Saturday, December 22, 2012


Part 1
Food for Thought

In India, crime against women is on the rise.

Though rapes and sexual molestation cases are reported almost everyday in the media, it is the recent horrendous gang rape in Delhi that has evoked widespread public concern about the abysmal state of safety and security for women. 

But will anything really change once the protests die down?

I feel that there is only one way to improve the situation.

Women must vote as a single “votebank”.

Yes, women must resort to votebank politics.

During elections politicians try to woo various votebanks based on caste, religion and language.

A votebank (also spelled vote-bank or vote bank) is a sizeable bloc of voters who vote en bloc as a group for a political party or candidate during elections.

Votebanks are based on caste, religion or language.

Most political parties resort to votebank politics.

If you read any election manifesto you may find a number of promises made to the various “vote banks”.

However, Women’s Issues may not be given priority in the election manifesto of any party.

This is because women are not considered as a “votebank”.

Women comprise half the electorate and the vote share of women is 50 percent.

This women’s vote share of 50% is much more than any caste combination or religious community or linguistic group which are considered as votebanks.

Women must understand the power they wield in a democracy.

Women voters must realize the value of consolidating their votes into votebanks.

Just imagine what will happen if all women vote together as a single votebank.

The “women votebank” will comprise 50% of the votes and this numerically powerful women’s votebank will sweep away all other caste, religious and linguistic votebanks.

Once women become a formidable vote bank, it is women who will determine the result of the election.

This is especially true in our “first past the post” multiparty multi-candidate system, where a candidate with just 30% of the votes can win in constituencies where there a large number of candidates.

Similarly, in the prevalent multi-party system, a political party which gets much less than 50% of the total votes sometimes forms the government. On some occasions parties with a vote share of just 30% votes have managed to form a government.

In this scenario, the “women’s votebank” comprising 50% of the total votes will be the decisive factor in elections.

In such a situation, politicians and political parties cannot afford to neglect this powerful “women’s votebank”.

If this happens, politicians will have to address women’s issues on priority if they want to win the elections and come to power in a democracy.

Women need to ask themselves as to why they vote for candidates who insult women and commit crimes against women.

Will it not be better to elect candidates who uphold the dignity of women and promise to work towards the emancipation of women.

This is possible in a democracy only if all women unite at the time of elections and vote en bloc as a single group for the best candidate.

Thus, if women want their problems to be solved by the political class, all women must come together and create a “women votebank”. 

Yes, all women, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or linguistic group, whether belonging to majority or minority communities, rural or urban, must unite themselves into a numerically influential votebank which can determine the results of elections.

To start with, “women’s votebanks” can be formed at the constituency level and then amalgamated to the regional and national level into a cohesive mighty invincible election-winning votebank.

Women must clearly state their gender-specific concerns like safety, security, discrimination, rising crime and domestic abuse due to increasing alcoholism, sexual harassment, rape, molestation, eve-teasing, social taboos and other local problems faced by women which need attention and alleviation.

Women must tell politicians which specific issues they want addressed on priority and demand results in a time bound manner.

Political Parties and Candidates must prioritize mitigation of women’s issues with a proper time-bound plan for implementation in their election manifesto. In fact, every political party manifesto must clearly state what is going to be done for women, at the national, regional and constituency level.

At all levels, the “women votebank” should vote for that candidate or party who includes clear-cut strategies to tackle women’s issues and redress problems and concerns pertaining to women in the manifesto and demonstrates maximum promise to deliver in a reliable, effective and time-bound manner.

It is only when women unite to become a formidable cohesive “women’s votebank” will politicians will start giving importance to women’s issues.

Politicians who insult the dignity of women will find it difficult to get elected.

Politicians who are responsive to women’s issues will get elected.

It may sound strange. But it seems that it is the much-maligned democratic tool of “votebank politics” which may actually lead to the emancipation of women in this country.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Saumya Kulshreshtha said...

You echo my thoughts sir. But I guess making women as votebanks is lethal to institutionalized patriarchy. Thats where this plan derails.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Saumya - Good point. I think I will develop on this and write a post soon giving my views.
By the way, could you please elaborate on what you mean by "institutionalized patriarchy"
I hope we are on the same page as what this means.
And what is wrong if women votebanks prove LETHAL to institutionalized patriarchy? Shouldn't institutionalized patriarchy be done away with?
I eagerly await your comments.