GOOD MORNING FOLKS! IT’S A TEA TIME AND WE ARE HERE WITH OUR NEW ENDEAVOR – “READ EDITORIAL WITH D2G”. SO FRESHEN YOUR EYES, PUT YOUR PILLOWS BACK AND TAKE A SIP OF YOUR TEA WHILE ENJOYING THIS SHORT PIECE OF A NOTE.
EPISODE – XIX
TOPIC: Minimum educational qualifications for contesting panchayat elections in Haryana is a setback for democracy.
BLOG: Times of India
WRITER: Pyaralal Raghvan
READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED:
D2G wears no responsibility of the views published here by the respective Author. This Editorial is used here for Study Purpose. Students are advised to learn the word-meaning, The Art of Writing Skills and understand the crux of this Editorial.
MEANINGS are given in BOLD and ITALIC
The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the validity of the Haryana law which prescribe minimum criteria for contesting in the panchayat polls is a major setback to the country’s efforts to build an inclusive (If you describe a group or organization as inclusive, you mean that it allows all kinds of people to belong to it, rather than just one kind of person.) democracy and maximise the participation of the people in the political process. It rolls the progress that Indian electoral system has achieved so far in empowering the more disadvantaged groups.
The Haryana law mandates (If someone is given a mandate to carry out a particular policy or task, they are given the official authority to do it.) that the minimum education qualification that to contest in the panchayat polls is class 10 pass for men, class 8 pass for women and class 5 pass for dalits. Moreover the court has also hailed(praised) some of the other criteria laid down by the Haryana government for excluding from the contest like those living in houses without toilets, defaulting on agriculture loans and electric bill repayments or owing other payments to the governments.
The court sanction is despite its acknowledgement that such a move may disqualify a sizable segment of the population form contesting the polls. This would include 83% of the rural and 67% of the urban women above 20 years. Similarly a sizable segment of the Dalit population including 68% of the Dalit women and 41% of the men in the age category would also become ineligible to contest.
The court argument has broadly been that education is important for both individuals and the nation as a whole and a better education for the elected will help in carrying out their responsibilities more effectively. The use of education qualification in fixing criteria for elected office or other positions of responsibility has been a debates for decades if not centuries.
Many point out that education qualification has an important role in deciding a person’s standing in society and his/her suitability for various responsibilities. This is because a basic knowledge is necessary to work and build more expertise. They also point out that more education increases exposure to the world and improves the ability to comprehend and envisage (If you envisage something, you imagine that it is true, real, or likely to happen.) things in a much broader way. The broad argument is that while educational may not be an essential qualification for success it would certainly help improve the chances for success.
However, others do question such argument pointing out that it would be unfair to link formal educational qualifications with knowledge or success. It is also pointed out that the most qualified and those with highest grades are not necessarily the most successful people in society. Though basic reading writing and arithmetic skills are important there are also more crucial factors like character, personality and leadership qualities which allow people to play a more effective role in society.
Then there are other more basic issues. For instance in democracies across the world the eligibility criteria is generally restricted to age and the education levels are similar to both for contestants and voters. Though international standards for democratic elections are not prescriptive (A prescriptive approach to something involves telling people what they should do, rather than simply giving suggestions or describing what is done. ) norms the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates every citizen must be provided with right and opportunity without discrimination based on distinctions of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and without unreasonable restrictions to vote and to be elected.
Apart from these norms there are larger issues that are crucial to a democracy. The decision to bar contestants on the basis of educational qualification also goes against the grain of Article 15 of the constitution which not only prohibits discrimination but also permits the state to make special provisions for the advancement of women as well as socially and educationally backward sections of the society. A minimum education criteria that excludes large number of social and educationally people from contesting the elections is certainly unfair in this context.
The reasoning that minimum education qualifications is essential for contesting elections is also to be seen in the context of established democracies like the United States, Canada and Australia, where the constitution even allows trial by jury which is a form of democracy in the courts. According to US law any ordinary citizen is eligible to become a member of the jury whose inclusion makes it representative of the diverse ethnic (Ethnic means connected with or relating to different racial or cultural groups of people.) and economic background of the community.
The jury usually comprises (consist of) a dozen ordinary citizens, who wield awesome powers to punish or not punish citizens and prevent government from pursuing oppressive (If you describe a society, its laws, or customs as oppressive, you think they treat people cruelly and unfairly. = REPRESSIVE) prosecutions, the law prescribes no minimum educational qualifications but only requires that have the ability to comprehend (understand) the English language. So extensive is the inclusion of the common man in the specialised service of delivery of justice through the jury system in the United States that more than a quarter of the adult citizens have served on a jury in their lifetimes.
The restriction place by the Indian courts on participation in election contests is to be seen in the context of the advanced countries which not only allows its ordinary citizens a chance to fight all elections without any discrimination but even allows them a major role in the delivery of justice, a task which is any day even more complex and specialised than that of any elected member of the panchayat.
Then there is also the added danger that the sanction of the Supreme Court for minimum educational qualifications for contesting in Haryana panchayat election may prompt (hinder, stop) other government to push for fixing new norms in other spheres too. Such a move will ensure that India’s democracy, which is already saddled (If you saddle someone with a problem or with a responsibility, you put them in a position where they have to deal with it. = जिम्मेदारी डालना) by dynastic tendencies, will tilt heavily in favour of already empowered groups and keep out the disadvantaged from positions of power.
Do YOU REALLY LOVE THIS ARTICLE AND WANT THE SAME TO BE READ BY OTHERS? THEN WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? RECOMMEND THIS POST AND SPREAD THE LOVE FOR D2G. ALWAYS FLOURISH THIS LOVE ON US. IT GIVES US STRENGTH TO DO OUR OPTIMUM.
Thanks for Reading!!!