We begin the New Year with the stage set for a confrontation between the Naga Mothers Association and the Joint Action Committee on Women’s Rights on the one hand and the various Tribal Organisations on the other; with the State Government, on the sidelines, imitating Pilate, of The Bible; absolving itself of all blame with the excuse that it is only implementing the law.
First off, I would like to congratulate the N.M.A. /J.A.C.W.R. for refusing the offer of the Tribal Organisations for nominated members to the various civic bodies. If you accomplish nothing more, you have accomplished much in closing an avenue for our elected “leaders” to exercise their superpowers of sycophancy and nepotism; and for which all right thinking people of Nagaland will always be grateful to you.
Next, I would like to point out to the N.M.A./J.A.C.W.R and the Tribal Organisations that you are not on opposing sides of the dispute. You are both fighting for different aspects of the Common Good. You are like the two otters that jointly managed to catch a large fish (Jataka Tales- Buddhist stories) and were arguing about how to divide it. Just then, a fox happened by and asked them what the dispute was about. On being apprised of the problem, he asked the otters if they would accept his judgement on the dispute. The otters agreed, whereupon, the fox cut off the head of the fish and gave it to one otter; he then cut off the tail of the fish and gave it to the other. The otters felt that the fox had been fair so far, and asked the fox how he was going to divide the body of the fish? The fox said that the body was payment for his role in adjudicating the dispute and walked away with it. So, no matter what the result of your dispute, the Corrupt Government is going to profit by it. For them it’s, “Heads, I win, Tails you lose.”
I would suggest that the N.M.A/J.A.C.W.R. get together with the Tribal Organisations, without the Government, come to a settlement and then jointly approach the Government with the terms of your joint agreement. In an earlier write-up, I had floated the idea of creating “super constituencies” for women; I now resubmit my proposal with a modification.
1. Men and women should be free to contest from all constituencies.
2. Every two constituencies should be combined to form a “super constituency” wherein only women will be allowed to contest.
With this arrangement, even if all women candidates who contested in the open constituencies lost, the assured number of women from the “super constituencies” will reach the magical number of 33% of the total.
For the Tribal Organisations, I know that your objections are going to fall on deaf ears, because the present government has eyes only for the Municipal Funds; and if you take your protests to the streets, T.R. “Water Cannon” Zeliang will only be too happy to show you the tin-pot dictator, banana republic ruling, side of his personality; and innocent people are going to suffer. So, to the Tribal Organisations, I would like to suggest the following:-
Don’t attack the women’s group or the government; attack the law. The Women’s Reservation Bill may be an example of Positive/Reverse Discrimination to enable women to attain equal footing in a male dominated society. But instead of arguing whether or not it infringes on Article 371(A) of the Constitution, attack it on the grounds that it is a discriminatory law against a major section of the population (the males of society) and also against the entire electorate, not in Nagaland alone, but across India. I am no lawyer, but common sense dictates that the Bill can be attacked on the following grounds:-
1. If the constituencies reserved for women are fixed; it deprives, forever, the eligible males of the constituency of their constitutional right to stand for office.
2. If the constituencies reserved for women are rotated, no matter what the schedule; it deprives the electorate of the constituency their right to accountability from their elected candidates. For, in the next election, there will be a different candidate.
3. Most importantly, if the constituencies are rotated, it lessens the obligation of the elected candidates (both men and women) to work for the constituency from which they were elected; and increases the pressure upon them to work for the next constituency where they hope to contest. Thereby defeating the basic purpose of Democracy itself; which is that, the elected person works for the benefit of those who elected him/ her to office.
I am certain that many more brilliant minds than mine, both in Nagaland and India, have thought of the above arguments, and many more, against The Women’s Reservation Bill; but it is their fear of appearing Politically Incorrect which has restrained them from speaking out; but as we have seen from the results of the American Presidential Elections, Political Correctness can only go so far, and too much of a good thing sickens people. There are many people across India who feel the same, for we all know that the bill is just another example of Congress (I) vote bank politics; in the guise of social empowerment; and if the Naga Tribal Organisations do file an appeal with the High Court, on the grounds of general discrimination, I’m sure you will gather mass support across India. And with the right Advocate, you could get a Stay on the excuse of an election that the Government of Nagaland is hell bent on conducting. The N.M.A./J.A.C.W.R. must rein in their radical members, as must the Tribal Organisations with their reactionary members. Remember, if we honestly try hard enough, we can always find “a humane solution to human problems.”
God save my Nagaland
Kahuto Chishi Sumi
G.B. Hevishe Village