Author Ranjani.K.Murthy, April 17 2014:

Demands
I asked auto drivers, farmers, domestic worker and students and asked them the five demands they would make to a candidate standing for Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) Elections, 2014. See Box 1 [below] for the top five demands of seven auto drivers from Chennai who were met. The demand from auto-drivers that government arrange for weddings of their children (other than selection of groom/bride) is quite interesting and reflects the growing dowry in Indian society and the social expectation to organise a wedding beyond their means.

     Box 1: Demands of auto drivers

  • Lower fuel prices
  • Higher fares per kilometre covered
  • Government arrangement of wedding of children, in particular of daughters
  • Cheap price of essential commodities
  • Housing, water and electricity at reasonable price

Two of the priorities of the six women domestic workers met in Pune were similar to that of auto-drivers; namely need for housing, water and electricity at a reasonable rate (but with houses on their names), and cheap price of essential commodities. Three other demands are listed in

     Box 2: Demands of domestic workers

  • Access to good quality health and education
  • Cheap price of essential commodities And
  • Housing, water and electricity at reasonable rate
  • Banning of liquor shops
  • Combatting violence against women, including domestic violence

The demands of women marginal farmers met in Maharashtra who also engage in agricultural work, construction work and work under the 100 day Employment Guarantee Scheme are listed in

     Box 3: Demands of women farmers

  • Cover for crop loss
  • Access to formal credit
  • Good market price for crops
  • Full employment at minimum wages
  • Secure land tenure for women

The female students’ priorities in Chennai comprised the following: free (As of now education is free and compulsory only till class 10 - Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2011) and good quality higher education, safe and free transport, safe education institutions, sanitation facilities and menstrual hygiene, and bigger size of housing (two bed rooms) so that they could concentrate on studies.    

Promises vs demands
How far do the agendas of the three major political parties - the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, and Aam Admi Party - meet these demands? The analysis in Table 1 reveals that the 'general' demands (pertaining to men and women) of farmers, auto drivers, students and domestic workers are better addressed than the ‘gender specific’ ones, in particular menstrual hygiene, land rights of women, government performance of dowry free marriages, closure of liquor shops, safe transport and safe education institutions. Amongst the ‘general’ demands right to a two bedroom house, higher education full employment and cheap fuel are not effectively met. The analysis suggests the need for political parties to have direct dialogue with marginalised constituencies.

Table 1: Demands vs Promises

Demands

Promises

 

 

 

General

Congress Party

Bharatiya Janata Party

Aam Admi Party

Cheap prices of essential commodities

Right to Food

Right to food

Right to food

Water and electricity at  reasonable rates

Yes

Yes

No

Affordable fuel

No

Yes

No

Two bed room housing free for poor  

Right to homestead & housing- no mention of size

Mission on housing.  Does not mention size of house

No

Guarantee of quality and free education, including higher education

No guarantee of higher education

No guarantee of higher education

No guarantee of higher education

Access to good quality and reasonably priced health care

Yes

Reduction of out of pocket spending on good health care

Yes

Full employment at minimum wages

Employment for youth after training

Employment in manufacturing and tourism; and other services

Gainful employment at minimum wages

Cover for crop loss

Yes

Yes

Yes

Access of farmers to formal credit

SHG-bank linkage

Yes

Yes

Good market price for crops

No

 

National Agriculture market

Yes

Higher fares per kilometre for autos

No

No

No

Gender-specific

 

 

 

Clean sanitation and menstrual hygiene

Sanitation, but not menstrual hygiene

Sanitation, but not menstrual hygiene

No

Secure land tenure for women

Yes-in particular for single women

No mention

Prevent land-grab

Safe transport

Exclusive 24 hour transport facility

No

No

Safe education institutions

No

No

No

Closure of liquour shops

No

No

No

Government performance of dowry free marriages

No

No

No

Combatting violence against women

One stop crisis center, sensitisation of police etc.

Implementation of law, rehabilitation of survivors of rape, women friendly police stations etc

24 hour crisis centers, fast track court, services to survivors

Source:
Aam Aadmi Party, 2014, Bharatiya Janata Party, 2014, Indian National Congress, 2014

Source:
Aam Aadmi Party, 2014, Aam Aadmi Party: National Manifesto - 2014 [PDF format]
Bharatiya Janata Party, 2014, Ek Bharat - Shreshtha Bharat, BJP Election Manifesto 2014 [PDF format]
Indian National Congress, 2014, Your Voice: Our Pledge, Lok Sabha Elections, 2014, Manifesto [PDF format]
Ministry of Human Resource Development, 2011, Shri Kapil Sibal Addresses 58th Meeting of CABE [Central Advisory Board of Education]; Proposes Extension of RTE [Right to Education] up to Secondary Level Moots Bill to Control Malpractices in School Education, Press Information Bureau, 7th June, 2011-June, 2011