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‘Pasupu Kumkuma’ From TDP, ‘Mangalsutra’ From BJP

Indian women often have to follow many rituals and traditions in India, mostly linked to their religious practices. Cashing in on this are political parties in the country which have named welfare schemes after some of these traditional practices.

Given that women voters are a crucial populace and generally become the key deciders of a political party’s fate, most of the political parties ensure that their schemes are women-focussed. This election season seems to be all about an increased focus on women voters.

Focussing on women empowerment and financial independence, the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh has named its scheme “Pasupu Kumkuma”, signifying the divinity of turmeric and vermilion in Hindu religious practices. Pasupu Kumkuma are given to the women in every household, as a tradition, blessing them a long and happily married life.

In this case, the government’s Pasupu Kumkuma scheme provides financial assistance to women in Self-help groups apart from also providing them smartphones, for technological advancement. On the other hand, the AP government also performs “baby shower” rituals in a traditional way for pregnant women in the state under a similar scheme.

While TDP names its scheme after a traditional Hindu practice, the BJP’s manifesto promises to give mangalsutras to newly married brides. The saffron party’s manifesto includes this traditional ornament which is worn by every married woman, as a sign of her nuptials. In the past, some parties have promised free sarees and doled them out, while some are even providing marriage expenses.

While political parties have penetrated deep and are even taking over important occasions in their lives to woo them, the real question is that do women need such ritualistic practices or do they need real empowerment schemes that uplift them?

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