Today is International Women’s Day. It celebrates the centuries old struggle of women for equality. Contemporary international women’s movements date back to beginning of 20th century when early rights such as equal adult suffrage and other civil rights were demanded by women. In India also this period witnessed the growth of many women’s organizations such as ‘All-India Women’s Conference’, ‘Women’s India Association’ etc. They had a pan-Indian appeal. Later in 1970s, the women’s movement resurfaced with newer liberal issues. Many victories were scored by these in India and abroad, but many battles are still to be won. In India, workforce participation of women is mere 18%. Their representation in 16th Lok Sabha is just 61 (out of 545 odd members) i.e. barely 12% – and that’s the all time high figure! Violence against women is still unabated despite plethora of legislation. This cannot change unless we remove our cultural glasses which see woman as inferior species. And to do that time is now. It is a good sign that, the day before President of India expressed concern over delay of Women’s Reservation in Legislatures Bill and today Government of India announced a belated entry of women into fighter pilot roles.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Recently a company announced a smartphone at a price of a simcard. After initial jubilation, all sorts of speculations and allegations started flowing thick and fast. As a result, the company was forced to announce the return of the money and declare that it will now deliver phones on cash-on-delivery basis. Imagine this situation in a country where having a smartphone is the last priority for 50 million households. 300 million people can't read the messages in that smartphone given the absence of basic literacy skills. Leave alone e-literacy skills. In broadband penetration, we fare worse than Bhutan and hence the phone will be like a dud piece of electronics for rural folks. NFHS4's recent data shows stunting among children is still at alarming levels. Information and communication are tools of empowerment, but they cannot substitute for the basic needs especially food for a hungry population. A 3G phone cannot address the core 1G developmental issues that we still face. That requires adequate public investment, job creation and minimum social security to all, not a dubious marketing gimmick.