a system composed exclusively or predominantly of middle-aged men in pinstriped trousers. They will question whether such a court can reflect the various viewpoints and values of an increasingly pluralistic society. The bench need not perfectly mirror the society in all its diversity. But if women—who constitute 50 per cent of the population—are excluded or represented only by the occasional token women, public confidence in the administration of justice may suffer.

The Indian judiciary has an enormous number of law suits pending and the higher courts are no exception. The apex court alone has some 50,000 cases pending and about 73,000 new law suits as of September 2011. If the weaker sections and the women are adequately represented in the system, the problem of pendency of cases can be tackled to a considerable extent.


KEEP GOING ON… OTHERS WILL FOLLOW


Once again, March comes with the time to celebrate International Women’s Day. The moment that fills each and every woman on this earth with pride. Women who understand today’s need of the hour, time and speed, they very well gel with others.

As a girl child, I have always dreamt of becoming different from other girls. I think when a girl child is born till the age of 12 or 14, it is a carefree environment and the moment she enters puberty and starts with her menstruation cycle, the whole life changes. She is treated like an adult and so the family members behave. Of course, this is a fine growing period .

Born in the family of the art practioners, my life revolved around the sound of the Gunghroo, Music, footsteps. It was very enchanting and mesmerizing.

As every young girl is fond of dressing up, looking her best which was like a moral boost to oneself, I too had the desire to be like one of them but my heart and mind was saying something different to me. As the days were passing, I was drawn towards the beauty and simplicity of the dance form Odissi.

In the college I decided to become a dancer. Though everybody in my class was astonished to see my decision, but I knew what was right for me. I knew right from the beginning that the path of being a dancer was not going to be the path of roses as lots of commitment and dedication was required. It’s like playing a gamble. But if you are confident about what you are doing or how much sacrifices you are doing, definitely it will yield the result.

When my journey as a classical dancer began, there were lot of promises and disappointments. You climb one step and then you come down two steps. But I was very determined to feel the failure more than success. Also I had the confidence in me, about my work that all these distractions made me even stronger and stronger day by day.

Well after long years of struggle there slowly started things coming easy for me. As a dancer I was performing in different parts of the world. This in return gave me to look insight of the other women of the world. How in different countries, the status of the women are different. How the power and politics sometimes define the position of the women.

I like to say here that, women power is such that so many roles she plays. She is the Lakshmi—the one who manages her wealth, She is the Saraswati—the one who first teaches the essence of being to the child, and She is the Durga—the one who becomes revengeful when anything wrong happens to her or to her family.

With such powerful attributes how can be a woman a part of subjugation. Still there are some parts of the world, where there is no empowerment of women. Still they are kept away from education, from voting, from taking any decision.

For me definitely dance is the powerful medium of myself—expression. What I feel inside and what one is going through can be depicted with true sense of understanding the journey of life. Through my dance I have that liberty to become a small child, young maiden, a matured woman and so on. I can express my emotions, my feelings through. I become an architect, engineer, teacher, reader, painter, sculptor, poet, etc on the stage. From dance I have learnt again 5 D’s—Discipline, Dedication, Devotion, Determination and Discovering which is the path of life. All these again lead to Divinity for a powerful and meaningful life.

So what I want to say that dance gives me the fulfilment of being a woman. Dance gives me an opportunity to discover myself. And when this is all there, I think that is the women empowerment! One is free from the inward and outward boundaries! Sky is the limit! One becomes a flying bird who has so many dreams to chase.

I feel that right from the childhood, the parents should take that much of pain to honour the talent of the child. Maybe if not performing arts they can be in the field of visual arts.

I also feel that in the schools or colleges there should be Arts as a subject for the uplift of oneself and of the society. There has to be nationalised schools or colleges for the one who wants to pursue as a professional artists. Though it is there but the numbers has to be increased.

In every body’s life the role or the presence of the mother plays a pivotal role in shaping up the future of the child and family. So the training starts right from the family and she teaches how one can fit and fight the society well. All these will happen when She herself feels confident and is aware of the shortcomings. And I personally think that each and every women is capable of doing so many roles, can adapt different culture, can handle the situations with grace and elegancy, can create the perfect environment for a strong and powerful results. So it’s just that one has to know oneself. Once the awakening happens, there is no stop from achieving the goal!

So keep going on—rest others will follow. Happy Women’s Day Everyday!

 By Kavita Dwibedi

(The author is an eminent Odissi dancer)


Steps and Measures which can be taken to Increase Representation

The experience of Canada offers a good practice to increase representation of women judges. Canada currently uses a system in which individuals interested in an appointment are required to submit an application. The application is reviewed by committees composed of judges, lawyers and citizens. The committees determine whether the candidates are qualified before the names enter a pool for possible appointments. In this way, many women who might otherwise have gone unnoticed are brought into the system.

In India, appointment to the Supreme Court and High Courts are done by Collegium of Judges. The essential features of this judicially created system of appointments is that the ‘collegium’ selects judges on its own assessment of the merits of a person and the government is bound to appoint the selected person except in a rare case of the collegium having overlooked some aspect of the incumbent not being a suitable judge. Even here, government’s view can be disregarded by the collegium by reasserting its choice.


“Healthy Women, Healthy Nation”—Dr Sharda Jain, Senior Gynaecologist, Life Care Centre


She is one of the renowned gynaecologists who has excelled in her work by going the extra mile. She has always supported the women cause and favoured women empowerment. Dr Sharda twice a year organises camps for women. The camp Gynaecology Forum & WOW runs under her guidelines from 1 to 8 March and from 1 to 8 December. She has put forth her views on Women’s Day as to how the standard pertaining to higher education and the living standard in rural and remote areas can be uplifted. Excerpts:

What is the status of a woman health both in rural and urban areas?

As far as the health of women is concerned, it is absolutely in a very bad shape. We are 10 times better than China and Sri Lanka. At the time of Independence, I mean in those early decades we lost mother in every single minute but now in every 5 minutes. We have come a long way and yet a long to travel. But now ‘home delivery’ for a baby has been stopped to the minimum, barring remote areas where amenities are scarce but in cities it’s nursing homes and hospitals. And I believe in times to come scene will improve and go towards the better direction.

What are the problems and the causes related?

See, doctors are inadequate in number to give services to each single person. This figure is just 10 lakh a little more or less. Poor diet schedule and negligence and also the living standard are the reasons making the scenario tough. This in the end leads to certain other diseases like hypertension, obesity and anemia. Women’s health is harmed by lack of access to and the poor quality of reproductive services. About 24.6 million couples, representing roughly 18 per cent of all married women, want no more children but are not using contraception. The causes of this unmet need remain poorly understood, but qualitative study suggests that women’s lack of decision-making power in the family, costs involved in seeking contraception, and fear of child death all play an important role.

Do you think that this would ever be resolved?

Why not? You see the media should step forward to update the masses with day-to-day problems and their solutions. The media I think can play a significant role in bridging the gaps. Besides, the government concerned should be more sensitive about the issue. The government’s serious thought can change the whole condition.

How can the condition of a nursing mother be improved?

At very close range, I’ve noticed that one third of women in India are underweight, and over half of married women are anemic. As per the survey, about 30 per cent of India’s children are born underweight, and by the age of five, 44 per cent are underweight and 48 per cent are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. India accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all global childhood deaths attributed to chronic malnutrition. They should be educated not only in medication and diets but also certain other things like civic sense and other precautionary measures to be taken care of after the delivery.

What message do you put across to the women folk?

The least I can say that the women’s health is in women’s hands. If they are healthy then only can they contribute to the development of our country. Economically independent is the key of empowerment.

Interviewed by Shvveta Arora


The executive has little or no role in the appointment of judges as a result. The collegium resorts to ad hoc informal consultations with other judges in the Supreme Court who are expected to know the merits of a proposed appointee from a High Court or occasionally by sounding a member of the bar.

There is a consensus that in today’s political conditions, the power of appointment of judges cannot be restored back to government. In several countries of the Commonwealth, National Judicial Appointment Commissions have been established to select judges. Such judicial commissions have worked with success in the UK, South Africa and Canada. The advantage of judicial commissions are that they are independent, broad based and represent not only the views of the judiciary but also of the executive and other sections of society. They are transparent in their working even to the extent that applications are invited by public advertisement, as was the case when judges were appointed to the new Supreme Court of the UK recently.

In India, proposals for the establishment of a National Commission for Judicial Appointments have been made at various times. The Law Commission in 1987 recommended a broad based body of judges and other person to make recommendations for the appointments of judges. A Constitutional Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament for the establishment of such a commission in 1990 but it lapsed. The National Commission to Review the Constitution 2002, set up by the Government of India, favored a National Judicial Commission with a predominance of judicial members as an alternative to the collegium system. With the size of the Indian superior judiciary, it may be necessary to have two judicial commissions in India, one for the Supreme Court and another for the High Courts.


“Dare to Dream”—Vani Tripathi


The woman has reached the zenith of success everywhere in society, still there are challenges galore ahead of them. How should the woman face them and what are her expectations from society?

There are many challenges in front of women. We not only belong to the male-dominated society but also to a feudal mindset which will take hundreds of years to change. But the challenge is the promise for the future, the future that belongs to women as they surge ahead in every field to become high achievers and great leaders.

Being a young politician what challenges do you face in day-to-day politics. What are the precautions women should take in politics?

Well, I belong to one of the most liberal political parties of India, Bharatiya Janata Party and thank it’s the only party of the nation that without fail gave 33 per cent reservation to women and that’s really a big thing. Yes, there are challenges of acceptance here but they are also changing—if you deliver then people have no choice but to accept.

Do you think of a woman to be in politics?

For women all arenas of life are equally challenging and demanding, if young professionals specially women enter politics it will cleanse the system and this will diminish the ugliness of politics.

Now every political party has got young, educated politicians. Still India has the curse of corruption. Comment.

Yes, this is an anomaly but remember in some political parties the young are there due to family lineage which is a default. I feel the youth have to take cognizance of the anomalies of the system around them and also get less cynical. This change will not happen overnight; it’s a churning process and the young of the country have to be in the middle of the process.

Is ideology a key point in politics?

Yes, ideology is the only key point in success as far as politics goes. In life, if you are rudderless then it’s a waste, ideology gives a thrust and a focus area to the work that we do. What is nationalism? It’s a thought and consciousness that is the catalyst for us.

Caste, creed and religion have a major role in Indian democracy. Some political parties are using them as a vote bank. How to get rid of them?

This is sad and disappointing and this appeasement is being done by certain political parties of the country, which need to be shunned as we look at the world changing rapidly around us. It is ugly to see caste, religion and creed still being used as a tool. On the one hand, we say ‘India is surging ahead” on the other, we use such regression. We not only need to reject this but to change and throw this out.

India is a multicultural, multiracial country and that is what makes us as exciting as people.

Being in politics, what is your guiding principle and who is your ideal leader?

Believe in yourself and never compromise is my principle. My ideal is the person who believes in just one word “credibility”.

If situation arises, will you take chance to change your party to succeed in politics?

No, the question does not arise.

What message would you deliver to Indian women through Uday India?

Dare to dream and life is all about choices.

[Vani Tripathi is National Secretary, BJP]

(Interviewed by Sudhanshu Jain)

 


This kind of setting-up of commission can go a long way in betterment of position of women in the representation in judiciary, as instead of seniority, which the present collegiums system resorts to would be replaced by a scientific and merit-based method which can be adopted by a specialised body such as a Commission for appointment. The commission, being a specialised institution can show an unbiased attitude and adopt an appropriate method for ensuring that females are adequately represented in the judiciary.

Whether Quota System in the Higher Judiciary is the solution to the problem

Former Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court in 1978 and first woman Chief Justice of a High Court (in Himachal Pradesh in 1991) spoke against reservations. “Especially in the Supreme Court, that is the highest court of the land, appointments (of judges) should be all about merit.”

The above view is kind of justified, as reservation is not the solution to this problem. Even if seats are reserved in the judiciary, the ones benefitted would be the creamier section of the female population. The reservation would not be instrumental in strengthening the truly backward section among the female population. Moreover, such reservation would create doubt in the mind of people about the competence of the female judges so appointed. “It is assumed that a man is competent, whereas a woman has to prove herself before she is expected to be competent.”


Women lack power even in Kerala


The position of women in India has been the theme of many great amends over the preceding few millennia. From equivalent status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the endorsement of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. Some intellectuals believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status with men in all fields of life.

However, some others hold divergent scrutiny. According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic Period.

In modern India, women have festooned high offices in India including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition. As of 2012, the President of India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha are all women. But even today Indian women have a status that is mostly subordinate to men, from birth to work to even death. “Status of women has certainly reached out to the concerned ears but Indian women haven’t been able to break the evil clutches of disparity” says PT Usha, India’s best known woman athlete.

Usha’s comment is all the more significant since she hails from Kerala, which traditionally promoted matriarchal societies and where women’s literacy and gender equality are among the highest in the country. In Kerala women empowerment, like social justice, has been a pet theme for the politicians, but both have not been achieved even after sixty years of Independence. The Congressmen, Marxists, Dravidians and other parties compete with each other in this regard, which results in utter chaos not serving the rationale. “In Kerala women has gained immense monitory empowerment, to the contrary they lack psychological empowerment”, comments Leela Menon a leading journalist and a social activist in Kerala.

The state of Kerala, which has been ruled alternatively by the Congress and Communists, constituted the ‘Kerala Womens Commission’ in the year 1996, with a Chairperson and six members, in order to improve the status of women and inquire into the iniquitous practices affecting them. There is a whole range of issues related to gender, women’s political participation, space and voice in Kerala. But at the same time there are more awareness and discussions about these issues in Kerala than in other states.

In spite of Kerala’s relatively higher human development index and gender development index, hard questions have to be asked about ingrained patriarchy and compact space for women’s voices in the public channels.

This absurdity of a good gender ‘development’ index and the relative lack of women’s empowerment in Kerala is a serious injury to society which is to be cured in due course of time. Kerala has a high fraction of highly ‘qualified’ or ‘educated’ women, and yet there is moderately little space for women in headship and empowered roles, and fewer articulate voices in public and private life. But the fact that these issues are being discussed suggests the beginning of a process of change. Such a process of transformation requires more affirmative action and more active political participation of women in all arenas—academics, politics, media, and social action. “Women empowerment is an evolving process; we have seen evident hype in the status of women in Kerala along with the reported harassments which we should never sideline”, said Kerala state tribal Minister Jayalakshmi the youngest woman minister of India.

The first fixation women and men will have to fight is an entrenched sense of cynicism. It is important for enlightened and educated women and men to work together to expand the quantity and quality of spaces that authorise women. When we begin to believe in change, change begins to unfold within us and beyond us. There is nothing like a harmonized category of ‘women’ or ‘men’ beyond their physical/biological differences. Multiple identities operate as much among women as among men—class, caste, religion, locality, sexual orientation etc. Both women and men can be perpetrators of patriarchy. In fact, many such values may be perpetuated by women partly because of the internalised sense of ‘norms’ constructed and made almost pathological over a period of time.

Another glorious Women’s day celebration is arriving. Messages and statements are on their way. Women in this era can be a President, an IT Analyst, an astronaut and what not. But the important question still remains unanswered is when will women be stopped being used as an apparatus for the psychological experiments of others? Longing for that March 8. Happy Women’s day!

By Meera nandan from Cochin


Conclusion

It can be concluded from the above discussion that the problem of low women representation in the judicial system is not peculiar only to India, but is a universal problem. Even in the 21st century there is ‘stereotyping of profession’. There are still certain professions which are considered unsuitable for the female population. Therefore, at the grassroots level what is required is the change in mindset of people. There needs to be positive steps taken towards the improvement of literacy rates among females, ensuring they are given incentives to successfully pursue further education. In the legal profession, the male counterparts should ensure that they create a safe environment. As far as the judiciary is concerned, setting-up of Appointment of Commission for Appointment of Judges can be a solution to the problem of low representation of women.

 By Pinky Anand

(The writer is a senior Advocate, Supreme Court)

 

 

 

 

 

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