Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WHY DON’T WOMEN UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF 49 - Why do women vote for someone who causes them more harm than good?


Why do women vote for someone who causes them more harm than good?

An Apocryphal Story

The Election Schedule has been announced. 

As I watched the news on TV, this story about elections came to my mind. Let me share it with you, once more:

ELECTION DAY IN GIRINAGAR – An Apocryphal Story By Vikram Karve

This happened a few years ago when I lived at a place called Girinagar near Pune.

“I want the day off,” Sushila, our maid, asked my wife.

“Why?” my wife asked.

“We have to vote. Today is election day,” she said.

“That’s good,” I said.

I was quite surprised at Sushila’s eagerness to vote because Sushila was totally illiterate.

Yes, she lived just a few kilometres away from a modern city like Pune (often called the “Oxford of the East”) – yet, like so many others, she could not read or write.

But her keenness to vote indicated what a vibrant democracy we were.

“Who are you going to vote for?” I asked, in jest.

She told me a symbol – “I am going to vote for XXX symbol,” Sushila said.

“But why?” I asked.

WE have decided,” she said.

WE” meant her husband.

Apparently, her husband had gone for a “meeting” and it was decided that the entire neighbourhood will vote for XXX symbol.

“So you vote for XXX symbol every time,” I asked her.

“No, last time we all voted for YYY symbol,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because “WE” had decided,” she said.

Of course, she did not know anything about the ideology of the  political parties to which the symbols XXX and YYY belonged.

It was none of her business.

Before every election, it was the men who had a meeting and decided who to vote for and the women dutifully complied.

(Of course, the men had a “leader” who guided them in these matters)

Like Sushila’s husband, most of the men in that area were drunkards who lived off their wives’ earnings.

But all that did not matter.

In the patriarchal society that prevailed, the women dutifully obeyed their men, even if the men were good-for-nothing drunkards.

So, in Sushila’s family of 7 voters (she, her husband, her two sons and daughters-in-law, and unmarried daughter), all would be voting for the symbol XXX which had been “decided”.

Added up, it was quite a large number of votes in the locality, and since they all of them voted en-bloc for a certain “symbol” it was quite a sizeable “votebank”.

A few more such solid votebanks could ensure victory in the election, as the victory of the XXX candidate proved.

Around 3 in the afternoon we saw Sushila standing near our gate.

“Have you voted?” I asked her.

“No,” she said.

“Voting time will be over soon. Why didn’t you vote in the morning?” I said.

“They haven’t come to take us,” she said.

A friend of mine who had come over and was hearing the conversation said, “Don’t you know? Someone has to come and take them to the polling booth in a vehicle – and then give them some inducement, here it is mostly liquor – only after that will they vote.”

After some time I saw a van arrive to take all them for voting.

In the evening we saw Sushila’s husband and her sons lurching in a drunken manner on the road, as were most men.

It was obvious that liquor was flowing freely on election day (though strictly speaking it was a “dry day”)

At night, when Sushila came to work, we saw tears in her eyes.

She said that her husband and her sons were drunk after enjoying all the booze they had got on election day.

Her husband had thrashed her as he always did when he was drunk, and one of her sons had thrashed his wife too.

“See,” my wife said to Sushila, “you voted for the person who gave liquor to your husband and sons”.

“Yes,” Sushila said sheepishly, “but we all women did that.”

“Why do all you women voted for those who are causing you harm?” my wife asked.

“We have to vote for whatever is decided.”

“Whatever is decided by the men?” I asked Sushila.

“Yes. Whatever is decided by the men,” Sushila said.

“So you will vote for whoever your husband tells you to, even that means getting brutally thrashed by your husband after he gets drunk on the liquor given to him by the very person you voted for? So you vote for the person who indirectly gets you trashed?”

“Yes. It is like that only. It was always like that and will always be like that,” Sushila said matter-of-factly.

What an irony!

Why do women vote for someone who causes them more harm than good?

Will things change in the forthcoming election? 

Will women “empower” themselves by voting for a candidate of their own choice? 

Or will women continue to follow the diktats of their men?

In India, women make up 49% of the electoral base.

The only way women can help themselves is by “empowering” themselves by voting for a candidate of their own choice who will do good for women.

Till that happens, nothing much is going to change, at least as far as women’s issues are concerned.

I ask again:

Why don’t women understand the power of 49 ?

Why do women vote for someone who causes them more harm than good ?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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.

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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