1) Education as an eligibility to contest elections:-

News :- The Supreme Court has upheld the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 which mandates that only those having minimum educational qualifications will be eligible to contest panchayat elections in the State.

What the court says :-

  • The court is of the opinion that basic education would enable the candidates to effectively discharge duties of the panchayat.
  • The court also says that education gives a human being the power to take informed decision

Provisions of the Act:-

General category candidates require a minimum qualification of Class X pass, men contesting in the Scheduled Caste category and women in the general category need to be Class VIII pass, while women in the Scheduled Caste category need to be Class V pass to be eligible.

Issue of this nature has 3 dimensions :-

  1. Rights issue
  2. State of our society
  3. Rationale behind the judgement

1)Rights Issue :-

Arguments against the judgement :-

  • The basic element of democracy is participation.Its sole aim is to provide voice to each and every citizen irrespective of their caste , sex, religion, place of birth , social background, economic strength , educational qualification etc.
  • Therefore making educational qualification a criteria will deprive most of the people from effective participation.
  • It will make politics biased towards privileged sections of society .
  • Every citizen has a right to vote irrespective of their educational qualification then why should he/she be restricted from contesting election .
  • Legislation demands a political vision not technical expertise .

Comprehensive analysis :-

  • Generally , it is held that contesting election is a basic right and every citizen can contest the election.
  • However there exist a number  of criteria that makes one ineligible to contest an election , For eg:- a  general or a male  candidate can not contest in a reserved constituency (SC/ST/Women).
  • Though , for MP and MLA elections the women criteria is yet to come in to force, for panchyat elections at least  33% of seat are reserved for women.

From the above analysis, it is clear that the state discriminates among people on who can contest election on the basis of their gender or caste.

The question is – Is the  above mentioned eligibility criteria for reserved constituency is discrimination ?To answer this question , we need to understand , why there are reserved constituencies?

Reserved constituencies:-

  • Reserved constituencies are declared by delimitation commission .
  • Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census.After coming into force ,the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission.
  • This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • Notwithstanding the above, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.

How the Reserved Constituencies are declared  ?

  • Allocation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the Lok Sabha are made on the basis of proportion of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the State concerned to that of the total population, vide provision contained in Article 330 of the Constitution of India read with Section 3 of the Representation of Peoples’  P. Act, 1950.
  • So, on the basis of proportion the SC/ST constituencies are arrived and the logic being, wherever the majority of the population is SC/ST , the constituency is reserved.The philosophy being , the elected leader will serve the people better as he/she is one of them.
  • If we use same analogy – A Brahmin leader  will serve Brahmins better, a leader who has come from poor background will serve the poor better  and so on .However , this is not true. We have evidence both in support and against this.
  • Then, there are arguments that , only the privileged section among the SC/ST get the benefits of the government provisions and it does not  reach those who are in real need.
  • Yet , we have this provision because , from a broader perspective , our legislature will represent people from all sections, there by making it a true representative legislature.The concerns of all sections can be put forth in the legislature , there by helping  it to make sensible laws and policies to serve every section of the population.For eg- A tribal leader will understand the importance of certain hill or river that is worshiped by fellow tribals and the place of the hills/river in the tribal psyche and way of life, thus can ably contribute to legislation by putting forward the socio-economic-religious impact of certain policy or law that may impact the tribals ,thus making the law more sensible and upon implementation which will not alienate them.

Now the part of reserve  constituency  is understood as long as the SC/ST is concerned. But, why we have reserve constituencies for Women  ?

  • The declaration of women constituencies in Panchyats  is not a direct representation of Women as such ( in terms of Number). That means, a Panchayat is not reserved because the women population is more in the Panchayat . Hence numbers play no role here. This provision is more of philosophical in nature, which aims at women empowerment.
  • By this provision , women will participate more in the grass-root level of politics and could work towards betterment of the society altogether.On a broader sense, this will give the women to participate in politics and this platform can be used to enter state level and national level politics.

Hence , above provision, which at first sight look like discrimination , are actually positive discrimination – where the state intervenes to uplift and bring certain section of society at par with other sections.

Eligibility to contest election can be looked up as a positive discrimination which can not only help promote value of education but also give the people an educated representative.And as proved above with regard to reserved constituencies , there exists positive discrimination as a precedence- so to say , there are no rights issue here (broader sense).

2)State of our Society:-

  • As mentioned above only the privileged section among the SC/ST get the benefits of the government provisions and it does not  reach those who are in real need.This is because , the privileged sections have access to information and other don’t have access to information because they don’t have the necessary education.

How Literate is our Literacy:-

  • Though our literacy rate is around 75% , yet the functional literacy is way too low. this is because of the rudimentary definition of literacy :
    • “Definition of Literacy :-   Literacy, as defined in Census operations, is the ability to read and write with understanding in any language. A person who can merely read but cannot write is not classified as literate. Any formal education or minimum educational standard is not necessary to be considered literate
  • A candid analysis of illiteracy’s political and cultural consequences throughout the population will necessitate in our seeking to move literacy expectations beyond a rudimentary ability to read, write and calculate. The recognition that ‘literacy’ has to be situationally relevant has given rise to the concept of ‘functional literacy’, which has been referred to by the Second Education Commission.
  • So to say, though our census says , India is 75% literate – the question is – are we ?
  • The dismal state of affair has to change , if we want to be a true literate state – where literacy goes beyond just writing ,reading or doing  addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. The literacy program yet to reach where it aims the development of literacy where one can do  higher-order thinking – conceptualizing, inferring, inventing, testing, hypothesis and thinking critically.

3)Rationale behind the Judgement:-

  • The rationale behind the judgement is well founded,  there is a need for our leaders to have basic level of education – else it will render the leadership subject to undue influence from various corners.
  • Moreover, if our leaders can’t read or write – it sends a wrong message to the society altogether. It  inspires none to take up education.
  • Education helps one to make informed decisions and thus a leader should be able to comprehend and deal with the issues better.
  • It is education that has given an edge to certain Panchayats. As the leaders were educated , they could find alternative solution to the social problems.
  • Chhavi rajawat of soda in Rajasthan, Arati Devi of Ganjam odisha or Sushma Bhadu of Haryana  – they are the poster girls  of changing the rural landscape in India.
  • India lives in its villages and it is essential to change the rural landscape in our pursuit of developed India. Its education that helped them realize the potentiality of the village – they are not just leaders for few but in itself are inspiring tales who propagate the value of education.
  • Though Government promotes right to education, it became necessary to have  real time , on the field , living and inspiring leaders who can push the rural landscape and it’s people to embrace educations .
  • Political vision comes from education.With out the basic education one may have political vision , but the chances of finding such individual is very slim and usually are exceptions.Exceptions are not rules and hence the argument of political vision is the only requirement is wrong founded – one should understand from where the political vision have genesis – mostly education.
  • For one, the law provides for basic (Emphasis on Basic ) education ,which is very necessary and of course non-technical in nature.

Conclusion and Way Forward:-

  • To Sum up , India is yet to realize the true literacy.Education still remains a choice of affordability for many.
  • In order to help the needy , education is the only empowerment where information can flow to the masses and government benefits can reach to the deserving candidate.
  • So while educated politicians are desired yet  the  minimum education as an eligibility  to compete election is quite sensitive issue and a highly debated one,  to strike a balance between the constitutional prudence and rural transformational pursuance, the changes of eligibility criteria in competing election should take the discourse of gradualism not radicalism i. e.  in order to change the system the policy must take care to address and uplift the society to accept the changed system.
  • The educational eligibility for competing election, though may stand against the opinions of constitutional and legal experts, still given our social desirability for  better political representative – the change should be gradually implemented.
  • Needless to say , unless we have educated leaders , irrespective of how many well intended polices , the rural India will not transform.One can argue that, educated leaders are not guarantee of transformation , but as a wise philosopher once said – “If you think Education is costly, try Ignorance”. In the same vein, we can’t remain ignorant of the fact, it is better to try and fail than not to try altogether , and all arguments against the judgement promotes status quo – and by now, we already know how dismal is our status quo.
  • Until and unless this is implemented and experimented we will never realize the true facets and impacts of this public discourse and our opinions, knowledge and analysis will  remain just  an inference rather than a proven fact.

Way Forward:-

  • Given its public impact it will give rise to few oddities such as corruption in educational practices, barring socio-politically enlightened but non educated leaders etc
  • To compensate this, Government can enlarge the evening schools and enroll those who want to attend irrespective of their age, so that one who wants to contest Panchayat election , given adequate opportunity to make himself/herself eligible.
  • Also , a gradual implementation will help to build the necessary social affinity for change.

2)Social Security Scheme for Farmers :-

The Government is implementing a number of schemes to help the farmers in increasing their productivity by reducing cost of cultivation, achieving higher yield per unit and by realizing remunerative prices. Some of the important new initiatives in this context are:

(i) Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme by which the farmers can know the major and minor nutrients available in their soils which will ensure judicious use of fertiliser application and thus save money of farmers. The balanced use of fertiliser will also enhance productivity and ensure higher returns to the farmers.

(ii) Neem Coated Urea is being promoted to regulate urea use, enhance its availability to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizers application. The entire quantity of domestically manufactured urea is now neem coated.

(iii) Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is being implemented with a view to promoting organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.

(iv) The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency.

(v) In addition, the Government is also implementing several Centrally Sponsored Schemes – National Food Security Mission (NFSM); Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH); National Mission on Oilseeds & Oilpalm (NMOOP); National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA); National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET); National Crop Insurance Programme (NCIP); Unified National Agriculture Markets; and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

(vi) The Government undertakes procurement of wheat and paddy under its ‘MSP operations’. In addition, Government implements Market Intervention Scheme (MIS)

 Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agricultural and horticultural commodities not covered under the Minimum Price Support Scheme on the request of State/UT Government.

The MIS is implemented in order to protect the growers of these commodities from making distress sale in the event of bumper crop when the prices tend to fall below the economic level/cost of production.

Losses, if any, incurred by the procuring agencies are shared by the Central Government and the concerned State Government on 50:50 basis (75:25 in case of North-Eastern States). Profit, if any, earned by the procuring agencies is retained by them.

The proposed new National Crop Insurance Scheme will protect the interest of farmers with a broader coverage towards crop losses and other such natural calamities. This is an intervention to cover the risks involved in farming.

3)Anti Dengue Vaccine:-

  • The Mexican government has approved the world’s first anti-dengue vaccineDengvaxia , which is designed to protect people in the age group 9-45 from all four subtypes of the virus.



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