much-talked-about move of the Election Commission to dispatch an
all-women team of poll observers to Goa has met with accusations
of sexism by young women, not to mention the curiosity of the
international media. Some have even thrown in suggestions on how
the officials can go ahead and have some fun.
Earlier this week, the Election Commission in its wisdom decided
for the first time in its history to send an all women's team of
poll observers to Goa for the March 3 polls, as male officials who
were on duty last time around had hit the party hot spots in the
fun-loving beach state instead of keeping tabs on electoral
The Independent, a leading British newspaper, reported in a byline
story that the poll panel had taken the decision to ensure that
its poll officials do not fall to the "relaxed charms and sunny
weather of the Indian state of Goa".
Says Andrew Buncombe in his 300-plus word story: "The relaxed
charms and sunny weather of the Indian state of Goa lure people
from around the world. Little wonder then, perhaps, that the
country's male election officials are keen to put themselves
forward for a little duty in the sun.
"Such has been the number of applications from officers ahead of
the elections to the state's legislative assembly in March that
senior officials have decided to take drastic action: by sending
Shunning the shovel-loads of requests for a poll posting to Goa by
male bureaucrats, the Election Commission had formed an all-women
team of bureaucrats culled from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya
Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar
Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Local election officials said the government had already arranged
for accommodation for the women officials in several state and
central government guest houses across the state.
"We have booked guest houses of the tourism department, forest
department, PWD and even some central government agencies for them
already," an official said.
Women who have visited the state regularly for vacations and fun
trips, however, claim that to even believe that "only men can and
women cannot" have fun in Goa was a sexist premise taken by the
"It's hilarious, if not completely stupid, of them to think that
women cannot have fun in Goa. It is ridiculously sexist for the
Election Commission to be thinking that way," says Ginelle D'Souza
from Mumbai, a regular Goaphile.
Suhasini Raj, a Delhi-based independent journalist, another
frequent visitor to Goa, says: "It most definitely comes from a
sexist, conservative train of thought which doesn't believe in
giving legitimacy to mixing business with pleasure."
Raj also offered a fun menu of "things to do" for the women poll
observers during their poll stint in Goa.
"Chill on the beach with a drink of her choice in the evening. Go
for a run on the beach, in two piece, if she is comfortable in it!
Ride a bike across Goa, early mornings, and let her hair down in
one of the beach side night clubs," says Raj.
"I think sending an all-women team to Goa reaffirms the fact that
the fairer sex, as in other spheres of life, is perceived as and
expected to, to be the beast of burden. To follow a certain
decorum, a sense of propriety in keeping with her sex."
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at email@example.com)