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MUSLIM WOMEN AMIDST DECENTRALISATION AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
Panchayat literally means a village council in India It is derived from Sanskrit paanch five, because such councils originally consisted of five councils. Raj is derived from the meaning dominion or rule, especially the British rule in over India (1757-1947). Institutions are countable, established organizations for specific purposes which are dedicated for education and development. Panchayats are democratic because it believes in practicing social equality. The Panchayat has been decentralized with the spread of power shifted from central to the local branches or governments. These hierarchies of governments may be within the states of our country. Presently, it is both territorial-based and functional based too. As per J.S. Mill, decentralization is about citizen development in local democracy. The umbrella concept is, it is division of power from the few to the many. It is extension of local governance tradition. Decentralization is all about decision making process. The lower the level where decisions are made, the greater is the decent. These subunits at the local or rural level today are made autonomous. It is a fundamental political process. It covers the political, the financial and the administrative. Decentralization is the example of pluralistic society. Integrated development of rural areas is one of the abiding tasks before the Government of India. Decentralization is all for the development, evolution and progress of the rural world. Local self-government is said to be as old as the hills. However, it is the Ripon Resolution of 1882 that can be cited as the first formal one.
Then, followed the first five-year plan. In 1957 came the Sri Balwant Rai Mehta committee related to the Panchayati Raj Institutions. Ashok Mehta Committee, Dantwala Committee, GVK Rao Committee, Hanumantha Rao Committee, and L.M. Singhvi also are all related to the PRIs. The mention of active participation of women in the rural administration was still at the marginal level. Landmark attempt has been made only by the new Panchayati Raj Act in 1992, through which women have been guaranteed a reservation of one-third seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions. The Panchayati Raj Institutions have been given a constitutional status by the Seventy Third and Seventy Fourth Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992. The PRIs represent a system of governance prevalent in ancient India. There is a holistic dimension of PRIs and Constitutional provisions of Indian state. Earlier, there was discrimination between rural and urban local bodies in the Constitution. Now, a new chapter of women’s political participation at grassroot Indian politics level has started with these Acts. The two Amendments have served as a major break-through towards ensuring women’s equal access and increased participation in political power structures. Reservations improved the quality of life of female citizens. There is devolution of resources and authority in these two Amendments. It changed the lives of many women in the nation. Mahatma Gandhi’s decentralization at last is said to have acquired an enduring image. Article 40 of the Constitution enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy. It lies that the state shall take steps to organize village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. Part 1X enables a new part, relating to the Panchayats. It inserts the details of village, constitution of Panchayats, direct elections and offices. There is mention of the reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women. No citizen, including the women should suffer because of her/his choice of location of residence.
Despite what has been variedly said about women of the world at large they have some common features cutting across culture, race, religion and the level of development. Women universally are a super-exploited underclass. Women are traditionally excluded and disadvantaged groups. Women as voters are more success. The complete development of a society and the nation depends upon equal opportunities and avenues available to men and women by the state authority and social structure. Women are the mirror which reflects the health and happiness of any particular society.
Panchayati Raj Act 1992 was one of the most significant attempts made for the political empowerment of women. Through this Act, women have been guaranteed the reservation of thirty three percent of seats in the PRIs. A section of men had to unwillingly accept this truth. Although, majority thoughtful men in the educated world have applauded and welcome it. We know that the natural position of women is the home, which is the first school of life and civilization. But, women have been compelled to come out of this concept long time back, because of the unappreciated roles at home or due to the oppression by the male gender. Outside homes, she has too been able to perform the duties well at par with men. She has been in the maximum areas of life. The allotted roles to the women, by the famous two Acts are also being performed well. Women have been performing satisfactorily better particularly from the second term. In defining the women, the female gender of the Muslim community too should naturally get covered. However, it can be estimated from our immediate social environments that the Muslim women except, in Kerala, are much slower in performing at par with the majority community. Hesitation due to lack of education, unawareness, apathetic attitude towards politics, shy nature, dominance and interference of male members of the family, lack of self-confidence, and lack of political experience are some of the reasons that has kept the pace of the Muslim women at the snail’s movement.
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- Mumtaz Mazumdar (Author), 2011, Muslim women admist decentralisation and rural development in India, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/176808