EC not PC

Only women for poll duty in ‘soft’ Goa,men for ‘tougher’ states — why this quaint nonsense?

Written by The Indian Express | Published:January 6, 2012 3:01 am

A fanciful beachside where men at work are misled by such easy distractions as wining and wagering,and virtuous,upright women go about their jobs as only they can be. That,the Election Commission would have you believe,is Goa. The EC has come up with a quick fix which is at best quaintly Victorian and which is,at worst,as most quaintly Victorian matters happen to be,troublingly sexist: Goa will have only female bureaucrats on poll duty.

Polls are coming up in five states — from Uttar Pradesh to Goa — and the Election Commission is veritably concerned with making them free and fair — with every human cog in its gigantic machinery working efficiently to that end. Honourable as that intention is,the EC has tied itself up in a few politically incorrect knots on the way. One,men won’t be on election duty in Goa because they tend to treat it like a long vacation on the beach. And the past does not serve them right: there have been instances of shoddy officialdom with male bureaucrats playing hookey or getting sloshed all day or inviting themselves to that uniquely Goan pleasure of offshore casinos. Such dereliction of duty needs to be treated one official at a time rather than by drawing a thick line on the Goan sands,demarcating men and women. Two,perhaps to cover up for the first misstep,the explanation was given that men are required for heavy-duty elections in “tougher” states. Men: strong but wayward. Women: scrupulous but weak. The Election Commission of India,a model institution that has kept pace with the times and defended the best traditions of democracy,should not be caught in a time-warp,propounding worn-out stereotypes. Next time,the EC could be a little more PC.

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