By Anshul Tewari:
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party has come in with a parliamentary majority, neither does the 16th Lok Sabha represent the minority communities of the country, nor is it proportionate in gender representation. In fact, the total share of youth in the parliament (the population that was the biggest target this election) is extremely low as well.
Representing India’s Muslim: India’s 170+ million Muslims, who form over 14% of the country, will have only 22 representatives in the 16th Lok Sabha, that is only 4.05% of the total Lok Sabha seats. The 2009 Lok Sabha saw 30 representatives, constituting between 5-6% of the Lok Sabha, whereas the highest percentage of Muslim MPs were last recorded in the 1980 Lok Sabha at 10%.
Looking at the 2009 results, the Muslim participation was largely driven by Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. This is also the first time when the Muslim MP count from Uttar Pradesh is 0. West Bengal stood at 8 Muslim MPs, taking a majority chunk of the Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Women score higher seats, but remain considerably under-represented: Of the 543 MPs elected, 61 are women. This is the highest number of women MPs elected to the Lok Sabha in the history of the country, although by a small margin. 58 women were elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in the 2009 general elections.
One of the biggest concern that experts and gender rights activists had, specially after the December 16th gang rape was the lack of representation of women in the parliament, leading to a lack of gender sensitive and gender neutral laws.
Young people under-represented: Young people formed the biggest target group of voters this election. However, 253 of the 543 (47%) MPs elected to the 16th Lok Sabha are over the age of 55. In the 15th Lok Sabha, the percentage of MPs over the age of 55 was 43%. This is the largest number of MPs to be elected to the Lok Sabha who are above the age of 55 in the history of the country. Interestingly, the Lok Sabha has been getting older every election since independence. Only 71 MPs (13%) have been elected to the Lok Sabha in this election who happen to be under the age of 40.
Young people represent the change in a country and its outlook, and change is the only constant. A lack of youth representation in the parliament also means that the voice for young people in the parliament will decrease, which could also lead to the lack of a newer, more youthful take on India’s long pending youth policy development.
Education profiles: 75% of the MPs elected in the 2014 general elections have at least a graduate degree. This is slightly lesser than the 15th Lok Sabha in which 79% of MPs held at least a graduate degree. Interestingly, the percentage of MPs elected in the 2014 general elections who do not have a matriculate degree is significantly higher in this election (13%) in comparison to the 15th Lok Sabha (3%). At the same time, the number of MPs with just a matriculate degree has decreased in the 16th Lok Sabha to 10% from 17% in the 15th Lok Sabha. The number of Members with a doctoral degree has also increased in the 16th Lok Sabha to 6% from 3% in the 15th Lok Sabha.
Criminal record of MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha: According to data presented by ADR, out of the 541 winners analysed, 186 (34%) winners have declared criminal cases against themselves. Out of 521 winners analysed during Lok Sabha 2009 elections, 158 (30%) winners had declared criminal cases against themselves.
112 (21%) winners have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to murder, attempt to murder, communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women etc. Out of 521 winners analysed during Lok Sabha 2009 elections, 77 (15%) winners had declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
One of the biggest public movements last year on social media and offline was against the criminal MPs elected to the Parliament. Multiple Change.org petitions were started and a parliamentary debate was also initiated on this issue (which led nowhere). The larger question to ask is that if we are electing criminals as MPs, can we really ensure a positive criminal justice policy framework?
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