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Friday, September 11, 2015

What Is the Role of Women in Indian Politics? Growing Stronger…

India should work towards empowering women economically — through microfinance programs — and also encourage greater participation of women leaders in panchayats, or village councils, writes author Shoba Narayan in this opinion piece.

The ink-stained polls of the world’s largest democracy have delivered their verdict and India waits with bated breath to learn whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second administration will be different than the first. While India exults after yet another peacefully concluded election, one question remains: What is the role of women in Indian politics? The answer is both big and small. Typical of India, it contains contradictions.

On the one hand, India falls in the lowest quartile with respect to the number of women in parliament (9.1%). Even the UAE, with 22.5%, has more women representatives, according to the UN’s 2008 survey of women in politics. That said, the recently concluded 15th Lok Sabha elections have delivered a record 59 women as members of Parliament, the highest since independence, raising their parliamentary participation to 10.9%. Seventeen of these women are under 40. And representation of women leaders at the grassroots level in India is nearly 50%, especially since the passing of the 73rd amendment in 1992, which allotted one-third of all seats to women. The panchayati raj, that bedrock of rural government, has fostered more and more women participants and leaders. (A panchayat is a five-person elected village council.) Some states, like Karnataka, had inducted women into rural politics even before it was mandated by the constitution. Several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and most recently, Uttarkhand, have allotted not just the required 33% of panchayat seats for women but increased it to 50%.

The rise of Indian women as panchayat leaders is a spectacular achievement given that India has one of the worst records with respect to the way it treats the female sex. Malnourished, suppressed, uneducated, violated and discriminated against, Indian women have the odds stacked against them. Even birth is a hurdle, thanks to widespread female infanticide in rural areas. But for every Saroja who will be married at 13 because her mother, a devadasi (prostitute) in Chikanahalli Village, Karnataka, cannot afford to pay a dowry, there is a Lakshmi, who is serving her second-term as the panchayat leader of Kadinamala village in Kotagiri district. There is a Kenchamma of Nereleke gram panchayat in rural Karnataka, who survived life threats during her two terms as council leader. An illiterate Dalit, Kenchamma could not read or write. Perhaps as a result of her personal travails, she made sure that she brought education to all the children in her village, including a disabled child.

Talking to these women is a lesson in humility. Instead of the outrage and anger that urban feminists project, these women panchayat leaders speak with clear-minded realism about opportunities and costs. For many women, attending a panchayat meeting means sacrificing a day’s wage. It means assuming leadership for the first time in their lives and then subsuming it at home to serve in-laws and husband. For Kenchamma, it meant leaving her one-year-old son to other caregivers while she learned the ropes of politics.

Ask these women about political reform, and their answers reflect concerns that every women and mother can relate to. They focus on three things: healthcare, education, and the funds to make these two things happen. Kenchamma, a trained midwife, established health camps to improve awareness among the villagers. She also knew from personal experience that, often, it is the mothers who neglect their health the most. Simplistic as it seems, solving health and education is a common thread among panchayat leaders, whether they are men or women. The third concern is figuring out how to save or raise enough money to accomplish their goals.
Most villagers — in India and across the world — either don’t go to banks or don’t have access to them. Instead, they borrow from each other, buy jewelry and save in what Melinda Gates calls, “risky and inefficient ways” in a recent piece she wrote in Newsweek. For most of these villagers, a child’s illness, even something as treatable as malaria, can wipe out several months of savings, sending a family spiraling deeper into debt. The answer, according to the Gates Foundation — no slouch when it comes to solving global problems in an accountable manner — is “bringing safe financial service to the doorsteps of the poor.” As a means to that end, the Foundation has pledged $350 million for microfinance, whose beneficiary is primarily women.

Microfinance and Economic Empowerment

Geeta, 32, would be a typical candidate. An orphan at age three, Geeta was raised by her elder sister. She didn’t go to school and was married to an alcoholic uncle when she was a teenager. Today, she works as a housemaid in Bangalore to feed her family of four: Her husband, her two sons and herself. Geeta’s life goal is to educate her two sons. But she lives in a cycle of debt — borrowing to repay past loans, to make annual school payments for her sons, to cover family events like weddings and every time someone in the family falls sick. Geeta, it so happens, works in my house.

Two years ago, Geeta heard about Janalakshmi, a microfinance company, from some women in her neighborhood. She joined a group of women and borrowed Rs. 30,000 (about $600) with the understanding that they would help each other not default on interest payments and take turns reaping the benefits of the loan. Each group has a leader who guarantees the interest payment to the microfinance institution and in turn, the leader invites women she trusts into the group so that they can borrow larger amounts. For now, Geeta’s microfinance loan is only allowing her to pay back her previous debts, but she dreams of the day when she can borrow enough money for a down payment on a home.

More and more entities are recognizing the power of micro-loans and how they can elevate an entire segment of society. And the route to the underserved is frequently through women, thanks to models based on Grameen Bank and others. Chennai-based Equitas, for instance, only works with women. In March, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) launched Stree Shakti, a platform for training women entrepreneurs at all levels of Indian society. Goldman Sachs’s ambitious “10,000 Women” program aims to train and develop women entrepreneurs across the globe by pairing them with resources in the West. In all these cases, women serve as the lynchpin for programs, whether they are rural Self Help Groups (SHG) or global programs that aspire to foster entrepreneurship.

Microfinance is not the only answer to solving the poor’s problems but it is one good way to help women help themselves. Women self-help groups are burgeoning all across India, and study after study shows that they successfully impact women and bring them out of poverty. In an article that appeared in the December 2007 issue of UNDP’s Poverty in Focus, researchers Ranjula Bali Swain and Fan Yang Wallentin of Uppsala University in Sweden examine the link between microfinance and women’s empowerment using household sample data collected from five states in India in 2000 and 2003. Their results “strongly demonstrate” that there is a clear link between women’s participation in a Self Help Group (SHG) and their empowerment.

The good news, at least in India, is that these microfinance initiatives are reaching bigger swathes of the underserved. The Indian School of Microfinance for Women (ISMW), for instance, goes one step deeper into the problem. Based in Ahmedabad and chaired by social activist and SEWA founder Ela Bhatt, the school recognizes that borrowing money is only one part of the triangle. Among other things, the school teaches women how to deal with the money they borrow through capacity building workshops, networking and providing knowledge resources. Simply put, it takes Goldman Sachs’s global vision for women entrepreneurs and translates it into a deeper regional focus. The school’s website lists ‘hand-holding’ as one of its goals. Participants of micro-credit schemes are taught financial planning and investing techniques that they can use on the ground and in their business.

While microfinance works to eradicate poverty, the next generation of Indian leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, has made social sectors its calling card. The rural development portfolio, which traditionally was one of the less-prized posts, has now vaulted to the top of the pecking order, thanks in large part to the Gandhi family which has aligned itself with the aam admi (poor people) in both its campaigning and future promises. When Manmohan Singh was asked in a recent television interview if he had any regrets about areas that he couldn’t concentrate on in his first term that he would focus on in his second term, he said, “I’d like to work on agriculture, education and rural health.”

Reforming Education

Panchayat women leaders have been especially active in bringing education to their villages even though they are frequently held hostage by caste politics and quotas. Rural education is a quagmire of poor policies that nobody in government seems to have the will to change. The recent Administrative Reforms Commission repeats a long-standing recommendation that the selection of school teachers in rural schools be delegated to each panchayat instead of making it state-wide and therefore subject to caste-based selection. Deploying state-selected teachers to rural schools in areas where they have no caste-based affiliation makes it a losing proposition from the get-go, according to some experts. Detractors contend that delegating teacher-selection to each panchayat will make it subject to bribes and corruption. But as one official in the Administrative Reforms Commission put it, small-scale rural corruption (with some accountability) is better than the large-scale corruption (with no local accountability.)

Panchayat leaders who don’t have a say in the kind of teachers their village-schools attract end up focusing on infrastructure and other issues within their purview. Women panchayat leaders talk about building separate bathrooms for girls, which studies have shown will reduce the number of female drop-outs after puberty. They bring safe drinking water to their students. All these are not just palliatives, but are necessary developments in rural education.

It is easy to be cynical about yet another federal election that promises improvements to local government and to the lot of women. This time may be different, not just because of the number of women in parliament and the panchayats, but also because Rahul Gandhi, a rising star in Congress politics, is tapped to oversee the rural government portfolio. One can only hope that the Gandhi scion will free the portfolio of its state-level stranglehold and pass along more power to the people. Non-partisan economists have long called for decentralized local governance as the only way to speed up the impact of reforms. To that, I would add two other objectives: wider access to micro-loans as an enabler, and genuinely empowering women in local governments to succeed.

15 Women Whose Achievements Have Made India Proud

From Jhansi Ki Rani to Irom Sharmila, Indian women have always stood up for their rights and fought their battles despite restrictions and limitations. They are the shining beacons of hope and have displayed exemplary dedication in their respective fields. Here are 15 Indian women who clearly deserve a standing ovation:

1. Irom Chanu Sharmila

Also called the Iron Lady of Manipur, she holds the record for the longest hunger strike. The activist has been sitting on a strike for over a decade, demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). All of 28 years when she decided to fast, Sharmila was arrested three days after she began her strike for attempted suicide, and again in 2006 for protesting in Delhi. Even though her condition has been deteriorating, nothing has deterred the 42-year-old.

2. Chhavi Rajawat

Rajawat is the first woman sarpanch in India with an MBA degree. She ditched a well-paying corporate job with one of India's biggest telecom firms to become the sarpanch of Soda, a village 60 kms from Jaipur. She has tirelessly been working for the people of the village and has successfully implemented many projects including rain water harvesting, toilets facilities etc.

3. Amrita Devi

Way back in 1730, when Indian women had little say even in matters at home, this brave woman fought against the felling of tress by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in Marwar, Rajasthan, by sacrificing her life, along with those of her three daughters.

4. Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi was a bandit who later went on to become a politician. She was popularly known as the Bandit Queen and became the moll of a gang leader of a group of bandits at a young age. Her paramour was killed in a fight for gang leadership among bandits, who also raped her. A ferocious Devi took banditry in her own hands and became the leader of the group.

Not only this, her gang later went on to shoot those who raped her and the Indian media called it an act of rebellion by an oppressed woman. Although, she was tried for it and many other crimes, she was India's only woman bandit and a badass one at that. She was murdered when she became the MP by rival bandits.

5. Sita Sahu

Sprinter Sita Sahu won 2 bronze medals at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens at the young age of 15. Unfortunately, due to the ignorance and lack of concern from authorities, the girl now sells gol gappe in Dhobiya Tanke in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. She truly deserves a standing ovation from us!

6. Chanda Kochhar

Kochhar, ICICI Bank CEO, recently made it to the Fortune list of 25 most powerful women in the Asia-Pacific region, and stands first among other Indian women. She has been featured in this list consistently since 2005. She has also been honoured with the Padma Bhushan Award in 2010, the third highest civilian honour by the Indian government, for her services to the banking sector.

7. Sapper Shanti Tigga

35-year-old Tigga became the first Indian woman, who is a mother of two, to become a jawan in the Indian Army. Standing at par with her male counterparts, she joined the 969 Railway Engineer Regiment of Territorial Army in 2011. However, her life ended too soon as she was abducted and later found dead.

8. Asha Roy

The daughter of a vegetable seller is currently the fastest Indian on the track, setting a record at the National Open Athletics Championship in Kolkata in 2011.

9. Arundhati Bhattacharya 

Bhattacharya, an Indian banker, was the first woman to become the chairperson of the State Bank Of India (SBI). She has also been featured in the Forbes Most Powerful Women list in the 36th slot.

10. Kalpana Chawla

Chawla was the first Indian woman to go to space. She passed away in the infamous Columbia disaster in 2003 when the space shuttle disintegrated over Texas while re-entering the earth's atmosphere hours before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission. None of the crew members survived.

11. Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu

Skiing through the deserted and coldest regions in the world, mountaineer and Delhi-based outdoor instructor Reena, along with seven other women, became the first woman to reach the southern most tip of the word, the South Pole, all in 38 days.

12. Durga Shakti Nagpal

An IAS officer in the UP cadre, Nagpal is posted as the joint magistrate of Kanpur. She came into public view when she launched an aggressive anti-corruption campaign in Gautam Budh Nagar. She was soon suspended by the UP government for allegedly demolishing an illegal mosque's wall in Greater Noida which drew large opposition from public as it was perceived to be based on insubstantial grounds. The public and media came together and protested against her suspension, after which it was revoked.

13. Kunjarani Devi

The bespectacled 46-year-old is perhaps the most celebrated Indian woman in weightlifting. She was also the first woman to win the Arjuna award in 1990. She also shared the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award with Leander Paes in 1996-1997. Even though she faced difficulties when she decided to pursue the profession, she stood strong and worked tirelessly to achieve success.

14. Indra Nooyi 

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is the chairperson and CEO of the second largest food and beverage business in the world, Pepsi Co. Nooyi has been a regular in the world's most powerful women's lists. She was also named as the third most powerful women in business by Fortune in 2014.

15. Every Indian mother

While there are several women who go on to perform well in their chosen fields outside their homes, there are many who sit at home and still own the world. The last, but definitely not the least, every Indian mother is an achiever we just cannot leave out.

Women's political participation in India

The term 'political participation' has a very wide meaning. It is not only related to 'Right to Vote', but simultaneously relates to participation in: decision making process, political activism, political consciousness, etc. Women in India participate in voting, run for public offices and political parties at lower levels more than men. Political activism and voting are the strongest areas of women's political participation. To combat gender inequality in politics, the Indian Government has instituted reservations for seats in local governments.
Women turnout during India's 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men. India ranks 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament. Women have held the posts of president and prime minister in India, as well as chief ministers of various states. Indian voters have elected women to numerous state legislative assemblies and national parliament for many decades.

Constitutional rights of women

The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary system of government, and guarantees its citizens the right to be elected, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and form associations, and vote. The Constitution of India attempts to remove gender inequalities by banning discrimination based on sex and class, prohibiting human trafficking and forced labor, and reserving elected positions for women.
The Government of India directed state and local governments to promote equality by class and gender including equal pay and free legal aid, humane working conditions and maternity relief, rights to work and education, and raising the standard of living. Women were substantially involved in the Indian independence movement in the early 20th century and advocated for independence from Britain. Independence brought gender equality in the form of constitutional rights, but historically women's political participation has remained low.

Women Participation


The movement for women’s suffrage began in the early 1900s in response to a national movement for suffrage, even though vast majority of neither men nor women had a right to vote during the British colonial rule before 1947. After Indian independence from Britain, the Indian Constitution in 1950 officially granted women and men suffrage. Prior to universal suffrage, provincial legislatures had granted women the right to vote.

Madras was the first to grant women’s suffrage in 1921, but only to those men and women who owned land property according to British administration's records. Other legislatures followed shortly after, but like Madras, the political rights were granted by British Raj to select few, and the London appointed Governor of each province had the right to over rule and nullify any law enacted by the elected men and women. The rights granted in response to the movement towards suffrage were limited to qualifications of literacy and property ownership, including property ownership of husbands. This excluded vast majority of Indian women and men from voting, because they were poor. This changed in 1950 when universal suffrage was granted to all adult Indian citizens.

In 1950, universal suffrage granted voting rights to all women. India is a parliamentary system with two houses: Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house). Rates of participation among women in 1962 were 46.63% for Lok Sabha elections and rose to a high in 1984 of 58.60%. Male turnout during that same period was 63.31% in 1962 and 68.18% in 1984.
The gap between men and women voters has narrowed over time with a difference of 16.7% in 1962 to 4.4% in 2009.

Voter turnout for national elections in the past 50 years has remained stagnant with turnout ranging between 50 to 60%. State elections have seen a growing trend in women's participation, and in some cases women's turnout is exceeding male turnout. Increased turnout of women was reported for the 2012 Vidhan Sabha elections (legislative/state assemblies) with states such as Uttar Pradesh reporting 58.82% to 60.29% turnout. In the 2013 assembly elections, women’s overall turnout was reported to be 47.4%, and male turnout was 52.5%. Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry all reported higher turnouts among women than men in 2013.

Increased participation is occurring in both rich and poor states in India. The sex ratio of voters has improved from 715 female voters for every 1,000 male voters in the 1960s to 883 female voters in the 2000s. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought to increase voter turnout by cleaning up electoral rolls and removing missing or deceased members. Voter outreach has included door-to-door voter registration, and in 2014 elections, voters will be issued a photo id with polling station information to increase voter turnout. Increased voter turnout in India is also partially due to the women voters. ECI has sought to encourage voter registration among women and participation through education and outreach on college and university campuses. Growing participation has also been attributed to increased security at polling stations.

2014 elections

Women turnout during India's 2014 parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout for men. In 16 out of 29 states of India, more women voted than men. A total of 260.6 million women exercised their right to vote in April–May 2014 elections for India's parliament.

Running for public office

India has a federal form of government, with devolved powers. The electorate votes to elect a national parliament as well as state assemblies. In 2012, India had a minimal percentage of 10.9% women elected representatives in the national parliament, which is, but relatively higher than Hungary (8.8%), Brazil (9.6%), China (9.1%), and Malaysia (9.8%).

A broader measure of political participation includes number of women candidates who compete for elections and women in state assemblies. According to World Economic Forum's annual global gender gap index studies, which considers such a broader scale, India has ranked in top 20 countries worldwide for many years, with 9th best in 2013 - a score reflecting more women's participation in India's political process than Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, France and United Kingdom.

To remedy low participation of women electors, India in 1994 established quotas (reservations) in constitutional amendments (73rd and 74th) to reserve 33% of seats in local governments for women. The Women’s Reservation Bill (108th amendment) has been introduced in the national parliament to reserve 33% of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats for women. The bill has yet to be passed by Lok Sabha and signed into law. The discussion of women’s reservations began in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s until a compromise was reached with Britain to allow women in urban areas to vote. Discussion of women’s reservations were again introduced in 1974 by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in India, but India did not fully establish quotas in local government until 1994. Local governing bodies in India are called Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) and one-third of seats and leadership positions must be reserved for women. States such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tripura, and Uttarakhand have increased reservations to 50%. The national government has also proposed to raise the level of reservations in PRIs to 50%.

Seats reserved for women are rotated for assurance that each seat has an equal chance of being reserved. After the establishment of women's reservations, political participation went from 4-5% to 25-40% among women, and gave millions of women the opportunity to serve as leaders in local government. Odisha, an Indian state, established reservations prior to the 73rd amendment and they had 28,069 women elected in 1992 and 28,595 women in 1997. Class differences have manifested with poorer women gaining presence in panchayats, but women of a higher class being elected as chairpersons (sarpanch).

Concerns remain in reserving seats for women in elected positions. The issue of training has become an increasing concern with preparing women for the role of leadership. It was found in Tamil Nadu that women lack the education and training to understand procedures in panchayats. Family also plays a significant role in women's participation in government. Familial influence can be a barrier or a support system for female elected officials in terms of connections. Family connections can help women seek elected positions at both the national and local government level. There has been concern over the role of women as proxies for male family members, but women may still have important effects on policy decisions. The effect of reservation for women has been increase in the number of public goods, including water and roads. Drinking water and road improvements are issues that are most frequently raised by female elected officials. The most significant issues for men are roads, irrigation, education, and water. Women are also likely to bring welfare issues such as violence against women, childcare, and maternal health to consideration.

Political parties

Pratibha Patil
India has a multi-party system with the 24 registered parties at the national level. The three largest parties in India are the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Communist Party of India (CPI). Political parties have increased outreach among women voters as India's party system has become more competitive. This has included the creation of women's wings in the largest parties. The BJP's wing is the BJP Mahila Morcha, the INC's wing is All India Mahila Congress, and the CPI's wing is the National Federation of Indian Women.

Women's involvement in political parties is tied to the increasing demand for equal rights. The INC held power until the 1990s. As the INC moved away from welfare politics, other parties arose to challenge the INC using poverty as the center of their agenda. The INC regained power in 2004 with the help of women's participation. The INC has increased women's participation by instituting a 33% quota for women in all levels of the party. In June 2009, the INC nominated a women to become first speaker of Lok Sabha, and also supported the election of Pratibha Patil, India's first female president. Women were involved in the early establishment of the BJP. The BJP has encouraged greater representation of women by developing women's leadership programs, financial assistance for women candidates, and implementing a 33% reservation for women in party leadership positions. BJP has received women's support by focusing on issues such as the Uniform Civil Code to extend equal rights to women and men regardless of religion. They have also spoken out against violence against Indian women. The CPI has also supported gender inequality issues including addressing issues of violence through the National Federation of Indian Women.

Women's participation in political parties remained low in the 1990s with 10-12% membership consisting of women. Indian women have also taken the initiative to form their own political parties, and in 2007, the United Women Front party was created, and has advocated for increasing the reservation of seats for women in parliament to 50%. Women only govern four of India's political parties. From 1980-1970, 4.3% of candidates and 70% of electoral races had no women candidates at all. As of 2013, it has been reported of the members of parliament 11% were women in Lok Sabha and 10.6% in Rajya Sabha.

Political activism

Women's organizations in India first began to emerge in the early 1900s, and later in the 1970s after a period of limited activity from the 1950s to 1970s. One of the earliest women's organizations, Bharat Stree Mahamandal, formed in 1910 and focused on helping women escape oppression from men. Women's associations had traditionally began with the help of men giving few women access to work and education, while limiting the expansion of traditional gender roles. In 1927, the All India Women's Conference (AIWC) was formed to advocate for women's education and was helpful in the passage of the Hindu Code of Bills between 1952 and 1960. Women were also active in the freedom movement in protesting British colonial rule over Indian holding protests and public meetings in support of independence.

Women at farmers rally
The new wave of feminism in the 1970s was in response to gender inequality issues and stagnant development in India. The Committee on the Status of Women in India released a report in 1974, and had a significant influence in the reemergence of activism towards gender equality. The report highlighted the significant differences between men and women in India, including the disparity in the sex ratio, mortality rates, employment, literacy, and wage discrimination. The report fueled the women's movement by signifying the ongoing discrimination towards women in India. Gender inequality has remained the focus of the women's movement with specific emphasis on issues such as the Uniform Civil Code, Women's Reservation Bill, and sexual violence against women. Women's organizations both informal and formal have developed at the rural, urban, national, and state levels in India. Women's organizations in India address a variety of issues from the environment, poverty, empowerment, and violence against women. One of the most prominent women's organizations in India is the AIWC, which was established in 1927, focusing on empowering and educating Indian women. The AIWC has over 100,000 members and 500 branches in India, and has helped with the passage of the Sarda Act, Maternity Benefit Act, and Hindu Code Bills.

Indian women are significantly involved at the grass roots level of activism. The Chipko movement that arose in the 1970s is one example of success among the women's movement in India, as women protested the deforestation in Uttarkhand leading to the protection of the region. Since the Indian independence, women's organizations have focused on issues of violence towards women. Women's movements have focused on rape, female mortality rates, female foeticide, dowry deaths, sati, and domestic abuse. Tragedies such as the Mathura rape case in 1972, the dowry death of Tarvinder Kaur in 1979, the death of Roop Kanwar by practice of sati in 1987, the gang rape of Bhanwari Devi in 1992, and the New Delhi gang rape case in 2012, have kept the movement focused on rape and given rise to many women's organizations at the local and national level.

Challenges to women's participation

The level and forms of women's participation in politics is largely shaped by cultural and societal barriers in the form of violence, discrimination and illiteracy.

Sexual violence

Martha Nussbaum highlighted a significant barrier to women's capability of participating in politics to be the threat of violence. Sexual violence in India is exacerbated by issues of education and marriage. Women are sexually abbused. Child marriage, domestic violence and low literacy rates have lowered Indian women's economic opportunities and contributed to sexual violence in India. A 2011 study found, "24% of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives, 20% have forced their partners to have sex with them...38% of men admitting they had physically abused their partners." Widespread sexual violence is attributed to the fact that violence within marriage is not against the law, and sexual violence goes largely unpunished. Martha C. Nussbaum states that "In the larger society, violence and the threat of violence affects many women's ability to participate actively in many forms of social and political relationship, to speak in public, to be recognized as dignified beings whose worth is equal to that of others." Self-confidence is likely to increase participation among Indian women, specifically in running for election.


Although the Constitution of India removed gender inequalities among caste and gender, discrimination continues to be a widespread barrier to women's political participation. A 2012 study of 3,000 Indian women found the barriers in participation, specifically in running for political office, in the form of illiteracy, work burdens within the household, and discriminatory attitudes towards women as leaders.

Discriminatory attitudes manifest in the limitations presented to Indian women including low access to information and resources. Women rely on receiving information from family or village members, typically men. Women also lack leadership experience due to the fact they are burdened with household duties. The burden of household duties is a significant reason why many Indian women do not participate. Unlike men, there are fewer opportunities for women to get involved in organizations to gain leadership skills. There is little public space for them as men have dominated the political arena for many years in India.

Discrimination is further perpetuated by class. Dalit women, of the lowest caste in India, are continually discriminated against in running for public office. The Government of India requires reservation of seats for Dalits and Scheduled Castes, but women suffer from abuse and discrimination when serving as elected officials. Dalit women experience harassment by being denied information, ignored or silenced in meetings, and in some cases petitioned to be removed from their elected position.


India has one of the largest illiterate populations. In January 2014, the United Nations reported 287 million adults in India are illiterate. Literacy among Indian women is 53.7%, which is much lower than literacy among men reported at 75.3%. Illiteracy limits the ability of women to understand the political system and issues. Problems with exploitation, such as women being left off of voters lists, have been reported as illiteracy limits the ability of women to ensure their political rights are exercised. Martha C. Nussbaum concerning political participation stated, "Because literacy is connected in general with the ability to move outside the home and to stand on one's own outside of it, it is also connected to the ability of women to meet and collaborate with other women." Studies conducted by Niraja Jayal and Nirmala Buch found women are "persistently mocked and devalued in the panchayats if they are illiterate." Nussbaum also found literacy can play a key role in the dignification and independence of women in politics by giving them access to communications, such as memos and newspapers, they can become better informed on political issues.

Overcoming barriers to participation

To overcome issues of discrimination and violence, women's organizations have focused on the empowerment of Indian women. Empowerment is tied to the support of family and improved status within the household, which is undermined by the threat of domestic and sexual violence. Socio-economic conditions, such as poverty and illiteracy, prevent the entrance of women into running for public office, and even voting. Inability to understand the rules of Panchayat Raj undermines the self-confidence to participation in public office. Empowerment of Indian women can also occur through "bridging gaps in education, renegotiating gender roles, the gender division of labour and addressing biased attitudes." Women can also be empowered to participate by family, and when familial support is present they are more likely to run for office.

The Government of India has addressed the issue of empowerment by consolidating all programmes for women under the National Mission of Empowerment of Women (NMEW). The mission of NMEW is to "enhance economic empowerment of girls and women through skill development, micro credit, vocational training and entrepreneurship." In 2001, the Government of India passed the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women. The policy focuses on "the advancement, development, and empowerment of women." Specifically, the policy focuses on ending gender inequality and violence against women. The United Nations has also encouraged empowerment among India women by campaigning to end violence against women in India. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also tried to empower women focusing on issues of education, violence, and leadership. NGOs working towards women empowerment in India include Sammaan Foundation, Deepalaya, and CARE India.

Cell Phone Misuse. Some facts

See how an excellent electronic device is misusing when it is popular. There is no electronics content in this article, still it is related to an electronic device. Mobile Phone is a Real Friend but inconsiderate, annoying, discourteous in public places if it is misused.

Like millions of others, you may be the victim of cell phone abuse.

What is cell phone abuse?

Imagine… You are in a public place trying to concentrate on something or in serious discussion with your friend or enjoying a peaceful moment. A stranger 5 to 10 feet away starts talking on his cell phone loudly…
Your concentration breaks or your conversation ends or your peaceful moment disturbs. Now you are a victim of cell phone abuse. If you become the victim of a cell phone abuse, you will develop any one or more symptoms of cell phone abuse like…

  1. Inability to concentrate on what you are doing
  2. Mild or severe irritability or annoyance
  3. Sensitivity to stupid ring tones (pop songs or loud music)
  4. Initially thinking that the cell phone user is actually talking to you
  5. Wishing the user would finish the call
  6. Wishing the user would leave the place
  7. Wishing that the battery of that cell phone would die

Here are some Social Problems related to Cell phone misuse

Mobile Phone misuse in public places creates social problems like

  1. In attention blindness
  2. Caller Hegemony
  3. Cognitive load
  4. Accidents

Inattention blindness

  • Cell phone use in social situations may result in overload – both physical and mental.
  • Local interaction with the surroundings and remote interaction with the other person demands certain attention- E.g. When you talk in a bus stand or crossing the road.
  • Cell phone use in public places makes the user blind to local cues due to cognitive overload. E.g. When you use cell phone while walking through the road, you may not see a vehicle coming close to you.
  • Cell phone use in public places increases the reaction time to events around the user. E.g. You will not get time to move away from a danger.
  • Reduced attention to local situation may disturb others since the user is not attending the social situation. E.g. Your conversation and body language may be annoying to others.
  • Use of Mobile phones in gatherings, meetings, entertainment places etc disturb others through inattention blindness
Caller Hegemony
  • Caller Hegemony is the asymmetric relationship between the caller and answer.
  • The alarming ring tone may demand higher attention to the phone rather than the local settings. If you use cell phones in busy areas, trains or buses, the sudden ring tone may alter your attention or the message from the caller may cause a disturbed feeling. This will leads to inattention blindness. This will not be the condition, if you use a land phone.
Cognitive load

Mobile phone use in public places makes the user overloaded and become unaware of the details of communicative behavior of co- located individuals as well as other relevant features of the social situation. It is advised that do not use cell phones while driving a vehicle or operating a machinery or crossing the road.

  • Mobile phone use while driving may cause accidents due to inattention blindness and cognitive load
  • Cell phone conversation distracts the driver’s attention, increase reaction time, and reduce visual field attention
  • Cognitive load rises above visual sensation and diverts attention.
  • Memory of visual inputs and Response will drastically reduce if the cognitive load increases when using cell phone along with driving.
  • The same negative effects may also happen if the driver uses a hands free phone.
E.g. If the actual distance between two vehicles is 5 meters, due to cognitive load, the driver may feel that, it is 10 meters. This is the reason for the accidents, if cell phone is used while driving a vehicle.

Both are dangerous

Other social problems include E-waste, Cyber-crime etc


Obsolete cell phones are becoming one of the important sources of electronic waste. Due to the fast development of mobile technology, new versions of mobile phones are coming and people buy them and discard the old one. The discarded cell phones become a source of environmental pollution if they are not recycled. There are toxic chemicals like, lead, zinc, mercury etc in the electronic components of mobile phones. The brominated flame retardants used in computers and mobile phones are toxic if enters into the body. If these toxic chemicals accumulate, they leach into the water bodies and finally get into the body of animals including human beings through drinking water. Prevention of e-waste and promotion of Green electronics is a new challenge in the field of electronics.


With the increased use of camera phones and Multimedia facilities and blue tooth technology, mobile phone related cyber crime incidents are increasing. Cyber-crime includes traditional activities such as fraud, theft or forgery, whenever a telecommunication system is involved. The word Cyber is derived from the Greek word Kubernetes meaning Steersman .It is used in the terms cybersex, cybernetics, cyberspace, cyberpunk, cyber homes and cyber hate etc. It is used in the computer or electronic context to denote control of the thing represented by the word it precedes

Psychological problems

Over use of Cell phones may cause two New generation Psychological problems.

No-Mo phobia (No Mobile phobia)

When we run out of credit or battery, lose of phone or are in an area with no reception, being phoneless can bring a panic symptom referred to as No-Mo Phobia or No Mobile phobia. To overcome NoMo phobia, two methods are suggested. One is to keep the battery in top condition and the credit sufficient. Another method is, deliberately avoid mobile phone for few hours and then few days. Then you will feel that it is not an important thing.

Ringxiety- Ringtone anxiety

This is an anxiety symptom related to the over use of mobile phone, a form of addiction. Ringxiety refers to the sensation and false belief that the mobile phone is ringing or vibrating. The term is also used to explain the condition in which a person frequently takes the cell phone to see whether there is any a mis-call or messages.

Cell phone abuse is a worldwide epidemic which is now affecting millions of men, women and children especially teen age students

To the cell phone abusers we say…
Consider cell phone as a communication device and not as an entertainment device or as a status symbol. Try a little Cell phone courtesy…. and do not burden others with the pseudo social behavior.

Mobile Phones and Their Effects on Today's Generation - Use Your Phone Properly

No one can deny the positive effects of mobile phones. Mobile phones have not only given us the power to talk wirelessly, but also provided us with many highly usable functionalities like taking pictures and videos, listening to music, playing games, accessing the Internet and much more. Keeping the entertainment part in mind, all the mobile manufacturing companies like Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, BenQ Siemens have brought some powerful gadgets into the competitive market. All these companies are enjoying significant market share-some because of their user friendliness, the rest for their multimedia features as well as other functionalities. Whatever might be the reason, the current mobile market is a thriving one with enormous opportunities.
The current mobile market has a close relationship with the teenagers. As a trend, teenagers are more inclined to the newest gadgets of any sort. Whenever a new multimedia or electronic gadget is launched-just see the queue in any outlet-you will see a large number of youngsters filing the crowd-isn't that? Frankly speaking, youngsters are becoming tech-savvy than ever. To be in the limelight or to showcase one's fashion quotient is another reason for that growing popularity of mobile devices among the youngsters.
However, researches say that excessive use of mobile phones may cause serious health problems for anybody. It may appear shocking but an entire generation of teenagers may become senile or have brain cancer due to excessive use of mobile phones and other wireless technologies which emit radio waves while in use. That's the reason it's always advisable to make less use of mobile phones or any such items to run one's life smoothly.
But there is a good news for you! The mobile manufacturing companies are now coming up with various models with a limited SAR (Specific Absorption Ratio) limit. But one thing is for sure that compared to the effects of mobile phones. their benefits are many. Safe use of these gadgets is truly helpful for you in many ways than one.

Technology Mobile phones: The effects on children

Some young people can get highly hung-up on the extremes of continuous contact - the mobile phone offers either no contact or too much contact - possibly even unwanted contact. Stress can be caused by both sender's and recipient’s frustrations.

There is no doubting the benefits of the mobile phone. Ease of communication, the anywhere, anytime contact - with friends, relations, colleagues and in theory at least the efficiency brought to busy lives. The benefits have been sold to us worldwide by the mobile phone industry, and in the main we have made the judgment that, yes, the mobile phone is an exceptionally useful tool that advances personal communication beyond all our expectations of only a few years ago. And the future developments around the corner will equally amaze.
But every technological advance that provides such dramatic benefits has consequential costs and it is this area of mobile phone usage that we believe warrants more attention, especially their use by young people.
9 out of 10 children in the UK own a mobile phone. We believe as responsible parents that the benefits of immediate communication is a necessity - what happens if your child can’t get a lift home; it helps to manage the family’s busy schedule on the move; we feel safer knowing that our son can contact us if he’s in trouble; it’s cheaper giving him the responsibility of the cost of phone calls - he gets an allowance and it is up to him to manage his activities - our phone bill at home has been reduced significantly! All in all the mobile phone is hugely convenient.
These are some parent’s points of view, others are less positive:
A father of one 16 year told us ‘We give Emma, our daughter, £20 pocket money with extra for her school dinners. We learnt recently that all this money is being spent on text messaging her friends. She hasn’t had a meal in school for the past 3 months and worst of all considers no other activity or hobby worthy of her pocket money.’
When the mobile phone becomes not just an essential item for communication but instead something that takes control of a child’s life, parents have a right to be worried.
We have had parents ask for help - telling us that their teenager can do nothing else but sit by their mobile phone waiting for calls or text messages. They say ‘ my child will no longer communicate with the family, her phone has to be beside her day and night, we often hear her texting or talking in the early hours of the morning, her homework is suffering, her hobbies no longer take priority ….she is not the daughter we once had’
 Child-alert approached various experts who deal with addiction in children. They say addictive behavior is too strong a word for mobile phone usage by children, but they recognize the worrying signs of dependency. The mobile phone is considered an accessory by many but could be more appropriately described as a ‘comfort blanket’. Getting a phone call or a text message implies an importance, ‘somebody wants me’. It boosts the receivers self esteem and self worth.
This is particularly true for teenagers who are struggling with their identity and social status. Phone usage does not only increase the opportunity to bond with friends and to organize a social life on the move and privately, it also provides a symbol for acceptance. This is important to a teenager’s individuality and confidence.
The youth of today are the first new generation to have an ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere mobile communications culture’ and excessive and more proficient use of it can be viewed as part of defining generational differences - a form of rebellion.
This culture, however, is no comfort to parents who cannot understand the obsession. Only a few years ago we all managed to organize ourselves and keep in touch with each other perfectly well without the mobile. Now some children are so obsessed that they are unable to communicate uninterrupted, are constantly checking for messages and become irritable if they have to be away from their phone for any period of time. The family as a whole is finding the ‘mobile culture’ stressful causing rifts between members.
In some families the situation has become far worse; text messaging has become an obsession that needs to be fed by constant communication and that means constant funding.
‘I discovered our daughter had been using my credit card without my permission to buy more mobile airtime for her phone.’ Others perhaps, steal cash to feed the habit.
These are worrying developments - so to help parents who may feel they have a difficult situation on their hands regarding their child’s mobile phone usage, Child alert advise the following.
It is important that parents understand the concerns and what effects these can have for children and for the family.

Concerns about mobile phones

1. The mobile phone industry and their marketing techniques

Mobile phones have become popular and convenient making their demand high. Access is universal and affordable, and there is little regulation in terms of purchase or usage. In order to capture the youth market the pay as you go strategy is in place allowing anyone of any age to obtain a mobile phone (often free) and to link to a pay as you go airtime package. The attraction is a socially iconic ‘toy’ with virtually unlimited access.

2. Personal development during the teenage years

The mobile phone feeds the personal requirements of a teenager - they provide a sense of worth ensuring popularity with friends with whom communications can be continuous. The phone also feeds the desire for attention, acceptability and satisfies a teenager’s emotional drive.

3. Social Stress

Some young people can get highly hung-up on the extremes of continuous contact - the mobile phone offers either no contact or too much contact - possibly even unwanted contact. Stress can be caused by both sender's and recipient’s frustrations. Young people expect a mobile phone to be immediate - fool proof and available at all times

The effects on children

  • There is huge peer pressure to have a mobile phone with the latest technology and design
  • The ease by which mobiles are available increases the demand - ‘pay as you go’ accessibility
  • Parents accept this because they convince themselves of the safety benefits
  • The stress of maintaining communications for some is hard
  • The stress of wanting an equal flow of contact can be self destroying if it does not materialize
  • Owning a mobile phone, for some, provides a status among friends and a degree of self worth
  • On occasions there may be unwanted communications and even stalking which adds a further pressure on the individual.
The need to feel self worth is true to growing up but cannot be gained through the ownership of a mobile phone. All young adults want to have friends, want to communicate with them more so than their immediate family, feel a sense of worth through the friends they have etc.. but all young adults need to find their way through these feelings because of who they are, not what they own or how they conduct themselves.
The effects on the family
The teenage years are difficult for any family - but the best way of getting through them is communication, to accept, to laugh, to discipline where necessary and with the knowledge that you will get through it. As parents it is important to manage the situation as it occurs. Listening and understanding both points of view is the best way forward.
Typically teenagers tend to be insular amongst their own age group believing that they have their life sorted! This is normal but what we are talking about and what parents have asked us for help on is when an obsession like the mobile phone stops your child from being interested in anything else. When their studies, sports and other interests and activities are affected, when they are loosing sleep because they feel the need to maintain contact through the night, when they lie about how they are paying for the privilege of the use of the mobile phone. Of course there were obsessions before the mobile phone but the fulfillment and confidence gained through the ease of contact has moved the situation onto a new level.
Parents should be aware of obsessional characteristics in their child which may not be just restricted to mobile phone usage.
The scientists say, keeping in continuous contact with people is addictive and that is what mobile phones encourage and more so the ‘perceived’ cheapness of text messaging. Clever marketing through the ‘pay as you go’ opportunity has opened mobile phones to the young, no contracts no guarantees and because of this, it is one of the most expensive ways to pay.
One observer commented that the cigarettes found in the hands of many of today’s teenagers are being replaced by an equally worrying habit - albeit healthier - the mobile phone. It is not surprising therefore that the mobile phone industry has adopted very similar marketing tactics to the tobacco industry. It is the latest ‘cool thing’
What should parents do?
1. If you are thinking of buying your child a mobile phone try to set the rules from the start.
- When they can use it
- How it will be funded and what will be the frequency of ‘top ups’
- Where it should be kept for both usage and safety reasons
- Who to give your phone number to
- Only to reply to people you know
- The purpose of ownership - the privilege of ownership and the reasons why not to abuse it
- What will happen if they do abuse it - ie. do not abide by the rules
- Make the ownership of the mobile phone fun and maintain parental ‘chat’ about it - who called, getting to understand the ways of using it etc.
2. For parents whose children already have a mobile phone and are worried about it’s use then we suggest you start by explaining your concerns to your child. Remember, try not to accuse but instead talk from your perspective - when this happens we (the family) are concerned because ….
- Why you are worried.
- What has caused this concern
- How it makes you and the family feel
- Your concerns from a wider more worldly view point
- What you would like them to do
- If there is little or no response it is important to lay down a set of family rules - you may use your phone at this time for this period of time - we will need to take the phone away for a period of time/ for ever
3. If your concerns over the usage of mobile phones is stretched to believing your child is verging on the criminal as in this parents statement, then you may need to be very tough indeed and perhaps get some professional help in finding out the cause behind such extreme behavior.
‘I discovered our daughter had been using my credit card without my permission to buy more mobile airtime for her phone. We were furious and concerned. My daughter was becoming a ‘criminal for the sake of using her mobile phone to keep in contact with her friends whom she saw on a daily basis anyway. She needed to feed her habit and it seemed she didn’t care who she upset along the way.’
This tale suggests dependency - the mobile phone is becoming an asset that is the most important thing in their lives - they no longer can reason sensibly.
Children and adults need to be more responsible about the use of mobile phones - they are not toys but a useful tool for communicating at appropriate times. We all need to be sensible, considerate and responsible users.

Other concerns include:

Health risks (radiation)

The Department of Health issues guideline on the use of mobile phone by young people under 16. Because the head and the nervous system are still developing in the teenage years, children and young people might be more venerable than adults. It has therefore been recommended that children under 16 should be discouraged from non-essential calls. The UK Chief Medical Officer has gone further and advised parents not to let children use mobile phones.

Driving safety regulations

Using a mobile phone whilst driving can be more dangerous than being ‘over the limit’ behind the wheel, but neither is safe.
Drivers' reaction times are 30 percent slower when talking on a hand-held mobile phone compared to being drunk and nearly 50 percent slower than under normal driving conditions. Using a hand-held mobile phone had the greatest impact on driving performance, but "hands free" mobile phones also affect drivers


It is exciting to be part of a growing technological world and all should enjoy its benefits, but in moderation. Children need to have agreed boundaries for mobile phone usage. Communication within families is also essential to ensure safe practice.

The future of Text Messaging

According to the Mobile Data Association 16.8 billion chargeable person-to-person text messages were sent across the four UK GSM networks in 2002. In 2003 it is expected that it will continue to grow with an estimated 55 million text messages sent every day.
Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with the use of their mobile phone as a device for communicating with their friends, colleagues and family. Over 70% of mobile phone users now use their handsets for text messaging. Services such as sports results, betting games, and stock market news are sent directly to mobile phones. Text Messaging is seen as a medium of choice - simple, cost effective and instant yet discrete.
As the younger generation grows up they will take their texting skills with them. They will continue to educate the older generation and will also pass on their skills to their children and grand children. Text Messaging will become embedded into generations of family and friends

Pros and cons of digital devices in the hands of young students

Are the benefits outweighing the downsides of potentially excessive use of these devices by younger and younger children?

I have three kids and they love their tech tools, but I worry about the possible effects of electromagnetic radiation, and about the way in which time spent with these devices takes away from time they could be spending in more active pursuits. I also see skills and learning coming from their use of these tools. While I am clearly an advocate of technology, I also recognize that there are down sides and trade-offs that come with these advances. This guest post from Daniel Kimball reflects those realities and I look forward to hearing what readers think about this modern day dilemma. – K. Walsh

Digital devices are all the rage among young people today, across all ages. Tablets top the youngest student’s wish lists, pre-teens crave smart phones, and high school students would love to have both plus a laptop computer! MP3 players and other electronic devices are also widely used by many of today’s students.

Are digital devices plugging our children into experiences that actually fuel their creativity and make them consider the world beyond their neighborhood or are they robbing our children of some of the joys of childhood? A rewarding childhood should include experiences like climbing trees, playing tag, selling lemonade and daydreaming – are these still quintessential experiences for many of today’s youth or are they too glued to their small screens to partake in these types of activities?
Let’s consider some of the pros and cons of the digital age as it reflects in the developing hands and minds of today’s young people.

PROS include …

  • Smartphones Can Give Parents Some Piece of Mind
Want to know where your child is at all times? Give them a smart phone. You can call or text your child to confirm their whereabouts. Many smart phones also contain GPS tracking that can be activated to specify the phone’s exact location.

  • Every School Supply List Should Include a Computer
The reality is, a computer has become necessary to complete many homework assignments.  Students are required to research a topic, and sometimes the most current and accurate data is found online (assuming a student knows how to leverage critical thinking skills to assess the validity of the information). School courses in latter grades will require typed reports. And even the beloved shoe box project – illustrating a summer vacation, depicting the Amazon rain forest – is enhanced with color printouts.

  • There’s an Awe-Inspiring Online World to Discover
The Information Age is a glorious gift to the curious child in many ways. Learn how to knit –  Identify the plants growing in the backyard – Research the family tree – Visit the depths of the ocean or the peak of the world’s tallest mountain without leaving the couch! Your child’s fondness for the search field may lead to real-life adventures later on.

  • Young Music Fans Can Access More Than Just The Top 40
It used to be that kids tuned into radios to listen to the latest releases.  Today, the radio may be where they are introduced to an artist or a band. But the next stop is usually online to download their favorite song. Even better, while exploring an online music store, they can sample every imaginable genre, from A Cappella to Zydeco.

  • Socialization & Social Learning
While this argument can go both ways (for example, the ‘heads down’ nature of kids walking around staring at their cell phones has a rather unsocial aspect to it), there is surely a strong element of socialization to many of the apps that young people use, such as Facebook and other social networking tools. Another possible upside to the social nature of some applications is the potential for social learning in the instructional setting.

CONS include …

  • Health Risks Associated with Digital Device Usage
Keeping the kids busy during a long car ride is a cinch thanks to digital devices that will play apps, games, music, movies and TV shows. But children often wear earbuds and headphones, and in doing so, risk irreversible eardrum damage if the volume is too loud. Further, the EPA confirms that computer screens emit low levels of x-ray radiation. While there is no evidence that this radiation results in health problems, the EPA also advises that you limit your child’s time with a computer or tablet in on their laps and in front of their faces. And because enjoying digital devices tends to be a sedentary pastime, children may be more susceptible to weight gain.

  • Exposure to Child Predators and Inappropriate Content
Many parents set limits on Internet use, and employ security and privacy features to protect their children. However, children can still find their way into an online chat room with strangers or click on an enticing ad that links to inappropriate content. Monitoring your child’s online activities is time-consuming, but imperative.

  • Once Posted, Always Online
Children don’t always understand that their online activities are permanent. Worse, their poor judgment could lead to serious, and sometimes criminal, consequences. Before allowing children online, parents should discuss the cyber dangers of bullying, illegal downloading, and texting.

  • Digital Devices May Be a Mind-Numbing Distraction
While plenty of children use their digital devices to download books, most are likely using their electronics to text friends, play apps or watch videos. Some argue that this technology overload is actually disconnecting our children – from nature, play and people.

So, do the pros outweigh the cons? This is still a topic that we understand little about. Surely technology opens up an amazing world of learning and productivity to today’s young students, but there are clearly dangers and legitimate concerns surrounding the use of these tools, and what constitutes too much use. It will probably be years before we start to really understand the impact of some of these drawbacks and potential issues. In the meanwhile, these tools are here to stay for the near term, so we should monitor their use and educate students on how to use them wisely without overusing them.

The young generation are 'addicted' to mobile phones

Young people are now so addicted to their mobile phones it feels like they have lost a limb when they are without them, a study finds.
 The research also suggested 15 per cent of children had more expensive handsets than their parents.

Some said they feel so bereft without their iPhone or Blackberry that it evokes similar feelings to the "phantom limb" syndrome suffered by amputees.

The findings, by the University of Maryland, show the growing reliance that the younger generation has on technology and how it has become central to their lives.

While phones were the most essential device, other technology such as computers, MP3 players and televisions were also considered essential to get people through their day.

Many young people reported mental and physical symptoms of distress and “employed the rhetoric of addiction, dependency and depression,” when reporting their experiences of trying to go unplugged for a full day.

“Students talked about how scary it was, how addicted they were.”
“They expected the frustration. But they didn’t expect to have the psychological effects, to be lonely, to be panicked, the anxiety, literally heart palpitations.”

The study titled "The World Unplugged project" asked more than 1,000 students from 10 countries around the world, including Britain, to go without any media for 24 hours and monitored their feelings.

Prof Moeller said that more than 50 per cent of students failed to go the full 24 hours and everyone claimed to suffer some kind of withdrawal symptoms.

Ryan Blondino, a student at the University of Maryland who participated, compared the experience of going without digital technology to missing a limb.

“I felt something very similar to a phantom limb, only it would be like phantom cellphone,” he said.

“I still felt like my phone was vibrating and I was receiving messages even though I didn’t have it on me.”
A student from the UK said: "Media is my drug. Without it I was lost. I am an addict."

The study found few differences in the way students used and relied on digital technology in different countries, despite those countries’ huge differences in economic development, culture and political governance.

It concludes that most college students, whether in developed or developing countries, are strikingly similar in how they use media – and how 'addicted' they are to it.

They all used virtually the same words to describe their reactions, including: Fretful, Confused, Anxious, Irritable, Insecure, Nervous, Restless, Crazy, Addicted, Panicked, Jealous, Angry, Lonely, Dependent, Depressed, Jittery and Paranoid.

In effect, cell phones have become this generation's security blanket."
The report was published by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda.