WHY WOMEN NEED JUPITER

India Today - - GLASS HOUSE -

It takes 11 km/ sec for Earth to es­cape its grav­i­ta­tional pull. It takes Juipter 60 km/ sec to es­cape its grav­ity. So what is the es­cape ve­loc­ity for Dal­its, asked Rahul Gandhi to a group of Dal­its in Delhi on Oc­to­ber 8. No doubt we will hear more such wise words as Rahul Gandhi ad­dresses Mus­lims across Uttar Pradesh. For such a mod­ern man, it is a pity he has im­pris­oned him­self in such a dated dis­course. First- time vot­ers, mid­dle class vot­ers, women vot­ers. The BJP was the first to dis­cover the po­ten­tial of the 18- 22 gen­er­a­tion while the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi shows the an­gry mid­dle class could be a pow­er­ful con­stituency. What the silent seg­ment of women in the coun­try now need is a lit­tle of that Jupiter es­cape ve­loc­ity to reg­is­ter on the minds of politi­cians.

For a while in De­cem­ber when Jyoti died trag­i­cally af­ter be­ing raped in Delhi, it seemed women had found their mo­ment. It seemed old en­trenched ways of con­duct­ing the busi­ness of pol­i­tics were chang­ing. The Jus­tice Varma com­mit­tee met and gave its rec­om­men­da­tions. A new anti rape bill was for­mu­lated. The bud­get saw a new Nirb­haya fund be­ing es­tab­lished. But then the old ug­li­ness re­turned. A so- called spir­i­tual leader preyed on a young girl and a lawyer fa­mous for de­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble got away by ques­tion­ing her men­tal sol­vency. A min­is­ter in the Ra­jasthan gov­ern­ment at­tempted to rape a woman and he got to con­front his ac­cuser at his home, at his con­ve­nience and un­der po­lice es­cort.

And yet women have shown over the years that they are in­creas­ingly tak­ing charge of ex­pen­di­ture out­side the home and en­ter­tain­ment op­tions in­side. Could it be that in this Gen­eral Elec­tion they will show that they will lead the way at the bal­lot boxes? Indi­ca­tions are good. If you care­fully ex­am­ine the trends for each state over the last 15 years, there is a big­ger story hid­den in there. The turnout gap be­tween men and women is de­creas­ing with each elec­tion, down to 4 per cent in 2009 with the vot­ing per­cent­age for men be­ing 60 and for women be­ing 56. In fact, in a few re­cent As­sem­bly elec­tions, the turnout of fe­male vot­ers has sur­passed that of male vot­ers.

So don’t be sur­prised if the 2014 Lok Sabha polls be­comes his­toric in that sense. This could very well be­come the first Gen­eral Elec­tion in 60 years when fe­males could out­num­ber male vot­ers on polling day. The gen­der vote bank has been vis­i­ble spo­rad­i­cally in the past; es­pe­cially dur­ing emo­tional cam­paigns ( for ex­am­ple, 1984 af­ter Indira Gandhi’s as­sas­si­na­tion) or the 1998 Delhi As­sem­bly elec­tions ( when onion prices went through the roof), ac­cord­ing to CVoter. This time, the change could be per­ma­nent. Women could be mak­ing the de­ci­sive cut. And they will not do so im­pressed that Al­pha Male Naren­dra Modi can tell good sto­ries about Ja­suben’s piz­zas. Or that New Age Man Rahul Gandhi can tell us why Kalawati mat­ters. Or that the Food Se­cu­rity Bill makes women the heads of the house­hold to pre­vent mis­use. Or that per­son­able Priya is the face of the Bharat Nir­man cam­paign. They will do so be­cause they be­lieve they can make a de­ci­sive dif­fer­ence in the elec­tions.

WOMEN HAVE SHOWN OVER THE YEARS THAT THEY ARE IN­CREAS­INGLY TAK­ING CHARGE OF EX­PEN­DI­TURE OUT­SIDE THE HOME AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT OP­TIONS IN­SIDE. COULD IT BE THAT IN THIS GEN­ERAL ELEC­TION THEY WILL SHOWTHAT THEY WILL LEAD THE WAY AT THE BAL­LOT BOXES?

SAU­RABH SINGH / www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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