10 June 2024

The Concerns and Aspirations of Urban Voters

-Yugantar Lokhande

Now as the Loksabha elections have gotten over, we have discovered a large change of power shift from one party to another, where a party has received a majority of votes than its rival in a particular state as compared to the other, this year’s Lok Sabha elections was a major battle between BJP and I.N.D.I. alliance, where the results have shown that even though the BJP won the elections, parties like INDIA Alliance have received a plenty no. Of Votes in states like UP and Bihar, and in Maharashtra also, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction has received a lot of support. Still, the one thing that will majorly impact is this country’s voters. Also, we will have a look at on what basis or considering which issues keeping in mind based on which the Urban voters voted in this Lok Sabha elections and how important are they for our country. 

Urban voters in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024 are likely to have multifaceted concerns and aspirations that reflect the complexities of urban living. Here's a detailed breakdown:

Infrastructure Development: Urban voters often prioritize candidates who promise improved infrastructure, including better roads, public transportation systems, water supply, and waste management. They aspire for modern, efficient, and well-maintained urban infrastructure that can support the growing population and economic activities in cities.

Urban planning in Mumbai, if at all it exists, has been marred by inadequate speed of regulatory changes, and failed to keep up with societal and economic compulsions of the city. Despite being a global economic hub, and India’s commercial city, the city grapples with issues such as overcrowding, congestion, inadequate infrastructure, and environmental degradation, largely due to the lack of effective rules and regulations.

Employment Opportunities: Job creation is a major concern for urban voters, particularly the youth. They seek candidates who can provide policies and initiatives to stimulate economic growth and create employment opportunities in diverse sectors such as technology, manufacturing, services, and entrepreneurship.

There has always been a problem of employment in India and the main concerns of voters in India particularly pertained to vacancy and employment opportunities in the country for their livelihood, the main problem regarding employment opportunities in India is that the many graduates from top universities in India whether it is from engineering or other academic background, the skill-based jobs are limited as well as the govt is Taking limited steps to increase the no. Of vacancies in public and private sectors, it's the duty of both the govt as well as the citizens that The govt create more opportunities for youngsters for employment as well and the youngsters should also learn and develop skills that are necessary for their dream jobs. 

Housing Affordability: Access to affordable housing remains a critical issue for urban voters, especially in metropolitan areas where housing prices are often inflated. They aspire for policies that promote affordable housing options, rental housing schemes, and measures to address homelessness and slum rehabilitation. As a matter of fact, India has been battling with the crisis of housing For the poor where the quality of life for the lower economic section of society is very difficult but also with the upcoming housing schemes provided by the govt, the govt should strictly focus on the workings of these schemes whether they are executed or implemented without any corruption or illicit activities. One of the main reasons for poor housing in India is overpopulation and limited space due to which the focus of urban voters is on that the upcoming govt should provide proper qualitative and hygienic housing for the backward sections of Indian society and also focus on the issue of urban poverty

Healthcare Services: Urban voters value access to quality healthcare facilities and affordable medical services. They are concerned about the state of public healthcare infrastructure, the availability of doctors and specialists, as well as the affordability of healthcare treatments and medicines. They aspire for improvements in healthcare delivery systems and increased investment in healthcare infrastructure. India’s healthcare system has been battling various issues, including the low number of institutions and less-than-adequate human resources, One of the most pressing problems in India remains a severe shortage of trained manpower in the medical stream, this includes doctors, nurses, paramedics and primary healthcare workers. The situation remains worrisome in rural areas, where almost 66 per cent of India’s population resides.

Education Quality: Aspiring for better educational opportunities for their children, urban voters are concerned about the quality of schools, availability of higher education institutions, and access to vocational training programs. They seek candidates who prioritize investments in education infrastructure, teacher training, and curriculum development to ensure quality education for all. The education system in India has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. Despite its long history of learning and knowledge, the Indian education system has faced numerous challenges, including unequal access to education, outdated curricula, and inadequate funding. For more info-

Digital Connectivity: In the digital age, access to reliable internet connectivity and digital infrastructure is crucial for urban voters. They aspire for improved broadband connectivity, expansion of digital networks, and initiatives to bridge the digital divide, especially in marginalized urban communities. Candidates who promote digital literacy and e-governance solutions are likely to appeal to urban voters. Although there are minor problems in connectivity in rural areas but gradually the govt is Taking steps to connect rural and urban areas globally through Broadband, smartphones using which with one click we can get entire information about a particular person or entity in one place, for

Environmental Sustainability: Urban voters are increasingly concerned about environmental issues such as air and water pollution, waste management, and climate change. They aspire for candidates who prioritize sustainable urban development, promote renewable energy initiatives, implement pollution control measures, and encourage green transportation options like electric vehicles and cycling infrastructure. As a matter of fact, it has become a necessity for urban voters for a sustainable environment in a society for positive growth and functioning, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity, though some of them are designed to end poverty, hunger and discrimination against women too.

Safety and Security: Ensuring the safety and security of urban residents is another key concern. Urban voters seek candidates who prioritize law enforcement, crime prevention measures, and initiatives to address issues such as street crime, women's safety, and cyber security.

There are ample resources in the public domain available which reveal that one of the main concerns of urban voters is their safety and security in society and the maintenance of communal harmony also one of the concerns of security and safety refers to women's safety and data security and privacy in the society, safety and security of women and children in the country is utmost priority for the  Government. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been administering various special laws relating to women such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961; Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986; the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. Also if we have a look at more cent events, one such event can be the Pune car crash accident wherein a minor killed 2 people in Pune while being drunk and driving recklessly in a small lane in Pune, the Police arrested the accused but were released by giving a warning and was ordered writing an essay on traffic safety and conducting work with RTO Police, but due to societal pressure the accused was again arrested and took into custody which reflects how the system can be mould by the rich class in the country and how difficult it is for the people from the weaker section of society to get justice and how the power dynamics as well play a major role in our society and how it affects the lower section of our society, more information-

If we talk about the mainstream concerns of the urban voters, its crucial focus is on the infrastructure and clean and hygienic development in the society as well voters' main focus is also about free and fair elections where voters are not getting betrayed by the election conducting system by the ruling government, not committing fake promises to the citizens which can never be fulfilled, and also voters are interested in free press and free media in society.

This 2024 Lok Sabha elections have been through various events, we saw a change in power dynamics, the shift of public support from one party to another and so on, but the major takeaway from these elections is, how much people consider important issues, and are they really voting based on issues and problems that they face daily ranging from security to hygiene and infrastructure to education and So on.

Now in these elections, we have seen voters prioritize their choices and what are the important issues and problems based on which they have voted for that particular party with the hope of bringing a change in society. Also, in these elections, people have realized the value of their one vote and how much a vote can impact the political scenario of a country.

In summary, urban voters in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024 have diverse concerns and aspirations spanning infrastructure development, employment opportunities, housing affordability, healthcare services, education quality, digital connectivity, environmental sustainability, and safety/security. Candidates who address these issues effectively and offer comprehensive solutions are likely to resonate with urban voters and secure their support.

Yugantar is an MA (Political Science) student at Mumbai University. 

2 June 2024

Cities in Sansad

An overview of the importance of Urban Votes in Lok Sabha Election 2024
- Harshada Gadekar

The importance of urban and rural voters in India's Lok Sabha elections 2024 is enormous, with both groups having critical roles in determining electoral outcomes. They have a distinctive impact due to differences in their demographic characteristics, issues of concern, influence of media and technology, political awareness and participation, caste and community dynamics, voting patterns etc. 

India's urban population has been gradually increasing, which has resulted in a rise in the number of urban constituencies. Voters in these communities can be a mixture of middle-class, wealthy, and lower-class, frequently more varied. A total of 158 cities across India participated in the celebration of the greatest democracy in the world. Details split is as follows: In the 1st phase there were 22 cities, In the 2nd phase 24 cities, In the 3rd phase 28 cities, In the 4th phase 40 cities, In the 5th phase 14 cities and In The 6th and 7th phases there were 15 cities each polling for the Lok Sabha election 2024. Out of a total of 43 cities in Maharashtra, 23 cities from Maharashtra polled for this Lok Sabha election such as Mumbai, Bhiwandi, Thane, Kalyan, Vasai-Virar, Pune, Baramati, Nagpur, Nashik, Chh. Sambhaji Nagar, Solapur, Amravati, Nanded-Waghala, Kolhapur, Akola, Sangli, Jalgaon, Latur, Dhule, Ahmednagar, Chandrapur, Parbhani, Jalna. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regained power in 2009 because of stellar performance in urban centers. This happened despite the UPA's seemingly pro-rural rhetoric, with schemes such as Bharat Nirman, farm loan waiver and rural employment guarantee scheme. 

Although urban areas have fewer constituencies than rural areas, they have a dense population and high voter turnout in major centres. Winning important urban seats can provide a major advantage. It is true that, according to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, just 18% of voters and 89 out of 543, or roughly 16.4%, of the Lok Sabha seats are truly urban (the definition of an urban constituency). But the factors such as vote share where urban vote share is higher than the National vote share for both the dominant parties BJP and Congress. For BJP, In 2014 38% Urban 31% National and In 2009 23.6% Urban and 18.8% National even for Congress urban vote share is similar to its national vote share i.e. In 2014 19.2% Urban 19.3% National and In 2009 30.2% Urban and 28.55% National vote share. Also, there is an increasing voting turnout from 53% in 2009 to 62% in 2014. 

Voters in urban areas are more concerned with issues related to public transportation, housing, jobs, peace and order, education, and the environment. Issues which have attracted urban voters' attention for Lok Sabha 2024 election are the New Education Policy and its real-time effect, women's sexual harassment incidence like Unnao, Hathras, Manipur etc, even urban voters have observed unnecessary traffic jams and conjunction due to political rallies and campaigns, development of bridges and roads including Atal Setu, trans harbour link, condition of Sports, Art, Tourism in India, Defection of Politicians and Loyalty to their party or Agenda's or People's will. They frequently react to pledges of improved urban government, anti-corruption initiatives, and economic improvements.

Caste and local politics have less impact on urban voters, who are typically more erratic. Voting on the basis of performance, policy, and ideological inclinations is more likely. Urban areas frequently serve as swing areas where voters are more swayed by recent performance and particular issues rather than being as devoted to one party. 

Urban voters are more likely to be influenced by social media campaigns, online news sources, and digital political advertising. Access to different types of mediums of media is a double-edged sword knife in the case of urban voters. Due to their increased access to digital media, their opinions are significantly shaped by the media. We can clearly see how the major political parties in India that are 'The National Democratic Alliance (NDA)' led by BJP and its main opposition 'The Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA)' led by Congress are using social media to influence Urban and rural voters by tackling different issues for both the voters. For example, the BJP had an advertisement saying their government has successfully given money for the crop insurance Scheme directly in the bank accounts of farmers which are actually rural voters and another advertisement saying BJP has built bridges, and roads across India catering to transportation concerns of urban voters. First BJP started with digital campaigns but as an urban youth, I can clearly see that now even opposition is in the field of digital war. 

Recent elections have shown an evident shift in rural voters' preferences, with rural people being more swayed by national problems and leadership. This was seen in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019 when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was able to garner a sizable amount of support from rural voters. On the other hand, urban voters have demonstrated an ability to back political parties that pledge growth in the economy. Urban voters have come together in support of a party that promises clean administration and local development, as evidenced by the growth of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi. 

Political parties' comprehensive electoral strategies are frequently shaped by the interactions between urban and rural voters. The ability to successfully meet and balance the various demands and concerns of both urban and rural voters is a prerequisite for success for both parties and candidates. Gaining an understanding of this dynamic is essential for winning elections in India's complicated political system.

Harshada is an MA (Political Science) student at Mumbai University. 

2 April 2024

Why Urban Governance matters - Now more than ever!

-Shweta Shah

In the past few decades, India's urban landscape has undergone a metamorphosis. The number of metro cities has ballooned, symbolizing economic growth and demographic shifts. The urban population has experienced a six-fold increase since 1951, growing from 62.4 million to 377.1 million in 2011, and it is estimated that 590 million will live in Indian cities by 2030, which is twice the entire population of the USA.(1) The total area under urbanization according to the 2011 census (which could be much higher now) is 31.14 % in India and 45.2 % in Maharashtra. However, this rapid urbanization presents multifaceted challenges, particularly for local administrations that struggle to keep pace. Urban Governance stands at the crossroads, seeking to harmonize growth with sustainability. Here's where Urban Governance – the system managing and developing cities – becomes paramount.

India's Urban Landscape – Growth and Challenges

The urban sprawl in India has been remarkable, with cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, etc becoming megacities. This expansion isn't just limited to traditional metropolises; many smaller cities are rapidly transforming into bustling urban centres. Yet, this growth has outstripped the capacity of local municipalities to provide basic services, manage infrastructure, and ensure quality of life.  Pune, for instance, witnessed a population explosion, surging over 38% between 2001 and 2011. This rapid growth strains infrastructure and service delivery. Municipalities grapple with providing basic amenities like water, sanitation, and waste management, and face issues like traffic congestion, air pollution, and inadequate public transport, etc. There is a glaring gap between the demand and delivery of basic public services.

Gaps in the Legislative Framework

The crux of the problem lies in the structural inadequacies of Urban Governance. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act envisioned municipalities as self-governing entities with sufficient powers and resources to effectively manage urban areas. However, the reality is starkly different. There's a lack of genuine devolution of power and financial autonomy to these urban bodies, significantly hindering their operational efficacy. Central governments are often keen to assign service delivery responsibilities to urban local governments but there is simultaneous reluctance to transfer meaningful decision-making authority, particularly in the administrative realm. 

The Missing Piece: Local Body Elections and Their Impact

Let’s have a look at the situation in Maharashtra. As of today, there is not a single elected body in all of the state’s 27 municipal corporations.(2) The elected bodies have completed their terms at different points in time over the past two years and are waiting for fresh elections to be conducted. Currently, these cities are being run by state-appointed ‘administrators’ who are mostly IAS or other officers appointed by the state government. The absence of regular and transparent municipal elections undermines the legitimacy and responsiveness of urban local bodies, creating a governance vacuum that stifles progress. A democratically elected councilor/corporator acts as a connection between citizen needs and the administration's priorities. State-appointed administrators, on the other hand, may lack the same level of accountability and long-term vision. The administrator combines in a single person the authority of the municipal commissioner, the powers of the statutory committees and those of the municipal corporation.(3) This not only hampers governance but also weakens the democratic essence of urban administration.

Need for MPs and MLAs, the representatives of the people to step up  

The disconnect between higher echelons of power (MPs and MLAs) and the urban constituents further complicates the governance challenge. There's often a misalignment between state and national political priorities and the immediate needs of urban governance, leading to neglected cities and under-resourced municipalities. Inadequate financial resources limit the municipalities' ability to invest in infrastructure, public services, and environmental sustainability initiatives.  Additionally, national and state-level political considerations often fail to prioritize local needs, creating a misalignment with the challenges faced by rapidly growing cities. 

Envisioning Sustainable Urban Governance

The SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, is dedicated to developing various aspects of urbanization, including access to basic services, sustainable urban planning, affordable housing, and environmental sustainability. India is a signatory to these Sustainable Development Goals which need to be achieved by 2030. The path to sustainable urban governance requires a multifaceted approach. First, there needs to be a genuine devolution of power and financial resources to urban local bodies. This empowerment would enable municipalities to tailor development projects to local needs, manage resources efficiently, and enhance service delivery. Ensuring the regular conduct of municipal elections would further strengthen governance by making it more accountable and responsive to urban constituents. 

Integrating Urban Governance into the broader political framework is also vital. MPs and MLAs must be more engaged with urban issues, ensuring that state and national policies support, rather than hinder, urban development initiatives. Moreover, fostering citizen participation in urban planning and decision-making processes can significantly contribute to more inclusive and sustainable urban development.


India's rapid urbanization poses significant challenges but also offers an opportunity to redefine urban governance for the 21st century. By addressing the gaps in the legislative framework, empowering local municipalities, and fostering a participatory governance model, India can navigate towards sustainable urban development. Urban Governance, thus, emerges not just as a regulatory framework but as a collaborative endeavour that brings together policymakers, urban planners, and the community. The journey towards sustainable urban growth is complex, yet, with concerted efforts and robust governance, India's cities can thrive as sustainable, inclusive, and vibrant urban centres.

(Shweta is an Assistant Professor at MMM’s Shankarrao Chavan Law College;

and a research associate at Glass Half Full Media, Australia)

References -

  1. https://niua.in/urban-statistical-profile?field_infograpgice_state_value%5B%5D=MH
  2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/why-does-maharashtra-not-have-a-single-elected-municipal-body-101704314173475.html
  3. https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/administrators-in-municipal-corporations

22 March 2024

Bengaluru's Water Crisis - A Crisis in Common!

-Shweta Shah

The bustling metropolis of Bengaluru, often hailed as the ‘Silicon Valley of India,’ is facing a recurring crisis that threatens the very foundation of the city's existence – a severe water shortage. Bengaluru, celebrated as a beacon of economic growth and innovation, faces a critical question: has this growth been beneficial or detrimental to its 9.6 million residents? This crisis is a stark reminder that rapid urbanization and economic development can come at a heavy cost. But Bengaluru isn't alone.  Many major Indian cities are grappling with similar water woes, highlighting critical gaps in urban water management. From Mumbai to Delhi, Chennai to Kolkata, the story is the same – burgeoning populations, strained infrastructure, and dwindling water resources.

The Current Situation in Bengaluru:

The Krishnaraja Sagar Dam, one of the city’s primary water sources, is at a five-year low, and the city's demand (2,100 MLD) far outstrips supply (1,850 MLD). This gap threatens a ‘Day Zero’ with no running tap water.  The crisis stems from a complex web of issues. Over-reliance on the strained Cauvery River, coupled with disputes with neighbouring states, has put a burden on this lifeline. Additionally, rampant extraction and pollution have depleted groundwater, leaving many borewells dry. Bengaluru's once abundant lakes, neglected due to urbanization, are no longer reliable water sources. Citizens are facing the brunt of this crisis. Apartments lack water, forcing residents to rely on expensive tankers or public facilities. The situation is dire, with some resorting to desperate measures to secure water. Renowned Scientist, Dr T V Ramchandra, IISc has stated that if the civic administration doesn’t address this water scarcity with effective and sustainable measures right away, Bengaluru is going to go the ‘Cape Town Way’.

Steps Taken by the Administration:

In Bengaluru, the urban governance bodies have implemented measures to address the water crisis, such as water rationing, conservation campaigns, and infrastructure investments. The BWSSB (Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board)  has banned non-essential uses of potable water and initiated projects to augment supply. Immediate digging of 58 borewells in various regions of the city has been ordered. However, these measures often fall short of addressing the root causes of the crisis and may provide only temporary relief.

What cities can learn -

Bengaluru's woes serve as a cautionary tale for other growing cities. Across India, cities are witnessing a surge in population as people migrate in search of better opportunities. This influx strains existing water resources. Unchecked urban sprawl paves over natural landscapes, hindering rainwater recharge and exacerbating flooding during monsoons.  Lakes and ponds, once natural reservoirs, are encroached upon or polluted, further diminishing water storage capacity. Proactive water management plans, sustainable practices like rainwater harvesting, treatment of sewage water, lake restoration, and responsible urban development are crucial lessons to learn.

Urban Governance - Falling Short

Urban governance bodies often struggle to keep pace with the growing demand for water.  Over-reliance on distant rivers or unsustainable groundwater extraction are short-sighted solutions.  Inefficient water distribution systems lead to leakages and wastage.  Furthermore, a lack of public awareness and pricing mechanisms that don't discourage overuse compound the problem. The civic administrations often prioritize economic benefits over the maintenance and conservation of precious natural resources, putting the futures of all its residents at risk.

Policy Solutions for a Sustainable Future -

Here are some key policy solutions that can help Indian cities navigate this water crisis:

        Long-Term Vision: Cities need a long-term water management plan that factors in population growth, rapid economic development and climate change.

        Rainwater Harvesting: Mandatory rainwater harvesting in residential and commercial buildings can significantly reduce dependence on external sources.

        Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: Treated wastewater can be used for irrigation and non-potable purposes, reducing freshwater demand.

        Lake and River Restoration: Desilting and rejuvenation of lakes and rivers can replenish natural water bodies. Also, urgent de-encroachment of these water bodies should be taken up.

        Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating citizens about water conservation and including them in the water management campaigns and projects is crucial.

        Leakage Detection and Repair: Upgrading water infrastructure to minimize leaks and ensure efficient distribution is essential.

        Tariff Reforms: Water pricing structures that incentivize conservation and penalize overuse can encourage responsible water use.

        Explore Alternative Water Sources: Urban governance bodies must diversify water sources to alleviate pressure on degrading rivers. Treated wastewater offers a sustainable solution for non-drinking purposes like irrigation and industrial use. Simultaneously, curbing groundwater extraction and implementing recharge techniques can replenish aquifers, safeguarding this critical resource. Moreover, rejuvenating polluted lakes and ponds not only expands water storage but also enhances ecological health.

As Bengaluru and other major cities grapple with their water crises, there are valuable lessons to be learned. Urban governance bodies must recognize the interconnected nature of water issues and take proactive measures to address them. By prioritizing sustainability, equity, and resilience, cities can navigate their water challenges and build a more sustainable future for all residents. The journey ahead will be challenging, but with collective action, citizen participation and innovative solutions, cities can turn the tide on their water crises and emerge stronger than ever before. By taking action now, cities can avoid a similar fate and ensure a secure water future for all.

(Shweta is an Assistant Professor at MMM’s Shankarrao Chavan Law College;
and a research associate at Glass Half Full Media, Australia)

References -





8 March 2022

Women in Politics: The Indian reality

- Sakshi Sohoni

The empowerment of women continues to be a significant focus area for governments and allied institutions across the globe. Increasing women’s participation in the public sphere – particularly in key decision-making positions has subsequently emerged as one of the means of achieving this end. In particular, the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing[1] in 1995, set a target of ensuring 30% women in positions at decision-making levels by 1995. Almost three decades later, most countries of the world are lagging behind significantly[2] in meeting the targets and closing the gender gaps. In the Indian scenario, women’s participation in different spheres of public life has progressed at a slow rate. Globally, India ranks at 144th place in a list of 193 countries based on the percentage of elected women representatives in their national parliaments. India’s bicameral Parliament has female members who make up 14% of the lower house[3] (Lok Sabha) and 11.6% of the upper house (Rajya Sabha)[4]. Women’s representation in other key decision-making roles like the judiciary[5] also mirrors this trend of gender disparity. Just over 10% of current High Court Justices are women, while 4 out of the 32 current Supreme Court Justices are women. In a nation where 49% of the population is female, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles.
Image courtesy: newsclick.in 

Two main themes cover the essence of this problem - do women have access to opportunities and do they have the capacity to take up the role. India’s focus has largely been on the former.  Legislative interventions over the years such as the policy of reserving a third of seats for women at the panchayat level and in municipalities have allowed women to make inroads as elected representatives, albeit in a non-uniform manner. Currently, 21 out of 28 states in India have reserved 50% of the seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions. As per the Global Sustainable Development Database[6] compiled by the United Nations,  women occupy 44.37%[7] of total seats in deliberative bodies of local government. The Constitution 110th Amendment Bill of 2009[8] which sought to reserve 50% seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions was introduced in the Lok Sabha. Similarly,  The Constitution 112th Amendment Bill 2009[9]  sought to reserve 50% seats for women in urban local bodies was also introduced in the Lok Sabha. At a national level, the Women’s Reservation Bill[10] that sought to reserve 33% seats for women in central and state legislatures was introduced and passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2008. However, lack of political will has meant that these bills were not discussed in the other house and have not been reintroduced since.

Research[11] and trends[12] over the last two decades point towards substantial developmental gains that are realised when women come into decision making positions. From the manner of conduct to the issues that are focused on, women leaders have a distinct style of functioning when compared to their male counterparts. Women’s larger political identity in India is shaped by multiple factors. Women’s autonomy to make decisions (including ones like running for office or voting for a candidate) is likely to be limited, owing to the patriarchal nature of the Indian society. Moreover, women’s voice if at all considered[13], tends to get limited to domains that are deemed to be “women’s issues” like health, sanitation, food security and child care. While entry barriers have been somewhat addressed through affirmative action, women in politics have to face disproportionate standards and layers of subtle discrimination as they pave their way forward into the system. Data on the representation of women in key decision-making positions outside of politics or in the larger workforce[14] suggests that the lack of capacity to meaningfully access opportunities is a common theme. In order to achieve the end of proportional representation of women in the political sphere and decision-making at large, it is important to work on several contributing factors. First, it is imperative to focus on education, economic empowerment and social inclusion collectively, to empower women to exercise their political identities – as citizens and decision-makers. Second, it is important to create an environment that is conducive to achieving success. It is necessary to build the right knowledge, skills, mindsets in office-bearers at a system level. Third, it is important to acknowledge the double standards, biases and unreasonable expectations we have as a society from elected representatives – especially women, that often come in the way of judging their public persona fairly. Finally, it is important to create a role model effect by highlighting trends and the impact created by women in decision making positions. In this regard, the decentralisation of power at the level of local self-government coupled with affirmative action has provided women with maximum access to opportunities. However, it is important to remember that access does not necessarily translate into complete autonomy to take decisions independently or influence them.

India’s growth and development story hinges on inclusion – not just for the fulfilment of our economic aspirations but equally in pursuit of the constitutional commitment towards equality of status and opportunity. For the needs, aspirations, constraints, ideas of half of the population to be reflected in decision making, women’s presence in all domains of public life in general and politics and governance in particular needs to increase. Legislation can only act as an enabling factor to the process of women’s empowerment and strengthening of identities. For ground reality to change, it is necessary to back it up with changes in mindsets and actions.
Sakshi Sohoni

(Sakshi is an alumna of the Women in Government Fellowship and Teach For India Fellowship. Currently, she works as an associate with the Government Relations vertical in Teach for India)


[1]  United Nations (1995). Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Critical Area G, “Women, Power and Decision-Making”