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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Power of 49 - Can Women Change 'Vote Bank Politics'?

By Siddhi Sharma | INNLIVE

POLITICAL INSPIRATION Comprising 49 per cent of the electorate, Indian women could easily skew the general elections any which way they like. 

Power of 49 initiative for women, was launched in August 2013 with an objective to awaken women, inspiring them to cast an informed and independent vote and exercise the power they have to make or break a government in the forthcoming elections. The campaign was born out of the insight that women do not get their due from the establishment because they don’t participate fully in the electoral process.

'Power of 49' is a campaign to encourage women to vote this election. Indian Woman today influences the economy , the growth and also the stability of our nation. As it is famously believed that , A man has his will but women has her way. It’s evident in every facet of life that women influence a lot of decision-making around us.
Women are considered the determinants of culture, values, and plausibly, of the future of the nation. As per the 2011 Census, Indian woman form the 48.46 per cent of the largest democracy in the world. This 49% percent has the power to influence, to change and to turn around the fate of the country!

INNLIVE believes that it's time we stop the malicious blame game.We stand up for our rights and voice our opinions. Let’s not question the patriarchal  society, the reservation policy, the unfair attitude towards the fairer sex.Let’s not just wait for someone else to make us realize our importance. It’s the time we exercise the POWER OF 49.


As the famous model turned actress, Gul Panags puts it  “Work as a block, vote as a block,”. “Dalits vote as a block, Hindus vote as a block, Muslims vote as a block, Communists vote as a block. Why can’t women vote as a block to effect change?” The question then becomes, can women unite despite the diverse cultural, communal, regional, and religious beliefs that often define their identities? We’re skeptical on that front.

We believe the country can only prosper if it has well structured policies, a steadfast system and a holistic planning.It’s crucial for policy makers to be  aware of, what woman in India wants ? What are their areas of concern? 

“The Power of 49 campaign is also a message to politicians, that women can make or break them, because in India they form the single largest voting block,” says Vikram Grover, Vice President, Tata Global Beverages (TGB).

Today, even if the Indian women vote, they usually choose the candidate her man vouch for. Though  the expectations from the government is different . Unless the government and the citizens understand the impact of the vote on the kind of governance they would receive. The statistics won’t change .Unless the power of 49 is exercised, the  government will not be favorable. 

What is alarming is the fact that, In spite of so many parties contesting the election, no party or a single candidate has a vision to know what Indian woman seek today or what would truly empower her. There is less than ten percent candidacy of woman in the elections, today while they represent the whopping 49% of the largest democracy. It’s a fact that woman is a better leader. They have every quality what the country demands today. But how do we plan to channelize their efficiency in our democracy? How are we planning to make them a part of our system?

Even the socio-political activist Sudheendra Kulkarni believes that “Women would certainly be better leaders. They are far more caring, compassionate, patient and non-violent than men,“They have proven their capability through the one/third reservations at the Panchayat level. There are 1.5 million women representatives in local self-governing bodies. 

Through micro-finance and self-help organisations, they are already making a difference to their families and communities. But the shackles—family restraint as well as gender biases in political parties—need to be broken for women to play an active role in public life.” 
We Can empower the woman, if their voice is loud and clear. The voice can reach the system only through  the votes! Vote does not have  a substitute.

All said and agreed, its time to act and bring about a change! The change ,which will mark a beginning of  a new era. The power, to demand the rights , that has been suppressed for long. The time , to define a new horizon. A time to bask in the glory of a nation that will truly be democratic in every aspect!

Let’s make a difference , let’s exercise the “Power of 49”. At INNLIVE, we don’t request, we demand, to hear your voice while we promise your voice will reach its destiny. It will never go unheard.

Background: Women form 48.46 per cent (as per the 2011 Census) of the largest democracy in the world. How does that translate into 11 per cent elected representatives in the Lok Sabha (as per PRS Legislative Research) and a mere 14 per cent of women in senior management positions. We could blame patriarchy, we could debate the reservations policy, or we could do something to change the status quo.

“Work as a block, vote as a block,” suggests actress and activist Gul Panag. “Dalits vote as a block, Hindus vote as a block, Muslims vote as a block, Communists vote as a block. Why can’t women vote as a block to effect change?” The question then becomes, can women unite despite the diverse cultural, communal, regional, and religious beliefs that often define their identities? We’re skeptical on that front.

“We want women to understand the power of their vote and to use it wisely, based on how political parties respond to their issues. Women’s votes in India usually go to the party that the men in the family vote for, but the issues women face are different from those that men face. Logically, there is no reason for women to always vote with the man. 

The Power of 49 campaign is also a message to politicians, that women can make or break them, because in India they form the single largest voting block,” explains Vikram Grover, Vice President, Tata Global Beverages (TGB), the company branded by the popular Jaago Re campaign.

Yet, is there a party or even a single candidate with a vision to change the way things work for women in this country? The candidacy of women in the general elections has been less than 10 per cent in the past. Should more women be contesting the elections? “Women would certainly be better leaders. They are far more caring, compassionate, patient and non-violent than men,” says socio-political activist Sudheendra Kulkarni. 

“They have proven their capability through the one/third reservations at the Panchayat level. There are 1.5 million women representatives in local self-governing bodies. Through micro-finance and self-help organisations, they are already making a difference to their families and communities. But the shackles—family restraints as well as gender biases in political parties—need to be broken for women to play an active role in public life.” 

The idealistic Jaago Re campaigns are generally followed up with practical measures. For instance, a voting campaign prior to the 2009 elections led to over six lakh voter registrations on Jaagore.com. Another Jaago Re anti-corruption campaign “Khilana band, pilana shuru”, resulted in two lakh people pledging never to bribe again. 

And then, there’s the famous, “Bade badlav ke liye, choti shuruvat” ad released on Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, where Shah Rukh Khan vows to list women before men in his movie credits. An oath he honoured with the Chennai Express credits. Will the Power of 49 campaign make a difference to the women of India before the upcoming general elections? As cause partner for the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) 2013, the campaign garnered a lot of support from the stars of India’s favourite city, Bollywood.

Chances are these stars will come out to make the Power of 49 come alive, in the run up to the elections. The plans are hush-hush for now. So we’ll have to wait and watch. Or better still, apply our minds on ways to take the Power of 49 from concept to reality.

Women form 48.46% (as per the 2011 Census)of the largest democracy in the world. How does that translate into 11% elected representatives in the Lok Sabha (as per PRS Legislative Research) and a mere 14% of Indian women in senior management positions.
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