This guest post by ANIRUDDHA DUTTA continues a theme raised on Kafila by Rahul Rao
Late last year, the UK and US governments made announcements supporting the global propagation of LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) rights as human rights, suggesting that the future disbursal of aid might be made conditional on how LGBT-friendly recipient countries are perceived to be. The potential imposition of ‘gay conditionality’ on aid has been rightly critiqued for imposing a US/European model of sexual progress on ‘developing’ countries, which may justify covert geopolitical agendas and fail to actually benefit marginalized groups. But whatever form such conditionalities may take in the future, a more implicit and routine form of aid conditionality has been already at work, relatively unnoticed, for several years now – the presumption of distinct and enumerable minorities corresponding to categories like homosexual or transgender as target groups for aid in socio-cultural contexts where gender/sexual variance may not be reducible to such clear-cut categories or identities. Increasingly, community-based organizations (CBOs) working to gain gender/sexual rights or freedoms need to define themselves in accordance with dominant frameworks of gender-sexual identity to get funding both from foreign donors and the Indian state, creating identity-based divisions among CBOs and presenting existential challenges to communities that do not exactly fit these categories.
Continue reading Between Aid Conditionality and Identity Politics – The MSM-Transgender Divide and Normative Cartographies of Gender vs. Sexuality: Aniruddha Dutta
With the elections around the corner, the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) election system used in India is being blamed for most of the ills in the Indian political system. This post is the outcome of some of the discussions and conversations that Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute and I have been having regarding the FPTP system.
Briefly, the FPTP system is based on the principle of “winner-takes-it-all” i.e., the candidate who gets majority of the votes is declared victorious. One of the most common criticisms made against the FPTP system is that candidates win by very narrow margins. It has been suggested that candidates must get at least 51% of the votes in order for their victory to be deemed as legitimate. It is interesting to note that so far in the history of elections in India, not a single candidate has been dismantled or at least challenged on the grounds that s/he won by 20% of the votes in the constituency. Therefore, is the criticism misplaced?
Both Barun and I want to suggest that narrow victory margins are in fact the strength of the Indian electoral system. This is because:
Typically, only 50% of the population in the constituency votes in any election. If the victorious candidate has won by 20% of the votes, he has actually received 40% of the votes (given that only 50% of the people are voting).
- The narrow victory margins keep the threshold of entry naturally low. This encourages aspirants to enter the electoral fray. If candidates won by 51% of the total votes, it would mean that political parties would have to field heavyweights and stalwarts and it would also discourage novices and independents from contesting the elections.
- The narrow victory margins intensifies political competition and keeps candidates and parties on their toes. New aspirants can cut into the vote bases of popular candidates and parties. Moreover, the narrow margins makes it imperative for candidates and parties to attract voters from various backgrounds and widen their appeal instead of confining themselves to gathering votes on the basis of identity and particularistic appeals.