Sunday 27 April 2014

The Rights & Responsibilities of Women: The Dichotomy of the Election Commission of India

Since 1997, I have performed duties in various elections such as municipal corporation, gram panchayat, University senate, legislative assembly and Lok Sabha. Initially, the gender sense was not matured enough to perceive patriarchal privileges and prerogatives in social-cultural structures. After literary study of feminist theories and its application in literature and life, i have started believing and without a whiff of doubt that 'patriarchy is a reality' - it does plays vital role in constructing male-female identities.

Every now and then, popular manifestation of such dichotomy is perceived in advertisements, films, tele-serials, social debates and academic discourses. The economical disparity also remain a kind of reality, even in the developed Western world. Whether she is a farm laborer or MD/CEO of MNCs or film star or sports personality, the salaries/remunerations/perks/contract-money is never 'equal' to the male counterpart. There is exception to this in Government sector. Especially, in India, take any Government job, you will not find discrepancy in salaries given to male or female of similar rank and position. In addition, women are given tax relaxation (even if her husband or other family member is tax payer). I have no problem with tax relaxation offered to women in India. It is helps in economic emancipation. But what i cannot understand is why women do not ask for equal work opportunity during elections in India? I have never come across any organization fighting for the rights of women, demanding equal distribution of duties also for women of equal rank and position. Please draw my attention if there are any such demands made by women.
Earlies, when my patriarchal sense was not developed, i thought women are fair sex, they cannot do hard work, they should not be thrust into hardship, she is a damsel in distress - and man is supposed to do all macho-work, all hardships, field work etc. Now, i read all these as social construction of identities. So, we should abstain from such socio-cultural construction of identities. A fair and square opportunities should be given to one and all, irrespective of their gender when any Government organization is given responsibilities or duties to the workforce.

During all the elections, I have experienced that the so - called tough jobs of Zonal officer or Presiding officer are 'all-male' tasks. Rarely, any woman is offered these 'tough' duties. I do not think that these are really 'tough' tasks that women cannot do it. These 'revolver ranis' can do it. There is no need to wait for women NGOs cry foul.
Then, why is Election Commission of India (ECI) not fair enough in distribution of duties? Why does ECI believe in Victorian dichotomy?
See these photographs of a few trainings for the staff members for Lok Sabha 2014. You will rarely notice a single woman in these images. 
* Why should we deny women their rights and responsibility to perform pious duty in this festival of Democracy? 
The largest democracy of the world is celebrating the festival. The women of India should not be denied their rights and responsibility to perform duties in Election. 
* How long should we consider it as the privilege and prerogative of Man? 
Let women be the part of democracy! 
Give them equal rights and responsibilities
Election 2014 Training - 1 at Samaldas Arts College, Bhavnagar. 28 Feb 2014

Election 2014 Training - 2 at Samaldas Arts College, Bhavnagar. 22 April 2014

Election 2014 Training - 3 at Medical College, Bhavnagar. 26 April 2014

Election 2014 Training - 3 at Medical College, Bhavnagar. 26 April 2014
Election 2014 Training - 3 at Medical College, Bhavnagar. 26 April 2014

Election 2014 Training - 3 at Medical College, Bhavnagar. 26 April 2014
Training of Presiding Officers at GEC, Bhavnagar (8 Nov 2015) 

       These are the comments posted on FaceBook. Resharing to keep it for readers,as on FB, things get drowned in the wave of time.
  • Chandresh Parmar I agree with you Sir. Why not reservation in duties??? 
    1 hr · Unlike · 1
  • Jaydev Bhola Dilip Barad...women professors have been assigned poll duty in ahmedabad
    1 hr · Unlike · 2
  • Dilip Barad Normally it is softer ones. Is this time the so - called tougher ones like Presiding Officers or Zonal officers or . . . Jaydev Bhola, Pls throw some light.
    1 hr · Like
  • Jaydev Bhola Dilip Barad....rather softer ones like PO..1 and POs......the argument advanced was that Pre.Off. duty involves night shift plus prolonged hours,hence women were exempted 

    On a lighter note Dilipbhai ...I have both the duties in my home...!
    59 mins · Unlike · 2
  • Dilip Barad Jaydev Bhola: that's the concern . . . tough ones goes to the man. . . The task without responsibilities goes to woman - PO1/PO2/Ink the finer tip etc.
  • Dilip Barad Why is EC of India so sympathetic towards women - this is just an example of how socio - cultural phenomenon conditions n constructs n controls identities. 
  • Jaydev Bhola That too when you have Anita Karwal as the Chief Election Commissioner of Gujarat
    49 mins · Unlike · 1
  • Dilip Barad Jaydev Bhola: how can Anita Karwal escape her socio - cultural conditioning? We all are robots (puppet is medieval metaphor) - we think/act with respect to our programming...
    • 4 hrs · Edited · Like
    • Vishwas Joshi We have internalised this conditioning. Therefore I have never come across frmale collegues complaining about it. On the contrary, they are happy to be third PO.
      4 hrs · Unlike · 2
    • Hirva Vora I am of the opinion that women have been responsible for this because at some extent they themselves have been running away from these duties. In this case the ancient and the very notion of gender discrimination plays a vital role and conditioning of state of mind as well. If they have been deprived of their rights is truth then they have made themselves excluded is another reality. I have seen women who are teachers denying responsibilities of teaching in 12th and prefer to teach in 11th just because they do not have to go to check papers. They have accepted that, "who would prefer to go. Facilities aren't provided properly . It would be difficult for women to SURVIVE in that type of condition. " Some duties have been divided from the ORIGIN. It is like rooster coop. It needs to be broken down to peep out from it.
      4 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 2
    • Geeta Sahu the scene in mumbai was quite different. there were equal or more no of women who were doing election duty. infact, they were made to stay back till midnight till the machines were submitted, no1 seemed to be bothered about their security while travelling back home at that hour.
      3 hrs · Unlike · 3
    • Vimal Shah · Friends with Jagdish Joshi and 15 others
      U will sound it funny but many of the women professors of aau, at the time of gujarat elections, requested tht they shouldnt be giving election duties as they are already loaded with lots of work. The concept of democracy and election as featival may be colourful for debates and discussions but on the ground it sucks! 
      Why teachers and professors are given this sort of tasks? Isnt it enough that we are controllig and molding their naughty and abusive children? 

      I just dont like the whole idea of involving respected teachers in this thing!
      3 hrs · Unlike · 4
    • Geeta Sahu prof barad ...the task of PO1 and PO3 are of great responsibility ! the polling agents in the booth keep a track of number of voters who have voted ( male/female). hence, one has to be alert and cant leave ones place through out the day. if the PRO is an idot, then others team members have to run the show !
      2 hrs · Unlike · 2
    • Shobhana Nair Dilipbhai, probably men are egoistic n might have problems taking orders from female presiding officers:) Anita Karwal might be facing a similar situation everyday. On a more serious note, I personally believe in equality but the state should provide basic amenities n security for women??? Don't you think so...
      2 hrs · Unlike · 3
    • Prashant Chauhan Women of India do perform the election duty with all their comforts being taken care of. They usually perform as PO-3.
      35 mins · Edited · Unlike · 1
    • Dilip Barad Geeta SahuPrashant ChauhanShobhana Nair: I have faith in the potential of woman. If they can lead MNCs as managers, being Presiding Officer or Zonal officer is just a child's play. Woman can do but Man don't want to give then chance to prove their stuff. so, woman should ask for more challenging tasks. Comparatively, there is more responsibility with Presiding Officer than the followers in a polling booth. I think this duty should be equally distributed without gender bias. . . and once women will start performing such tasks, facilities will improve - security also will be taken care of. Cinema theatres, call centres are well protected - Presiding officers are given better security.
  • Geeta Sahu Till last year women were given PROs job. But the PRo is expected to stay overnight on the previous day. Women refused to do so.Hence this year men have been given PRO and women all other posts.
    18 hours ago · Unlike · 2
  • Shobhana Nair Dilipbhai, I strongly feel that women should be given equal opportunity to serve the nation and men to serve their respective families. But it doesn't happen. Today, when women have made a space for themselves, its been tough. Woman's modesty has been outraged in their homes, workplaces, buses, lifts etc by friends, relatives, bosses... How can a polling booth with strangers be a safer place during night??? Our govt. machinery has failed to provide security to women. This is every woman's right. Let the govt own up their responsibility first. Women should continue to receive such privileges till then. Right???
    11 hrs · Unlike · 3
  • Sunil Sharma This issue will be taken by some male out of jealousy and some of male by sharing authority and responsibilities. When Indra Gandhi, Sonia , Mamta, Susma, etc. can run parties and manage their party workers in efficient way, then this election duty is a very paltry issue for them. As there are many men who are running off from the election duties - election duties are taken as mandatory and in negligence of duties, affect the govt. services ,all Scot off the duties. It shows that we are not performing our routine duties with all responsibility.Otherwise this escapism would have not developed. Ladies are more prove to such threat, hence they also not demand by force such duties to perform. Secondly , do our political parties faith in Women ? I think they do not. Otherwise candidate lists would have been contained more ladies. The issue is not of sex but of mentality. Govt. employees women will also run away from such duties , when allot such duties under the veil of sick certificate....
  • Chirag Dhandhukiya did any woman raise her voice for this? no. Y. when it comes to perks, v r equal,but in responsibility- v r women! ( i m not against them. i do love them)
  • Geeta Sahu Neither did any man raise his voice against women being expected to stay with men (PRO) past midnight for the submission of those damn machines !!