Marking women’s Day
Formality of celebrating International Women's Day is fulfilled every year on 8th March but without any attitude-change towards women which though being 50-percent of population, get only a minute representation in law-making system. Many political parties cry for reservation on man-made aspects like religion and caste, evidently for vote-bank politics, but oppose reservation to women.

Even Islamic world including Pakistan and many other democratic countries including fresh democracy in Nepal have adopted Women-Reservation in legislature. In the meanwhile till the Bill becomes a law, Election Commission's formula to make it compulsory for every political party to give at least 33 percent party-tickets to women may be immediately enforced as an interim measure. However it should be ensured that such distribution may be state-wise rather than on country-basis. Otherwise parties will fulfil formality of women-quota by giving all tickets from reserved quota to women in states with no base of the concerned party. However to prevent wives or other relations/associates being misused as 'proxy' of male politicians, there should be a system whereby name or photo of husband or any other relation may not be permitted in election-campaigns of women candidates.

At a time when women-quota in panchayats and local bodies is being increased to 50-percent from earlier 33-percent, it is meaningless to resist 33-percent reservation to women in legislature. Rather there should be uniform 33-perecent reservation for women at all stages from civic bodies to Parliament.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
Dariba, Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Defeat Authoritarian Forces
Citizens For Democracy (CFD) in its conference held today [29 March, 2014] at New Delhi on 'Challenges Before Democracy' has viewed with grave concern the manner in which RSS has come out openly to contest the present elections by hoisting Narendra Modi as the Prime-Ministerial candidate—a calculated step to impose authoritarianism in the country to serve the corporate interests. The CFD conference views the present elections; as unique and critical and has come to the conclusion that in order to save democracy it is essential to defeat BJP led by Narendra Modi. The conference has further called upon the people to vote for such a candidate in their constituency who cherishes democratic and secular values and who is in a better position to defeat the Modi-led alliance.
Kuldip Nayar, President
N D Pancholi, General Secretary
CFD, New Delhi

Pastoral anxiety
India is once again preparing for the General Elections. This is an important moment for citizens since the direction that the country takes, its progress and much of people's everyday lives depend largely on the leaders going to be elected to Parliament.

Society is undergoing a profound transformation. Science and technology have introduced radical changes in the lives of people. The last decade has witnessed tremendous development in areas of communication, infrastructure, public facilities etc. Globalization has impacted every section of the society affecting even the remotest rural area. At the same time, there are several areas of concern. The big gap between the rich and the poor seems to be widening. Many unorganized, informal and casual labourers are barely able to survive with what they earn. The trend towards privatization is beginning to dismantle existing public institutions in education, health and the social sector. Ethics is losing primacy as the guiding principle for society. It is in this context and at this moment in history that Indians are going into the elections.

The Catholic Church earnestly hopes that the General Elections will give the country leaders who understand the anxieties of the people and respond to their needs. People need leaders who will:
1)    uphold the secular character of India and promote communal harmony and a spirit of inter-religious dialogue and understanding.
2)   care for the minorities and weaker sections of society, protect their rights and work for their uplift.
3)   safeguard the rights of tribals over land, water and forests; and grant equal rights to dalit Christians, equal to those given to other dalits.
4)   work for an economy that seeks in particular to help the poor and the under privileged, protecting their dignity and enabling them to take their rightful place in nation building.
5)   improve the climate and conditions in the country, ensuring a totally safe environment for all people, particularly women and children.
These are national issues. There would be other local and particular needs to be considered as well.
Oswald Cardinal Gracias
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI)

Sunil, General Secretary of Samajvadi Jan Parishad, died at the age of 53 in Delhi on April 21. At a very young age he emerged as a leader of many peasants and workers movements in Hoshangabad district. Earlier during his days as a brilliant student of Economics in Delhi University, he had attracted widespread admiration for initiatives like organising cycle-yatras in several remote problem-ridden parts of the country. At the age of 25 he devoted himself to full-time work among tribals in Hoshan-gabad district of Madhya Pradesh. He was editor of reputed journals like Samyik Varta and Samta Era. His articles (mostly in Hindi), appeared in many leading newspapers and journals of the country. His writings had a special focus on evolving alternative paths of developments. His political and social life was always characterised by the highest integrity and honesty. He always maintained his faith in peaceful movements even though he was jailed many times due to his participation in peaceful movements against injustice.
Bharat Dogra, New Delhi

Caste and class
This refers to R Mukherji’s article ‘Caste and Class’ [Frontier, Vol 46, No 40, April 13-19, 2014]. A traditional type of upper caste bashing and Brahmin baiting Marxist oriented article based on dated statistics from a highly partial and largely senseless Commission Report which based itself on 1931 Census figures! See this other side too: "Per capita income of various communities in Kamataka as per a statement of Finance Minister in the Assembly a few years back : Christians : Rs 1562/-; Vokkaligas : Rs 914/-; Muslims : Rs 794/-; Scheduled Castes : Rs 688/-; Scheduled Tribes : Rs  577/-; Brahmins : Rs 537/-" So what is needed is a fresh impartial and scientific outlook and analysis based on quite recent or recent statistics depicting current realities.
I Mallikarjuna Sharma, Hyderabad

Vol. 46, No. 43, May 4 -10, 2014