POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN INDIA: A POST INDEPENDENCE SCENARIO
For about 190 years (from 1757-1947) India had been under the colonial rule. It is only after several years of freedom movement under different leaders that the nation achieved its independence on the 15th day of august, 1947. And on the 26th day of January, 1950 the constitution of India has come into force and more than six decades have passed since then. The constitution in its preamble resolved to secure to all its citizens:
Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status, opportunity; and to promote among them all;
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and integrity of the Nation (Basu, 2004:21).
Article 14 of the Constitution affirms that ‘the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India’ (Basu, 2004:87). Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Basu, 2004:92). And the 16th Article provides equality of opportunities in matters of public employment. Because of being a fundamental right a citizen can approach the court in denial of provisions of those articles. Gandhiji during his life time supported participation of women in politics. They were also welcomed to join the resistance movement against the British rule. However, their political participation was encouraged only in so far as they supported the traditional gender hierarchy. As long as they did not sacrifice their traditional duties such as wives, daughter and sister their participation in the political life was not restricted. But as soon as they cross their limit their activism was discouraged. The true fact is that the de jure equality granted by the Indian Constitution had not been translated into reality and large masses of women had remained unaffected by the rights granted to them. This paper makes a humble attempt to understand the representation of women and their role in the political process of the country. However, it will not cover other aspects of political participation like votings, political campaigns, strikes etc. which directly and indirectly influences the political process of the country.
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