Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Myths of Women Political Empowerment

You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.
- Jawaharlal Nehru

History of democracy in India ways back to during the 6th century BC with the historical evidences to the existence of republics (The Ganas and the Sanghas). Diodorus, the Greek historian without offering any details mentions the existence of small independent Democracies, with Licchavi prominently highlighted.
The official existence of Panchayat bodies in India also dates back to the ancient times. The historical books, the ancient scriptures and epics talk about the existence of Panchayat bodies. “The multitude of ethnicities and people provided for the autonomy and self-determination of the villages, city-states, republics and constitutional kingdoms through the observance of Dharma. The villages ruled by their elected representatives and were, therefore, autonomous and self-governing administrative units having the power to manage their educational, economic social, administrative and other requirements”.
With the advent of British rule in India, the Panchayati Raj system eroded which could only be revived after the Independence in 1947 and that too took so many years. During the decades of 1950 and 1960 several states adopted the Panchayati Raj system or the local self governments. In 1992, the system was given a constitutional cover by the 73rd amendment to the Constitution of India.
With all the golden scribes on Democracy the Indian political system all carries the blot of partiality and marginalization of the females. Although, at Panchayat level the women are shielded with quota system and certain number of seats are reserved (ranging from 33% to 50% varying from state to state) for them in local Panchayat bodies or the three tier system of local self government (the village Panchayat for rural, the municipal bodies in urban area, the block level and district Panchayat bodies), the women have failed to secure an independent position in the socio-political system.
The disparities exist not only in the field of education, jobs and the status in society but also in political arena. Provisional data released for the census of 2011 In 2011 India counted only 914 girls aged six and under for every 1,000 boys. Also the census data suggests the big gender gap. The data shows male literacy rate of 82.14% whereas the females lag behind with a wide gap of almost 20 percent at 65.46%.
Economically too, women are still dependent on males as most of them are not allowed to work outside their homes. Female employment rate varies from state to state (4.4% to 48.8%) and in northern states shows the poor trends with total of 31% of the total workforce in India.
Politically, they may have found representation at the lower levels, but that too is conditional (with actual powers vested in the hands of male members of the family). At the top women have failed to gain an equal opportunity status despite some individual and exceptional performances and have seen a stiff resistance from the political blocks and the parliamentarians for the proposed women representation Bill.
Even the voting trends show the poor rate of participation of women in the political process. Almost half the women remain aloof of the polling booth are forced to do so. At non-reserved seats, hardly any women dare to pose a challenge to male candidates. Very rarely, women win an election at non-reserved seat.
At Panchayat level the condition is worst as most of the elected females are either illiterate or bound to the shackles of patriarchies. At most of the time either the father, brother or the husband participates in the proceedings meant for the elected members of local bodies. Even officials have failed to curb the practice and even sometime they are supportive to the practice. Women are being used as a rubber stamp and their thumb impression has no freewill of its own.
It doesn’t mean that everything is wrong with the system. There have been some extraordinary outcomes from the existing system itself. There are the examples when the women representatives in local bodies have been an agent to real change. There are names like Changuna Raoji Sinalkar, sarpanch of Ranmala village in Maharashtra who made a path breaking success in the implementation of government policies, Anjibai who won the best sarpanch award in 2007 and 2009, Chhavi Rajawat of rajastha who probably is the first MBA sarpanch in India.
But these are just few to count. Majority falls into the second category of powerless, illiterate and unaware. They can be brought to the mainstream of success but this needs a stiff effort. They need to be made aware of their rights which they really deserve. Unless and until they are educated and trained for the actual participation, the objectives of reservation cant be met.
This can be achieved through awareness generation, capacity building, constant training and education. The target s cannot be achieved overnight, neither one should expect a drastic change in near future, But a start is to be made and should be made today. With every day passing the condition will only worsen and the vision of equality, justice (social and political) mentioned in the constitution of India will only further go blurred.

Solution to environmental Hazard named Plastic

Plastics along with the convenience to our life have brought lot of miseries for the environment. As a non-degradable material used plastics are choking our daily life. Only option available is recycling the plastics to make them usable, thus lessening the burden on environment.
Causing lot of civic problems ranging from choking the pipelines and drains to the waste management for the municipal bodies all over the world. The basic problem is that the plastics if burnt in open cause lot of pollution, if they are left they don’t decay.
• If plastic doesn’t biodegrade, what does it do? It “photo-degrades” – a process in which it is broken down by sunlight into smaller and smaller pieces, all of which are still plastic polymers, eventually becoming individual molecules of plastic, still too tough for anything to digest.

• For the last fifty-odd years, every piece of plastic that has made it from our shores to the Pacific Ocean, has been breaking down and accumulating in the central Pacific gyre.

• In Handbook of Environmental Health, published by CRC Press in 2002, Herman Koren claims, “By the year 2000, 9.4% of the waste was plastic, or approximately 39.4 billion lb. Since 1960, plastic production has grown at two to three time the rate of the gross national product. More than half of all discarded plastic is packaging.

• Michelle Allsop highlights the danger of waste plastic to marine animals in Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, published by Greenpeace in November 2006 when she states, “Ingestion of marine debris is known to particularly affect sea turtles and seabirds but is also a problem for marine mammals and fish. Ingestion is generally thought to occur because the marine debris is mistaken for prey. Most of that erroneously ingested is plastic."
The plastic When compared to other materials like glass and metal, plastic polymers require tough processing to be recycled. Plastics have low entropy of mixing, which is due to the high molecular weight of their large polymer chains. A macromolecule interacts with its environment along its entire length, so its enthalpy of mixing is large compared to that of an organic molecule with a similar structure. Heating alone is not enough to dissolve such a large molecule; because of this, plastics must often be of nearly identical composition in order to mix efficiently.
When compared to other materials like glass and metal materials, plastic polymers require greater processing to be recycled. Plastics have low entropy of mixing, which is due to the high molecular weight of their large polymer chains. A macromolecule interacts with its environment along its entire length, so its enthalpy of mixing is large compared to that of an organic molecule with a similar structure. Heating alone is not enough to dissolve such a large molecule; because of this, plastics must often be of nearly identical composition in order to mix efficiently.
When different types of plastics are melted together they tend to phase-separate, like oil and water, and set in these layers. The phase boundaries cause structural weakness in the resulting material, meaning that polymer blends are only useful in limited applications.

Another barrier to recycling is the widespread use of dyes, fillers, and other additives in plastics. The polymer is generally too viscous to economically remove fillers, and would be damaged by many of the processes that could cheaply remove the added dyes. Additives are less widely used in beverage containers and plastic bags, allowing them to be recycled more often
Also it is a tough task to collect bottles from scraps, home & industrial wastes and recycle them only to be used again.
Plastic recycling is gaining popularity all over the globe, although in India it needs to be kick started. It will not only solve the environmental and civic problems to much of the extent but can also provide livelihood to many.
How to recycle the plastics
Interestingly, the most commonly used plastic are easier to recycle. The soda and water bottles, medicine containers, and many other common consumer product containers fell in this category. Made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) these bottles and containers can be recycled to furnished products like fiberfill for winter coats, sleeping bags, life jackets etc. The recycled plastic can also be used for making the furniture, home utilities, gardening baskets, auto accessories, combs, tennis ball felt etc.
PETE is assigned number 1 by The Society of The Plastic Industry (SPI) to allow consumers and recyclers to differentiate types of plastics while providing a uniform coding system for manufacturers (1 to 7 surrounded by triangle of arrows. This sign is displayed mostly at the bottom of the product.
The class 1 plastics are easy to recycle, can be converted into by products conveniently. The process is easy, cost effective and the technology involved is readily available at nominal costs.

The model for social sector
The social organizations can
• Take a social initiative to motivate the people to use bio-degradable plastics as well as bring in the habit of collecting the plastic wastes in homes for recycling.
• Awareness generation against the use of plastics and its hazards for the environment.
• Social organizations can work on the collection of the plastics and forwarding them to recycling units
• Also, they can take initiatives for the production of recycled plastics, manufacture goods from recycled plastics and marketing of such products.
The Outcome
• The livelihood: The unemployed youth, the poor, the destitute and rag pickers can get a sustainable livelihood.
• The environmental impact:
a) The action will bring awareness against the use of plastics in the project implementation area.
b) The participation of communities will bring curb the mismanagements of plastics.
c) The plastics recycling will help the environment to sustain
For sustainable development solutions, we all will have to take the responsibilities and that too at the earliest. If we don’t act we will run fast towards the dooms day and that won’t be natural, rather all the disaster will be men made.
We all need small but effective solutions based on community involvement. These can be locally based social interventions. We will have to develop the models where each individual have the role to contribute and a duty to share. The plastic recycling may not bring drastic change to the health of environment but it can at least ensure that we are conscious for the cause. We together can bring change and someone has to come up with initiative, Small but effective.