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Monday, January 22, 2018

Substantiating inequality

Saturday, 14 January 2017 11:59
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Naga tribal bodies ~ clearly bodies "of the men, for the men and by the men" ~ maintain that they have no issues with women contesting Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), state Assembly and Parliament elections without reservations. Some Naga women also opine that there is nothing to stop Naga women from contesting elections, therefore oppose women's reservations. However, ground realities reveal another narrative ~ i.e. the disenfranchisement of Naga women from the political and economic domains and hierarchy because of discriminatory patriarchal culture and customs, which yesterday's Editorial explained. Because money is such a huge factor in contesting and winning any election that few women would dare to contest. How many Naga women have crores to contest? How many Naga women own that kind of immovable and movable property to guarantee as collateral to borrow money with interest? Contesting elections also entail guns and liquor ~ how many Naga women have that kind of money and influence to buy them to sway election results? Then there is also that little issue of conscience ~ how many Naga women would use money, guns and liquor to win election and sleep peacefully at night? Then again, how many all-male Village Councils will endorse and support a woman to contest elections from any constituency in Nagaland? And it is well-known that without their endorsement and support no candidate can ever hope to win. How many families would encourage a female family member to contest elections financially by placing all family wealth at her disposal to win, especially if she doesn't get a party ticket and more importantly if she doesn't get the endorsement and support of the majority of the all-male Village Councils in a constituency? However bright and brilliant, committed and dedicated a Naga woman is, without money, guns and liquor, without the endorsement and support of the all-male Village Councils and to a certain extent without a party ticket and funding, no woman can hope to win any election ~ the few women who have contested in our previous Assembly elections are witnesses to that. Another sorry statement is women voters themselves ~ how many women vote for a woman candidate? Previous Assembly elections' statistics should speak for that. Also, at informal levels Naga women voters may root for women's participation in the political decision-making process but when it comes to nuts and bolts, they vote as per their men's directives, particularly the all-male Village Councils' directives. And then again, how many legitimate Naga women voters actually get to cast their votes, at least in our rural areas? And going by reports of previous Assembly and Parliamentary elections, how many legitimate male voters get to cast their vote, especially in our urban areas? At the family level, how many Naga men would allow their wives, daughters, sisters, etc., to be out of the home from sun-up to sun-down campaigning and attending election meetings or even allow the home to be the venue of election meetings and other interactions necessary while contesting; and actually cook and serve food to supporters and voters if Naga women contest? Would Naga men provide the same emotional, psychological, intellectual and physical support, besides financial support, they expect from their women, if and when men contest? There is also this issue of believing in a woman when she pursues her aspirations and lending total unconditional support ~ as women have been doing for their men for centuries ~ are Naga men able, willing and ready to the same for their women? Are Naga women also willing to believe in and bet their bottom rupee for other Naga women? There is so much resentment against Naga women who are educated, intelligent, talented, think independently, independent, and have moved up the ladder of life on their own merit ~ would such women be acceptable to Naga men and women, who have not quite made it themselves and form the majority of voters? These are some factors Naga men are fully cognizant about hence they have no issue with Naga women contesting any elections without reservations. Unfortunately, quite a lot of Naga women are totally unaware of or refuse to acknowledge the same factors hence they oppose women's reservations in elected bodies ~ which work out to Naga men's advantage. These factors further substantiate the inequality between Naga men and women, as also speak volumes of the practiced electoral politics in Nagaland. 

Postscript: How many intelligent and capable Naga daughters have inherited their father/family's political legacy? 

  Economic connotations Crisis of confidence