Muslim Women’s Movement
Muslim women's long-standing movement for personal law reform has intensified once again post the Shayara Bano case. Muslim women have demanded codification of the Muslim personal law and feminist reforms including abolition of one-sided arbitrary instant divorce (and replacing it with a fair and democratic process) and the halala system. Many women have demanded abolition of polygamy, fixing of a minimum age of marriage, equal inheritance rights, and other changes. Muslim women demand full constitutional rights for women within the ambit of the personal law.

The women have been fighting a double-edged struggle against a patriarchal communal fascist state headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and also patriarchal hegemonic forces (like the AIMPLB and others) within the Muslim commumty itself. As the latter oppose all feminist reforms, the Hindutva-run government attempts to dilute the momentum of the movement by bringing in the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) debate. The government seems to proclaim "either UCC or nothing" to the women's demands for just reforms which are long due. However, the government and Law Commission's insistence on introducing the UCC in response to the demands for gender justice in Muslim Personal law is a mischievous attempt to browbeat the minority communities at large by framing the debate with the notion that personal laws are gender unjust only for the minority communities and hence a majoritarian uniform code must be slapped to bring the minorities in line. Apart from the fact that this move is in utter disregard of the tapestry of socio-cultural plurality and diverseness of India, the notion itself is far from the truth, and the fact of the matter is, women of all communities are victims of heavily gender-unjust and patriarchal personal laws.

The state and community patriarchs compliment each other, as they both stand as obstacles to women's right to legal and societal equality. The need of the hour is to foreground the grassroots-level feminist discourses coming from Muslim women's voices. To know about the diverse and multiple ways in which the Muslim women's collectives are putting up a bulwark of resistance. To listen to these views, to amplify them, support them to win this long standing battle.
Kasturi Sen, Kolkata

MGNREGA and Vote
Indian democracy and its functioning have been constituted towards maintaining the goal of a welfare state. India is a state of people's democracy where people form the government and run the government so that people's participation is the key pillar. After colonial rule, the independent government of India's focus was to foster equal rights and justice to its entire population. Various programmes were undertaken to eradicate poverty, health improvement and so forth. But after about 70 years of independence, these problems are almost in same state. It might be due to population explosion and others. The latest addition of such programmes is MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act)— it guarantees for 100 days work for citizens in bottom of pyramid (BOP). It has been running a decade as a relief to the citizen as rewards of voting to form a government. It is an effort to keep alive poor citizens for their votes. Selection of beneficiaries under this scheme was done according to the affiliation of a particular political party or it is a point of advantage what one of the beneficiary said, "we might get job cards, if we vote the particular party (who rules government)". Further, is it not discrimination when elderly people of above, 60 years of age are selected as beneficiaries, while this age determines their retirement. And same technique usually follows to provide BPL card. The owner of 'pakka' (concrete) house is a holder of BPL card. Secondly, obtaining of a job card under this scheme is his/her right. It is a lucky chance to draw wages without work because he/she is affiliated to the particular political party and he/she regularly participates in various political activities (i.e procession etc) organised whenever by the said political party. In this connection, he/she shares deliberately that he/she earns less than their leaders of their locality. Thirdly, job specification under this scheme is virtually specified towards a long term/sustainable development, if investment in MGNRGEA is a patient capital. To assess the impact of MGNREGA, it is revealing to analyse the data collected from Borgodar Goda Gram Panchayat under Nandakumar Block of East Medinipur, West Bengal through structured interview schedules and case studies. Sample size was 200 beneficiaries of MGNRGEA. It was revealed that it was a programme of political gain and its implementation method differed from desired target of the scheme. It was evident that a little rural infrastructure was created for their economic development and it was less than enough to save the people from natural disaster like flood/drought because this area is a flood prone area. Even the beneficiaries who were comparatively younger and had minimum secondary level education viewed that it was a scope of getting job in public sector in future. Ultimately, it is an obstacle to be self-reliant and the governments or political parties are responsible for this changing attitude of citizen because they involve to damage huge human resources only for their political gains and profit. Is it not a dangerous outcome of democracy? The question comes whether this democracy is democratic at all? Nobody knows when these political parties would stop their political business with these innocent generational poor citizens through these types of relief.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

Pm’s December 31 Speech
Today he was different Sounding conciliatory and compensatory. Atoning for the unsaid sins of Demonetisation. Seemed to be very much on the back-foot The barbs against the Opposition were less sharp and not so conspicuous.This was both a pre-election freebies speech as well a Budget speech partially pre-empting Arun Jattley two months ahead ! When in difficult times, the business strategy is not one of optimising gains, but of cutting down and minimising losses.The corporate theory of the second best. This seemed to be the tone and tenor of a humbler-looking PM this evening (December 31, 2016).
Aurobindo Ghose
Peoples’ Rights Organisation
(Manav Adhikar Manch)

It is unusual for the leader of a country to be accused of accepting money from commercial entities. Nevertheless, the media have been giving almost no attention to the matter of Sahara and Birla money going to Modi. One reason for this is that the country is busy dealing with the effects of the veritable earth-quake unleashed by the announcement of 8 November. Another reason is that the media fear that advertisement revenue may dry up if they break their silence.
Mukul Dube, Delhi

It is India
It can happen only in India that important sport-body like Indian Olympic Association (IOA) can gift themselves tainted politicians having been imprisoned for long for corruption as their lifetime Presidents. It is shocking that successive Indian governments have not so far been able to take any concrete step to prevent such nuisince in administration of sports-bodies because politicians cutting across party lines have hijacked administration of sports-bodies.

It is welcome that Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel has taken cognizance of such 'gifting' of posts of life-time President in Annual General Meeting (AGM) of IOA to tainted politicians Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala, assuring further to induce transparency in administration of sports-bodies. Union government should urgently legislate all national and state level sports-bodies including also Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and its affiliated state cricket-bodies to be covered under Right-To-Information (RTI) Act in coming budget-session of Parliament.
Madhu Agrawal, Delhi

Vol. 49, No.30, Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2017