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Daily The Hindu Editorial With Vocabulary in Detail : A liberal move on Rajasthan govt scrapping educational criteria for local polls

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A liberal move: on Rajasthan govt scrapping educational criteria for local polls

Rajasthan strikes a blow for democracy by removing educational criteria for local polls
Among the first decisions taken by Ashok Gehlot’s government after assuming power(सत्ता ग्रहण करना) in Rajasthan was to scrap minimum educational requirements( आवश्यकताओं) for candidates contesting local body elections. This is aprogressive(प्रगतिशील/बढ़ाव करनेवाला) move and will restore(बहाल/वापस देना) the right to contest, at least in theory, to a large section of the population in the State, where the literacy rate(साक्षरता दर,), according to the 2011 Census, was 52% for women and 79% for men. The previous government headed by Vasundhara Raje had stipulated,(अनुबद्ध/निर्धारित ,) first through an ordinance in December 2014 and then through the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act passed in 2015, educational prerequisites( आवश्यक शर्तें) to stand for local polls. It was made mandatory(अनिवार्य ) for candidates contesting for the post of sarpanch to have cleared Class 8, and for those in the fray in zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections to have passed Class 10. The move was ill-considered(अनुत्तरदायी) from the very beginning(शुरुआत). At the time, the amendment was seen as a bid by the then BJP government to lower the average age of those in the fray based on the assumption(कल्पना/धारण)that its voters tended to be younger. It was, however, an act of paternalism that militated(विरोध करना) against(खिलाफ) the basic assumptions of a liberal democracy(लोकतंत्र/स्वराज्य). It penalised(जुरमाना करना/सज़ा देना) the people for failure to meet certain(निश्चित/कुछ) social indicators(संकेतक,), when in fact it is the state’s responsibility(जिम्मेदारी) to provide the infrastructure and incentives(प्रोत्साहन राशि) for school and adult education. And it defeated(हारे हुए/परास्त) the very purpose of the panchayati raj institutions, to include citizens in multi-tier local governance from all sections of society. These requirements had the effect of excluding(छोड़कर/के बिना) the marginalised(अधिकारहीन करना/किनारे कर देना)

The Rajasthan government’s decision should also force a rethink in Haryana, where the newly sworn-in BJP government had, also in 2015, legislated(कानून बनाना) a series of eligibility(योग्यता/योग्यता) requirements for panchayat elections, including education levels and a functional toilet in the candidate’s home. The Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 was upheld that year by the Supreme Court in Rajbala v. State of Haryana. And the temptation (प्रलोभन)to expand educational eligibility requirements remains. Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, for instance, has previously spoken of persuading( राजी करना/मनाना) other Chief Ministers to take the cue from Rajasthan and Haryana, as an incentive for women to study. The decision of the new Congress government in Rajasthan should force a recasting(बदल डालना/मरम्मत करना) of the debate on finding ways and means by which elected bodies are made more representative(प्रतिनिधि). In a liberal democracy, governments must desist from putting bars on who may contest, except in exceptional(असाधारण ) circumstances(परिस्थितियां), such as when a candidate is in breach of particular laws. To mandate paternalistically(जनादेश का पालन करें) what makes a person a ‘good’ candidate goes against the spirit of the attempt(प्रयास) to deepen democracy by taking self-government to the grassroots.

Important Vocabulary

1. Progressive(प्रगतिशील/बढ़ाव करनेवाला
Synonyms: continuous, dynamic, enlightened, forward-looking, gradual
Antonyms: intermittent, conservative, moderate

2. Prerequisites( आवश्यक शर्तें)
Synonyms: essential, must, precondition, qualification, requirement
Antonyms: nonessential, extra, option

3. Militated(विरोध करना)
Synonyms: count, militate, register, weigh, have effect
Antonyms: ignore, estimate, figure, guess, listen

4. Assumption(कल्पना/धारण)
Synonyms: acceptance, belief, expectation, guess, hunch
Antonyms: disbelief, fact, knowledge, measurement, proof

Synonyms: extraordinary, notable, noteworthy, odd, phenomenal
Antonyms: common, commonplace, familiar, inconsequential, insignificant

6. Eligibility(योग्यता/योग्यता)
Synonyms: qualification, ability, acceptability

7. Persuading( राजी करना/मनाना)
Synonyms: advise, assure, cajole, coax, enlist
Antonyms: discourage, dissuade, fail, halt, prevent


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