Think of women celebrities and one instinctively thinks of film stars and politicians. Topping the list are women like Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, Sheila Dikshit, Mayawati, not to mention the super star Sonia Gandhi. To me it was quite a revolution to learn that over the past two decades much has changed at the workplace – both in India as well as globally. As Prosenjit Datta, editor of Business World (March 24) notes, for one, women are much better represented in all rungs of the hierarchy. For another, many organisations have worked to develop HR policies that take into account the needs of women executives. For all that, he says, women's participation in the Indian work place – especially in the organised sector is still low.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which surveyed work force participation of women in 131 countries, India ranked 11th from the bottom. That is some record. And a cause of concern was that in India, female labour force participation has actually come down from 29 per cent in 2005 to 22.4 per cent in 2012. Says Datta: “In most organisations the glass ceiling still exists for high performing women executives. Despite these hurdles, the number of women leaders in every sector of the economy is increasing.”
What Datta calls the e-Suite women, there is an impressive list of them and their pictures and achievements are all there to see and read.
We have come a long way since the seventies and eighties and it no longer comes as a surprise if women have reached the top of the ladder. Keep it up, ladies and may you shine brighter than the Ahalyas, Draupadis, Sitas, Taras and Mandodaris of the past, in your fields of specialty.
One would have liked to see many more women standing for elections now on. But one understands that they number not more than around 10 per cent in all, which is a crying shame. God knows what has happened to the Women's Reservation Bill which the Fifteenth Lok Sabha, did not find time to pass? Strictly speaking, women leaders would any day do better than the AAP anarchist Arvind Kejriwal who has been behaving himself like an irresponsible politician in recent times. Thus, he shouldn't have stood for election from the Banaras constituency, but then he wants to capture attention like a mischievous school boy.
As The Hindu (March 31) saw it, the event is being “increasingly projected as one between David and Goliath—and one does not have to name who is David and who Goliath—in theory and possibly in actuality too.” Kejriwal may be exhibiting, as the paper said, both 'spunk and daring' but to listeners there is an element of hatred as well, in the candidate's electioneering speeches. Do we need that? It is not just Kejriwal who voices hard feelings. The Congress seems to be specialising in all sorts of word age. Modi has been called a Nazi and a Hitler and many other things besides.
As The Indian Express (March 31) noted, “As the election campaign gathers momentum, politicians cutting across ideological divides can be expected to stir passions to gain electoral advantage.” References have been made to Nathuram Godse and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Apart from the fact that Gods had nothing to do with the RSS or the BJP, the names of leaders like Sardar Vallabbhai Patel are also dragged in to give meaning and relevance to fake conflicts. But our non-BJP leaders apparently think that all is well in love and war.Who can forget Imran Masood for his hate speech against Modi.It certainly had the potential to spark violence.
Perhaps it is too late to advice that, in the words of the Express “political parties should sit together and draw up a list of do's and don'ts that should govern their conduct before, during and after the elections”. But, when all is said and done, are our ‘elder’ MPs so lacking in character that they need to be told how to behave? The sad but evident answer is yes, they do lack in character, witness the recent happenings in the Lok Sabha. What it all shows is that some of the political parties have no leaders of merit, who would dare to pull up their candidates and given them a talking down which they so deeply merit, which only shows that they know they are at the losing end. Anticipation of failure can be so intensely self-defeating.
(The writer is a Senior Journalist and Editor of Illustrated Weekly)