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Shakti Scheme In Karnataka UPSC NOTE

 


Shakti scheme in Karnataka

  • The Shakti scheme launched by the government of Karnataka.

  • Under this scheme, where women can travel for free on State buses, the aim is to make transport more accessible and safer for women.

  • Removing even small cost barriers can have a big impact. 

  • This is especially the case for women who do not earn and who are financially dependent on their spouses for transport costs. 

  • But it is also beneficial to working women. 

  • It makes working outside the home more attractive. 

  • They save on the commute, making it more viable for women to seek out work. 

  • In this way the policy helps challenge gender stereotypes that women belong to the household.

  • There are also benefits to all women regardless of whether they use buses or not. 

  • Public spaces often become more women-friendly if more women are using it. 

  • The Shakti scheme brings women into public life and makes public space ‘less male’. 

  • As its name suggests, it empowers women to claim and reclaim public spaces. 

  • Like several welfare schemes for women, this policy too has feminist politics to it.

Similar schemes in other states

  • Similar schemes in other States have proved to be successful. 

  • In 2019, the Government of Delhi initiated a policy of enabling free travel for women passengers in government buses. 

  • In 2021, the Governments of Punjab and Tamil Nadu introduced a similar policy. 

Is it a freebie?

  • The labelling of the policy as a ‘freebie’ mischaracterized the measure and overlooks the socio-political framework where it operates.

  • There are several State-funded goods that are free of cost. Public schools educate children free of cost. Public hospitals treat patients free of cost. Public parks are free of cost. Most of the roads which private vehicles drive on are free of cost. 

  • They are paid out of taxpayer money. 

  • The reason why governments pay for schools, hospitals or the like is that taxpayer funding achieves better and fairer outcomes than private payment. 

  • The Shakti scheme aims for a fairer outcome of more gender equal public spaces. Only free bus travel achieves this outcome.

Arguments of critics:

  • If this is the key objective of the scheme, then it is irrelevant that the scheme also includes women who can afford travel.

Is it against Article 15 of the Constitution?

  • Other critics have focused on the idea that it is discriminatory to have tickets for men and not for women. 

    • Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on specified grounds, including sex. 

  • It is true that prices are set at different rates for men than for women. 

  • However, not every case of differential treatment is wrongful discrimination. 

  • We often treat men and women differently.

  • Special scholarships exist for female students to encourage and support women who seek out education. 

  • There are women-specific employment and livelihood programmes initiated by the State.

  • There are already seats reserved for women in various means of public transport.

  • The reason behind these measures is that, very often, we need to confront the realities of a deeply patriarchal society. 

  • The Shakti scheme is a direct response to this. 

  • It challenges the maleness of public spaces. 

  • Article 15(3) which allows the state to make special provisions for women and children. 

  • The overarching nature of ‘special provision’ allows the state to include measures that range from free bus travel to reservation for women in employment, education or politics. 

  • The Shakti scheme squarely falls within this category. 

  • Legal challenges to similar schemes in other regions such as Delhi have failed due to the same reason. 

  • As the Supreme Court held in the case of P.B Vijayakumar: “The insertion of clause (3) of Article 15 in relation to women is a recognition of the fact that for centuries, women of this country have been socially and economically handicapped. As a result, they are unable to participate in the socio-economic activities of the nation on a footing of equality.”

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Shakti Scheme In Karnataka UPSC NOTE
Shakti Scheme In Karnataka UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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