Women’s Role during the Farm Law Agitations

In News

  • Women’s participation in the protests against the three agriculture laws gave them a chance to assert their disregarded position as farmers in the country, moulding the scope and character of the agitation.

Women’s Participation in Protests

  • India has had a long history of protests against the ruling government, be it during the colonial rule of the British, or against the government in independent India.
  • Despite the prevalent patriarchal system, women have actively participated in these protests alongside men.
    • Women activists, politicians and leaders have emerged from even the most orthodox regions of the country.
  • Protests against the State or with a common cause gave them the opportunity to dissent openly, voice out their issues, and create a space for themselves within the larger discourse.   
Facts/ DataAgriculture employs about 80 percent of rural women. As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55 per cent were agricultural labourers and 24 per cent were cultivators.Only 12.8 per cent of the operational holdings were owned by women, which reflect the gender disparity in ownership of landholdings in agriculture.The workforce participation rate for rural females is significantly higher at 41.8 percent against urban women participation rate of 35.31 percent (MoSPI, 2017).Related Schemes: Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP)National Livelihoods Mission, Deen Dayal Upadhayay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY)Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)Beti Bachao Beti PadhaoPradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana I (PMMVY).

Major Challenges faced by women in agriculture and during the farm protest

  • Socio-economic factors: The reasons behind their participation are rooted in the historic conditions and socio-economic factors that affect women throughout the country.
  • Patriarchal system: Most women, who participated, came from States where women, especially from rural regions, are disadvantaged by the patriarchal systems that constrain them.
  • Denial of land ownership: Though women play a crucial role in the agricultural process in these regions, they are denied land ownership and are expected to do unpaid or exchange labour.
  • Lack of State protection mechanisms: With the coming of the farm laws, the already precarious condition of farmers in the country was expected to become even more unstable due to the lack of State protection mechanisms.
  • Lack of food security: It directly affected women, who are already burdened with the responsibility of managing the domestic (food) needs of the family.
  • Other challenges:
    • Societal issues: Women have always subtly challenged society; be it through clothing, gossiping, folk songs mocking their in-laws or expressing eroticism and folk art among others.
    • Gender roles: As the division of labour was mostly decided according to gender roles, women were made responsible for cooking, cleaning and taking care of the elders during the protest. 
    • Harassed and molested: In many of the protest sites they were asked to cover their face while on the podium and in a few instances, they were even harassed and molested.
    • Class and caste inequalities: with oppressive structures like the Khap panchayats being reproduced in the sites.

Their role during farm protest

  • Equality: From being mere spectators of the movement, they joined the men demanding the repeal of the agriculture laws.
  • Responsibility: They took up responsibilities of the production and distribution of food and bringing supplies to the sites.
    • Many of them drove themselves in tractors to the protest sites, symbolising their status as farmers.
  • Contribution: Women’s dissent, though directed towards the government, questioned and challenged the society that burdens them disproportionately and acts oblivious towards their contributions to farming.

Way forward

  • Defied patriarchal norms: by participating in sporting events primarily associated with masculinity, preparing for the civil services or pursuing higher education, and engaging in mixed caste or mixed religion marriages.
  • Added texture: women created songs and slogans that mocked the new laws, discussed the problems of the peasants and workers, and challenged the political system.
  • Boosting the morale: Women’s participation in the protests also helped in creating a festive mood, boosting the morale of the protesters as they struggled with harsh conditions (weather, police harassment) at the protest sites. 
    • Local festivals were celebrated, where gender roles of certain local traditions were subverted.
  • Self sufficient: though the initial conditions of the protest sites were unfavorable for women in terms of sanitation and safety, they managed to organise committees to address these issues.
  • Gender inclusive: by becoming more gender inclusive, the protest managed to attract more media attention and support from the general public.
  • Agrarian politics: women’s participation in the farmer’s protests against the State brought them to the centre stage of agrarian politics and proved that society’s attitude towards women activists and agitators were changing in the right direction.

Voting Rights to NRIs

In News

  • Recently, the Union government told the Supreme Court (SC) that it was considering ways to facilitate non-resident Indians (NRI), especially migrant labourers, to cast their votes remotely.

Key Points

  • About: 
    • The Supreme Court disposed of the Petition stating that the Plea was filed in 2013 “at a stage when nothing was being done to enable such persons to cast their votes. 
    • But today the awareness has not only seeped in, but it went to the extent of tabling a Bill before one of the Houses of the Parliament.
  • Court’s Stand:
    • Making the postal ballot facility available to soldiers serving in far-flung areas across the country was different from affording the same facility to someone who had chosen to reside abroad
    • However, migrant labourers would often find it beyond their limited means to fly in just to cast their vote.
    • The government was aware of the issue and had even introduced a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act to allow overseas Indians to vote by proxy
      • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill had however lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
  • Supreme Court recommended Committee (2013):
    • On Court’s notice in February 2013, the Election Commission had constituted a committee “to look into the matter with regard to ways and means to facilitate voting for non-resident Indians and migrant workers”.
    • The committee thereafter submitted its report.
    • The central government had accepted the recommendations made by the Election Commission and then introduced a Bill in 2018 in Lok Sabha to amend Section 60 of Representation of People Act, 1951
  • Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017:
    • The intended amendment was to enable the overseas electors to appoint a proxy to cast vote on behalf of such electors. 
    • The Bill had proposed the removal of an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act requiring overseas electors to be physically present in their electoral constituencies to cast their votes.
    • The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha. However, the same was not introduced in Rajya Sabha and as a result, the Bill itself lapsed. Thereafter, there hasn’t been any development on the front.

Current Status of Voting for Overseas Citizens

  • After the passing of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010: 
    • NRIs who had stayed abroad beyond six months have been able to vote, but only in person at the polling station where they have been enrolled as an overseas elector.
    • However, only a very low proportion of overseas residents actually registered or turned up to vote.
    • The provision of having to visit the polling booth in person has discouraged eligible voters from exercising their mandate.
  • The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016: 
    • To allow service voters to use the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
    • Under this system, postal ballots are sent electronically to registered service voters.
    • The service voter can then register their mandate on the ballot and send it back via ordinary mail.
    • The ECI proposed to extend this facility to overseas voters as well.
  • In the case of overseas voters: 
    • Their address mentioned in the passport is taken as the place of ordinary residence and chosen as the constituency for the overseas voter to enrol in.

Alternative: Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)

  • The ETPBS method allowed for greater turnout among service voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
  • With increasing mobility of citizens across countries for reasons related to work, the postal ballot method has been recognised by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (an intergovernmental organization that works to support democratic processes and institutions) as a means to allow overseas voters to exercise their right, subject to certain conditions normally related to the time spent abroad or the work carried out abroad.
  • A postal ballot mechanism that allows for proper authentication of the ballot at designated consular/embassy offices and an effective postal system should ease this process for NRIs, but rules must be clearly framed for eligibility on the basis of time spent away from the country.


  • Allowing NRIs to vote from abroad may see expatriates emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics.
  • NRI voters could be empowered better by amending the law.
  • Purpose is to to see that persons living outside India and migrant labourers are still part of the entire electoral process and every facility shall be extended which will also ensure the confidentiality of the election

Way Ahead

  • Government should consider the option of digital voting.
  • The authorities concerned should take a call taking into account various factors, and come to the best result satisfying most stakeholders

SCO’s Council of Heads of Government (CHG) Meeting

In News

  • The 21st Meeting of SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) was recently held in Nur-Sultan in virtual format under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan.

More about the news

  • About:
    • The SCO Heads of Government meet is held annually to focus on the trade and economic agenda of the organisation and approves the SCO’s annual budget. 
    • The SCO-CHG meeting was attended by SCO Member States, Observer States, the Secretary General of the SCO, the Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, Turkmenistan and other invited guests.
  • India’s stand:
    • India’s External Affairs Minister represented India in the meeting.
    • In his address, the minister underlined India’s strong cultural and historical connect with the SCO region. 
    • He reiterated India’s firm commitment towards deepening multilateral cooperation in the areas of 
      • Food and energy security, 
      • Climate change, 
      • Trade and culture. 
    • He spoke about the launch of the global Mission ‘LIFE’ (Lifestyle for Environment) and its relevance to ensuring food and energy security.
  • India on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):
    • The Indian minister reiterated that the Connectivity projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and respect international law. 
      • This was said in a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Trade with SCO:
    • As stated by the Indian Minister, India’s total trade with SCO Members is only $141 billion, which has the potential to increase manifold. 
    • Fair market access, according to him, is to our mutual benefit and only way to move forward.
      • The bulk of India’s trade with SCO countries is with China, which crossed $100 billion this year, 
      • Trade with Russia is less than $20 billion. 
      • Trade with Central Asian countries is less than $2 billion, and 
      • With Pakistan it is about $500 million.
  • India as Chairperson of the SCO:
    • India has taken over as Chairperson of the SCO, and will host leaders of all SCO countries, including China and Pakistan, at a summit in Delhi expected in mid-2023.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):About:It is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation of Eurasian Nations with a secretariat in Beijing.Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. Aim:It is a political, economic and military organisation that aims at maintaining peace, security and stability in the region.Origin: Journey from Shanghai Five to SCO Shanghai Five emerged in 1996 from a series of border demarcation and demilitarization talks between 4 former USSR republics and China.Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.With the accession of Uzbekistan to the group in 2001, the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO.The SCO Charter was signed in 2002 and entered into force in 2003.Inclusion of India & Pakistan:India and Pakistan both were initially observer states.Both were given full membership in 2017.Iran and Belarus:2021 SCO summit in Dushanbe agreed for Iran to join in SCO. Belarus has also begun the membership process for SCO.Member statesObserver StatesDialogue PartnersKazakhstanChinaKyrgyzstanRussiaTajikistanUzbekistanIndiaPakistanIranAfghanistanBelarusIranMongoliaAzerbaijanArmeniaCambodiaNepalTurkeySri Lanka

Significance of SCO for India

  • India’s upcoming Presidency:
    • India will take over the SCO Presidency in 2023.
    • India will also host the upcoming SCO Summit in 2023, which will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  • Security:
    • RATS can help India to improve its counterterrorism abilities by working toward intelligence sharing, law enforcement and developing best practices and technologies.
    • Through the SCO, India can also work on anti-drug trafficking and small arms proliferation.
  • Regional Integration:
    • SCO can help in achieving regional integration and promote connectivity and stability across borders.
    • Further, it also helps India to have a multilateral talk with friends like Russia and adversaries like China and Pakistan.
  • Geopolitical Advantage:
    • Central Asia is a part of India’s Extended Neighbourhood.
    • And SCO provides India with an opportunity to pursue the “Connect Central Asian Policy”.
    • It will also help India to check on the ever-growing influence of China in Eurasia.
China’s Belt and Road initiative:China began the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 under its President Xi Jinping. It aims to revive the ancient trade routes crossing to and from China–from Rome in Europe to East Asia.Criticisms:China was criticised in the West and by some other countries for providing unsustainable debts to countries that will be unable to repay them. 2019 World Bank report:According to the report, among the 43 corridor economies for which detailed data was available, 12 could face a situation where debts were not sustainable, which could lead to public assets being handed over to foreign contractors or China itself.India’s stand:India opposed the BRI as it included the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which connected Kashgar in China with the Gwadar port in Pakistan via Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

Challenges to COP27

In News

  • The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), will soon begin in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Shaikh.

Climate Objectives & CoP

  • These annual conferences have been the main driver of the global fight against climate change. 
    • However, the response so far has not been commensurate to the enormity of the challenge. 
Conference of Parties(COP)It is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC.Aim:The agreement seeks to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industry levelsNationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): To achieve the targets under the agreement, the member countries have to submit the targets themselves, which they believe would lead to substantial progress towards reaching the Paris temperature goal. Initially, these targets are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). They are converted to NDCs when the country ratifies the agreement.

Issues & Challenges

  • Action plans falling short:
    • It’s been at least two-and-a-half decades since the world decided to restrain its greenhouse gas emissions. 
      • Latest assessments suggest that current action plans of countries to meet climate goals are falling woefully short.
  • Rising emissions:
    • In absolute terms, the annual global emissions are still rising, now touching almost 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. 
    • In the decade between 2010 and 2019, the global emissions grew by over one percent on average. 
      • This is significantly slower than the growth in the previous decade, of about 2.6 percent, but for meeting climate targets, it is not good enough.
  • Global issues:
    • Economic:
      • Amid a deepening energy crisis and prevailing economic gloom, there is little appetite among countries to scale up climate action.
    • Ukraine war:
      • The energy and economic crisis caused by the Ukraine war is threatening to undo even the small gains made.
  • Possibility of increase:
    • Moreover, even if the growth in emissions is halted immediately, or is made to decline, it does not solve the problem. 
    • This is because the warming of the planet is the result of accumulated emissions in the atmosphere and not the current emissions
      • Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, remains in the atmosphere for about 100 years, so the effect of any immediate decline in emissions would have an impact only after several decades.
    • As a result, the average global temperatures have risen faster in the last one decade than any time earlier. 
  • Inadequate & unfair response:
    • The response in terms of emission cuts has been inadequate. 
    • The rich and industrialised countries:
      • These were the main polluters and hence mainly responsible to bring down emissions, have not met their collective targets. 
    • Developing countries:
      • Countries like China or India, which were not major emitters till sometime back, have seen their emissions rise steeply.

Global picture

  • EU:
    • As a bloc, the European Union has done relatively better on climate goals, with the United Kingdom, which is struggling with an economic downturn right now, halving its emissions from 1990 levels, UN data shows. 
  • USA:
    • The United States, the world’s leading emitter till it was overtaken by China in the mid 2000s, has been a major laggard, cutting its emissions by only about 7 percent from 1990 levels.
  • India & China:
    • China’s emissions have risen by almost four times, and India’s by about three times, during this period.

Suggestions & way ahead

  • Suggestion by Emissions Gap Report:
    • For a realistic chance to keep global warming within 1.5 degree Celsius, annual emissions would need to drop from the current level of about 50 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent to about 33 billion tonnes by 2030 and 8 billion tonnes by 2050, according to the newest Emissions Gap Report. 
    • Even for meeting the 2-degree target, emissions have to come down to about 41 billion tonnes by 2030 and 20 billion tonnes by 2050.
      • This would require drastic action from all the major emitters
  • Approaching the action plans:
    • First, climate change is a global problem and it requires cooperation between all nations.
    • Second, it needs rules that are fair and just, for the poor and the rich alike.
    • Third, science is clear that humans are responsible for the global temperature rise and that this increase will lead to more and more variable and extreme weather events, much like what we are seeing now.
    • Four, it is possible to estimate each country’s responsibility for the stock of emissions already in the atmosphere — the historical cumulative emissions that have “forced” climate change impacts.
    • And fifth, countries that have not yet contributed to the emissions will do so in the future, simply because the world has reneged on the need to make global rules that would apply fairly to all.
Glasgow Climate Meet (Cop26)Glasgow meet strengthened the Paris Agreement mechanism of eliciting Pledges from countries and ratcheting them up over time.It requested countries to update and strengthen 2030 emission targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022.It explicitly revolved around keeping 1.5 degrees alive through such pledges.However, it came under criticism that it focused on target setting, without giving sufficient importance to the challenge of implementing those targets.India’s ‘Panchamrit’ strategy India’s ‘Panchamrit’ strategy was announced at the COP 26 in Glasgow conference into enhanced climate targets.India will increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030.It will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030.The total projected carbon emissions will be reduced by 1 billion tonnes from now through 2030.The carbon intensity of its economy will be brought down to less than 45 percent.India will achieve its target of net zero by 2070. 


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