I grew up in a household where, every five years, the television blared loudly with constant updates on the elections that were happening on the other side of the world. Growing up in a household that was bound to tradition and comprehension, those elections meant nothing to me but everything to my parents who grew up in India. Their comprehension of a candidate here in the United States and developing their opinion on a candidate held so much merit because it meant regaining a voice they once lost. With their development of immense pleasure in partaking in the election in their own way came the mandatory participation of me in the never-ending watch parties. Whether it be to point out corruption in candidates, debate and bicker at the television, or to commend certain people, the Indian election never caught my attention as much as it did this year. When my family watched the Indian elections from our home in the U.S., the Lok Sabha Elections depicted a diverse field in its electoral aspect that wasn’t all male pervading- and that was a first. The Lok Sabha, also known as the House of the People, is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament, and its election this year gave us something to look forward to. Their 2019 elections showed power, resilience, and the rise of women in power.
The world is a place that is currently and constantly changing in many perspectives and in places where change was never sought. In the case of this year’s elections, the changes and representation show a shift in power, create a much-needed change, and set up the political world for a massive change. This is the Indian Lok Sabha Election of 2019: 900 million people voting to represent.
With 8,521 candidates running for the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha elections the transition in power and shift in perspective truly shed a light in the recent outcome with the most women ever to be elected into the Members of Parliament. With 77 women breaking restrictive boundaries and making strides towards the achievements, it is important to recognize the strides that they have made and the plans that are in place for the future. Women broke past barriers that previously impeded their efforts and showed that world that diversity and representation need to be prominent focuses in an election.
Introducing women from all types of backgrounds, traditions, cultures, religions, and perspectives aides in bringing new values and reform to the table. A record-breaking amount of women running and ultimately placed into the Lok Sabha disrupts the preconceived ideals and practices.
724 women ran for a parliamentarian position with parties fielding anywhere from 1-54 candidates each, helping to diminish the continuity of only men holding positions in the government. For the first time in India, women actually held a composition in the governing body. These numbers helped break the stereotype that only men could run for such a position. In their campaigns to candidacy, many of the women stood to give a voice to those who had lost theirs or never were given one by standing to reform the economic system that cost 9.9 million women their job. Women placed into office have pledged to bring a reform that is much needed. Five transgender and gender-non-conforming candidates campaigned to be representatives in the parliament proving to a turning point in India’s long history of being largely marginalized. Being regarded as lesser than for thousands of years, this proved a turn around with its promotion for the marginalized groups. Sneha Kale, one of the five candidates states: “I have the support of the weak and the marginalized,” she told Reuters. “I am pitted against strong candidates. They come from political families. But I have a [connection] with my community and those on living on the margins like sex workers, bar dancers, and widows of farmers.” This pivotal election went in so far to shift a lot of the perspective away from the discrimination and ostracization.
Non-compliant to the norm
With this election came a much-needed shift away from marginalized thinking and aided in accepting the progress and ideas that women brought to the table.
Odisha, a state in India, has 33% of its 21 seats filled with women. Aparajita Sarangi, a former IAS officer who has now and in the past presents herself as a reliable candidate in planning, Pramila Bisoyi brings a new perspective to the table with her background as a humble farmer. Chandari Murmu is a leader of a self-help group for women. Sangeeta Singh Deo is a three-time winner in Balangir. Rajashree Mallick is a pathology professor. Sarmishta Sethi is a retiree from Odisha Financial Services. Manjulata Mandal is a housewife. These women are some of the people who make up the officials from the area.
States lacking any female candidates include Himachal Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and five Union Territories including Andaman and Nicobar Islands Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagra Haveli, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry. Despite the historic progress made in the acceptance of women in a political setting throughout the country, these eight states reflect areas where progress is not as rapidly enacted.
Youngest Parliamentarian in office
A record set to only to be broken by another ambitious man was taken into the grasp of a 25-year-old that took great strides to be the youngest official in Lok Sabha.
Trailblazer Chandrani Murmu, a 25-year-old, becomes the youngest Member of Parliament. Receiving 525,886 votes and defeating two-time candidate Ananta Nayak by 67,822 votes, she went from a newly graduated student with B. Tech degree to the representative of Keonjhar. Campaigning against the hate and prevailing the truth, she was able to become a successful and viable candidate for office.
India’s election proved to be an immense turning point, ending the past societal standards and signaling what is to come in the future. Up until now, India’s elections were plagued with marginalized thoughts. Finally, Lok Sabha has been introduced to diverse and understanding perspectives. India’s election is something that the world can learn from when it comes to letting go of presumptuous attitudes and unaccepting behaviors.
It is time for perspectives to be shifted as the women in this very election showed us. It is time for comprehension to be developed in which values are analyzed beyond gender, and instead motive. In a society that lives to abide to misogynistic rituals and practices, the progress of the world in politics halts. Often shut out from politics in the past, women have the ability to introduce new perspectives and change society when they are met with acceptance, action, and support.